All posts in Conversion Rate Optimisation

Circuit boardEvery webmaster has to be concerned with two main focuses: creating high-quality, compelling content and then delivering that content quickly and consistently to visitors. One way to achieve this is to use a content delivery network, or CDN. How will this help – and how can you choose the best option for your business/website?

A content delivery system is a network of web servers that are dispersed across multiple areas. Data copies are placed on the servers, which can respond to requests based on which server is closer in proximity. While data should move at the speed of light, it still takes longer for it to travel 3,000 kilometers than 20, so the CDN can help put a turbo-booster on your content. Many CDNs have a dozen or more servers, from Amsterdam to Los Angeles to London to Osaka, so they can be nimble and agile.

This is important because even small delays in load times can harm your conversion rate. When you eliminate the delays loading images, scripts, videos, stylesheets, and other elements, you can cut that time. Here are some tips for choosing your CDN:

  • Look for services that focus on content delivery and front-end optimisation (FEO). Front-end elements account for as much as 90 percent of users’ wait time, so it is important that your CDN be able to reduce this and increase speed. Techniques include minification, compression, versioning, and resource consolidation.
  • Consider setup times. This should be minimal, and the cost should be equally minimal.
  • Speaking of price, it will vary based on geography. But gone are the days when CDNs cost thousands. The first computer was purchased for $6800. Today, we can buy computers for £255. It is the same with CDNs. In fact, some, like Amazon CloudFront, charge based on use.
  • Does the CDN offer intelligent routing and redundant networks?
  • Is the content served from their edge servers or yours? The former can reduce bandwidth demands and speed up delivery.
  • Does the CDN offer reporting tools so you can track performance?
  • Some top CDNs to consider: Amazon CloudFront, MaxCDN, CloudFlare, Akamai, and EdgeCast.

CDNs can help you lighten your content load, improve user experience, and keep your content moving in an efficient and effective way.

Brands flood

Conversion rate optimization has become a top priority for websites. You’ve heard it before, but the best visibility and the best SEO is useless if a site cannot get visitors to complete a desired call to action. One of the ways that you can boost conversion rates is to develop a co-branded website. What exactly is this, and how can it help with your CRO efforts?

You may have heard of co-branded credit cards; you may even have a few in your wallet right now. All this means is that a merchant or vendor has partnered with a credit card company to offer this card. The merchant is the dominant brand, but it is supported and given credibility by the distinctive CC company brand. This results in higher spending, increased card use, and encourages customers loyalty. It works in much the same way with websites.

In terms of a website, multiple brands appear together as a joint enterprise or are involved in selling one product or service. Nike and Apple, for instance paired up and created the Sports Kit, a wireless system that connects shoes and iPod. VW co-branded with Trek Bicycles and created the special edition Trek Jettaa, which came with a bike and rack. It works, too, with affiliate type situations. Users associate the affiliate with the major or parent brand and are more comfortable completing the CTA.

Additional benefits of co-branded websites include:

  • Cost savings.
  • Increased user confidence.
  • Improving product exposure.
  • Effective marketing of new products or services.
  • Increased association between both brands, conferring the benefits of one to the other.

There is a flipside to consider as well. Co-branding confers the benefits and drawbacks of one site to another. If one brand suffers a reputation crisis, it can affect the co-brand. As well, co-branding can be a difficult balance in terms of agreeing on a creative concept and putting out timely materials. When you can overcome these, co-branding may be a great way to increase your CRO and leverage another brand’s name and recognition.

 

Photo Frame

A picture is worth a thousand words. That is no less true online. The right images can capture your visitors’ attention and imagination. But are those images also capturing the “attention” of Google’s bots? About 60 – 65 percent of people are visual learners. Google, though, is not! It depends on code to decipher your website and serve it up to searchers. When your images are not optimised, they are invisible to bots. How can you ensure your images really are worth 1000 words?

Optimising images is not difficult or time-consuming:

  • Remove the bloat. There is a lot of information attached to an image that is useless as far as your web visibility efforts go. You might have information about the camera model, the date, the colors, etc. To remove this, use an image compression tool. Try Smush It, PunyPNG, JPEGmini, Caesium, or Kraken, all available online.
  • Use image alt text. The image below means nothing to Google. Adding alt text gives the search engine the information it needs. You would just add a line to your image tag:

<img src=”dogs-playing.jpg” alt=”Dogs Playing” />

A Springer and a Golden 1

  • Choose a file name that includes a keyword or keyword phrase that describes the image accurately, and for which you would like to rank.
  • Use descriptive captions. Google doesn’t as yet take this into consideration, but they do look at bounce rates. If your captions do not accurately describe your image or give searchers what they expect, they will click out. Your bounce rate does influence your rankings.
  • Size appropriately. Select a size that is as small as possible but does not impact quality. This will keep load times reasonable and provide visitors with clear, sharp images. You can once again turn to tools, such as Dynamic Drive’s Image Optimiser, to help you size or even convert the file format.

Images can be incredibly powerful. Make sure they appeal to users and are accurately described, and then make sure they appeal to Google’s algorithm-following bots.

Stopwatch 1

Quality content is the single most important factor in your search rankings, but a host of other aspects of web design, development, and performance play into how you appear in the SERPS. Speed is one of them, and it is critical because it so heavily impacts the user experience. One technique you can use is minifying HTML. This allows you to speed up your load times, reduce page size, and reduce network delays.

What does it mean to “minify” HTML? It basically removes whitespace, comments, and other non-essential elements. At the same time, it does not interfere with the content structure. The result is cleaner, speedier sites. The BBC, for instance, has a hefty site of 77,054 bytes. When it is minified, though, it drops 55,324 bytes, a 28.2 percent reduction. For a site that is so heavy on content and media, this is a tremendous difference.

There are several great online tools that you can use to minify your HTML. (Note: It is important to also minify CSS and JavaScript as well. Why not drop as much weight as possible?)

These minifiers offer a quick and easy solution to minifying your HTML code. When you can compress and cut out the excess weight, you can offer a lean, mean site for Google to index and for visitors to enjoy.

Stopwatch 1Speed is an essential component of a positive user experience, and a positive user experience is a crucial factor in your ranking. Google has an unfathomable amount of data to comb through and offer to searchers; they want to supply only the highest quality results. Your content, and how fast it loads, makes you more attractive in the eyes of search engines and users. One way that you can make your site speedier is to leverage browser caching. Here’s the why and how.

When a browser loads a webpage, it has to load all of the elements that go into that page – the images, the HTML and CSS files, JavaScript, etc. – so it can display it to the visitor properly. The more files, and the larger those files are, the longer it takes to load. Browser caching works by “remembering” these files, or storing them in the user’s browser.

A first visit will result in the page being loaded at the normal time; but after that, the browser stores the files, so when the user comes back, refreshes, or navigates to a different page within the site, load times are much quicker. The browser has to download less, and there are fewer requests made to the server.

This works wonderfully with static content, like your logo, which is not going to change, or at least not frequently. It can also work with more dynamic content as long as you set the proper expiry dates. So let’s look at that now:

To tell the browser to store elements locally, you set expiry dates on the desired files.

  • Go to your htaccess file. You can edit this file with Notepad or a text editor.
  • Determine which files you would like to cache and for how long. It could be days, it could be a year. It is recommended that you opt for at least a month, and up to one year with static content.
  • Add the following code to the top of your htaccess file:

## EXPIRES CACHING ##
<IfModule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/png “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType text/css “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/html “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/pdf “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/x-javascript “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access 1 year”
ExpiresDefault “access 1 month”
</IfModule>
## EXPIRES CACHING ##

The expiry dates are examples; you should set them to your preferred time periods. For  instance, if you want an image to be cached for one month instead of one year, simply change:

ExpiresByType image/jpg “access 1 year”

to:

ExpiresByType image/jpg “access 1 month”

Now, just save and refresh, and you’re done.  You can find some more details on Google’s webmaster resource page.

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