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The SEO Shopify Checklist: How to Get Your Store to Rank Higher Fast in 10 Steps (Part 1)
You've just opened your Shopify store. Now, you want to make it easy to find in the search engines (obviously!). So, you're working on its SEO. And you ask yourself: "Is there an easy-to-follow SEO Shopify checklist that I could use to get my store to rank higher on Google... fast?" Higher ranking on Google » Higher traffic » More sales. The butterfly effect of good Shopify SEO... To give you a hand with that, we've reviewed our own process for improving the SEO of our clients' Shopify stores. And we've extracted the 10 most common adjustments that you, too, can make to give your new Shopify store a boost in the searches... quickly. But First: Is the SEO for Shopify any... Different? Can we really talk about "SEO Shopify vs BigCommerce"? Or "SEO Shopify vs Woocommerce or WordPress or..."? What makes the SEO approach for Shopify stores any different than the one for any eCommerce websites? There are some nuances that make it somehow unique: SEO particularities when it comes to crawling and indexing that you'll need to be mindful of the fact that you cannot edit the robots.txt file in Shopify (so, you'll need to come up with an alternative solution for that) issues related to duplicate content that are specific to Shopify  ... Step 1: Create a Strong and Logical Structure for Your Website "The better your site structure, the better your chance of ranking higher in the search engines." (Neil Patel) "How to optimize SEO on Shopify?" You go ahead and set up a powerful structure for your site. "What's a powerful structure?" you ask? A structure that makes it easy for the user the navigate the content and for the search engines to understand your website (that is, to crawl it and to rank your products). Which can only lead to: a great user experience a higher ranking in the search results A "powerful website structure" based on a logical hierarchy: Main categories  » Subcategories  » Products. In the context of a Shopify store, an example of a "good structure" would be: Homepage » Collection pages » Product pages  Tip! Keep it simple. A too complex maze of categories and subcategories will only discourage your users. Good to know! In Shopify, the "collection" pages stand for the product category pages. Step 2: Choose Your Keywords (A Key Point on Your SEO Shopify Checklist) "How to set up SEO for Shopify?" You go keywords hunting, that's how. Where to start? There are 2 paths that you can take: the free one the paid one (aka, choosing one of the SEO Shopify tools to search for the best keywords) 2.1. The Free Way to Find the Best Keywords for Your Shopify Store Here are 4 simple methods that you can use to identify the most suitable keywords:   explore forums and subreddits related to your products   analyze the social media hashtags related to your products   make a list of 5 key topics that your customers are interested in, which are closely related to your products (i.e. if you sell bicycles, your buyer personas might care about "bike riding lessons", about "how to store a bike outside" or about "bike wear and shoes"...)   scan the title tags, image alt-texts, and meta descriptions on your competitors' websites and see what keywords they're targetting   Note! These are all non-data-driven ways to search for keywords.  2.2.The Paid Way to Look for Keywords: Using Keyword Search Tools If you don't feel like doing any guesswork when it comes to choosing the best keywords for your Shopify store, just use one of the best tools available: SEO Metrics Moz's Keyword Explorer (use it to spot high priority keywords and to uncover new keyword opportunities) Ahref's Keyword Explorer (i.e. you can use the "Content Gap" report to identify those keywords that your competitors' webshops rank for and yours doesn't) Google's Keyword Planner ... And here are a few more simple strategies to get keywords ideas: list of all those keywords that are currently getting most clicks your Google Search Console find and target those Google AdWords keywords that generate the most revenue for your Shopify store  When doing your research, you'll want to find the (almost) perfect balance between search volume and keyword difficulty.  And always make sure that the keywords you've selected align with the search intent. Tip! Target long-tail keywords. Conversational, natural language search queries are powerful enough to boost your website's ranking on Google. Step 3: Keyword-Optimize Your Pages (Titles, Meta Descriptions, URLs...) With your list of keywords at hand, it's time for you to sprinkle them strategically throughout your website. Here are the best spots to place them: your pages' title tags (homepage, product pages, category pages, blog posts) the meta descriptions the URLs the page content (i.e. in your product's descriptions) the image Alt tags Now that you know what are the "hot spots" on your website, here are some Shopify SEO best practices for optimizing them: keep your page title tags under 60 characters write a unique title tag and meta descriptions for each page keep your meta descriptions under 155 characters place your focus keyword at the beginning of the meta descriptions Step 4: Target One Focus Keyword per Page And this is another critical step on your SEO Shopify checklist to be mindful of. Make it even more powerful by linking it to another SEO best practice: Mapping keywords to content types.  It's still one of the top SEO tips for Shopify. Meaning that you target specific types of keywords for each type of page on your website — blog posts, product pages, homepage, category pages, etc. Let's say that you're selling kombucha tea on your Shopify store: You'll want your blog posts to target searches for information ("what is kombucha"), and your product category pages to target lower search volume, but which point out to a strong intent to buy ("buy kombucha in bulk"). Step 5: Optimize Your Product Category Pages “To help category pages rank better, we advise our clients to not only have a list of product names, thumbnails and ‘view more’ buttons, but to turn this page into an experience that helps the user with making a decision,” (Arsen Rabinovich on searchengineland.com) This is one of the SEO optimizations on Shopify best practices that more and more eCommerce brands have been adopting these days. So, how about seizing this opportunity to have your Shopify store rank higher than your competitors'? By upgrading your product category pages from... mere lists of products to influential touchpoints in your customers' buying journeys. To pages that deliver a richer experience. Pages that provide more informational type of content, aligning with the user intent. 5.1. Best Practices for Optimizing Your Category Product Pages: display star ratings, tips, recommendations, user comments ... excerpts from product descriptions, related products, FAQs create content around users' questions feature direct access to your blog posts related to that specific product type use a combo of fresh and evergreen content on your collection pages Make it useful, make it relevant. You want those pages to rank high, but you also want them to deliver a rich user experience... 5.2. Best Practices for Optimizing Title Tags for Categories You know now how to optimize the content on your collection pages. But what about their title tags? Is there a formula to keyword-optimize those titles? There is: Keyword 1 – Shop for Keyword 2 – Store Name For example: Trek Bikes – Shop for Trek Bike Online – The Store That's it for today! But stay tuned for the Part 2 of this post, where we'll be sharing 5 more steps to add to your SEO Shopify Checklist. Now, if you find these tips on how to optimize our store for higher ranking too time-consuming and overwhelming, just shift the "burden" to us. Drop us a line and let's come up with a fine-tuned SEO strategy for your Shopify store. One that'll guarantee it the ranking and traffic that it deserves.   Image by Abdul Rehman from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jul 16'2020
”Why Would I Use Shopify to Start My Own Online Store?” Top 7 Reasons
You either ride the wave or drown in it (yes, I am talking about the new e-commerce reality that COVID-19 has brought). So, you’ve decided to go ahead and open up your own online shop and you ask yourself: “Why would I use Shopify?” Why not... BigCommerce, for instance? And you know that going through this digital transformation is going to be painfully challenging since you’ll need to: go through the entire process of building your online store (obviously!) make sure the servers will withstand huge (hopefully) amounts of traffic actually ship your products  handle those scenarios where customers return their products handle all the marketing of your online business … With so much on your plate, the last thing you need is a complex or a too rigid eCommerce platform. One that would make setting up and managing your store even more cumbersome. But still: why Shopify? Here’s why: 1. You Can Start Your Own Shopify Store with… Zero Technical Skills And this is one of the key reasons why it’s the best eCommerce website builder, particularly for small businesses. Shopify handles all the technical stuff for you: backups, security, web hosting, updates. Unless you need some more advanced features than the ones it provides you with out of the box. Otherwise, you’re good to go: you can set up your store in no time, with no computer science degree. Talking about empowering entrepreneurs, right? 2. “Why Would I Use Shopify?” Because It’s the Easiest to Use The question "Can I build my own eCommerce website?” has one simple answer: Definitely! With Shopify, you can set up your storefront and start loading in products in a few hours.You have an intuitive interface “at your service”, enabling you to get everything up and running with… no single line of code. It’s conveniently easy to use, with your store ready to go pretty much right out of the box. 3. You Get Everything You Need to Run Your eCommerce Business And I’m talking here about: web hosting deep insights into your customer behavior via its easy to navigate dashboard (Are they abandoning carts? How long are they hanging out in your online shop? Which social media channels do most converted customers come from?) advice on the measures you could take to boost your sales transaction management a dedicated payment gateway: Shopify Pay (while it also integrates smoothly with Amazon Pay, PayPal, Stripe, Worldpay) integrations with Google and Facebook and other platforms, as well In short, Shopify takes care of everything online store management-related for you. 4. You Get a Fast and Low-Cost Shipping Service “Why would I use Shopify for my eCommerce store?” Because you get access to a network of thousands of third-party logistics providers. And this is gold particularly for small eCommerce businesses (with big plans), who don’t have a global logistics network. In this respect, Shopify Fulfillment Network taps into machine learning to guarantee you deliveries on time (two-day shipping) and lower costs for your shipping. And speaking of shipping (and empowering eCommerce businesses), you’re free to choose the shipping option that best suits your needs: by product weight by delivery speed by the region on the globe that you’re shipping to 5. You Get a Large Collection of Apps to Add More Functionality to Your Store It’s what makes Shopify one of the most “tempting” eCommerce platforms: You get to start small, using its built-in features, then… scale up, adding more power to your eCommerce business via add-on apps. And, thank God, there are thousands of them in the Shopify App Store. Ranging from: reviews sections to chat feature to the feature of converting prices to international currency  to email marketing tools (if your chosen theme doesn’t already provide you with such a feature) … you can browse, choose, and add any type of new functionality that you need to “inject” into your web store. And since scanning through such a rich collection of third-party apps can get overwhelming, just make sure you go with the best-rated ones. It’s the best criterion to filter them by.  6. You Get a Whole Range of SEO Tools to Rank Your Store Higher in Search “Why would I use Shopify to create my online store?” Because it “spoils” you with a heavy load of built-in SEO tools to help your store get found: it prompts you with SEO best practices whenever you add a new product to your catalog you get header code and custom URL multilingual options reporting tools blogging 7. You Get a Rich Collection of Themes, Specifically Designed for eCommerce This is another strong reason why Shopify’s still one of the most popular eCommerce website builders. It provides you with one of the most impressive collections of stylish, clean, professionally designed themes. Themes that you get to browse through by: industry: food and beverage, art and photography, home decor, etc. price popularity style: “fun and lively”, “minimalist”, “great for small inventories” Good to know! The Shopify Express theme is the theme to go for if you need to get your store online… yesterday. If you don’t have tons of images for your product catalog and you need to get online fast, this theme’s the one for you. When it comes to built-in features, all Shopify themes ship with: social media icons drop-down navigation support free stock photos by Burst SEO customizable content sections on the home page mobile-friendly design free theme updates built-in styles and color palettes Prioritize those themes that ship with features that are critical for your store over the great looking ones that… lack them. Otherwise, you’ll need to look for (and pay for) Shopify apps to compensate for the missing features. In other words: Why not make your life easier from day one, going for a theme that helps you check most of the features off you wishlist? You’ll find it more… natural and easier to design your product pages around your products, then to style them with no products to feature. The END! Are these reasons strong enough to answer your question: “Why would I use Shopify for my online store?”. But what if you’re not that thrilled about the idea of a DIY store? Maybe you don’t have the time (or you simply want to invest it in other projects) to get into the nitty-gritty of building your own online store, from A to Z Or what if you: need a fully custom Shopify app for your store? One that should store a particular functionality that you need incorporated into your shop? … or maybe a theme that’s tailor-made to suit your specific business needs and to do your brand justice? want to customize your product page or your checkout form? We’re here to help you make the most of Shopify and fine tune it to your needs. Just drop us a line and let’s build your powerful online presence. Image by Akash Sanchihar from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jul 13'2020
The Complete Website UX Audit Checklist for 2020: 12 Steps to Uncover Usability Issues on Your Site
Users come to your website. They start the checkout process and... leave. Why is that? Is there a "best practice" process to identify the pain points in the user journey? A website UX audit checklist that you could use? And how would you know: what to include in your audit? what pages to review? how to interpret all the collected data and turn it into actionable insights? You've got the questions, we've got the answers. And we've included them all in an 11-point checklist to run whenever you want to assess the user experience on your website: What Is a UX Audit More Precisely? Source: process.st Let's go back to the example above: You notice that visitors on your website keep abandoning their shopping cart.  In this case, a website UX audit might uncover specific flaws in the customer journey responsible for this low conversion rate: confusing navigation structure cluttered screens a too complicated checkout process an inconsistent visual style across pages not enough payment options In other words: A UX audit helps you identify all those usability challenges with a direct impact on users' experience. key elements on your website that are too hard to find ... or too hard to use the workflow users are to perform is not that obvious and intuitive And it helps you find your answers to legitimate questions like: What is working and what isn't? What metrics are your collecting and what metrics should you be collecting? What does the gathered data tell you about your website users' needs? Why do they behave the way they do and how might they behave once you've taken follow-up action? In short: a UX audit provides you with those metrics which, once turned into updates to your website, help you boost conversions. Step 1: Run Stakeholder Interviews and User Surveys Start off by talking to your: development team, the one in charge with all the UX improvements on your website; ask them about their development challenges, future plans with the company website, and specific requirements for achieving those plans marketing team and salespeople, who might already have their own user survey results collected along the years Then, run your own updated user surveys and categorize results by: task severity findings per screen  Tip! Run usability tests to filter through the qualitative data collected on these interviews and surveys. For instance, users might report a discouragingly complex checkout process. A usability test will confirm or disprove this claim. Step 2: Create Your User Persona- A Key Point in the Website UX Audit Checklist Who are you improving your website UX for? And there are different types of users visiting your website and each user type stands for a unique way that you could improve the user experience delivered there. To narrow down your options, you need to figure out who's the most representative user for your website.  Remember to add these 3 key attributes to your user persona as you're building its profile: user goals: do they align with your business goals? needs: what does he/she try to accomplish when visiting your website? frustrations: things to avoid when designing this user persona's experience on your website Tip! Bring your business goals (that we'll be focusing on at Step 3) into the picture, as they'll help you determine who your user persona is. Also, while at this stage in your UX audit, answer these 3 crucial questions: what are your visitors' demographics and behaviors on your website where do they come from to your site? are current visitors also your target users? Step 3: Get Specific with Your Business Goals  Let me guess: Your business goals tied to your website are related to conversions and revenue. At this step of the audit, you'll want to clearly define those goals that a better UX can directly impact. Once you've defined your business goals, include these key questions into your website UX audit checklist: What's my business goal? What's the key user goal? What actions do I want users to perform on my website? What are the top brand values that I want to communicate to my website visitors? What are my key sales channels? Who are my top competitors? Step 4: Perform a Cognitive Walkthrough of Your Website  ... to see things through the visitors' eyes. Try to perform those actions that users come to your website for. And stay vigilant to detect any obstacles that might stop you or slow you down when trying to achieve your "user" goals. Tip! Since you already know all too well how your website works, base the whole process on established criteria. This way, you can keep your focus on those user goals. Step 5: Dive Deep into Your Data Analytics Your website analytics reports make some great insights into how great or... less than great the user experience delivered on your site is. Use it to "fuel" your UX audit with, as it'll provide you with key information on: conversion or cart abandonment what visitors were doing before accessing your website (most common entry points to your website) specific user flows on your site traffic metrics hotspots on your website Tip! Filter your data analytics by specific segments and timeframes.  Source: uxbooth.com Supplement the valuable data that you get from Google Analytics with reports provided by tools like: Kissmetrics Hotjar Crazy Egg Step 6: Determine Your Conversion Rate Performance Is your website an eCommerce one? Then you'll want to take a close look at your sales and download figures as you try to improve your site with a UX audit. Figure out how well your website copy supports the overall user experience and whether your website meets visitors' pain points. Step 7: Identify Your Highest Converting Pages Another crucial point to add to your website UX audit checklist. Why? Because the pages with the highest conversion rate give you an insight into what UX is doing right on your website. They stand for some successful customer journeys that you'll want to get inspired by and... replicate on other pages on your site, as well. Step 8: List Your High-Traffic Pages with a High Bounce Rate "How to perform a UX audit?" One of the essential tasks to add to your "To Do" list is identifying those high-traffic pages with a high bounce rate (above 70%). Step 9: Identify Strong Points and... Pain Points in the User Journey Where does the user step off the intended path? Why is he/she failing to take action? It's the strong points in the customer journey (those high-converting pages that you've listed at Step 7 are the best places to look for them) that'll provide you with the best solutions for fixing the weak points identified at this step. Step 10: Take a Close Look at Your Site Layout Your website layout is directly "responsible" for a great deal of the user experience delivered on your website.  So, at this point in your website UX audit checklist you'll want to check specific aspects of your site layout with a direct impact on the visitors' experience: Does it manage to meet visitors' needs? Is your website navigation intuitive enough and easy to use? Is your on-site search accessible enough? Is your website copy in line with the user journey? Step 11: Run a Competitive Analysis How will this help you? You identify your target customers' expectations when interacting with websites similar to yours. That sell the same type of products or services. What's those sites' traffic compared to yours? How usable are they? How well do they rank in the search engine results page? Seize any opportunities that your competitors might have missed. Or get inspired by what they do great in terms of user experience and... do it better on your own company website. Step 12: Organize Your Findings Into a UX Audit Report And use categories like: major usability issues A/B test suggestions challenges predicted impact ... to sort and group your results. 3 Tips to Keep in Mind When Conducting Your UX Audit I've saved 3 best practices for last. Apply them to streamline the whole process and to future-proof your findings. Group all your findings into buckets. It'll bet easier for you (and your team) to interpret your findings when you group them into categories (e.g. the "website navigation UX issues" category) Take screenshots of all the issues found. In other words: screenshot everything! It's the easiest and most effective way to document every aspect (web page, interaction, etc.) of your website with a direct impact on the user experience. Look for trends. Use your spreadsheets of UX findings to identify... patterns. Are there any common conventions and structures that visitors expect to find on your website? That they're already familiar with?   The END! I think I know what you're thinking right now: "But taking all the steps included in your website UX audit checklist takes... ages! And during all this time I'd have to put my team's projects on... hold." Not if you pass on the audit "burden" to us. Just drop us a line and let's uncover all the opportunities for UX optimization on your website! Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay     ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jul 01'2020
How to Improve Internal Site Search and Boost Your Conversion Rate in 12 Easy Steps
They're not there for the looks, you know. Users come to your website to search for... something — a product, a service, information. Its role is to make it easy for them to find that "something" via its search engine. But how to improve internal site search and "shorten the time between query to conversion"? What are some best practices when adding search functionality to your website so that: it serves up the most relevant search results? it reduces user-friction? it provides the best search experience? it helps users to convert faster? Here's your 12-step checklist to an effective on-site search: Why Site Search Is Important?   "Adding on-site search to your website increases conversions by 480%!" (Neil Patel).  Just think about it: The user's found your website (your SEO efforts have paid off). It's something specific that he's looking. Or he at least has some idea of the type of products/services that he's there for. Now, why would you want to make him go over... 5 different pages of results before he reaches that service/product page that he was looking for in the first place? Instead, your website's search engine should help him out with: search suggestions autofills real-time preview of search results Like Office Depot here, whose on-site search engine gave me plenty of search suggestions when I looked for a "chair": Step 1: Put It Front and Center One of the powerful internal site search best practices. But also the most ignored one. Don't be that website owner. Instead, put your search box where users can see it the instant they get on the web page: besides the navigation right below the navigation, as a distinctive element above the navigation in the header Take Zara's example here: how long does it take you to find the search box on this page? Step 2: How to improve internal site search: Make It Easier to Navigate  And what better example than Google's Search Engine itself? You just can't miss it on the page. Moreover, search results are grouped into different categories — images, videos, news — lifting some of the burdens off your shoulders as an online "searcher". It'll even turn your misspelled search queries... Key takeaways: consider using tabs by categories to make the user search experience as breezy possible make the most of keyword matches ... and assistive technologies It's all about shortening the time from the user's query to... conversion, remember? Step 3: Boost Your Site Search Engine with Product Metadata "How to improve search functionality?" By forgetting all about the "meta tags have no impact on SEO" principle and starting to add relevant product metadata. For yes, they do not count for traditional search engines, yet they have a huge impact on the way that your on-site search engine finds any product in your inventory. So "feed" it metadata: titles, tags, attributes, categories, descriptions, specific keywords that your target customers will enter... Step 4: Cater to All Kinds of Searches There'll be users who know exactly what they need. So they'll be typing the exact product/serial number in the search box. And there'll be users who have heard of an innovative, newly launched product in passing and will misspell its name. Make sure your on-site search will serve up relevant results for both types of user profiles: turn the product/serial number into a search criterion make sure your on-site search turns relevant results on "misspelled queries", as well  Step 5: "Fuel" Your Internal Search Engine with Long-Tail Keywords   "How to improve internal site search?" By optimizing your website copy for long-tail keywords (3-5 words). The more you use, the more power you'll inject into your search engine. Let's take this example: You go to Office Depot's website looking for an office chair. Chances are that you're trying to find something more specific than a "chair". You want it to be... grey, ergonomic, made of leather or mesh. You get the idea. You're not looking for a generic "office chair".  Now, switch from your role of potential customer to that of an online owner and start optimizing your website copy for long-tail keywords. They still have most of the search volume. Step 6: Give Users Multiple Filtering Options via Faceting  Add multiple categories to help users filter through generic query results.  This way, you enable them to make their way to more specific results. This internal site search "best practices" becomes a must-have if it's an: eCommerce website with a large inventory ... that you have. A customer won't spend half a day looking for a "green cotton t-shirt for girls size XS", digging through dozens of result pages. Take H&M's example here: they're using faceted search options to help me narrow down my options when I type a generic query like "shirt". Step 7: Tailor the Search Experience As Per the User's Location "How to improve internal site search?" Localize your website content. Or, in plain English: add regional dialect and idioms to your copy. And you'd also want to include "popular searches in your... (name of the region)". The whole idea is to: personalize the search experience, making it more user-friendly help the user find what he's searching for faster (and to convert faster, as well) Even if he's using a dialect-specific word or phrase as a search query. So, start building a list of synonyms for your search queries and use them to improve the search functionality on your website. Step 8: Implement In-Search Filtering Go beyond autocomplete if you want to provide the best search experience to your potential customers. In this respect, advanced in-search filtering is one of the most powerful on-site search features. Take this example: Someone enters "sneakers" in your search box. You'd want to give him/her more search options, more specific suggestions like "sneakers in men's clothes" or "sneakers on sale"... Again, a must-have on-site search feature if it's a large eCommerce website that you have. Step 9: Add Informational Content, As Well Not everyone on your website is there to buy something from you.  Some of them are looking for specific information on your products. So, another effective way of improving search functionality on your site is to you ensure there's enough info-rich content for these users to dig into. Step 10: Serve Targeted Search Results Based on User Behavior Data Here's another answer to your "How to improve internal site search?": Make the most of previous user behaviour to serve targeted search suggestions. Rely on users' profile log information to: identify distinctive patterns and tailor your recommendations accordingly identify regional phrases (e.g. "soda" instead of "coke") and use them to personalize your suggestions Step 11: Give Users More Control Over the On-Site Search Results How? By giving them: categories to filter through their search results drop-down menus brand names that they could use as search criteria a personal search results page where they can keep track of their past activity and use quick search options based on their past behavior Step 12: Serve Relevant FAQs on Every Search Another effective and easy way to optimize search function on your site is to display FAQS at the end of each search This way, users get more information about the product features/price/specific fees/brand that they're interested in. Tailor these lists of questions to the user's past behavior and query data and turn personalization into your most powerful ally. The END! Maybe you do want to increase the conversion rate on your website, but without having to: optimize heavy of loads content for long-tail keywords get tangled up in user data to track down all the regional words variations  write metadata for... hundreds of different product pages We get you. And we've got your back. Just drop us a line and let's improve your on-site search so that you stop leaving conversions on the table. ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 26'2020
Drupal Performance Optimization: 17 Drupal Caching Best Practices To Speed Up Your Page Load Time- Part 2
"How can I make my Drupal 8 website faster?" Are you still struggling with this? Still striving to figure out which are the best (and most straightforward) Drupal performance optimization techniques for your website? Well, here I am today with a handful of 9 more ways that you can speed up your Drupal site. In addition to the 8 ones that I covered in the first part of this post. And yes: it's another round of Drupal caching best practices that'll help you boost your page load time. So, let's dive right into it: Tip #9: Use the Dynamic Page Cache Module  ... to cache for both authenticated and anonymous users. Unlike the Internal Page Cache module, that I mentioned in Part 1, which only caches pages for anonymous users. Tip #10: Use Distributed Cache, A Highly Effective Drupal Performance Optimization Technique But how does it work, more precisely? Once you've installed a distributed cache, it'll store your database's cache tables (Drupal's "cache_" tables) either in: file or memory Tip #11: Enable Drupal Cache for Anonymous Users Another one of those quick, yet powerful Drupal performance tuning steps that you can take. Tip #12: Use Squid to Cache Images and Static Content on Your Website "How to optimize Drupal for better performance?" You could go for Squid, an open-source caching proxy server. Now, since Drupal's already famed for its particularly dynamic content, the only cases where Squid does make a great performance booster are those where you need to cache static content. Tip #13: Add a Front-End Cache (i.e.Varnish Cache) Here's another handy Drupal performance optimization method for you: Use Varnish Cache to reduce the load on your server. How does it do it? It stores the HTML response, so that next time that the same page is requested, it serves it from memory. The result? Bypassed PHP and web server and... improved page load time. Tip #14: Use the Advanced CSS/JS Aggregation Module to Improve the Front-End Performance of Your Website  Combining your assets together is one of the most straightforward and effective ways to address those Drupal performance issues on your website. From: file grouping to caching to compressing ... the AdvAgg module handles all the steps that you need to take to aggregate your CSS and JS files. Tip #15: Install Memcache to Reduce Your Database Load You know how you're often struggling with keeping your database load to a minimum by caching database objects in RAM? In this respect, Memcache makes a great Drupal 8 performance optimization technique. It helps you reduce that load on the database and boost your page loading time. How? By taking standard caches out of the database. And by caching the results of resource-intensive database operations... Tip #16: Use the Entity Cache Module to Cache... Entities   Another caching best practice to boost Drupal 8 with is installing the Entity Cache module.  And its name says it all: it helps you cache entities. Tip #17: Cache Views  Here's the situation: Page requests made by registered users on your website lead to loads of queries to your database. Which impact the page load time. Now, to query the database, views are being used. And this is where this views caching module comes in handy to... boost things in there.   The END! These are our 17 recommendations for you on the best Drupal performance optimization methods for boosting your page load time. Not thrilled about the idea of having to go through the... Memcache installation process or to configure Varnish for Drupal? Or to put your current projects on hold so that your team can set up a... distributed cache? Maybe you don't have a professional Drupal maintenance team that could handle all these caching settings? We're here to help! Just drop us a line and let's figure out which of these 17 techniques are best suited for your website and the specific performance issues that it's struggling with. Let's speed things up in there! Image by Izwar Muis from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jun 23'2020
Drupal Performance Optimization: 17 Drupal Caching Best Practices To Speed Up Your Page Load Time- Part 1
"Why is my Drupal site so slow?" "How do I speed up my Drupal website performance?" In other words, what Drupal performance optimization techniques should you use? Which is the: most budget-friendly quickest most straightforward most effective ... solution to those Drupal performance issues that are slowing down your website? Caching... And luckily, Drupal 8 (it is a Drupal 8 website that you have, isn't it?) "spoils" you with one of the most advanced caching systems out there. The trick is that you follow the Drupal caching best practices and use it to its full potential. Speaking of which, here's a list of 17 such best practices: * I'll be covering 8 of them in this post, leaving the 9 remaining ones for the next blog post. But First: What Is Caching? "What is the purpose of caching?" "How does caching improve performance?"  2 legitimate questions that you might be yourself right now. Let me start by defining the Drupal caching process: Once a user accesses a page on your website, content elements and web data from that specific page (images, HTML, CSS, etc.) get stored in an accessible space. When that user visits the same web page again, your website will serve him/her the cached version of the content.  That if you haven't updated it since his/her last visit, of course... And this translates into: reduced bandwidth faster page loads Tip #1: Use the Internal Page Cache Module to Cache Pages for Anonymous Users   Say you have an "Add to cart" functionality for anonymous users on your eCommerce website. You can use this module to cache precisely this functionality. A Drupal performance optimization tweak that'll take you less than a minute to set up. Tip #2: Go for the Best Suited Tools for Heavy Traffic Drupal Sites Say you have a fairly busy Drupal 8 website. You've turned on caching in your performance settings, but... you haven't noticed any significant impact on your site's loading speed. So, you need to bring in the heavy artillery. To use powerful caching tools designed for high traffic websites. Here are some of the best tools and optimization techniques to try: switch to a Drupal-specialized hosting provider like Pantheon or Acquia move your database to its own VM/container (that if you still have it running locally, on your Drupal web server) upgrade to PHP 7.1.0 Enable OPcache via php.ini.  Put a proxy (i.e. Nginx) in front of your server Tip #3: Enable Block Cache - A Quick and Easy Drupal Performance Optimization Solution How to increase Drupal 8 performance? You cache those blocks that don't get updated frequently (like from one user to another). Tip #4: Use Views Content Cache to Update Upon Content Changes Only How does this Drupal module help you optimize your website for better performance? It allows you to expire views caches every time you update or remove content. The great thing about this caching method is that you get to cache blocks that appear on thousands of pages. Tip #5: Use a Content Delivery Network By far the most powerful Drupal performance optimization solution for your website. Why? Here are the 2 strongest reasons why you'd want to use a CDN to cache the static content (files, CSS, images, JS, fonts...) on your website: you keep the network delay to a minimum since your CDN has endpoints across the globe you get a better page loading time: your CDN has a domain different from your website's, so web browsers load content requests to your domain in parallel with the content coming from the CDN Tip #6: Set a Far Future Expiration Date for Your Static Assets Set up a "Newer expire" policy for your static components (e.g. use a far future Expires header) Tip #7: Use Redis as a Drupal Performance Optimization Technique to Store Large Amounts of Data Data that wouldn't fit into your server. "But what is Redis?" you ask? An in-memory store optimized for high-performance. Tip #8: Set the Maximum Time that Your Pages Can Remain Cached Another one of the Drupal caching best practices is setting the maximum amount of time that browsers should keep your cached data. The END of Part 1! And these are but 8 Drupal performance optimization solutions focused on caching. I have a whole list of 17 tips ready to share with you... So, stay tuned for another round of simple and effective caching techniques that'll help you speed up your website... But what if you don't have the time or the people in your team that you could assign tasks like: enable a block cache set up Redis  install the... views_content_cache module ...?  What if you could have a dedicated Drupal maintenance team implement all these performance optimization techniques on your website for you? We're ready to help you speed things up on your website. Drop us a line and let's set up the best caching strategy for your Drupal website. Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jun 19'2020
Scale Up vs Scale Out: When Would You Want to Use One Scaling Model over the Other?
Based on your app's features, which scaling strategy should you go for: scale up vs scale out? How do you figure out which one's best for you? What are each scaling model's use cases, benefits, and tradeoffs? What specific needs — more memory, high availability, accessibility, more processor capacity, cost efficiency, long-term viability, etc. — does each solution respond to? And what key factors should you keep in mind when choosing to scale your app out or up? Now, let's get you some answers: 1. Scale Up vs Scale Out: What's the Difference? The challenge you're facing now: Your web app's under heavier traffic loads these days. So, you need to expend its presence, accessibility, power, other resources... So, do you scale up or scale out? What's the difference between vertical scale up and horizontal scale out?  1.1. What Does Vertical Scaling (or “Scaling Up”) Mean?  The process comes down to adding more power to your current machine so that it should carry more load. Let's say that your server can no longer handle your app's load of input/output demands. By scaling it up you add more RAM and processing capacity to your existing server. Or you switch to a new, more powerful server. 1.2. What Does Horizontal Scaling (or “Scaling Out”) Mean? “What does scale out mean?” It means adding more power by bringing in more lower-performance machines to the mix. In short, the key difference between the scale up and the scale out process is the specific approach to the way that you're adding computing resources to your system: Adding more processor capacity to your existing server vs adding more simple servers to your infrastructure, that share the memory workload and the processing effort. 2. Why Would You Scale Out? Faced with a “scale up vs scale out” dilemma you ask yourself: “What are the benefits of horizontal scaling?” 2.1. Higher availability for your app Or, better said: higher, instant, and continuous availability for your application. No matter how heavy the workload gets, each system component remains bounded over time. 2.2. You're not limited to your existing hardware capacity You can bring in new and new machines to your infrastructure to expend its capacity. 2.3. You're not constrained to dig deep into your wallet each time traffic is on the rise No need to pay for your server's upgrade each and every time you're dealing with peak demand. 2.4. You can tie your costs to use 2.5. You don't need to take your server offline at every traffic spike Instead, you can keep the existing resources online all while adding some more, so that your app can cope with the workload and remain available. All the time... 2.6 You can make the most out of this scaling model's elasticity Add as many computing services as needed so that your app withstands the peak demand. 2.7. You can adjust it to your needs Size and... resize your network of machines to serve your app's fluctuating needs of memory and processor capacity. 2.8. You get to tap into the latest server technologies Why keep expanding the same old hardware when you can get the most out of the newest server technologies for system monitoring and fault tolerance and keep downtime to a minimum? 2.9. You're free to upgrade your system Unlike with the scaling-up model, where some upgrades might be limited by vendor lock-in, when you scale your app horizontally you're free to level up to the latest: storage processor memory … technology. 3. Why Would You Scale Up? What are the key benefits of scaling your app vertically? 3.1. It's easier to manage … and to address specific data quality issues. Here, the “scale up vs scale out” dilemma comes down to: Having one storage system management vs having to manage a whole cluster of different elements. 3.2. It's (more) cost-effective You'll pay less for your network equipment and licensing since you only have one larger server to manage. 4. What Are the Tradeoffs of Horizontal Scaling?  For there are some power-performance trade-offs to be aware of when you opt for this scaling model: your servers have to be stateless: they can't contain any user-related data such as profile pictures or sessions scaling up your app leads to more complexity (cloning servers is needed) your downstream servers (e.g. databases and caches) are challenged to withstand more connections simultaneously while upstream servers are scaling out 5. What Are the Trade-Offs of Vertical Scaling? As you're trying to solve your “scale up vs scale out” dilemma, you'll ask yourself: What are the challenges of vertical scaling? Well, here are the main aspects that could discourage you from choosing it: it's less viable: you're locked-in to a specific hardware piece on the market you need to go over the same server upgrading process at every spike of traffic you're constrained to taking your existing server offline while replacing it with a new, more powerful one: during this time, your app is non-available 6. When Would It Be Appropriate to Scale Vertically? When should you scale up your deployment? when you're dealing with repeatedly increasing workloads if you haven't reached the full potential of your current infrastructure and you can still add on storage, CPUs, memory resources if you don't anticipate growth of your dataset over the next 3-5 years when you need to store large files that you can't split and distribute across multiple nodes when dealing with a small data set 7. And In Which Cases Does It Make Sense to Scale Horizontally? Here are some of the best scenarios where “out” is the answer to your “scale up vs scale out” dilemma: you've already structured your app so that it should scale up, but it didn't reach the level of performance that you expected you've reached the limit of your current infrastructure's potential so... there's no other option but to scale out you expect huge and steady growth in data over a long period of time you need to distribute an overstrained storage workload across several storage nodes 8. Final Word: When to Scale Up vs Scale Out Here are the 2 key factors to consider when you're trying to figure out which strategy is best for you: Your expansion needs: are they long-term or short-term? Are you dealing with a temporary traffic peak or do you predict a constant traffic overload in the long term? The type of workload that you're dealing with: how large is your dataset? If you're still not sure which approach — scale-up or scale-out — would best suit your app project, let us help you find your answer: Just drop us a line, let us know what your app features are, and we'll structure your app so that it meets your specific expansion needs. Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 12'2020
What Makes a Website Easy to Navigate? 11 Best Practices for Organizing Your Website’s Navigation
Quick and easy access to the content they're after is more important for your website users than a... visually-stunning design. Simple, straightforward navigation is what they expect to find. But what makes a website easy to navigate?  What are some good practices to follow to make your website easier to navigate? Here's a top 11: 1. Put Your Navigation Right Where Users Expect to Find It Don't compromise good user experience for the sake of "wowing" visitors with your innovative navigation system. Do users expect to see a navigation bar at the top of the page? Or a navigation menu in the top right corner? Give them that. This way, they get faster access to the information on your website that they're interested in. Tip! Do you feel particularly creative and you want to add multimedia content to your navigation? Make it obvious to your site visitors that those are clickable elements. 2. Tailor the Navigation Bar To Your Own Audience and Business  A navigation bar optimized to meet the needs of a particular audience is what makes a website easy to navigate. So, ask yourself this: What do visitors do on your website? What are they're looking for? More information on some of the services that you provide? Or maybe they want to have a look at the projects in your portfolio and at your previous clients' testimonials? Are they on your website for your blog posts? Once you're done with this empathy exercise and you have all the data, you'll know how many links are "too many" or "too few" for your navigation menu.   Source: Clutch.co  3. Make Your Sidebars Stand Out from the Rest of the Page "How do I organize my website navigation?" You make sure your sidebars don't blend in with the content on the page. And there are many simple and effective ways that you can set it apart from the body copy. Here are just 2 of them: use a different background color for your sidebars use white space strategically to make it stand out from the other elements on the page 4. Make It Legible and Easy to Read on Any Screen  How easy is your website to navigate?  Before you rush in to answer that, make sure you test it for legibility on smaller screen devices, as well. Here 2 of the best practices to follow for legible navigation in all usage contexts: use a font that's at least 12 pixels avoid narrow scripts and fonts break out your navigation into clear categories with up to 7 items use main menu, second, and third-level dropdown menu, as well, to organize your navigation if your website holds a lot of pages 5. What Makes a Website Easy to Navigate? A Fairly Straightforward Navigation Menu  Keep your navigation titles clear, accurate, and easily recognizable: stay away from witty or riddle-like titles. Why would you want to change already familiar title phrases like "About Us" or "Contact Us" and risk to confuse the user? To make him/her lose valuable time trying to figure out "what the poet meant by..."? Just keep it simple and predictable. 6. Make Your Hypertext Stand Out from the Body Copy "How do I make my website easier to navigate?" You make sure that users can tell hyperlinks from the rest of the page content. How? make them bold use another color underline them ... Just make sure your navigation links are 100% usable.  Make it obvious to the users that that is a hypertext and they can click on it. Source: Clutch.co  7. Make Sure Your Navigation Is Fully Responsive  This is, by far, one of the website navigation best practices. And the adjustments to consider for your mobile navigation menu range from:  making the links large enough for mobile phone users to tap on with no effort  to tightening the menu so that it fits smaller screen sizes to using a hamburger menu on mobile devices 8. Mind the Footer  Too often overlooked, the footer navigation has a big impact on the user experience (positive or negative, depending on whether you "forget" about it or not). Just put yourself into the shoes of a user who's just landed on your website: You've scrolled all the way to the bottom of the homepage and you now want to go to a specific service page or product page. Wouldn't it be great if you could access it via a hyperlink placed right there, in the footer? That, instead of going back to the header menu... "But what should I put in my footer?" you ask yourself. You can either: mirror the links included in your header navigation menu or put links to other key pages on your website: contact page, target blog posts, email newsletter sign up, etc. 9. Include Internal Search Functionality  What makes a website easy to navigate? Effective on-site search functionality... Especially if you have an eCommerce website, where users look for specific products/services. Once you've implemented it, follow these tips for making your search bar stand out: use an icon of a magnifying glass insert a "Search Here" text inside the search box use a different color to make it pop out And don't stop there: Merely adding internal search functionality is just the first step. Make sure that the entire search experience meets the user's expectations. And in 2020 users expect much more than just the basic product filters like color, size, and style. They want to narrow down their selection to products that are on sale or to products that have been recently added to the website or... 10. Use Text Links Instead of Buttons for Your CTAs Here's why you don't want to use buttons in your header navigation: it's bad for your SEO: search rankings can't read buttons (but they can read text) they make your navigation look clunky you can't make a specific link stand out from the rest buttons load slower, affecting the overall page loading speed In short, use text for your menu items for both usability and SEO. It's one of the website navigation best practices in 2020. 11. Create a Sitemap for Your Website's Visitors Provide them with a map before you expect them to explore your website. This way, you: make your website more usable for its visitors help search engines crawl in and index your web pages A win-win. The END! With these best practices on what makes a website easy to navigate at hand... what next? How do you implement them on your own website? We're ready to help you create that intuitive and effective navigation system. Just drop us a line. Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jun 10'2020
How to Keep Your SEO When Redesigning a Website: 12 Things to Check
What's the best approach? The foolproof methods to keep your SEO when redesigning a website? And the chances that things go wrong are high: indexing issues traffic drop after the redesign ranking going down ... You need something like a... checklist. One that includes all the key elements to monitor during and after revamping your website, right? This is precisely what you'll get in this post: A 13-point list to check off along the way, so you can redesign your website without losing SEO rankings and traffic. But Does a Website Redesign (Really) Affect SEO? "If I change my website, will I lose my Google ranking?" Yes, you stand all the chances. Here are just some of the changes applied to your website that pose the biggest "threats" for your Google ranking: you remove/change content you change the current on-page optimization process you change your URL structure you change your domain/subdomain you move content around, to suit your website's new sitemap or navigation structure  From the: updates that you make for improving the user experience on your website to those aimed at rebranding to those changes that you apply to your backend ... it all bubbles up to your SEO ranking, traffic, and overall long-term growth of your website. Step 1: Audit Your Current Website This first step on your website redesign SEO checklist will help you gain a bird's eye view of: what needs to be improved/fixed about your existing website what are the high ranking areas that you shouldn't touch Use Screaming Frog data to inspect your website and put together an inventory of all the: duplicate page titles missing, multiple, or duplicate H1 tags missing Image ALT texts broken internal/external links missing or duplicate meta descriptions page titles over 512 pixels meta descriptions over 923 pixels Furthermore, manually scan key elements like: sitemap URL structure page loading speed (use Google’s PageSpeed Tools) duplicate content Google-indexed pages  robots.txt Tip: download and back up the URL structure of your "old" website; you can use a plugin like Yoast SEO to download the updated sitemap of your website. Step 2: Make Sure Your Test Website Is Not Being Indexed For you don't want the risk of Google indexing your test website to add to the pile of... other things that could go wrong during the redesign process. How do you prevent your test site from being indexed? you either block it in the robots.txt file or you click the noindex box in your CMS Step 3: Match Up The Old and the New Pages to Keep Your SEO When Redesigning a Website "How do I preserve rankings and traffic during a website redesign and rebuild?" By making sure that the data on your current website — meta descriptions, word counts, canonical tags, etc. — remain as such on the new site, as well. For this, crawl your test website and put it against the "old" website to identify all the "missing parts" and the areas that need improvement. This is a foolproof method to ensure that the updates that you're about to make are truly needed. Step 4: Check Your New Website for Broken Links Another critical step to put on your website redesign SEO checklist is crawling your new website for broken links.  Use Google Webmaster Tools for this. Step 5: Address The 404 Error Pages One of the major website redesign considerations to keep in mind is that you'll need to handle the 404 issues popping up on your new website. There are 2 ways that you can address a 404 URL: redirect the old URL to the new URL of your test server set up this URL on your test server Step 6: See that Your Live URLs Are Optimized, As Well  A foolproof method for keeping your SEO when redesigning a website is to make sure that those live URLs, that aren't yet on your current website (the most recently added ones) are properly optimized. Just use the following on-page optimization checklist, which includes all the key areas where you should add your focus keywords (or semantic keywords): page title tag H1 tag page URL H2, H3, H4 tags meta description  body content  image ALT tag Step 7: Keep the URL Architecture Identical  Since the SEO impact of changing URL is huge. Do you remember that you've downloaded the URL structure while auditing the old website (see Step 1)? Make sure to back it up and stick to it after the redesign process, as well. Step 8: If Some of Them Do Change, Set Up 301 Redirects If the unwanted scenario does happen and some of your URLs do change, keep in mind to map out 301s to their corresponding new URLs. That, if you do want to preserve your rankings and traffic, of course... How? by manually updating your .htaccess file: Redirect301/old/oldsite.html http://www.yoursite.com/newurl.html   by using a redirect plugin: the process is no more complicated than filling in a form Step 9: Leave the Content Unchanged on Your High Ranking Pages  One of the things to watch out for in order to keep your SEO when redesigning a website is the "temptation" of changing content on your high ranking pages. Tip! A safe way to redesign your website without losing SEO is to make changes to the pages' design elements only. Once you've launched the new website, monitor your rankings for a while and, unless you notice some alarming drops, go ahead and apply (some) changes to the written content, as well (if absolutely necessary). Step 10: Check Your Robots.txt File Make sure that your robots.txt file didn't get corrupted during the website redesign and rebuild process. Just click on the “robots.txt” option under the crawl section. Step 11: Resubmit Your Sitemap to Google A key step to take for avoiding new website Google ranking issues. Submit your new website's XML to Google (and Bing) so that its new structure gets crawled and indexed in due time.  Step 12: Check and Monitor Your Ranking Position So, you've finally launched the improved version of your old website. Your team's hard work over the last few months is now live. Still, you'd better remain vigilant and monitor your new website for 2-3 more months. During this time: keep track of how your top keywords are ranking make sure Google's not indexing the wrong pages for those keywords be ready to detect any sudden drop or... boost in your website's Google ranking Take this monitoring time as a way of... futureproofing all the efforts you've done to keep your SEO when redesigning a website. But maybe you are, indeed, planning to give your website a facelift and a performance boost. And yes: you do worry that this might affect your SEO rankings and traffic. Yet, you want some professionals — a team of experienced web designers, web developers, and SEO experts — to handle your website redesign process.  We're ready to help you. Just drop us a line and let's plan an SEO-oriented redesign process for your website. Image by k-images from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 08'2020