Code Coverage Analysis for Better Page Speed

It’s aggravating. You smushed the images. You smashed the files. Your site’s still getting a lousy page speed score. You shake your fist at the internet gods and scream “Why!?!! WHY DO YOU MOCK ME?! Why?!!”

Your problem might be “dead code.” Dead code (aka code boogers, code klingons, code fungus) is leftover and unused CSS, javascript, and HTML. It forces your browser to download and sift through all manner of useless crud. It slows both download and rendering time. Remove dead code, and your page speed gets a nice turbo boost.

All you have to do is comb through thousands of lines of gobbledygook and find the stuff you don’t use. By hand. Testing to see what’s required and what’s not. It’s like Hell, without the comfy parts.

Chrome’s Coverage Report promises to help. It highlights and diagnoses dead code. But does it work well enough that a semi-competent site builder like me can use it? Here’s how I tested it, how I used it, and the results:

Nerd Mining Ahead

This post unearthed deep, rich veins of nerd ore. I talk about critical rendering path, etc. etc. I mess around with code. I may have snorted at a few of my jokes.

You have been warned.

The Test

For this post, I downloaded the Portent site, screwed up the code, and added some junk.

I ran the site from MAMP on my laptop.

That gives me this godawful audit score:

A lousy page speed score

A lousy page speed score

Audits are a relatively new, mobile-focused report in Chrome. Go to Developer Tools, click “Audits,” and you’re off.

By the way, that score’s pretty good. Here’s one of our competitors:

An even lousier page speed score

An even lousier page speed score

I thumb my nose at them. Not that it’s a competition. Oh, wait, yes it is.

But I’m picky. I want to get faster. I’ve already compressed images. I’ve got server caching turned on.

The best next step to improve it is to streamline the critical rendering path. The critical rendering path impacts the time your browser needs to get from this:

Rendering starts with a blank page

We start as a blank page. Especially if we’re a web site.

To this:

It ends with a web site

A page with some life experience

That means removing bloated CSS and javascript. Yes, I could just plunk it all in the footer. But then the page first displays all weird, then restyles. And it only brought my score up to 47. So it’s not a great fix.

I need to do four things:

  1. Find every line of non-essential code and delete it. Less code is better
  2. Find the CSS required for the first page “paint”
  3. Find the javascript required for the first page “paint”
  4. Put those first and move everything else to the bottom of the page

The Coverage Report

This is a slick, relatively-new Dev Tools feature.

Be sure you’re using the latest version of Chrome. I’m using 61.0.3163.

To load the coverage report:

  1. Open Developer Tools
  2. Show the Console Drawer
  3. In the Console Drawer tabs, click “Coverage”

Here’s what you’ll see:

The coverage drawer in Chrome Dev Tools

The coverage drawer in Chrome Dev Tools

Using the Report

Click the reload button. You’ll see the report. We care about the “Unused Bytes” column:

The code coverage report

The coverage report

That shows us the percentage of unused code in each file. Thanks to my intentionally awful coding, the test site uses only 12% of bootstrap-custom.css.

I can trim that. But I still don’t know what to trim. That’s the next step:

Reviewing Coverage

If I click on bootstrap-custom.css, I see the file. Chrome shows used and unused lines of code in green and red, respectively:

Nice! Dead code highlighted!

Nice! Dead code highlighted!

How awesome is that?!!! I’m sweaty just looking at it.

I can get the same report for every file, including the page HTML itself.

Now, I can review my page, CSS, and javascript, remove unused code, and rearrange the rest for more efficient rendering.

Streamlining the Files

First, I saved a backup of my CSS and javascript files.

Next, I carefully deleted unused lines in bootstrap-custom.css, index.html, and my various javascript files. A lot of this code was left over from previous site versions or duplicated elsewhere during development.

For more about “carefully,” see “A Warning,” below.

I found a lot of dead CSS. My test site didn’t use lots of standard Bootstrap stuff, like glyphicons, columns, alerts, and progress bars. Deleting those removed about 2,500 lines of code. Then I found all the old, leftover code from previous site versions and deleted that, too.

My updated coverage report looked like this:

Custom Bootstrap, streamlined for better page speed

Custom Bootstrap, streamlined

Bootstrap-custom.css now has 40% unused bytes, instead of 88%. The 40% unused is CSS I need for other pages on my site, so I left it in.

I also found dead code in my HTML and various javascript files. I cleaned all that out.

Why did this help?

“Dead” code—code that doesn’t do anything—drags downloads and rendering. Your browser still has to download, parse, and render it.

By deleting unused code, I reduced file size by 30%. I also dumped about 9,000 lines of code. That’s less for my browser to parse and render.

I also reduced index.html from 191k to 9k.

This work raised the page performance score to 60.

A Warning

It’s tempting to start deleting hundreds of lines at a time, then publish. Don’t. Styles that don’t matter to one page may be essential to another. Lazy loading might mean some javascript fires only when the user scrolls down. Media queries might need CSS you’re not currently using. You need to test.

I save backups. I also use Git, checking in my code every few minutes. That lets me roll back to a previous version if I screw something up.

Separating & Organizing

Then, I took all forms-related CSS and put it into a separate file. I can load that when I load a form, instead of loading it on every page.

I pulled all the blog-related CSS and put that in a separate stylesheet.

And, I put any unused javascript in separate .js files for inclusion on other pages, as well.

Why did this help?

No sense loading CSS you don’t even use. Same with javascript. That speeds things up a little bit more.

This work improved my page performance score to 65.

End Result: A Better Page Speed Score

I did a little more cleanup, minifying the most bloated files. The final result was a performance score of 66:

better page speed!

Huzzah!

Was It Worth It?

This was a lot of work. But I shaved a full second off rendering time and improved performance score 55%. As a bonus, I cleaned up my code. It’ll be easier to maintain.

Thumbs up. Five stars. Worth it.

Know Any Tools?

That said, I still had to go through these files by hand. It took me three hours. My dog wanted ear scratches and kept slobbering all over my laptop. My cats got impatient with me and started pawing at my face for attention. And it was a one-way trip down the carpal tunnel.

I’ve heard tales of magical tools that do this cleanup for you. I haven’t had time to dig in and find them. If you know one, let me know.

A Quick Pitch

My team wrote a complete guide to page speed. Check it out.

The post Code Coverage Analysis for Better Page Speed appeared first on Portent.

Source: Conversation Marketing: Internet Marketing with a Twist of Lemon (Original

Instagram Lets Users Add a Friend to Live Broadcasts by @MattGSouthern

Instagram has introduced the ability to add another person to your live videos, making it possible for two accounts to broadcast together at the same time.

While broadcasting a live video there will be a new icon at the bottom of the screen, which you can tap to invite someone else to join the live video.

Rather than letting users invite any of their connections to join the broadcast, Instagram will only let users invite people who are currently watching.

Of course, if there’s a specific person you wanted to go live with, you could always coordinate it through your messaging platform of choice.

“Hey, want to do a live video on Instagram together?”

“Sure!”

“Ok, I’ll start it, then you start watching the video and I’ll send an invite.”

“Sounds good.”

Once you have sent an invite and the other person accepts it, the video will go split-screen and your guest will show up beneath you.

You can remove your broadcasting partner and add someone else without having to start a new video. Your guest can also leave on their own if they want to.

When the video has ended you can either discard it or add it to your story. In the stories section, a live video with two people will be indicated by two circles stacked together.

This update is available with the latest version of Instagram on both iOS and Android.

Source: Search Engine Journal (Original

Google is Among the Most Trusted Tech Companies [SURVEY] by @MattGSouthern

Compared to other tech companies, research from The Verge shows that Google is among the most trusted. Google ranks just below Amazon in terms of consumer trust.

That’s saying something because people trust Amazon almost as much as their own bank, according to the survey data.

On the other end of the spectrum, Facebook and Twitter are virtually tied in terms of how many survey respondents “greatly distrust” the two companies.

Google Has Passionate Users

In addition to being among the most trusted, Google is also one of the top tech companies to instil the most passion in its users.

A majority of survey respondents indicate they “greatly like” using Google’s products and services, and “would care very much” if the company disappeared tomorrow.

Research from The Verge, in conjunction with Reticle Research, shows that people generally feel Google has a positive impact on society.

Google vs Facebook

As part of its research, The Verge ran a poll directly comparing how people feel about Google and Facebook in several key areas.

A majority of survey respondents think:

  • The two companies are equally effective at communicating their privacy policies
  • Google is better at helping people manage their lives
  • Both companies do about the same job at controlling what advertisers can access
  • Both companies are generally good at letting users control their location info
  • Google is better at providing useful services
  • Facebook is better at helping people connect with friends and family

Do you agree with The Verge’s findings? How would you have responded to these survey questions? Let us know on any of our social channels.

Source: Search Engine Journal (Original

LocalU Advanced Santa Monica Advance Pricing Ends Soon

LocalU Advanced is rapidly approaching. Its only a few weeks away and the seats are filling.

It should be a great event with incredible speakers and sponsors. Speakers include Joy Hawkins, Darren Shaw, Joel Headley (ex Googler), Marissa Nordahl (Google) and myself amongst many others. We have 14 speakers overall.

Sponsors include ZipSprout, Moz Local, GetFiveStars and WhiteSpark… regardless the price increases on November 10th and you can save $200 on your ticket if you buy now. If you use the code “blume” you can save an additional $50.. You won’t find a better local conference. At any price.

Order Tickets

Limited Capacity. Register Today!

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.

Source: Understanding Google Maps & Local Search (Original

Google Halloween Costume Quiz Easter Egg Found in Google Home by @MattGSouthern

A new Easter egg found in Google Home can help you figure out what your Halloween costume should be this year.

Need some last minute ideas? Then ask Google Home. SEJ reader Fred Pfaff, of Phelps Agency, tipped us off to Google’s Halloween costume quiz with a detailed explanation of how it works.

After asking Google Home “what should I be for Halloween?” the device touts itself as an expert and launches into a series of questions.

Questions include (paraphrased):

  • Do you avoid eating with your hands?
  • Do you change your toothbrush every few months?
  • Do you wipe your nose with your sleeve or a tissue?
  • If you could have the best donut in the world for $50 or a regular donut for $1, which would you pick?
  • You’re climbing up a plant that grew in your backyard. It’s windy and you can hear an angry guy yelling at the top, but you can see a bag of gold. Do you go home or keep climbing?

After answering the above questions, Google Home returned the following costume suggestion:

”You seem like you’re up for a challenge, so you should be a complete ecosystem for Halloween. I think the hat is key. It could be a tree canopy or a cloud layer that mists water. Then attach creatures or rocks or vegetation to your body.”

Of course, the questions and subsequent costume suggestions are likely to change based on your responses. This is just one of the many possible examples that could be out there.

Apparently this costume quiz was found by complete accident while Phelps Agency was hosting an in-house Google Home demonstration session.

In further experiments, other costume suggestions reportedly included a freaky clown, a robot, and Abe Lincoln.

Source: Search Engine Journal (Original

The 11 Best SEO Books You Should Read by @BrianHarnish

There have been many guides about SEO books that you should read. Mostly, they are usually all about SEO, one right after the other.

I wanted to do something different with this post and provide some different educational material that spans all of the components of modern SEO.

The thing about SEO: it doesn’t work in a vacuum. It works well in tandem with other website marketing disciplines like content marketing, social media, analytics, and others.

That’s why as part of this list I am providing you with the best books I have enjoyed and identified with as part of the SEO ecosystem of knowledge. Enjoy, and happy reading!

Books on Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Journal's SEO 101 Guide: Learn the Basics of Search Engine Optimization

This is a shameless plug for Search Engine Journal’s latest guide to SEO, just released earlier this month.

SEO 101 is a large ebook of around 324 pages covering the basics of SEO – you don’t want to miss this one! It really is one of the best books available if you want an introductory level book on SEO.

Topics include:

  • Why Links Are Important to SEO
  • 20 Years of SEO: A Brief History of Search Engine Optimization
  • 15 SEO Myths That Just Won’t Die
  • 140 of Today’s Top SEO Experts to Follow
  • …and much more.

Expert Authors Include:

  • Loren Baker
  • Danny Goodwin
  • Anna Crowe
  • Benj Arriola
  • Dave Davies
  • Stoney deGeyter
  • Tylor Hermanson
  • Ryan Jones
  • Jeremy Knauff
  • Julia McCoy
  • Brock Murray
  • Kristine Schachinger
  • Dan Taylor

You can download your guide here.

Eric Enge: The Art of SEO

by Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting

This is one of the fundamental must-reads in our industry. Whether you are an SEO beginner or a seasoned professional, Eric Enge’s The Art of SEO is a great place to go to get started or for a refresher of your SEO skills.

Eric talks about the search engine basics: their history, how they evaluate content, and how you can understand what search engines see when they spider content. You will also gain a solid education in the areas of SEO planning, the stages of SEO implementations, keyword research, SEO-friendly website development, content marketing, social media and its role in SEO; you will also find updated information on the latest algorithmic factors to consider like Panda, Penguin, and search engine penalties.

For one of the best in-depth educational books on SEO in our increasingly complex and ever-evolving industry, Eric’s book should be a staple of any SEO’s library.

Bruce Clay: Search Engine Optimization for Dummies

by Bruce Clay

If you’re just getting started in SEO, or you aren’t very technically-inclined (or even if you are, and you want deep information), this is the book you should read.

Clay lays out his strategies and all the basics you need to know.

This is one of the best books you can read if you want to find out what your SEO staff is doing or if you want to improve your ability to spot what they aren’t doing. The best part is, all the updating and research has already been done for you.

Clay discusses keyword strategy, linking strategy, content, web design, programming, as well as everything involved in creating an SEO-friendly site.

He also dives deep into the technical details of his methods, so this is a great book that can be used as a crash course or a refresher for the experienced SEO. This is one of those classics that belong in any SEO’s library.

Adam Clarke: SEO 2017 Learn Search Engine Optimization With Smart Internet Marketing Strategies

by Adam Clarke

No list of SEO books you should read would be complete without the well-known “SEO 2017: Learn Search Engine Optimization With Smart Internet Marketing Strategies” by Adam Clarke.

Clarke writes about how Google works, a history of SEO methods that no longer work, including how Google ranks sites now.

He also talks about keyword research, on-page SEO, link building, social media and its place in the SEO ecosystem, website analytics, troubleshooting SEO problems, local SEO for businesses, and structured data.

Clarke also provides a history of Google algorithm updates, and provides a look into the future. You will also get a bonus chapter in which Clarek provides an introductory guide to PPC advertising with Google.

Books About General Online Marketing

Vanessa Fox: Marketing in the Age of Google

by Vanessa Fox

This is one of those books that comes along once in a while: you know, one of those books that makes you go “wow”. In a good way.

Fox, who is also a talented writer in her own right, and she explains in a deep dive while also keeping things simple for the layperson: why anyone in business as an owner or marketer should know about how search works.

Integration into things like business processes is also discussed in great detail.

Books on Link Building

Eric Ward and Garret French: Ultimate Guide to Link Building

by Eric Ward and Garrett French

Eric Ward was a link building pioneer who laid foundations for modern link building. As one of the industry’s greats, it makes sense that he would write a book on the Ultimate Guide to his craft.

In this book, Ward detailed his processes for finding effective links. Things like link opportunity analyses for your niche, how to manually qualify link prospects, and more.

He also talked about link acquisition strategies like:

  • Designing your own link building campaign from scratch
  • Conducting effective link opportunity analysis for your niche
  • Diving deep into link prospecting
  • Diving deep into competitor backlink prospecting
  • How to qualify link prospects
  • Relationship building
  • Market analysis for creating highly linkable content
  • Six link building lessons from the experts

And even more.

If you want to learn about link building, Ward’s book is the place to go just for the sheer volume of his information. You will be building links for days to promote your website with his strategies.

by Paddy Moogan

Paddy Moogan is a well-known link building professional. He is responsible for writing one of the most comprehensive works of writing on link building I’ve ever seen.

From the basics to the history of link building, to planning and executing link building campaigns, to a wide variety of techniques to add to your link building arsenal, Moogan dives deep into a plethora of exciting techniques you can acquire.

While this book was written in 2015, purchasing the book will give you a significant edge with updates when you purchase the license.

Books on Content Marketing / Content Writing

Dan Norris and Neil Patel: Content Machine: Use Content Marketing to Build a 7-figure Business With Zero Advertising

by Dan Norris

If you aren’t familiar with content marketing, but you want to learn how it’s done, this is the book for you.

This book gives you the nuts and bolts of the mechanics of content marketing. It shows you how to get noticed, how to help people with your content, how to build relationships with your content, all important factors to build trust and authority that Google will love.

Among the topics Norris covers include content marketing basics, high-quality content, and how to scale the content machine.

If you want to get into the nitty-gritty details about content marketing, take the time to read and engage with the strategies in this book.

Ann Handley: Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content

by Ann Handley

This is one of the most thorough guides on putting together great content that I have ever seen.

It is a combination of the fundamentals of writing and the fundamentals of content marketing.

Handley teaches you how to write great content that also has style, panache, correct punctuation, and proper grammar.

I can’t think of any other book as a companion to SEO that is as fundamental as this one.

This book is great for anyone who is a beginner, or a seasoned SEO practitioner who needs a refresher.

Books on Social Media Marketing

You’re probably wondering why social media books are here in this list.

Yes, it’s true – social media doesn’t help rankings. But, that’s not why this section is here.

This section is here because every business needs to build its online presence and relationships with potential consumers.

Creating a well-rounded online marketing strategy that includes the various components of SEO is something that will help build that all-important trust and authority your website needs.

That is where white hat SEO is going these days, and it is something that will help make your break your online marketing success.

Don’t think of social media as a rankings vehicle. Think of it as a way to create relationships with potential consumers.

Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick: The Art of Social Media

by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

If you aren’t familiar with Guy Kawasaki, I recommend getting familiar with who he is quick. He is one of the most influential social media marketers of our time.

Kawasaki’s book isn’t disappointing in the least. He covers everything from Twitter to blogging, getting more followers, how to optimize your social media profile, how to run Google+ Hangouts, and much more.

His book is absolutely no fluff and contains common-sense advice about making sure your social media presence is one that will help people like you more online.

 Gary Vaynerchuck: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy, Social World

by Gary Vaynerchuck

This is one of those books that lays things out in an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand manner, even for newbies.

For those who are not up and up on the latest in-the-know on social media marketing, this is one of the best books to get your feet wet with.

This is more of a general introduction, so if you are looking for more specific strategies, this isn’t the book for you.

Putting All the Pieces of the SEO Ecosystem Together

SEO is constantly changing. Modern SEO nowadays includes an ecosystem of technologies and methods that should be part of your gears of doing business.

Not everything is conducive to higher rankings, such as social media. But the social media component helps you find real people as customers, rather than traffic numbers that may or may not convert.

Every component of SEO works together, and a fundamental education in all of the components is something that is necessary for perpetuating a successful online presence.

More SEO & Marketing Books Worth Your Time:


Image Credits
Featured Image: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock.com
Screenshots of Book Covers by Brian Harnish. Taken October 2017.

Source: Search Engine Journal (Original

Why You Should Link to a Person, Not a Twitter Handle by @rollerblader

For the past several years – pretty much since Twitter achieved “mainstream adoption” – editors at blogs and publications have been linking Twitter profiles whenever a source is quoted or references.

But why aren’t these outlet linking to someplace more useful – where a reader can reach them directly?

I’m not saying that Twitter isn’t useful.

But if you’re sourcing a specific person, have you actually thought about why using their Twitter handle could be good or bad?

That’s why I’m writing this “opinion” piece.

Recently, I was referenced here on Search Engine Journal in an article (Top 10 SEO Mistakes Affiliates Make) that was really good. But they referenced my Twitter handle instead of my blog.

Although it doesn’t impact me either way, since SEJ links are nofollowed, I wanted to write this response to get you to think if you should follow this format as it seems to be a trend that has not died.

Here are five reasons you should consider sourcing a person’s website rather than their Twitter handle.

1. Twitter is a Dead Zone for Many

My Twitter account, for example, is mostly abandoned.

I rarely tweet. When I do, I’m either tweeting posts from my blog, responding to a friend, or complaining about something when I couldn’t get support through live chat or the phone.

I’m not sharing marketing advice or engaging in professional conversation.  If I were, I would be using a professional handle.

2. You’ve Provided a Potentially Bad User Experience

Imagine a reader who is looking for more information from the person you referenced.

Suppose your readers love what I had to say (and that is why you shared it). They click through on my name, but instead of finding me you’ve sent them to a place where:

  • I probably won’t respond.
  • They can’t reach out to me privately unless I follow them.
  • Upon finding my profile they’ll have to hope I have a working link to a working website with a working contact form.
  • Their account could get reported for spam when really they were looking for help.

3. You Could Be Burning Bridges

If an influencer or industry expert or authority is giving you time and providing you with insight that they could have used on their own site, there should be some gain from it for them.

The reason I participate or give free advice isn’t just to be nice. It’s to build authority and business. It isn’t for backlinks, it’s for the exposure in quality pieces (not roundups).

I share practical advice and actual scenarios from my personal experience to generate leads for my business.

When you take time away from someone where they could be focused on clients, their full-time jobs or their family, make sure you’re doing something for them in return like driving leads. Linking to Twitter instead of a direct contact form in my opinion is the opposite of this.

4. It’s OK to ‘Nofollow’ Links

If you’re sourcing them, you probably should give them a followed link. But to be fair, a nofollow link to their company website or blog is still a way to say thank you for sharing your knowledge with us and our readers.

But should you nofollow the link? My opinion is no.

If you went to an industry expert for advice (regardless of industry) and because you consider them to be a thought leader, they’re something worthy of sourcing and giving credibility. If they weren’t, why are you reaching out to them and interviewing them in the first place?

That is the exact reason why some search engines use links as a ranking signal. It is to show what is a trusted source vs. what is not.

5. It’s Common Sense

If the person you’re referencing doesn’t update on Twitter or it is their personal handle, which isn’t topically relevant, why link to it?

If they have a blog or resource they keep updated, and they have an easy way to reach them for more information, why not send people there?

It benefits your article, the reader, and the person you are sourcing.

Conclusion

I have zero issues with Twitter. It just isn’t somewhere I engage with people for work or update frequently.

If someone wants to reach me, my website and blog are the easiest ways.

Think about this with your own site or if you write somewhere else (like here at Search Engine Journal).

If you’re asking someone for their time, knowledge, or expertise and you’re sharing it for your own gain, it isn’t only good to give the reader a way to reach them so they can find more information, it’s a best practice to show them a bit of thanks for taking time out of their day to help you too.

This is done by linking to their site and a way to contact them so they can get leads as well, even if you nofollow the links.


SEJ Executive Editor Danny Goodwin Fires Back

Adam makes an interesting and passionate case here. However, I couldn’t let this post publish without a brief response and to add a few thoughts of my own:

  • I’m honestly a bit shocked whenever I find someone in SEO or digital marketing who doesn’t have some sort of presence on Twitter (whether nonexistent or abandoned). It isn’t like Twitter is a fad. Granted, I’ve lost a lot of love for Twitter over the past couple of years. Still, at the very least, it’s quite easy to make sure you’re using your profile to point people to your website, LinkedIn, or wherever you want to direct people who want be interested in contacting you, whether personally or professionally. To me, it makes sense to maintain a minimal presence on any platform where your audience could potentially want to find you.
  • In terms of user experience, I agree – it isn’t ideal to send readers to a “dead” or “inactive” Twitter account (in our case, we’d send readers to a source’s LinkedIn profile). That said, if people who read Search Engine Journal want to find you, they will be able to hunt you down. Our readers know how to search. It’s their thing.
  • Our job isn’t to generate leads for sources. While ideally we can indirectly help with that, ultimately it’s about highlighting people’s great ideas on one of the search industry’s most popular publications. What you have to say is what will attract leads – not just the fact that you’ve been quoted. (We also always include a source’s job title and company, which should also make it easy for readers to find sources.)

And, in the spirit of fairness, I linked to my own Twitter handle rather than a website. 🙂

Source: Search Engine Journal (Original

5 Self-Branding Tactics For Beginners That Will Get You Noticed

5 Self-Branding Tactics For Beginners That Will Get You Noticed
As we all know, everyone has a purpose in life, and with constant focused effort, we can become what we wish to be.

Knowing what you are passionate about and becoming an expert on a particular subject is crucial. If you really want to make a difference and become a known personality, ask yourself these three questions:

  • What makes YOU stand out?
  • How are YOU different to other people?
  • How would YOU prefer to share your expertise with the world?

Once you know your answers, make a commitment to yourself. That’s right – it’s time for you to build a brand for yourself, a brand called YOU.

What is self-branding?

Self-branding is a strategy in which an individual works constantly and consistently towards creating a brand for themselves. It’s a process of positioning oneself with credibility and trust when it comes to a particular topic, or a constant endeavour to get better at a particular skill and making an impression on others.

It is not just about being excellent at your skill, but also about how well you share it with the world so that the world actually knows who you are. Hence, promoting yourself is the most important aspect when it comes to self-branding.

The importance of self-branding

No matter what industry you are in, you should always strive to be known for your skills and what you do. Come on – who doesn’t want to be a hero or look like one?

While many don’t understand the value of self-branding, some early adopters are enjoying sweet success because of the brand they have created for themselves.

Gary Vaynerchuk is one such person I can vouch for when it comes to self-branding. Gary knows his audience and understood the value of self-branding at a very early stage of his life. He knows and has implemented many ideas to become a brand himself, and the proof is in his videos and updates on social media getting literally millions of likes, views, and comments from fans around the world.

Once you have established a good follower base and credibility for yourself through self-branding, you can go on to act as an industry leader where you will have the power to influence thousands positively through your content.

Enough of the theory part. Let’s look at some incredible growth hacks and specific examples of how others have soared at self-branding.

1. You need a personal website with a unique home page

A personal website is like your home, it represents you and should look welcoming. It’s always better to have a domain in your name.

Your home page should talk about your life story – make it relatable so that visitors can easily connect with it. Add humor and anecdotes about your struggles, failures, wins and emotional milestones. Include a narrative about how you started it all, your passion for a particular subject, and your achievements so far.

Compelling professional pictures and a clear call to action at the end will help add more professional clout to your home page. While many people neglect this point, it is vital to make sure your website is polished-looking without any grammatical or spelling mistakes.

Let’s look at Leonard Kim, a marketing and branding expert, as an example. His website is an excellent example of self-branding. The home page talks about him, who is he, his early life and his achievements. You will also see a clear value proposition with his blogs centred in the middle and a clear CTA at the end to subscribe to his updates.

2. You should be smart and consistent on social media

Be sure to use social media in many varied and unique ways to see what works best for you. Know your customers and try to share updates by varying your formats. Sometimes an image and sometimes a blog post will work best. You should try to update your social media as often as daily.

Put your name as a signature or a watermark on your images to avoid plagiarism. Make sure to use your name or anything that represents you consistently on important updates. If you’re bored by inspirational quotes, come up with your own and make them look appealing in InDesign! And don’t forget to put an appealing cover image and strong profile description on all of your social media accounts.

Brian D. Evans is a serial entrepreneur and a marketing influencer. He uses social media consistently and efficiently. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, he uses different formats to share daily updates with his fans. You might want to take a look at his social profiles to see how well he maintains a daily schedule of posts and interaction with his audience. His cover images are also compelling and say a lot about him.

Brian Evans on Instagram

Brian Evans on Twitter

3. You should adopt a storytelling approach

Storytelling is an art that marketers often use to promote their ideas or products, and is considered the best growth strategy for a small brand. Stories are engaging, and can help create and sustain an emotional connection with readers. Great stories inspire people to change for good and take actions, and can really help you position yourself as a thought leader.

Apple uses the storytelling approach in the best possible way – everyone knows the basic history of Steve Jobs. Even an individual can use this method. Take an experience, build a narrative around it, and publish it on your social media platforms.

You cannot look past Gary Vaynerchuk, an American serial entrepreneur, when it comes to self-branding and the power of storytelling. Gary is a great storyteller who uses the storytelling approach to the best extent possible, and that is how he connects with his audience. He has gained a great follower base around the world through his talk, suggestions and entrepreneurial skills.

4. You need to guest blog on popular websites

Articles authored by Neil Patel

Guest blogging is still considered the best strategy to build a personal brand. You might have noticed that many subject matter experts don’t just blog on their own website but are always on the look-out for ways to share their knowledge and thoughts through other websites and platforms.

Guest blogging helps you build credibility. Start small, connect with local bloggers who are looking for contributors to their website, and focus on making connections with like-minded people. Once you build some confidence and success, move onto the bigger publications and approach them for guest posts.

Try these different variations to find opportunities for guest blogging:

  • Your keyword + Write for us
  • Your keyword + Contribute
  • Your keyword + Submit post

5. You need to create communities of conversation

In terms of building a voice in a community sense, one of the best places to look is the question-and-answer based platform, Quora. It’s a ready-made platform to share your insights and build an audience based on your expertise. You should also join any Facebook groups and forums that are relevant to your skills and what you do so that you can be there and chip in when someone is asking for advice or solutions.

Try to answer every question that you can when interacting in online communities and be generous when helping others with their problems through your replies and suggestions. This will enhance your credibility. When you start answering questions on a particular subject or topic regularly, people will get to know you, and you will become their go-to source for information on such topics.

Nicolas Cole, the founder of Digital Press, is one of the top writers on Quora. He will reach 700 answers soon with 20.2m answer views so far on Quora. Nicolas’s name has become a brand in itself when it comes to Quora. Nicolas’s answers are up to the mark, provide great value to anyone who is reading them, and generate a good number of ‘up votes’ from users.

Wrapping up

Knowing your true self is the key to effective self-branding. Once you know who you are and what you are really passionate about (and how you want to stand out in the crowd), you will be ready to build a brand for yourself.

Investing in self-branding is the best investment ever but it begins with understanding YOU.

Guest Author: Pavan Belagatti is one of the youngest growth hackers from India and a digital marketing influencer. He writes about marketing and growth hacking related topics as well as helps companies maximize their traffic and outreach. He is the owner of Growth Hacky and contributes to some top-notch websites around the world including TheNextWeb, Influencive, ThriveGlobal and Tech in Asia.

The post 5 Self-Branding Tactics For Beginners That Will Get You Noticed appeared first on Jeffbullas’s Blog.

Source: Jeffbullas’s Blog (Original

What are the SEO benefits of social media?

How does using social media benefit your efforts with SEO?

Back in 2008, Search Engine Watch published the article ‘Social Media and SEO – Friends with Benefits‘, and I’d highly recommend reading it back now for a stark reminder of how far the digital world has progressed in the last nine years.

Some of the key statistics and points featured in the article (although contemporary at the time) may seem somewhat archaic in 2017:

  • Facebook having 140 million active users (when they are now over 2 billion)
  • LinkedIn having 30 million users (less than 10% of their current user base)
  • Popularity of now defunct social platforms like Digg (which sold for just $500,000 back in 2012)
  • MySpace being mentioned in the same breath as Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit and Twitter (ha!)
  • Use of ‘SEO friendly’ anchor text when linking from social profiles (ahem… ‘money keywords’)

Nobody could have guessed what social media would become in such a short amount of time. Nearly a decade later and Facebook is nothing short of a social media superpower, Instagram has grown from zero to over 700 million users in the space of just seven years, MySpace has fallen out of popularity into the depths of dated pop-culture references, and using ‘SEO friendly’ anchor text is a very dangerous game to play in light of Google’s almighty Penguin updates.

It’s safe to say that everything is very different now, and as the social media landscape changes so too does its relationship with search engines and SEO practices. But what exactly is this relationship in 2017?

Social media and SEO: It’s complicated

In the past, Google have made contradictory statements regarding the role of social media in their ranking algorithm. On the one hand, they have stated that social media pages are indexed in the same manner as other web pages, and that social links therefore count as links.

But on the other, they have stated that social metrics do not constitute direct ranking factors. Over at Microsoft, the guys behind Bing have said that they too consider the authority of social media profiles (e.g. Twitter profile metrics) and mentions across numerous social platforms in their search engine.

As per usual, Google keeps their cards close to their chest. Research from the likes of Neil Patel show what Matt Cutts referred to in 2014 as a correlation but not necessarily a causation.

All very confusing indeed.

Can we 100% say that social metrics have a direct impact on search engine rankings? Probably not. However, if we look at the potential of social media’s influence on search engine rankings the story is different.

My personal opinion is that we should not be worried about whether links from social media platforms are valued in the same way as a link from a high quality and highly relevant website. Instead we should look at the benefits of utilizing social media to help boost ranking signals that we know search engines care about.

We should also bear in mind the impact of social media on the landscape of the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Focusing on any one particular ‘SEO metric’ is as old school as MySpace. SEO has evolved into far more than just keywords and links. Great SEO acts as a core function to any holistic, integrated digital marketing campaign.

We should consign the days of marketing departments operating independently to the history books and focus on the often significant benefits of integrated campaigns. Having said that, there are a few SEO metric-specific boosters that social media can provide.

Link earning

The holy grail of any link-building campaign. Link earning has the power to gain multiple links from a single piece of content compared with the individual links gained from more one at a time traditional guest posting tactics.

It is link-building on steroids, but unless your website’s content has a large amount of visitors or subscribers your link earning potential is significantly reduced.

Enter stage left: social media.

The great thing about social media in 2017? Almost everyone you know will have a profile, most likely with hundreds of connections. This provides a platform through which promotion of content can not only be distributed instantly to hundreds of people, but the more people engage and interact with your content, the more people outside of your direct network see your content.

Viral. How I hate that word. It sets often unrealistic expectations. Viral to me means millions of views, akin to the hard to grasp concept of Gangnam Style’s frankly insane popularity and near 3 billion views on Youtube.

It’s great if your content does go viral, but you don’t need millions of views and tens of thousands of shares on social for social media to have an impact on search rankings. Quality over quantity, my dear.

If you have even tens or hundreds of people engage with your post and content via a platform such as LinkedIn you can bet that the quality of those engagements is pretty high. If done correctly, those views of your content on social media will result in other content creators citing your content in their articles. Your content has just earned links, which has a direct impact on search rankings.

Front of mind: Co-citation and co-occurrence

As a brief follow-on to link earning, your dissemination of content via social will provide touch points with your brand across multiple platforms. To use another word that falls into my dislike category, your brand remains ‘front of mind’.

In turn, this can lead to mentions across the web in what is likely to be highly relevant content, therefore increasing your co-citation and co-occurrence metrics.

Brand authority and CTR

Social can be utilised to build not only awareness but also brand authority. Sure people are more wary about fake information and news on social media compared with a few years ago but that does not mean that engaging in a well thought out, high quality social media campaign will not develop your brand in the eyes of the public.

Guess what? When they go to search for a product they may even search directly for your brand name or associated search terms which are directly related to your brand. Failing that, if your brand name is the one result that they know within the search results, it can increase your click-through rates from search.

Social media in search results

Social media profiles are delivered within the SERPs, along with tweets due to Twitter’s provision for Google to access their “firehose” of real-time tweets. As a result, your social media presence does have an impact on your SERP presence.

Admittedly, the majority of social links within the SERPs appear for branded search terms, but this should not be discounted. If we are in fact looking at marketing as a more holistic practice in the digital age, then we have to ensure that your branded search terms result in high click-through rates from search.

Ever been freaked out by a company or individual’s lack of social presence? This can be especially poignant for newer businesses or non-household names. In today’s society where follower numbers, likes and shares have a real impact on authority, the fact that social media results appear in branded searches should not be underestimated, not only in click-through rates from SERPs but also future conversions.

Will social metrics ever be a direct ranking factor?

From our research, it is clear that there are some pretty large problems associated with search engines using social metrics as a direct ranking factor. These include limited access for robots to crawl the platforms and therefore understand social authority, and the prevalence of fake profiles or ‘bought likes’ which are likely to be viewed in the same light as paid links.

In short, there is currently too much provision for manipulation of these metrics for search engines to bank on them. Will this change in the future?

Considering that Google and Facebook are two of the largest companies in the world, vying for the attention of us all, we don’t see them joining hands, opening their doors and singing Kumbaya around a campfire together any time soon.

Social media has its own benefits

Whether or not Google or Bing count social metrics as direct ranking factors is somewhat of a moot point. Social media and SEO should be working together, sharing content or utilizing engagement metrics as data for future content creation.

Lest we forget, businesses can benefit from revenue generated directly from social media regardless of its influence on search rankings. Social media campaigns should be focused primarily on generating their own success, with SEO considerations as a secondary (but still important) consideration.

Source: Search Engine Watch – Category: seo (Original

13 Scary Websites from TV and Movies that Need to Die

The average adult watches approximately four-and-a-half hours of TV every single day. This includes both live and DVR’ed content. Then there are online streaming services like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix to think about. Netflix alone clocks about 125 million hours of streaming video each day.

Needless to say, when your audience doesn’t have their face in front of your website, they’re spending a good chunk of time in front of other screens in order to consume movie and television content. While I’m not opposed to that (since there’s nothing like binge-watching an entertaining show after a long day of work), what I am opposed to is bad web design captured on film.

Obviously, I say this (mostly) in jest. The Internet has come a long way in the last couple of decades. Think of a movie like The Net, which came out in 1995.

VIDEO

It’s not the director’s or Sandra Bullock’s fault that the Pizza.net website looks dated or that the load time is so atrocious now. The web design and development landscape is continually changing, becoming better and smarter with each passing year. And, thankfully, we now have WordPress that inherently saves most people from making poor choices in web design.

That said, there are still movies and TV shows—even in recent years—with some awesomely terrible examples of bad web design. If you want a little fright this Halloween season, follow me as I take you on a journey through some truly scary websites immortalized on TV and in film that need to be laid to rest.

R.I.P.: 13 Scary Websites from TV and Movies that Need to Be Laid to Rest

Halloween is one of my favorite times of year because it actually becomes acceptable to watch as many scary movies as I normally do. That said, scary movies aren’t the only ones that fall victim to scary websites. TV shows like How I Met Your Mother and The IT Crowd are anything but horrifying (unless you’re terrified by relationships or the corporate lifestyle, of course) and they’ve each featured some pretty terrible examples of web design.

Curious to see what sort of examples of scary websites I’ve uncovered? Let’s dig in.

1. How I Met Your Mother

Scary Website - How I Met Your MotherBarney Stinson’s online resume from How I Met Your Mother.

How I Met Your Mother is not that old of a show and, yet, Barney Stinson’s contribution to this list inspires all sorts of scary web design trends I hope we never see again. Oh, and don’t forget to click through to the resolution choice page. (Why is this even a choice?)

Scary Website - HIMYM - Resolution ChoiceThe resume “resolution” download page for Barney Stinson.

How scary is it? (1-5): 5

Why is it scary?

  • Background image set to repeat
  • Low-resolution background image
  • The “cutout” of Barney placed atop the photo
  • Placement and stylization of the “Sponsored by” text and logo
  • The hard-to-spot CTA
  • The subsequent resolution choice page
  • Video resume that’s only available as a downloadable file (and no warning given either!)

2. Parks & Rec

Scary Website - Parks & RecThe City of Pawnee website from Parks & Rec.

Again, here is another example of a scary website from a TV show that went off the air not too long ago. However, the outdated design on the Parks & Rec City of Pawnee website is likely more a reflection of the quaintness of the city and a lack of WordPress developers living in Pawnee that were available to help (I hope).

How scary is it? (1-5): 3

Why is it scary?

  • Not responsive
  • Definitely wasn’t built with WordPress so the layout, style, and functionality are really outdated
  • Navigation is clunky (i.e. there isn’t any hover)
  • Some pages end up with almost duplicate navigations, the second of which (in green) isn’t so obvious
  • A broken link to “Get Involved” results in an unsightly popup

3. Breaking Bad

Scary Website - Breaking BadThe Save Walter White website from Breaking Bad.

Perhaps the scariest thing about the Breaking BadSave Walter White” website is that the design totally misses the mark for the show’s timeline. It’s funny… but it’ll also make you stop to question when exactly the show was supposed to take place when you’re watching it (which I believe is around 2009 to 2011).

Scary Website - Breaking Bad TextA closer look at the font choices from the Save Walter White site.

How scary is it? (1-5): 5

Why is it scary?

  • Everything… everything is bad
  • Cheesy background design
  • Text sits loosely on top of distracting background
  • Poor font choice
  • White and yellow font
  • Odd spacing between words
  • Lines break in the middle of words (leaving random hyphenations everywhere)
  • One wrong click and you’ll unintentionally find yourself on another site

4. The Good Wife

Scary Website - ChumHumThe ChumHum search engine from The Good Wife.

In terms of web design, The Good Wife’s ChumHum search engine isn’t all that bad. It’s definitely followed the minimalism that we love about Google. However, there are a number of issues with the way this search engine works.

Like the never-ending scroll:

Scary Website - ChumHum Neverending ScrollThe SERPs page just never stops!

And the URLs for the search results:

Scary Website - ChumHum Wrong LinkIt’s safe to say ChumHum will never be able to compete with Google if it keeps this up.

How scary is it? (1-5): 3

Why is it scary?

  • Maybe too minimal?
  • No autocomplete
  • Never-ending scroll makes this search engine too difficult to navigate/use
  • When you click on any of the search results, you’re taken to the correct website, but the URL remains stuck at ChumHum

5. Sherlock

Scary Website - Sherlock HolmesThe blog for Watson from Sherlock.

As far as personal blogs go, the one for Watson from the TV show Sherlock isn’t horrendous. It’s just not great.

How scary is it? (1-5): 1

Why is it scary?

  • Design is clean and simple, but old
  • No featured images
  • Blog wasn’t updated frequently enough when it was live
  • Flash players… blegh
  • The About Me and photo sections are too sparse and un-clickable (i.e. unnecessary)

6. The IT Crowd

Scary Website - The IT CrowdThe Reynholm Industries website from The IT Crowd.

This actually isn’t an official website from The IT Crowd nor was it featured on the show. However, it’s such a great example of what the Reynholm Industries website probably would’ve looked like that it deserves a spot on this list.

How scary is it? (1-5): 2

Why is it scary?

  • Very antiquated design
  • The “Home” button
  • Blinking red cursor in the copyright footer line
  • Inconsistent layout of text and images throughout
  • The multi-step helpdesk system
  • No basic contact forms available

7. Doctor Who

Scary Website - Doctor Who UNITThe U.N.I.T. government agency website for Doctor Who.

Although Doctor Who’s fictional website for the U.N.I.T. does resemble the outdated government agency sites you may find around the Internet today, this one just isn’t good.

How scary is it? (1-5): 3

Why is it scary?

  • Inconsistent design between home page and internal pages
  • Internal pages all use different colors
  • Navigation is not top-aligned
  • Typography choice and size are not ideal (too small, too difficult to read, etc.)
  • Fonts used are inconsistent
  • U.N.I.T. logo doesn’t lead back home
  • Embossing of words and buttons throughout site
  • Scarce use of imagery; when they are used, typically aren’t optimized or sized appropriately
  • Not responsive
  • There’s a translation notice at the top of the site despite it not actually being written in French

8. Castle

Scary Website - Castle - VampireLoversThe VampireLovers website from Castle.

At first, I totally wanted to hate on the VampireLovers website from Castle. However, upon closer exception, there are really only a few things I take issue with.

VIDEO

How scary is it? (1-5): 1

Why is it scary?

  • Left-aligned sidebar
  • Photo gallery doesn’t look like it was made with a high-quality plugin
  • Gap in navigation menu which throws off the consistency otherwise present

9. Arrested Development

Scary Website - Arrested DevelopmentThere are nearly a dozen ridiculous websites from Arrested Development.

Arrested Development was always known as a show dedicated to attention to detail and their development of fake websites was no exception. In the below clip, you’ll find about a dozen websites, each with their own set of no-nos, from cheesy animations to ill-chosen neon font colors.

VIDEO

How scary is it? (1-5): 5

Why is it scary?

  • Because all of them are so bad you can’t help but laugh

10. Fear Dot Com

Scary Website - Fear Dot ComThe Fear Dot Com website.

Anyone else remember Fear Dot Com from the early ‘00s?

VIDEO

Maybe this horror movie fail is best left forgotten.

How scary is it? (1-5): 5

Why is it scary?

  • All caps all the time
  • No “X” or back button to give users control over the experience
  • Poorly-designed (i.e. boring) CTA buttons
  • Ugly color palette
  • Website will literally drive you insane

11. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Scary Website - Jay and Silent BobThe Movie Poop Shoot review site from Jay and Silent Bob.

You know that when a scene starts with “what the f@#$ is the Internet?” that you’re about to see a totally out-of-date website. This one comes to us courtesy of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and the fake movie review site they created called “Movie Poop Shoot”.

VIDEO

How scary is it? (1-5): 4

Why is it scary?

  • Home page requires you to click through to actually enter site
  • Vulgar graphics and animation (though I guess that’s okay for a movie review site?)
  • Left sidebar
  • White font on black background
  • Too many colors, sizes, and styling of typography

12. Chain Letter

Scary Website - Chain LetterA spyware website from Chain Letter.

Chain Letter has a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though I bet it’d get an even lower score if more web developers saw the website from this movie and left a review for it.

VIDEO

How scary is it? (1-5): 3

Why is it scary?

  • White font on a dark and distracting background
  • Ambiguous and confusing website name (or is it a page name?)
  • Boring navigation menu located on the left
  • ALL CAPS!
  • Cheesy stock photo and crappy personal photos included

13. The Social Network

Scary Website - The Social NetworkFacemash: the precursor to The Facebook and, eventually, Facebook.

In the only real website entry on this list, we have The Social Network’s immortalization of the real Facebook… before it was Facebook.

The image above comes from Facemash, what actually now looks like a desktop only, pared-down, and even more shallow version of dating apps like Bumble and Tinder.

And here is what The Facebook looked like at the 1:28 mark:

VIDEO

How scary is it? (1-5): 1

Why is it scary?

  • Too simplified of a color palette and design
  • Doesn’t make full use of space (i.e. could really benefit from a full-width banner and frame)
  • Logo isn’t easily recognizable as it could be any random college student’s face

Wrapping Up

Alright, now that I’m done scaring you away from any potential encounters with movies and TV that feature horrific web designs, let’s focus on the positive. Most of the scary websites we’ve seen here are as a result of design limitations in the past (especially if WordPress wasn’t around), potentially questionable taste, or simply because they wanted to make viewers laugh when they caught a glimpse of the “Easter egg”-like website.

The good news is that many of the web design trends we rely on nowadays should prevent these sort of “scary” throwbacks in the future. As a reminder, these web design best practices will keep your site safe now as well as in the foreseeable future:

Clean, simple, and flawlessly designed WordPress sites will (hopefully) always be in fashion.

Source: The WordPress Experts – WPMU.org (Original