The Quest For Mobile Speed, Part Three

Whew, I’m tired! This will be the last installment of the quest for mobile speed, even if later on I may write about something new I’ve discovered. It’s finally time to end this journey, which has taken on a life of it’s own. The previous quest for speed post was pretty epic; I expect this one to be much shorter… then again, what do I know? lol

This time around I’m adding two of my business websites along with talking about the blogs. I still have one website I haven’t addressed, mainly because I still haven’t figured out what I want to do with it. This still means I have 7 web properties to talk about. First, take a look at the numbers from the previous post because I’ve improved on all of them:
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The Quest For Blog Speed, Part Two

Two weeks ago I told y’all about the concept of mobile friendliness vs mobile speed and how I’d been losing all this traffic because the speed of my sites stunk even though all of my sites were considered mobile friendly. Well, I’ve been on a major quest to rectify this, and I’d like to share with you what I’ve been doing.

First, let me remind you that on the above post I showed that my friendly score was 100/100, and my mobile speed was 58/100. What I didn’t share was that my desktop speed was 61/100 at the time. All of my blogs were between 54 to 58 on speed and 58 to 61 on desktop before I started. Let me show you where I stand now, and I have to admit that I’m kind of proud, even if I’m not perfect yet:
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Mobile Friendly Versus Mobile Speed

I was looking at my site on Saturday night and I noticed my Alexa rank. Even though most people think there’s no use for Alexa, it turns out there is. and it scared me. I noticed that my traffic had dropped drastically and I wanted to see what the issue might be.

mobile friendly vs mobile speed
Friendly vs Speed

I looked at my Google Analytics and noticed that for every single one of my websites my traffic had dropped drastically around the beginning of May. I thought that was strange and I wasn’t sure why that was happening so I did some research.

It turns out that at the beginning of May is when Google decided to look at web sites and determine whether they were mobile friendly or not, which I thought I was totally prepared for. I had gone through a lot of work to make sure that all my websites were mobile friendly, and I had even checked them against this Google page that indicated that all my sites were mobile friendly. So what was the issue?

It seems mobile friendly isn’t the only thing to worry about. The other thing we have to worry about is mobile speed. I hadn’t paid that much attention to mobile speed because all everyone ever talked about was being mobile friendly. When I checked all my sites against mobile speed, even though they all still came up mobile-friendly, my mobile speed was around 60/100. It turns out that’s considered a poor mobile website; who knew?

I’m one of those people who is at least a little bit tech savvy. I’m also a pretty good researcher, so I did my thing and started doing all this research, then started finagling with code to try to get the mobile speed up to par. The problem was associated with compression, though initially I thought it might be a problem with image sizes. However, since my blogs won’t accept large files, I didn’t think it was that particular issue. It was associated with something called “gzip compression”; I don’t fully understand it but it didn’t mean I was scared to try to correct the problem.

At one point I actually succeeded in getting my mobile speed to 100/100, and thought that was pretty fantastic. However, two things happened. The first is that my mobile friendly went down from 100/100 to 72/100, which is only considered fair. The second is that all my websites suddenly had internal server errors; that wasn’t good.

I had to go back and remove all the new code that I had added to both php.ini and .htaccess to get my websites back; whew! Once that was accomplished, I dabbled around with the code for a longer period of time, finding more examples during my search including on the 1&1 site, which is where I host my sites.

Popsicle
I was tired & sweaty lol

After almost 3 hours I decided it was time to call 1&1 to see what they might offer. The recommendation that was on their site was from 2014, so I thought maybe it was out of date.

I spoke to the lady who told me she would send me a code I should add to .htaccess. When I got the code in the email it was the same code I had already tried. I wrote her back saying it didn’t work, gave her a screenshot of the Google test as well as other information that I had in both php.ini and .htaccess. After I hadn’t heard from them in a couple of hours I decided to go to bed (it was close to 2:30 in the morning after all lol).

Sunday morning I checked email and found that the reason none of what I was doing would work was because I was on a package that was 10 years old and they hadn’t just rolled it over, which seems like it would make sense until I realize that neither the phone companies or cable companies would do it automatically either. In essence, nothing I was doing was compatible with what everyone else might have because I’ve been with the same package for too long.

Sunday afternoon I finally made the call to 1&1 and, after having all my questions answered, I decided to upgrade my package. Here’s the funny thing though. Upgrading my package is costing me $0.13 more a month. Also, for the first year I’m getting it at $6 less than what it would normally cost, and they have to give me a prorated discount because they had just taken a payment against my credit card last week so they have to apply that to the new package. In essence, this means for the first year I will be paying them just under $50, and after that it will be $14.99 a month, which they’ll bill in one shot as opposed to the quarterly billing I’ve been paying. Not only that, but with the new package I won’t be paying $5.99 for extended PHP support, which I was paying because my sites weren’t compatible with the latest PHP under the old package; sigh…

Supposedly it’s going to take 3 to 5 days for everything to be working properly. After that time, it’s my expectation that I should at least be close to 100/100 for everything since compression will automatically be on via the hosting company. Hopefully this will result in a turnaround in my stats, although since it took 4 months for it to fall this far it just might take the same amount of time to get it all back… but I’m hopeful.

I tell this tale because I’m betting that some of you have been going through some of the same things I have. If you have exhausted all of your options and you’re still having issues with your website as it applies to being mobile friendly, you should check with your host to find out if your on a proper package that will help you take care of this issue. If only I had known back in May… sigh…
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mitch Mitchell

Should You Have A Website?

There are a lot of people who have websites (or webpages) in this world. There are a lot more, however, who don’t have websites. When it comes to business, a general question that has to be asked is whether it’s viable for the owners of that business to have a website or not.

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Christa via Compfight

As a former internet marketing consultant, the overall answer is easily yes. The reality, however, isn’t so cut and dry. Let’s explore the positives first.

A website can be a great extension of your advertising, if done properly. If you have products, it’s a great place to not only share information about them, but, if applicable, you could set your site up to sell your product at all times of the day. A website can highlight your expertise, tell everyone what you do, tell something about you, and allow you to share your expressiveness with a whole new audience of people. If marketed properly, your website can see a whole lot more people than you’d ever meet.

One great thing about having a website is that, even if you don’t really do business online, it offers you many ways to accept credit card payments if your business doesn’t presently accept them. For instance, for my businesses, I accept credit card payments by sending people online links that will direct them through Paypal so they can use their credit cards. Paypal takes 2.89%, but that’s a small price to pay for having my money quickly, as it allows me to transfer funds to my bank account immediately and have them in my bank account within 3 days, sometimes sooner. There are other services out there that offer similar services.

Of course there’s the other side.

A website can make you look bad if the site doesn’t look good, or isn’t uniform. If you write the copy yourself and you’re a terrible writer, it can highlight shortcomings that you may not want others to see. If your product doesn’t photograph well, or can’t be easily explained, it could make marketing difficult. There’s a dicey balance between trying to show yourself as an individual that people can trust as well as a professional who’s open and inviting to strangers.

Then there’s this thing about keeping your website fresh and interesting, not only to the people who visit but to the search engines. The best optimization in the world won’t help your site out if, once it’s completed, you let it go and never do anything else with it.

Search engines such as Google will send out what they call spiders, that will go through your site and rank its validity. If nothing changes after a long time, they stop coming by on a regular basis. When that happens, you could drop off the face of the search engine universe, which means that the only people who will find your product are the ones who know to look for you. If that’s what you want, fine, but if you want more, that’s not going to work.

Websites take one of two things; time or money. Either the owner has to learn at least a little bit of HTML to consistently make changes and alterations, as well as, hopefully, add content, or the owner has to have the money to pay someone to do that for them on a regular basis.

Also, a new owner has to make a decision how they want to spend their money, and what a website is worth to them. For instance, there are many hosts that offer the opportunity to create a free site, usually a one page site. If you’re a business, it doesn’t look good for you because your business name isn’t highlighted as much as the host, such as Freewebs, Homestead, etc. You also can’t optimize much because it’s not really your site.

SandS002

You could decide to use one of many programs to create your own site to upload, and I’ve seen a few people who have done a nice job with it, but formatting pages so they look uniform can take time, and also some knowledge, and if you’re not the type for that then you probably shouldn’t go there. These days there’s a lot of people using WordPress software to create their own website; it is and isn’t easy, depending on your skill level.

Depending on what you want, creating websites can take a lot of time, and might cost you some significant dollars. There are some companies that have templates you can use and then work on customizing, but they pretty much look like other sites.

Before you pay any money, talk with the person you’re thinking of using to try to decide just what you might want. For instance, I had one client who, when we first talked, said she only wanted five pages, which wouldn’t have cost that much or taken long to complete. By the time we were finished, we were over 15 pages, with research on top of the creation of the site, and the cost ended up in the thousands. This client was ready to pay it; are you ready to pay it?

Also, please have a vision for what you want your website to look like? I manage the website for one of the organizations I’m a part of and, while I was out of town, they decided they wanted to freshen up the website. The problem is what they put out there for proposals was generic and didn’t say anything, and when I finally saw it I told them that. I asked why they wanted a website change and they said they wanted something new; that was it. If you’re going to accept whatever the person who creates your website, no matter what it looks like then fine, but if you want something more specific you’d better mention that up front.

The same thinking has to come into play if you think you want to add a blog. I hate cruising blogs, only to see that many of them haven’t had an entry in over six months, sometimes years. Blogs aren’t for the uninspired; it takes some kind of discipline to continually write entries, and, if you’re writing a business blog, the worst thing to have is a blog that has no recent activity. Some people try to write on a niche that’s too tight, and they find that it’s hard being confined to that one thing, so they just stop writing. If you don’t really believe that you have enough in you to consistently keep updating it, then it’s best not to start.

So, should you have a website? Time and money; if you have either, then yes. If not, then no… possibly. After all, if your competition has a website you’re immediately at a disadvantage.

At least make an informed decision either way. For a quick, down and dirty list, click on this website outline of pros and cons (this was taken from a website I shut down so it looks odd; just look at the information in the middle), check out my webinar titled Social Media, SEO & Your Business (upper left corner), or just ask someone, even me. However, I’ve pretty much given you everything you should need. 🙂

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Getting The Most Out Of Shutting Down A Business And A Blog Online

Back in July I wrote a post titled Are You Spreading Yourself Too Thin. In that post, I talked about how sometimes we all try to do too much and how I had way too many things going on, especially with all the travel I was doing at the time.

I listed some things to think about, but point #4 was especially telling, though most people seemed to have missed it:

Don’t be afraid to let go of certain things, but make sure you look at it from all sides first before doing it.

For those who don’t know me, I have a main business. With that main business, which is incorporated (which means, by law, that officially I’m both the president and CEO of my organization), I had basically 3 business divisions, two of which I market off one website.

First off, I’m a health care finance consultant. In essence, I help hospitals generate more revenue and bring in more cash while making sure they stay compliant, which means aren’t doing things that are illegal. I’m very good at that, with my biggest success being that I helped one hospital increase their revenue by $730 million in one year; not many people can say that.

Second, I write about and talk about leadership issues, which includes diversity, communications, and all things that involve employees and, well, people in general. With that part I’ve spoken in 9 states and given presentations, and over there on the left, under the Twitter bird, you see the first book I wrote on leadership (I have people reading what will be the second book, coming out sometime early in 2015).

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Third… I have a business called SEO Xcellence. The purpose of that business was building websites, doing SEO work and writing. Because of that business I presented in public 4 or 5 times locally and, well, y’all know that I have written for lots of folks other than myself, and still do on occasion.

Let’s talk about this last one.

This business started kind of on a whim. I gave a presentation to a consulting group I belong to as a last minute replacement because our scheduled speaker notified us she couldn’t make it. In one day I put together a presentation on social media marketing, and I gave that presentation the day after. It was such a hit that within a week 3 of the people in that room were clients of mine.

That was quite a rush! Over the course of the next few years I’d build some websites for people and organizations, optimize them, and write some of their content. It was a nice way to make some extra money when I wasn’t traveling as much, which came as we changed presidents and the economy was in the tank. Hospitals weren’t hiring consultants, companies weren’t doing any leadership training, organizations weren’t hiring speakers outside of their area to save on costs… but writing gigs were everywhere.

Over time, it got tiring building websites, and it also wasn’t overly economical anymore. I’m not a designer; I build basic websites that tell the story of a business; in other words, SEO friendly sites. These days, websites are either templates or monsters, both extremes from what I do, and I just don’t have the time to keep up with the technology.

I still know SEO, but marketing it to people who have no idea what it is and learn that it doesn’t necessarily conform to ROI (return on investment) like other businesses do was very difficult. Frankly, it’s hard enough marketing my health care talents without trying to figure out how to market for something that, based on a person’s business, might not work for them.

So, I stopped marketing overall, but I kept up with blogging. Not as much as with this blog, but I was still putting out the articles on some kind of schedule.

Then I got my last gig in Memphis, and I was gone for basically 18 months. Some of my blogs started to suffer.

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you can only buy this
apple in central New York

My local central New York blog probably suffered the most, but that was okay because it’s a personal blog. My finance blog started to suffer as the quality of guest posts seemed to get worse, and I didn’t have the time to read and fix all that stuff and still, hopefully, write my own articles here and there.

The blog on SEO Xcellence? Truthfully, many of the articles I wrote there work just as well on this blog. The differences were twofold, but neither major. One, the audience for that blog was, hopefully, business people who might be looking to hire someone to do the services that I was writing about. Two, most of those articles were much shorter than things I’d put on this blog. I’ve mentioned on this blog in the past about how what you write changes depending on who you’re writing for.

Anyway, during my week at home over Labor Day week I came to a decision that it was time to shut down SEO Xcellence for good. As an act of serendipity, while thinking about it that week I got the notice from GoDaddy telling me that the domain would expire in the middle of December.

That’s pretty perfect timing if you ask me. What I did next was go to the blog and highlight articles I thought I could use on this blog. Then slowly, over time, I moved all those posts over to this blog and saved them as drafts. I also went and looked at any articles I thought I could use here and saved them as well.

Whenever I did that I immediately made those posts private on the SEO blog. I did that because I knew that after some time they’d drop off the search engine’s record, meaning that when I re-posted them over here I’d be good, and there wouldn’t be any question of duplicate content. Actually, since all my sites are on the same server and under the same account I might not have taken a hit anyway, but why take chances right?

How many articles did I move? Well, let me just say that many articles you’ve seen over the last few months started over there, and if I decided just to pop what I brought over here up twice a week until they were gone, I wouldn’t have to write another post until the first week of May. Now that’s valuable stuff!

Not only that, but with some help from Mitchell Allen I’ve marked many articles on that site to be used to help create an ebook about blogging. Yeah, I know, there are lots of them out there, and our buddy Adrienne Smith just created her new course on building a blogging community (by the way, that’s not an affiliate link for me; anything you buy goes totally to her) but at least it would be another product for me; gotta keep making stuff. 🙂 Anyway, more proof that there is always a use for old content.

In about 40 minutes or so, the very last blog post on that site will appear. It’s very short, telling anyone who’s ever read it (very few people I might add) that it’s all going away, and to come here to look at why. Truthfully, I probably should have consolidated these two sites a long time ago. It’s so much easier having all my similar content in one place, don’t you think? Also, I’m not linking to it because, since the link would go bad in less than a month anyway, I’d have to remember to come back here to remove it.

Closed
slimmer_jimmer via Compfight

Shutting down the other site and the other business takes a great load off my mind. I will never build another website unless it’s for myself or a friend. If I get writing gigs, I’ll get them because of this blog. If I get asked to speak at another conference, it’ll be because of this blog.

I’m not the first person to shut down a blog, but I’ve seen many people do it, go on to something else, and not think about the content they have on that site. I’m also not the first person to shut down a business, as my buddy Peter and his brother shut down a business a couple of years ago. It’s not an easy thing to do but sometimes it’s necessary.

By the way, this actually aligns with some of the goals I set for 2014, and I actually mentioned that other business. Nice to see I will accomplish at least one of the goals I set for myself.

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I’ll be thinking about more things as time moves on also. Focus needs to be my goal because my eventually wished-for outcome is to have $10 million in the bank in 10 years. Yeah, it’s pretty audacious; but remember, every rich person who made it on their own started with a dream. 🙂

And I can resume trying to build the audience up for this blog again; yay!
 

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