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The Quest For Mobile Speed, Part Three

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 29, 2016

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:

IJS004
I’m Just Sharing
MitchBlog002
Mitch’s Blog
TFB002
Top Finance Blog
MBAblog001
MBA Blog
SyrWiki002
Syracuse Wiki
TTM001
T T Mitchell Consulting Inc
MBA002
Medical Billing Answers

Not bad right? I’ll take a moment for myself. πŸ˜€

That’s over. The way I’m going to do this is to first mention things I learned and had to change up from last time, which of course means I’m going to start by talking about the WordPress blogs.

The first thing I had to change was the coding I used for compression. I mentioned that I had been working towards something called GZIP compression (link in the last article) and I posted code that I said boosted my blogs up slightly. Well, it turns out there’s two types of compression, GZIP and Deflate, and it all depends on the host as to which one will work for you. My host, 1&1, doesn’t use Deflate, which explains why the code didn’t work properly.

With more research I came across this code, which I put into my .htaccess file:

< ifModule mod_gzip.c >
mod_gzip_on Yes
mod_gzip_dechunk Yes
mod_gzip_item_include file .(html?|txt|css|js|php|pl)$
mod_gzip_item_include handler ^cgi-script$
mod_gzip_item_include mime ^text/.*
mod_gzip_item_include mime ^application/x-javascript.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude mime ^image/.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude rspheader ^Content-Encoding:.*gzip.*
< /ifModule >

With this code, I finally achieved speed ranks over 85 on most of my blogs. The others were close, but this was a major step. I was now into the area of tinkering, but I could handle it. By the way, remember to remove those spaces in the tags, which I had to put in so it wouldn’t start coding this post. lol

The next thing I did I owe to Brenda Pace… or to whomever it was that shared her link on Twitter talking about WP Smush for images. I had previously talked about Zara 4, but you had to pay to go over a 16MB limit. This plugin does have a pay component, but for most of our needs the free version works wonders.

Any images you’ve uploaded to your blog it will reduce for you, which speeds things up. My mobile speed jumped nicely for individual posts, which was pretty cool. However, it couldn’t affect everything because of my use of Compfight, which I mentioned last time. Since those images don’t reside on my site, I can’t reduce them, which explains why two of my blogs are still in the Fair category as it pertains to my desktop speed. This means some posts are faster than others; just something you should know.

Another issue that kept cropping up talked about some stupid Google fonts that I didn’t even know existed, because I don’t remember ever adding them. Turns out I didn’t; for some reason, there’s a link contained in at least one of the WordPress PHP files that we can’t get to. Almost all the research I was doing pointed to a plugin called Disable Google Fonts. That sucker didn’t work for me; instead, I found one called Remove Google Fonts References that got it done and that helped speed.

At this point anything else I did was just tinkering, and I decided instead to tackle the websites instead. These brought their own challenges, thus they’ll make up the bulk of the rest of this post, although some of these things will also work on your blogs if you’re in the mood to do them.

Let’s start with my main business site. Back in November I mentioned that I’d had to remove HTML table coding and that helped the site move faster. I’d only done it for a few pages, so now it was time to tackle all of the pages, which meant a lot of copying and pasting and testing. Overall it was pretty easy stuff to do, but I ran into things that I still can’t fix.

One thing I was able to do was what they call “compressing CSS”, which in essence, means you modify your code to strip out stuff that you really don’t need, which is known as “minifying”. I went to this site, pasted my CSS code into it, and it spit out tighter code, even if it looked ugly. It worked in speeding things up a little bit so I took it. Hey, I’m at 90 for mobile and 96 for desktop; I’m ecstatic!

Thus, it was time for my medical billing site, and this one took lots of time. Nothing I was doing to it would improve my speed or desktop score, and it was irksome. Then I finally realized what the issue was… too much HTML. This meant I had to recode the entire site, using CSS; ouch!

I hadn’t built a totally CSS site in 6 years, so I had to brush up on it. Not only that, but if you look at the site you’ll see that the menu is on the left side. The only coding I’d ever done before this put the menus at the top, which means I had to do research on how to get it vertical. Then I had to tinker and tinker and tinker some more until I finally got it looking close to where I had it previously.

It was ugly and time consuming, but I finally got the main page right. Then I did another page and things still looked good, so I went to bed. Next morning I started on all the other pages… and it turns out some of them worked well and some didn’t. Truthfully, almost all my sites want me to tweak these particular issues, but on some pages it’s enough to keep your speed from reaching good:

* Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content

The file it says needs rendering is my CSS file, and so far nothing I do is eradicating the issue;

* Prioritize visible content

The problem here is that I use Adsense on these pages and to keep the code where I want it to be for some of it means I need to use some HTML, and that particular bit of HTML drags down the speed, and there’s nothing I can do about it. The funny thing is that one of my pages, which talks about Medicaid, doesn’t have any HTML on it, so I have no idea what it’s looking for me to change (well, that’s not quite true, but the HTML that’s on it is near the bottom of the page, and this talks about stuff that’s “above the fold”…;

* Leverage browser caching

This one is irksome because it depends on some code that, for some reason, worked on the blogs but doesn’t work on either of my webpages. This is that code, which goes in the .htaccess file:

< IfModule mod_expires.c >
# Enable expirations
ExpiresActive On
# Default directive
ExpiresDefault “access plus 1 month”
# My favicon
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access plus 1 year”
# Images
ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 1 month”
# CSS
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 1 month”
# Javascript
ExpiresByType application/javascript “access plus 1 year”
< /IfModule>

Those are the major issues. There’s two odd things I’m going to tell you about though, and both refer to javascript. The first is that the page speed test calls out its own Google Adsense code as a problem; what the hey? You’d think they would give us a working code right?

The second is that every once in a while you’ll see something about either asynchronizing or deferring your javascript code. This one turned out to be a pretty easy fix by adding “async” to the code like this:

< script type="text/javascript" async src=”http://xxxxxxx.js” >< /script >

Just so you know, depending on your host, you might have to put in “defer” instead. Either way, it works; shocking right! πŸ™‚

One final thing. It seems that if you’re linking to other content, whether it’s on your site or not, and you’re linking a bunch of things in one paragraph, it’ll reduce your speed for that also, saying things are too close together (I can’t remember the actual words but you’ll know it if you see it), in which case I just removed a few here and there to add some spacing.

I think that’s enough of that. I’m done talking about it for the longest while, and I’m telling myself that I’m done working on the problem for a while as well. Of course, if you have questions I might be able to answer go ahead and ask. Next week, back to fussing about stuff! πŸ˜‰
 

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The Quest For Blog Speed, Part Two

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 22, 2016

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:

IJS speed
I’m Just Sharing
Mitch's Blog speed
Mitch’s Blog
Top Finance Blog speed
Top Finance Blog
Medical Billing Answers blog speed
Medical Billing Answers (MBA) Blog
Syracuse Wiki speed
Syracuse Wiki

That’s not bad, right? I’d have to say I’m fairly proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish… so far. I’ll explain some of the things I’ve done to get to where I am now, while realizing that not everyone will be able to do some of these things unless you’re pretty technical and not afraid to experiment.

First off, let me tell you that upgrading my hosting package to a new one did absolutely nothing for my speed. I waited the 5 days like they recommended, nothing worked, and I contacted them again, only to have them send me the same Google link I’ve talked about previously. I was fairly irked at the time, but after a day I realized that some of what I still had to do wouldn’t have worked if I hadn’t upgraded. So, even though they kind of misled me based on my beliefs, it still turns out I had to do the upgrade anyway.

Why?

Back in 2006 when I purchased my package along with my friend Kelvin, compression wasn’t a big deal for websites. There was talk about making sure your website didn’t take forever to load, but most of us never paid much attention to that because, except for those who used a lot of Flash or tons of pictures it didn’t affect us that much.

These days if you run the Google speed test one of the things it recommends you do is set up compression. If your hosting package isn’t up to date, then it’s possible that no matter what you do as it applies to coding your site either isn’t going to speed up at all or it’s going to look like you broke something.

I ran into both problems. First, I created a php.ini file and I added this bit of code to it:

memory_limit = 120M
upload_max_filesize = 40M
post_max_size = 8M
zlib.output_compression =1
zlib.output_compression_level =9

Initially I was doing all my testing on my Syracuse Wiki blog and this one. The theme I use for this blog is fairly old, even though I’ve made lots of changes to the files, whereas my newest theme is on Syr Wiki. Adding the compression code in the php.ini file made IJS disappear, while it didn’t affect Syr Wiki whatsoever. After I upgraded, both sites stuck around but increased speed by only one point.

There was another part of compression that had to be performed, and this time it was messing with the .htaccess file. See, even though I was on the new package, it didn’t do the compression unless you told it to. Research talked about turning on what’s known as GZIP compression. Frankly, after reading all about it my head was spinning and I still didn’t understand anything about it except what it was supposed to do. I found this code and tested it, and it helped give me a bit more speed:


AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript

By a bit more speed, I mean that both of these pages were now in the 60’s, both sitting at 62. That’s still considered as poor speed, but it was an error message I wasn’t getting anymore and it was moving in the right direction; yay!

Next I decided to try a caching program because I saw a lot of people recommending it. I was hesitant because back in 2008 I had tried WP Super Cache and it pretty much shut this blog down. Still, I decided to try it again, this time using W3 Total Cache.

The initial problem I had was that it conflicted with the WPTouch Mobile plugin, which actually makes all blogs mobile friendly but doesn’t do anything with speed. I found some adjustments I could make and made them, but nothing I did helped to increase my speed. I’ll admit that I don’t fully understand how caching programs work, but as I looked at the Google recommendations caching wasn’t a problem it was talking about so I decided to remove the plugin and try something else.

Before I tried another plugin I decided to address a different issue that kept coming up, that being something about CSS files and javascript files slowing things down above the fold. I know nothing about javascript so I decided to tackle CSS, something I did know about.

Once again, CSS has modified from when I first learned it some years ago. Back then, the idea was that you put everything that you wanted to modify on multiple pages all the time into your CSS files so you didn’t have to individually code each page. These days you can still do that, but certain types of code are considered as secondary code. By Google’s “definition”, any piece of CSS code that begins with “.whatever” is code that doesn’t need to be loaded immediately along with everything else, and that it need to be put into the area of your HTML coding using < style > codes.

That blew my mind for about a day, and I finally decided to test it on one of my static websites first. When I got a mobile speed of 90 I figured I was on to something. lol Still, this was WordPress template software that I was about to mess with; what if something went wrong? Well, fortune favors the bold, and as long as the bold is careful things usually work out… right?

I opened two Notepad files. In the first one I pasted the entire CSS code into it and saved it onto my computer. In the second I copied and pasted every single CSS code that began with that dot into it and spaced them all apart. Then I added the < style > tag at the beginning of each of these things and < /style > (if you decide to try any of this don’t put the spaces in the code like I did here; it seems that without the spaces it alters the blog post; go figure…) at the end of each one… trust me, there’s a lot of these in each of these CSS files.

I went back to the original CSS file in the blog software and removed all of those dot files, then saved it. After that, I went to the Header.php file and, under the area, near the end of that tag, I added all of the new < style > codes and saved that. By the way, I’ll be coming back to this process in a little bit because it led to something else that was eye opening.

I tested my speed again and both sites were now in the 70’s. I felt pretty good about that but I didn’t think it was good enough. Although I had conquered the CSS issue, the javascript issue was still there, and oddly enough a couple of the scripts messing things up belonged to WPTouch; that was freaky.

I went back into the deep research and tested a bunch of different plugins, but almost none of them did anything for either blog. I temporarily added Zara4 as a photo compression program which affected a file here or there, but it would have been a bit pricey to go back and compress all the images that really needed it. I decided against that for the moment, although I did shrink a couple of images, which includes my image to the top right and the images for my books on the left and that helped a little bit but not much.

The plugin that finally worked for me, along with all the other stuff I did, is called Async JS and CSS. It didn’t come up as an option for me until I came across it on a forum and searched specifically for it to add it as a plugin. The first changes I made to the settings, which were recommended, brought the speed of both blogs up to 100/100, which would have been fine except it erased the content of both blogs from the internet; oops! Realizing that not all settings will work on all blogs, I did a little tweaking and actually had phenomenal speed on both blogs, both over 90; Syracuse Wiki is still over 90, and I’m ecstatic about that. By the way, here’s my settings:

Async JS001
Async JS and CSS

Your question is probably why IJS isn’t still above 90. Well, this brings up back to all that stuff I did above with the CSS code that I talked about above. For whatever reason, on all my blogs I have to disable the majority of plugins if I want to make any changes to those files, otherwise I get a “not found” message after trying to save anything. The reason I had to go back in was because there was still one thing I had to add to the header, that being the code that corrects the Configure The Viewport issue that all older themes and websites will have.

In a previous post I talked about how the recommended coding by Google never seemed to work for me. Well, it still doesn’t! Not on my blogs and not on my websites. I figured out how to modify it, so my code now looks something like this: < meta name=viewport content="width=525” >, where I specify a width size. Google still doesn’t like this, but your speed will improve after you add it.

Because I had to go back in and add it, I did it first on my Syr Wiki site and hit that magic 98; wow! Then I came to this blog and added it and was up to 91; yeow! However, when I added all my plugins back, I dropped down to 72.

You know what this means. One or more of the plugins were messing things up. I decided I had to add them back one at a time to see who the culprit was… or who they were. I don’t have a lot of plugins on Syr Wiki since that theme is newer, but I have tons on this blog. So the process began…

The big culprit turned out to be my Readspeaker plugin; oh no! I added it to my blogs back in 2009 as a way for people to be able to listen to my posts instead of having to always read them. I was kind of an early adopter, and it was a free plugin at the time. What I hadn’t paid attention to is that they’ve never added an update to it, and when I went to their site I learned it’s because now it’s a paid model, and the paid model is updated and coded totally different than the one I have.

By removing it from this blog I jumped from that 72 to where I’m now at 86; sigh… Since I have no idea if anyone was still using it these days I guess it’s time to call it a day; oh well…

That’s how I’ve achieved the new speed on both of these blogs… kind of. It turns out that speed only applies to the main blog page. For each individual blog post, the only way to achieve that speed is to compress any images you might have on those pages. This is partially problematic for me because most of the images I use on the site come from Compfight, which is a plugin I use that searches for Common Creative image files I can use for free, but since those images aren’t actually in my files there’s nothing I can do about the size of those files.

I did test it on a post that had my own files, which is the first one I linked to above. The first image was already small, at 22kb, but the one with my picture on it was 614kb. After I did my own bit of compression by reducing the pixel size, it fell to 65kb, which increased the speed a bit:

IJS002
Before compression
IJS003
After compression

Frankly I can live with that! πŸ™‚ Course, now I need to go back and alter images that I uploaded on my own. I’m also learning a bit about image quality and how, if my initial file isn’t all that big to begin with, once I compress it the quality drops somewhat drastically (look at the images on this post; they’re all small now but they weren’t all that big before I compressed them).

It seems all this stuff works pretty well, and now I have to go to my other blogs and complete all the things I’ve done with the first two, and if I can get them all into the 80 range I’m going to be a pretty happy guy. However, I have some caveats for you:

First, if you make changes to your .htaccess file and your main page stays but your individual posts go missing, all you have to do is go into your Admin area, Settings, permalinks and reset them.

Second, make sure you save your originals of everything in a place where you can access them in case you need to remove some code that’s not working if you already have that file. As a matter of fact, save everything you’re going to touch, both before and after stuff.

Third, realize that not everything works for everyone. Just like I said about the Async JS plugin above, the recommended settings removed all my content from the web (my files were still intact but no one would have been able to see anything) so I had to test and modify to find something that worked for my blogs.

Fourth… don’t kill yourself shooting for 100/100 for everything across the board because you’ll never sleep well again. I turns out that the two separate links from Google for checking mobile speed don’t even agree all the time; what’s that about? Truthfully, “fair” is probably pretty good, but the higher you can get your score without going overboard the better.

Fifth, image compression the easy way can be achieved by shrinking the pixels of some of your image files if they’re overly big yet probably won’t change how they look on your blogs or websites. If you have any images over 600 pixels on your website or blog, those are going to hinder your speed.

Sixth, if you use WPTouch, you might need to go back into the settings and fix your phone theme colors once you do all this stuff. I had to do that because it made my backgrounds white with all print black until I did. I’m not sure what changed it but it’s an easy fix if you need to correct it.

I’ll stop here because this might boggle some minds. I’ll answer what questions I can because I still have a lot of work to do. The lucky thing about blogs is that once you alter the CSS files and the Header.php file it takes care of all the previous posts going forward. For a website however, you have to make the header change on each and every single page; ouch! Still, it’s better to have a solution that works and only takes modification rather than still trying to figure it all out… at least that’s how I see things.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mitch Mitchell

Mobile Friendly Versus Mobile Speed

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 8, 2016

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?

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Feb 5, 2015

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.

steps
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.

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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. πŸ™‚

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

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

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Nov 24, 2014

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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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. πŸ™‚ 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.

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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. πŸ™‚

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

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell