Results Of My Mobile Speed/12 Posts In September Test

I took last week off from writing a new blog post because I wanted to give my epic post on blogging mistakes a chance to gain some traction. I also figured it would be a good time to see how some of my efforts worked out as I worked on increasing my web presence after all that work I did on my mobile speed.

mobile speed
This is speedy!

First, let’s talk about the goals I set out to accomplish when I announced at the beginning of September that I was going to write 12 posts in the month:

1. Kickstart the search engines
2. Show people that it can be done
3. Inform, educate, entertain
4. Show expertise

Let’s get #2 out of the way. I indeed wrote 12 posts for the month of September, which included that monster last post. Eight of the 12 were more than 1,000 words, with a total word count of 17,330 for the month. That’s about a 3rd of the way to having an entire book; I can live with that.

We can also get through #3 and #4 pretty quickly. I wrote what I consider one entertaining post which also was informative, and I think I wrote one educational post about images, with the rest being informational; at least that’s how I categorizing them. Some of those posts showed my expertise in blogging after so many years; I may not make a lot of money but I certainly know how to crank out some articles. 🙂

I know, it’s #1 that most people want to know about, since that was the biggest thing I was worried about when I started talking about the difference between being mobile friendly and mobile speed, and how all my rankings had suffered drastically this year. I also know I wasn’t alone on this one, but as always I’m willing to take on the challenge of doing the testing.

When I wrote about my test in writing a post every day in December on my business blog, I noted that it hadn’t worked and I had no real clue why. This time, I thought it might have to do more with the mobile speed, which was probably lacking back in December on all my blogs since I didn’t even know it was a thing to consider. If that were the case, then it’s no wonder that my content aims didn’t work.

increase blog traffic
traffic

I also did a bit of research in August & September and noticed that for all of my blogs almost none of my new content was being seen by at least Google, although Bing seemed to be finding me. I have to admit that was kind of scary, since I’d written a few things I really believed would have done really well with a lot of people. Even looking up some of my titles word for work on Google didn’t show any of my articles on the first page unless they showed up on someone else’s blog that I’d commented on. That’s when I knew I was in some serious trouble.

Thus, the 12 posts test. What’s happened has been kind of amazing; let me share some details:

1. On August 31st, my Alexa ranking was 859,918 and the blog was in free fall. On September 15th, the ranking was 934,330. As of yesterday, October 9th, my ranking was… 644,985! No matter what you might think about Alexa not being totally accurate, that’s still a pretty nice recovery if you ask me.

2. Because I took all of last week off, I went to look at my Google Analytics on Sunday to see what they might tell me. First, my overall traffic has doubled from the month before, as well as my pageviews; that’s not depressing at all. As a matter of fact, September was my highest month for both since last September; nice!

3. Something else Analytics showed me was that 7 of the articles I wrote this month were in my top 10 in the last 30 days… which is something that’s never happened before! My post from the 30th about blogging mistakes is at #5 with “30 mistakes you’re making blogging” and if I put the entire title in, without the quotation marks, it comes up #1… which is what it’s supposed to do. That means Google is indexing me again; yay!

That’s not bad, right? It gets even better for me across the board. I had 4 posts on my business blog in September and my Alexa ranking went from 1,114,055 to 881,170 in the same time period. In actuality, 4 of my 5 blogs increased their Alexa rankings in September, even with little content. The one that didn’t actually increased from the 1st to the 15th because I’d posted a pretty nice article in the first week of the month but it slowly fell after that; it really needs more content. 🙂

I’m feeling pretty good about things at this juncture. I think it shows that if you can achieve proper mobile speed numbers and have enough new content that your traffic numbers can improve. It’ll be interesting to see how well this blog does as I go back to a mainly once a week posting schedule, which hopefully will leave me more time to write for my other blogs as well.

Are you now encouraged to try to increase your mobile speed?
 

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My Quest For Better Mobile Speed; Things I Can’t Figure Out

I know I said 4 weeks ago that I was done working on increasing the mobile speed of my websites. Actually, what I said was I was done for a long while… I’m thinking 3 weeks is a long enough “while” so I’m coming back to the fold to talk about it once more.

Speed ahead
SprinterJockey via Compfight

The thing is, there are some issues that I just can’t solve, and all my research isn’t answering any of it. I’ll own up to seeing a lot of solutions here and there, but I have to add that none of them either make any sense or don’t work.

One other thing that’s happened, at least for one of my regular websites, is having pages that are slower than other pages when the content is literally the same, and the page speed error messages are the same as well. Why does one page pass the test when the other doesn’t?

All this and more follow, but I want to mention the two reasons I’m putting this one together. The first is to show other people who might be fighting these issues that they’re not alone. The second is hoping that someone with some “real” knowledge will pop in and explain what some of these things are and how we might actually be able to fix them.

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

This one is at the top for my regular websites. For both sites, the issue is the CSS file, since I figured out how to correct javascript. There doesn’t seem to be a way to defer CSS files loading, and supposedly what this means is that we should put most of the code we have in a CSS file into the actual pages.

That’s fine, except… that’s the reason we’re using CSS in the first place, so that if there’s a change we want to make to affect all pages at once we only have to put it in one stupid file! All the research I did said to first try to minify the file (which means clean is up; there are lots of pages that offer links that will do it for you) but even after doing that it didn’t change my speed any. The second recommendation was to leave it alone and just thumb your nose at Google. Since I can’t find a better fix to this issue that’s exactly what I’m doing… but it’s unsatisfactory.

2. Leverage browser caching

This one recommends setting what’s called expiry dates to certain types of files, where the intention is to tell the browser of your visitor whether it needs to actually download those files to the browser again if you’ve already visited the site within a certain period of time. The site I linked to actually gives you the code to add to your .htaccess file, which I mentioned in the last page speed post, only… it doesn’t work!

I’ve tried changing some of the numbers. I’ve tried converting some of the numbers to the number of seconds those numbers represent (which was another recommendation). For whatever reason it’s just ignoring that code, and in all the research I’ve done I have yet to find even one person who might have an idea of why it doesn’t work… and lots of other people who have said it doesn’t work for them either.

3. Reduce server response time

IMG_20160712_094226
Need this to calm down lol

In essence, this one is blaming the host you’re using for your websites. The recommendation is to track it to see what’s going on and then… fix it. FIX IT?!?!? How do we do that? I actually called my hosting company and eventually hung up because they had no idea what I was talking about.

I could blame the hosting company but my research has shown that no one else has any real idea how to do it either except to change hosting companies. Let’s be real here; why the heck would most of us want to keep jumping around to hosting companies just to see if this possibly works?

4. Prioritize visible content

This is the strangest one. What it tells you is that you have issues with your HTML that it supposedly can’t render completely the first time around that’s above the fold. This one is problematic for two reasons.

The first is that, at least for me, the two things it’s telling me it’s having a problem with is my main image and some Google Adsense code. On the first, I’ve reduced the image and don’t have any actual HTML around the image, so I’m not sure what to do about that, especially since the entire code is actually way above the fold since it’s at the top of the page.

The second is that, even based on all the research I’ve done, they really don’t tell you what above the fold means in this particular context. For instance, on the page speed screen it shows you what you believe is the above the fold area. Yet, all the research says that’s not quite the above the fold Google’s talking about, and the only way to figure it out is to go step by step, testing each little change.

Not only do I NOT know who has the time to do all of that, but on one of my sites I totally eliminated the HTML for the content, going totally with CSS content. Unless CSS is now also HTML, Google’s gone bonkers! lol

One last thing. For my medical billing site, I actually removed both the image and the two places where I have the Google Adsense code just to see how much my speed would improve… and it didn’t improve! What the hey? I also took a different page, saved it as something else on my computer, and copied just the content of the page that’s dragging into it; eureka, it worked! That is, until I changed the Title of the page to what it should be and the title on the page for what it was supposed to represent… all broke once more; sigh…

5. Size tap targets appropriately

This is another one that’s kind of goofy. What this supposedly means is that things you want people to click on, whether it’s a menu item or links to other pages within your content, are too close for mobile users to get to easily enough.

On my main business page it’s telling me that the menu items are too close to each other. Unfortunately there’s little I can do about that because the menu was created for me 13 years ago by my friend Kelvin, and I rarely dig into javascript code to make changes because I don’t know the ins and outs of it (although I did go into it to make a menu correction; I was proud of myself when it worked).

On my medical billing site, the content it’s telling me is too close to each other is, once again, within the Google Adsense code. I mean… really?!?!? What the heck am I supposed to do with that? By Google’s own terms of service you’re not allowed to mess with their code, and one would assume that if they’re going to report on themselves that they’d fix themselves while they were at it. Then again, why expect common sense from Google when Warner Brothers has reported their own site for stealing their content? Sheesh! lol

Those are the top 5 things I haven’t been able to figure out. I’ve actually figured out almost everything else, which is how I achieved the speeds I did. One last thing though; I want to reiterate that, though those error messages above keep popping up, they don’t seem to affect all my pages the same… even though the structure of all the pages is the same. I think I need a computer Sherlock Holmes to figure it out… or maybe someone out there much smarter than me who’ll see this post and stop by to help. We can only hope… 😉
 

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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…
 

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