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Competition Analysis for Dummies

Competition analysis forms an integral and important part of SEO. You need to look for your competitors’ weaknesses and strengths as much as your own, to be able to outrank them in the SERPs.

However, before we delve deeper into how to go about performing competitor analysis, you need to understand why the process is of paramount importance.

It helps us understand the potential of our keywords and topics based on the authority of other top ranking pages.

It also provides us with an insight into the gaps, if any, in these top ranking pages so that we can make use of that.

It helps us understand how we could optimise and enhance our website for it to make it to the top rank with our target keyword.

You can make use of this information to create content for your website that has better chances of ranking. With such superior quality of content and backlinks, Google will start ranking you in its search results for many other long-tail keywords even if you do not target them directly.

So now that we know why competitor analysis is essential, we shall now see how Ahrefs could be used to go about the process.

Check for Unbeatable Rankings:

You need to start the analysis by checking if the top ranking pages are government pages or those of big shot organisations. These pages are extremely difficult to outrank because they are most relevant pages for that specific search keyword. For instance, keywords like airforce and military have tremendous competition not just from the government pages, but also from several others. Therefore, maybe it is advisable to avoid these niches and move on to something that has a better chance of ranking.

Check for the Page Authority and Backlinks:

Since we have used Ahrefs as the working SEO tool to perform all the research, it is important that you understand what URL Rating (UR) and Domain Rating (DR) means.

URL Rating (UR) gives us an understanding of how strong a specific URL is based on the number and quality of links pointing to it.

Domain Rating (DR) gives us an understanding of how strong a website is based on the number and quality of links pointing to it.  

However, the only thing that you need to be bothered about as of this moment is the UR of the page for your target keyword. Therefore, what you have to do is place the URL of the top ranking pages one by one in Ahrefs and check for its UR. The other metric that you have to look for is “Referring Domains”. Take for instance the keyword vegan diet. Once you type the keyword on Google, you will get a number of results. Start the analysis by placing the URL of the top ranking sites in Ahrefs. You could also look for the details of backlinks on the right hand side of the screen on Ahrefs.  

As can be seen, the first site has a UR of 43 and a solid figure of 307 for “Referring Domains”. Also if you check, out of 307 Referring Domains, 78% is DoFollow. Therefore, this site looks a tad difficult to outrank.

This is the thus, the first step to pick up the hint of competition by subjecting every top ranking site to the same process of analysis.  

Check for On-Page Optimisation Factors:

Analysing the On-Page Optimisation factors is essential if you need to outrank other pages in your niche in the SERPs. If you find that a certain page has made it to the top ranks of the SERPs without having a proper On-Page Optimisation, you need to seize the opportunity and optimise your page without further ado.

Here are the things that you need to look for while optimising your page-

Page Title, Target URL, Meta Description-

Your page title, as well as its URL must have your target keywords for the niche. It is also important to remember that the meta description strongly influences the Click-Through-Rate (CTR) and thus, needs to be paid attention to.

H1 and H2 Headlines-

Your H1 headline, that is, the main headline must contain your target keywords. Besides the H1 headline, at least one of the many H2 headlines must also contain the target keywords as they make for strong on-page ranking factors.

LSI Keywords-

Your H2 headlines should have LSI keywords, which are nothing but keywords related to your target keywords. You can look up for LSI keywords generating tools on Google. Most of them are free which makes the process of scouring for these keywords easier.

Introductory Paragraph-

The introductory paragraph sets the tune of the rest of the content which is why it is always an effective ranking strategy to have your target keywords placed somewhere within the first paragraph.

Body Content-

It is important to check for the number of times your competitor has used the target keywords in their content. It is definitely a metric that can be taken advantage of and used in improving the content of your page.

Alt-Tags in Images-

While using images to support your content, make sure that you use Alt-Tags with them. Most of the pages do not use them while publishing content with images. You can use this to turn the tables to your favour and outrank your competitors.

Internal Links and High Authority External Links-

Using internal links that sits well with your content can dramatically improve your website’s ranking. Also, using high authority external links make for an important criteria that Google checks while ranking your page.

Tweak Your Content:

Well-written and crisp content is crucial for your page to obtain backlinks from high authority pages. Therefore, while framing the content for your page, look into the following aspects-

Length and Format of the Content-

Google always prefers a thoroughly researched and extensive content when it comes to ranking. A well-framed content, with segregated headlines and paragraphs, has value for its reader and thus, is an essential factor for ranking.

Grammar of the Content-

Your target audience will leave the page if your content has poor sentence structure and grammatical errors. However, that does not mean that you need to use esoteric words and phrases. Make sure that your content conforms to the rubrics of grammar and has a good structure, lest the bounce rate shall shoot up.

Multimedia-

It is great if you could support your content with relevant pictures or videos. Analyse your competitors’ pages and find out how many images or videos they are using, so that your content can outnumber and thus, outrank them.

Conclusion

Analyse every aspect of your competitor’ page to find out where it lacks. Once you find out these gaps, it will be easier for you to fill in and thus, move up the SERPs.

Planning and Growing Niches

Now that we have discussed about how to settle upon a niche, target keywords and perform competition analysis, it is time that we learn to scale up the website and expand the business. There are essentially three steps that you have to keep in mind-

Have one niche in your mind at the beginning

Target its main and biggest keywords

Dominate the ranks for the big keywords, and once you build your authority, it will be easier for you to dominate for everything

But your work does not just stop here. You have to build a long-term goal for your site even before you get capped. It is important to remember that once your site has acquired authority, it is easier to expand into other niches and reap the benefits.

Have Your Growth Planned:

The first pillar posts will always take some time to rank. This is because you are only just starting in the domain and getting a hang of everything. Also, since the domain is quite new, you will not have backlinks pointed at your site. However, as you start publishing more pillar posts and targeting keywords, your site authority shall grow. You will also have more backlinks. Websites like Forbes and TechCrunch have built their authority in such a scale that they rank for pretty much everything.

How Do You Plan The Growth?

Here are a few points that you could keep at the back of the mind if growing your site and generating substantial revenue out of it is your motto.

Have one profitable niche on your mind at the beginning, but also have a list of few other niches that you can segue into eventually.

Choose a domain that has a bright future prospect. For instance, if your site is about vegan diets, then think about how you could expand this site into something else but relatable. Therefore, it would probably be a great idea to choose a domain like allaboutdiets.com or something like that. It is flexible and promising.

Take it one niche at a time. This might sound antithetical to the entire ‘having more niches on your mind’ thing, but it is really not. Think about it. You need to target that one specific niche, target its keywords and then grow into other niches. If your parent niche itself isn’t as supportive, it is impossible to hope to expand the niche. Therefore, once you have built enough authority for that one niche, the rest will be a cake walk.

Conclusion

It all boils down to having your head at the right place and planning your move before you proceed. Have clarity of your long-term goal and the rest shall fall beautifully in its place.

Pillar Keywords and Pillar Posts

We shall now move on to discussing why pillar keywords and pillar posts are serve to be essential factors in ranking. Creating content with the right pillar keywords and pillar posts has the potential to draw traffic to your site without having to break your head over it.

How Do You Create Pillar Keywords?

We shall have to go back to our keyword research phase where we used seed keywords in Ahrefs to receive some incredible long-tail keywords suggestions. There is no need to go through all the pages of results. The first few pages would do the trick. You will have to start with targeting the biggest keyword and then putting together a list of all the relevant keywords, because they all the same search intent. Therefore, when you are successful in ranking for one keyword, you will eventually rank for all the others similar in meaning.

Therefore, the ideal step would be to target one long-tail keyword using Ahrefs, and then creating content with it. You will not only have ranked for that keyword, but would also be targeting all the similar keywords together and drawing substantial traffic.

How Do You Target All The Keywords?

There are certain ways in which you can target all the similar and relevant keywords. Here’s how you should be going about it.

Title/Description Elements-

Title descriptions and tags enlighten the audience as to what they can expect out of the content of a certain website. Therefore, you must understand how important it is for you to optimise the description of the title. Google pays a lot of importance to websites which has the title tags and description it deems fit.

So this is what you do, and it is pretty much the same process. You need to come up with a list of all the keywords as similar to the pillar keyword. Once you have that, you can use them in the meta-description using your creativity.

What Are Pillar Posts?

Pillar posts are the main posts on your blog which is responsible for drawing most of the traffic and acquiring quality backlinks from authority sites.

In this article, we shall look at the best ways to write and format a pillar post, differentiate between the styles, and debunk some myths associated with them.

Now that we are done discussing pillar keywords, we need to move our attention towards pillar posts. Pillar posts are the initial posts that you create around a pillar keyword for the purpose of ranking. Thus, the name-pillar posts support the existence of your new website and your website success in terms of ranking depends on how well you have framed the content of your pillar post.

You must keep in mind that the number of pillar posts that you need to include in your website depends on the search volume you are targeting. 2 or 3 pillar posts are a decent number to begin with.

Formatting a Pillar Post:

It is not enough to just put together a massive piece, with the number of words running over 2000. You need to format the article appropriately if you really want to make use of the pillar post. Of course the number of words is one of the major factors that set your pillar post apart from other posts. However, you need to factor in other aspects of formatting too.

Sub-topics Must Be Well Researched-

You cannot have sub-topics in your pillar posts just for the heck of it. You need to do some research on those sub-topics before you write them in the post. You cannot hope to finish off with explaining the sub-topics in one or two sentences.

Get really deep into it and provide at least a few solid paragraphs of valuable information in these sub-topics. However, do not just keep writing on and on without any content. Some topics might not have much meat to it, which is fine.

Therefore, you need to find a way of including as much information as possible in every sub-topic.

Consider Linking Out to External Sites-

Your audience will love reading an article which is backed up by relevant external links. This means when you link your pillar post to external links containing information on the same niche, you are only increasing the credibility of the information you put out using your pillar post.

 Also, Wikipedia might look like a decent website to link for your pillar post. However, think beyond Wikipedia. Link all the articles that you have used to write the pillar post. This is more like providing your audience with a bibliography that can be found at the end of a research paper.

Every source is put together so that your audience understands that your article is well researched and genuine. Place the externals links at the end of every section so that it looks well organised and sorted.

Post Images Along With the Articles-

Posting images that is in alignment with the spirit of your post can enhance the ranking factor. It shall do you good if you find relevant images and post it wherever it sits well with the article.

It enhances user experience as well as gives an edge to your article. Audience love it when they have something graphic to refer to that represents what they just read. Pexels is a great site to scout for images. But make sure you read their terms and conditions before you use any of the images.

Some of them might want to be credited, and it is your duty to conform to the copyright rules if a particular image has it. However, most of these images are free and can be used at one’s will.

Have a Clean Layout and Use In-Page Links-

Have your pillar posts segregated into paragraphs, topics and sub-topics. This makes it an easy read. Also, make it a point to have in-page links. In-page links make navigation easy for audience as they would not have to keep scrolling to land at a particular section.

They could just use one of those links and read the section that interests them the most. This method is highly engaging and shall make sure that your audience stays on your page, which is quite an important factor for ranking.  

The Types of Pillar Posts:

There are essentially two types of pillar posts that you need to know about before settling on any one style.

The Ultimate Guide-

This type of pillar post takes a lot of time to write. It is exacting and has information from various sources woven together in one single piece.

The words usually run beyond 5000 and sometimes over 20,000 as well. These are not like any standard blog piece. They are custom designed which thus, sets it apart from every other blog piece.

The custom design of the ultimate guide is responsible for getting a high number of social shares and links from good sites.

The Standard Blog Piece-

The standard blog piece is a simpler approach to pillar posts in terms of design and layout. It has valuable information but does not have a design as vivid as that of an ultimate guide. The word limit is also restricted to 2000 to 5000 words. However, all these pillar posts can be linked together from within the posts.

It is always advisable to use the standard blog format for articles within the word limit of 2000-5000 words. However, if it runs beyond the said limit, the ultimate guide format is the best choice.

One Major Misconception Regarding Pillar Posts:

People include random topics in the pillar posts, just for the sake of it and to make it look longer. This is deleterious to ranking. When someone searches for a keyword, they need specific answers to their question.

There is nothing more disappointing than scouring through the internet only to land on a website that discusses things remotely associated to the keyword. There is no dearth of material on the internet.

You need to use the resources generously to be able to come up with a long pillar post with valuable information.

Conclusion

Pillar keywords and pillar posts are what shall decide the future of your website. They are called pillars for a reason. Therefore, make sure that you have highly optimised content for your pillar posts so that Google understands the relevance and your website shows up on the search results for that specific search keyword.

Whether you should go for the ultimate guide format or the standard blog piece, and whether you need to opt for custom designing or not, can only be justly answered by your personal need. Do not follow a format only because you think it is in trend. Doing something with half knowledge is damaging and shall only hinder your ranking on the search engines.

Repurposing Content For Content Pillars

Writing is difficult, and we always need lots of it for our website to grow. However, it literally takes hours to write one good piece of content.

Now, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a way you can seamlessly turn that single article into a hundred other articles? There is, and it’s known as content spinning.

Content spinning is basically all about saying one thing in several other ways. A good spun article is meant to retain the meaning of the main article while changing enough words for it not to be detected as a duplicate.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to spin articles using The Best Spinner.

That said, let’s quickly get started:

What Is Content Spinning?

Content spinning consists of using a software like the Best Spinner to rewrite an article enough that the search engines and people (and even duplicate content checkers) will think it’s a totally different article.

The software can actually do this hundreds of times within a matter of minutes, and the new (spun) content can be submitted to several blogs, with an SEO benefit in mind.

This automatic rewriting process replaces phrases and words with synonyms and sometimes changes the entire sentence structure.

Here’s an example of what it looks like:

Source: orbitmedia.com

Content spinning was used to create hundreds and thousands of “unique” articles back in the days, after which the new pieces will be submitted and published on different article directories (such as Squidoo, Infobarrel, etc.) with a backlink to your target website.

Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, maybe you’ll get to understand it more after seeing how content spinning work:

How Does Article Spinning Work?

In this section of the article, we’ll quickly go through how to use the Best Spinner software to turn your content into different variations.

Introducing…The Best Spinner

I personally think that the Best Spinner is the best article spinner (rewriter) software out there.

Now, on the screenshot above, you can see we’ve pasted our article in there, and it’s ready for spinning.

Essentially, as soon as you load your article in the software, it instantly goes to work by identifying every relevant synonym from its massive database containing millions of synonyms, which makes the Best Spinner the most intelligent article spinner on the market.

In reality, this method of spinning is not of decent quality; it’s also not very original, so avoid every shortcut and learn how to do it correctly!

Enough of the rants!

To get started, the first step is to write the original content, after which you’ll copy and paste it into the “article” tab on the software as you can see below:

Now, in order to spin the article, you’ll have to select different synonyms and phrases for every word in the article you pasted.

So if you select the first word on the article, which is “many,” a pop up will come up with several different variations of that word.

On the screenshot above, you can see we have “numerous, several, a lot, quite a few.”

You can select a whole bunch of these synonyms; however, you must be careful of the ones you’re choosing as some of them won’t make sense at all, so you want to select the ones that are very similar to the words you want to replace.

If you’re not happy with the suggested synonyms, you can also add your own word as you can see on the image below:

When you spin the article, what happens is that the software will randomly select one of the words you choose in the final piece.

Now, the next step is to click on the “Spun Article” tab to access the spun article:

As you can see, it replaced the word “many” in the original article with the word “quite a few,” which basically mean the same thing.

Clicking on the “New Spin” tab on the bottom left corner of the software will also replace the word with any of the variations you selected earlier:

And again, it replaced the word “quite a few” with “several.”

If you keep on clicking the “New Spin” button, the word will keep on changing until you exhaust all the synonyms you selected from the beginning.

Meanwhile, you’re expected to carry out the same exercise on every word on the original article. But you don’t have to keep doing it one by one. It’s best to select the relevant synonyms for the entire article and then spin them all at once.

This will save you a bunch of time than having to manually rewrite the article.

Here’s what it’ll look like once you’re done replacing the entire article:

You can see all the blue syntax here for each of the words in there. But remember, if you have your target keywords on the article, you’ll want to leave it as it is so you won’t spin your keywords.

Additionally, there are a few times when no synonym will work for a specific word, and that’s totally fine, you should just leave it as it is.

When you’re done with the replacements, click on the “Spun Article” tab to see the spun article:

You can compare the result with the original article above, and you’ll see that they’re totally different. And if you don’t like the result, keep clicking on the “New Spin” tab until you find the one you’re satisfied with.

So Why Doesn’t Article Spinning Work Now?

There are lots of reasons why content spinning no longer work today as it did some years ago. Most people typically view the article spinning tactics as both unethical and lazy – and following this approach will usually lead to getting low-quality and unreadable content.

Secondly, article spinning is also considered to be a “black hat” SEO strategy, as explained by Orbit Media:

The main point of search engine marketing is to offer high-quality content that website visitors can interact with, thereby boosting your ranking.

But such low quality spun content won’t hold a viewer’s attention for long, which will often result in losing the search engine’s trust.

Furthermore, this type of content is always created for the sake of building links, which was why Google launched the Panda update in 2011, which was targeted at sites that produce poor quality content.

Again, content spinning is just like repeating information without unique insights, it’s not future-proof, and doing this is an easier way to ruin a great content,

It is, therefore, time to retire the robotic rewrite approach and get real.

So Is Content Spinning Off The Table As An SEO Tactic?

Content spinning is awful, but resourcefulness is great. In other words, if you know how to spin articles by rewriting it in a different format or from a different angle, it’s actually a fantastic idea.

The “traditional” content spinning tactic is no longer feasible given the constant algorithm changes. However, the content spinning concept still works wonders! Just avoid every form of automation.

Moreover, if your website and business are vital to you, then it’s perhaps a good idea to avoid using an article spinning software. The risk of triggering penalties from Google is enormous, and the quality of content produced by those softwares will kill your reputation.

By using good content from human writers, your business will blossom, and there won’t be any danger of Google stepping on you.

Content Spinning 2.0: How to Create Spun Content That Google Loves

Spinning content is no longer limited to using tools like The Best Spinner, WordAI, etc. By “spinning,” you can create a brand new content from the original one, and that is what we’ll be talking about in this section.

That said, below are the different ways you can spin your content and still offer great value to your readers:

Content repurposing

People consume content in various formats. Some prefer written content, while others prefer consuming content in video formats.

Now, the main goal of content repurposing is to recreate content into different formats in order to capture the interests of all your target audience.

For example, commuters can’t read blog posts on the go, which is why they’ll prefer listening to podcasts instead.

Below are the different ways you can approach this:

Blog post to images

You can convert your post into images and infographic or even presentations.

And no, you don’t have to be a designer to achieve this as you can easily create any type of image and infographic using Canva with the help of its many preset templates.

Once you’re done, you can share the image on some of the various image sharing sites on the internet such as Imgur, Google Photos, TinyPic, etc.

And if you create an infographic; you can also share it in places like Visual.ly, Slideshare, infographic reviews, and even Pinterest boards to increase social signals and shares.

For example, these slides on growth hacking by Mattan Griffel have generated over 800,000 views so far:

Here’s a list of other places you can submit your infographic for maximum exposure.

From post to video

Having in mind that some of your audience might also prefer video content, it makes sense to also create a video version of your blog posts just like Brian Dean does on YouTube for his Backlinko posts.

For example, this video below from Brian Dean was created out of this blog post about SEO Checklists:

Remember that your videos don’t have to be as high-quality as the ones from Brian Dean, the goal is to create an informative and compelling video version of your post.

And if you don’t have the time to make the videos yourself, you can easily use a tool like Lumen5 to convert your posts to a video and edit it as needed.

Creating videos with Lumen 5 is pretty straightforward. Just choose a blog post, copy and paste it into Lumen5, and it will automatically convert it into an appealing and professional-looking video.

Here’s a short video tutorial on how to create the video versions of your blog posts with Lumen5. And below are an example of videos created with Lumen 5:

When you’re done creating your videos, you can upload them to YouTube and drive more traffic to the original blog post and your website in general.

From post to audio

There are two ways you can turn your blog posts into audio. The first method is to embed your blog post’s audio file to the original content so your audience can listen to them directly from your website.

A free plugin like Play for WordPress can help you feature them on all your posts. This will help with both retention and traffic, which are also on-page factors.

Secondly, you can convert the posts to a podcast hosted on a platform like Podbean, after which you can feature the podcasts on your site and syndicate them on platforms like Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, etc.

Here’s how to do this:

  1. The first step is to sign into your Podbean account and click on the “Settings” tab.
  2. On the “Settings” tab, click on “General,” then edit the channel title, category, and the “brief description” sections.
  3. Upload your podcast logo, and click on the “Update Options” button to save your changes.

To publish your podcast:

  1. Visit the “My Podcast” page, and click on the “Publish” button.
  2. Select a file to upload for your podcast
  3. Edit the title and description of your episode, and then upload the episode artwork if you want.
  4. Then click the “Publish” button to release the episode (or save draft/schedule).

Selecting your Podcast Site Theme

  1. Click on the “Layout” tab to view different theme options. You can actually customize lots of things on the layout, such as images, colors, and fonts.
  2. When you’re done, click on the “Submit” button to save your changes.

That’s it! Now, your audience can enjoy your podcasts.

Rewriting the content from a different perspective

This approach is similar to rewriting the original content and making it unique and informative enough for both Google and your audience. However, you can change the perspective from one side of the spectrum to another.

For example, if the original post is about “how to promote your business on social media,” the newly rewritten post could be about “how not to promote your business on social media,” but instead, build your own platform/channel.

These are the same tips and content but is written from a different angle. The original article focuses on the tips you should follow for promoting your business on social media. The rewritten article is all about tactics you should avoid.

The same post, different perspective.

Topic clustering

The idea behind topic clustering is to put together subtopics discussed in the main posts and then create individual articles for each.

For instance, if the original post is about “how to make money with affiliate marketing,” then you can recreate some more articles about:

  • The importance of affiliate marketing
  • Best affiliate networks to join for maximum earning
  • How not to do affiliate marketing
  • Case studies of websites that are succeeding with affiliate marketing
  • Etc.

So how do you go about this?

Simply extract subtopics that weren’t adequately discussed in the original post and create a post for them.

You can start by performing keyword research to find your parent topic, create a pillar content for it, then use the similar keywords of the parent topics to create topic clusters.

For example, if you want to write a post about “affiliate marketing for beginners,” entering that into Google search will give you a few other subtopics to work with:

Check the “people also ask” section of the search result:

Here, you can also write new blog posts around these questions after writing the main post.

Additionally, you can also check out the “search-related” section to see even related topics you can use for your topic clustering:

If you want to go deeper into this, then you can employ the use of keyword research tools like Ahref, which will make the entire process easier for you.

Finally, the great thing about topic clustering is that you can internally link to related posts on your website from the newly created content instead of linking out to third-party sites, thereby helping you to boost your search ranking.

Conclusion

Content spinning is no longer just about building backlinks to your website. It’s now more about creating handcrafted, high-quality content that brings value to your audience.

Most business today already know the benefits of writing good content, and you should also pay more attention to that, and avoid cutting corners.

There are lots of disadvantages to using content spinning softwares nowadays. Although some of these tools can rewrite content that can even pass plagiarism checkers, it won’t be well written.

Therefore, your best bet is to always write your content yourself and then repurpose them into different formats following the steps outlined in this post.

Page-speed Optimization in 2019

Page-speed Optimization in 2019

To be able to thrive in a world where competition is strife and businesspeople are ever ready to lay waste to their opponents, it is necessary that you reach out to your potential clients in the right way. Thus, it goes without saying that the best way to do some solid outreaching would be by having a website that can engage your clients and put your products and services out there in the world.

Since there is no business that runs without a website these days, what matters is how you optimise your website to reap the best out of it.

Having a website is not going to do the trick unless it gains more traffic and results in a substantial conversion rate. So, first things first-

What Has Speed Got To Do With Your WordPress Site?

Think of a slow website as the death of half of your business. Nothing bugs a user than a website that might have piqued their interest, but refused to load in a jiffy. Do not take my word for it, but extensive studies have been conducted on this and have proven that human beings cannot hold their attention for more than 5 to 7 seconds.

This article that I am writing shall not hold your attention for a longer time if I do not cut to the chase and start talking about how you could optimise your WordPress site and do some serious business out there.  Similarly, your website too, needs to have a great speed to be able to tweak the Click-Through-Rate (CTR) and get your hands on some good revenue. Here are some ways in which you could go about the process.

WordPress Level Optimisation:

It is always advisable to get a back-up of your WordPress site in its entirety before you do anything with it.  WordPress can crash at the slightest interference and then you will have nothing to make changes to. Careful there!

Start by adding Expires Headers-

Expires headers inform the browser about whether it needs to request a specific file from the server or obtain it from the browser’s cache. However, remember not to install plugins or enable plugins that you might need to install later.

So, you begin by first telling the site that you want to enable expires headers by pasting the following code in htaccess.

<IfModule mod_expires.c>
# Enable expirations
ExpiresActive On
# Default directive
ExpiresDefault “access plus 1 month”
</IfModule>

Next, you need to look for the resources that are hardly updated.

<IfModule mod_expires.c>
# Enable expirations
ExpiresActive On
# Default directive
ExpiresDefault “access plus 1 month”
</IfModule>
# CSS
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 1 month”
# Javascript
ExpiresByType application/javascript “access plus 1 year”
</IfModule>

The aforementioned example is not what happens in 99% of the cases. It only takes into consideration all the resources that are updated once a month every year. It is 100% safe to add expiry headers for CSS/JS and favicon if work on the site is completed. Therefore, perform this only as the last step. If you have implemented expiry headers, you need to test if it works by running a gtmetrix scan. It should confirm the same.

Enable keep-alive-

Keep-alive is a persistent connection that allows only one connection to several HTTP requests. It prevents multiple permission calls to one server. Therefore, you need to add the following as your next step-

<ifModule mod_headers.c>   

Header set Connection keep-alive

</ifModule>

A word of caution

While editing an htaccess file, you need to make sure that you copy the code as it is. There is a potential threat of your website crashing if there is any change in the code, no matter how trivial it might look. Also, always append the code, which basically means to add them in the end. Do not ever replace existing code and make sure that the code you copy paste is not already present. Just like the negative of negative is positive; similarly, no two commands in htaccess can become a Yes).

Limit post revisions-

Here is another trick that you must have up your sleeve. WordPress keeps adding post revisions and a single post may have 10-20 post revisions. Needless to say, this takes up a lot of space. However, you could limit the post revision by adding this code in wp-config.php.

define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 3);       

This means that you are limiting the total saved revisions to 3.

Disable image hotlinking-

This pointer is going to come in handy when the website you are working with has bandwidth issues. The reason being, when others use the urls of images from your site and use it on their posts, it depletes the bandwidth of your site. So, a 1mb image referred 1000 times will cost us 1000mb in bandwidth. Going through this step then can substantially reduce no anchor image backlinks created this way.

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?ventureharbour.com [NC]
RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ – [NC,F,L]

Turn off pingbacks and trackbacks-

Trackbacks could be seen as an equivalent to acknowledgements that you find at the end of a research paper or scholarly article. Basically, trackbacks are notification systems designed to notify a legacy blog, using pingbacks, if you have linked to them.

Turning this system off can save a lot of space from database. You need to Go to Setting -> Discussions and disable pingbacks and trackbacks.

Move Google fonts call to footer-

99% of WordPress sites use Google fonts at one point or the other. The API call is usually in the header, but you could move it to the footer so that the page can load faster. Add the following code to the footer-

<script type=”text/javascript”>
WebFontConfig = {
google: { families: [ ‘Noto+Serif:400,400italic,700,700italic’ ] }
  };
 (function() {
 var wf = document.createElement(‘script’);
wf.src = ‘https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/webfont/1/webfont.js’;

 wf.type = ‘text/javascript’;
wf.async = ‘true’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(wf, s);
})(); </script>

Uploading and configuring plugins-

It would do you good to upload the following plugins.

  • WP Fastest Cache – make sure you enable minify and GZip.
  • Query Strings Remover – this prevents the attempts of stray SQL injections.
  • Shortpixel – install this and use it to compress images
  • WP Optmize – cleans DB and post revisions.
  • BJ Lazy Load – use this with caution as this can cause sites to crash.
  • Async Javascript Plugin- enable the plugin and allow the Jquery defer option. This allows WordPress to queue plugin loads.
  • Also when working with any of these programs, make sure that you always choose Minification and not anything do with obfuscation. Minification just removes blanks while the latter changes code which can cause themes to break.

Uploading and working with plugins could be a tricky affair and you must exercise precaution to ward off unwanted complications and technical glitches.

Manual minification for codes in widgets-

Codes present in widgets and other parts of the site need to be minified manually. You could paste the code in the link http://refresh-sf.com/ and get it minified.

Disabling HeartBeat API-

The HeartBeat API is a simple server polling API built into WordPress and has the function of allowing near-real-time frontend updates. It deals with WordPress’s deadlock procedures. The tactic of disabling the API can only be implemented if the client is the only user of the site and does not update it much with new posts and pages.

Paste the following code in the functions.php theme files-

add_action( ‘init’, ‘stop_heartbeat’, 1 );
function stop_heartbeat() {
wp_deregister_script(‘heartbeat’);

The Must Have WordPress Plugins:

It is all fun and games when you have a lot of time on your hand and are prepared to sift through these aforementioned steps to optimise your WordPress. However, some of you might not have so much time and need shortcuts instead. Here are some essential plugins for WordPress to save your day.

WP Rocket-

WP Rocket is by default the best plugin there is, for WordPress. Not all of us are great at the technical stuff which is where these plugins come into the picture. You need no skill to use it and can leave everything up to WP Rocket. The plugin instantly increases you website speed and puts you in an advantageous position. It automatically turns on some of the recommended WordPress caching settings like CDN- support and minification, while also giving you options to manually control other features.

Autoptimize-

This particular plugin makes optimising WordPress really easy. It aggregates, minify and cache scripts and styles, while also tending to features like injecting CSS to page head by default. Therefore, if you really have performance on your mind and hardly any technical skills, this should easily be your safest bet.

W3-Total Cache-

W3-Total Cache is a great plugin used in WordPress to increase the loading speed of your site. Like has already been discussed, it is important that your users are caught up to speed not just with the matter that your website furnishes but also with how fast the page loads. W3- Total Cache does exactly that by increasing your server performance. This enables a better SEO score for you and thus, helps your site to rank higher in the SERP.

In A Nutshell:

There are enough ways to enhance your site’s load speed and performance and thus, rank higher in the Search Engines Results Page (SERP). You could get hired help at the cost of quite some amount to do the work for you or you could do all of that by yourself. While it might seem like professionals have a better know-how in dealing with these technical nitty-gritty, more often than not, they perform exactly what the article entails.

I hope the article was enlightening and I hope that you have a great time optimising your WordPress site the next time you embark on such a venture.

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