Friday, July 31, 2015

Unless Your Average, College ROI And Best Value Rankings Are A Waste Of Time

Your return on investment (ROI) from a college degree depends on what cost you actually pay, how you pay that cost, what you major in and if and where you get that first job, not some published ranking that is based on everyone being average at every college. yes, some colleges do have higher ROI values on average, and that is helpful to a point, but your return on investment is really all about you.

3 Resources to Help You Create the Content that Already Exists in Your Imagination

Copyblogger Collection - Remarkable Writing Resources

Even though it may seem like starting to write is the most difficult part of the content creation process, just starting is not good enough.

As writers, we also need to have both a strong vision and unwavering confidence that enable us to complete, publish, and promote our projects.

To support you as you create your next piece of content — whether it’s your website’s cornerstone content or your email autoresponder series — this week’s Copyblogger Collection is a series of three handpicked articles that show you:

  • How to identify and overcome the factors that keep you from writing
  • How to use a visual system to organize your content ideas
  • How to write out smart solutions to your problems

As a bonus, I’ll first share a seemingly silly technique that simultaneously helps me write, reinforce my content vision, and become confident about my writing abilities.

Type “something”

I typically write the introduction and conclusion to an article first, and when I don’t know exactly what I want to write in the middle sections, I type the word “something” to fill in the draft.

Once the draft looks complete with the “somethings,” I get so irritated looking at the nonsensical “something” sections that my ideas crystallize, and I’m able to type the correct words that should be there instead.

As I replace each “something” section with proper content, I become energized and excited about the topic I’m writing about, which makes the work seem effortless.

If you try this technique, just make sure you remove all the extra “somethings” when you proofread your content!

The Nasty Four-Letter Word that Keeps You from Writing


I cried the first time I read The Nasty Four-Letter Word that Keeps You from Writing — and I’m not just saying that because it was written by Copyblogger Media founder and CEO Brian Clark.

It beautifully expressed everything I felt as I was starting to establish myself as a writer in the digital marketing space and also provided solid guidance that helped me move forward with confidence.

Have some tissues handy and check out the article. If anyone tells you there’s no crying in entrepreneurship, he’s lying.

Solve Your Blank-Page Problem With This Visual, 3-Step Content Creation System


Kelly Kingman says:

We struggle with writing because it requires us to put the pieces into a sequence, while thoughts and experiences are experienced all-at-once.

When we sit down at the blank page, we’re asking our brains to squeeze the totality of all our thoughts and experiences around a topic into a sequence.

In Solve Your Blank-Page Problem With This Visual, 3-Step Content Creation System, Kelly explains a simple and fun method that helps you translate your thoughts from your visual mind to your verbal mind, so that they can be transformed into remarkable content.

The Write Way to Answer Your Most Pressing Questions


After Pamela Wilson committed to a daily writing practice, she discovered the activity produced an unusual — and extremely helpful — benefit.

The Write Way to Answer Your Most Pressing Questions explains how you can take advantage of this fascinating phenomenon to tackle content marketing obstacles.

Create your content with confidence

Use this post (and save it for future reference!) to help you transfer the content ideas in your mind to a format you can share with your audience.

We’ll see you back here on Monday with a fresh topic to kick off the week!

About the author

Stefanie Flaxman

Stefanie Flaxman is Copyblogger Media's Editor-in-Chief. Don't follow her on Twitter.

The post 3 Resources to Help You Create the Content that Already Exists in Your Imagination appeared first on Copyblogger.

The Beginner’s Guide to Technical SEO

Did that title scare you?

I’m not sure what it is, but as soon as people see the word “technical,” they start to get squeamish.

In this case, technical SEO just refers to any SEO work that is done aside from the content. Essentially, it’s laying a strong foundation to give your content the best chance it can have to rank for relevant keywords and phrases.


Just like they have for on-page SEO, technical aspects of SEO have changed as search engines have become more sophisticated.

While there isn’t much you can do to “game” search engines from a technical standpoint, there are some new factors in 2015 that you need to consider if you want to improve your or your clients’ rankings.

If I were to cover this subject in depth, I would have to create another advanced guide.

Instead, I’ll go over the most important aspects of technical SEO from a beginner’s perspective as well as give you a few specific tactics and next steps to fix common problems in each area. 

To get fast rankings, you need a fast site

This fact isn’t new: if your website loads slowly, a large portion of visitors will quickly leave.

What you need to know from an SEO standpoint is that a slow website can harm you in two ways.

First, site speed is one of Google’s ranking factors. First announced in 2010, it started to affect a small number of rankings at that point. We now know, the “time-to-first-byte” (TTFB) correlates highly with rankings.


TTFB is exactly what the name suggests: the amount of time needed for a browser to load the first byte of your web page’s data.

If that was the whole story, we’d only focus on improving TTFB. But there’s more.

We also know that 40% of people will close a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Further, 47% of polled consumers expect a page to load within 2 seconds.

Google may not take total page speed into account, but users do. Even if your TTFB is good, if it takes 3-4 seconds for your full page to load, many visitors will leave without waiting.

The worst part is that they’ll click the “back” button and choose a different search result.

This is known as “pogo-sticking,” and it’s one of the most important signs that a user isn’t satisfied.


If it happens too often, your rankings will drop in favor of a competing search result that doesn’t have the same issues.

Finally, while it isn’t a strictly SEO point, consider that just a one-second delay in loading time can cause conversions to drop by 7%. Even if site speed didn’t affect search rankings, you’d still want to optimize it.

Not all site speed problems are of equal importance: While there are hundreds of factors that affect site speed, some are much more common than others.

Zoompf analyzed the top 1,000 Alexa-ranked sites for site speed and found that the following four problems were the most common (in order from most to least):

  1. unoptimized images
  2. content served without HTTP compression
  3. too many CSS image requests (not using sprites)
  4. no caching information (expires header)

Keep in mind that the sites in that analysis were some of the best on the web. They fixed many basic problems that may affect you, especially if you use WordPress:

  • excessive plugin use
  • not using a CDN for static files
  • a slow web host

Don’t guess your site speed problems; diagnose: You very well may have one of those issues that I just listed, but first, you need to confirm them.

There are a lot of great tools out there, but I always recommend starting with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Enter a URL, and let the tool do its thing:


Any score above 80 is decent. That being said, higher is better, and improving Quick Sprout’s speed is on my long list of things to do.

If you’d like a second opinion, use a tool such as GTmetrix.


Notice that some tools will give you different scores. That’s because they weigh problems differently.

The following are the two most important things you need to ensure: that (1) your page loads quickly (under 2 seconds) and (2) your page is as small as possible with the least number of requests.

The Google tool is the simplest and a good place to start. It will give you the most important issues to fix (in red). Fix the orange ones if possible, but they don’t usually cause too much of a slowdown in your loading speed.

I do recommend using another tool to get more details. With GTmetrix as an example, you can click on the “waterfall” tab to see the exact amount of time each request took to fulfill.


This lets you see if your hosting isn’t up to par (a lot of waiting) or if one request on your page is taking way longer than another.

Once you know what your problems are, fix them. As I said before, there’s no way I can go into everything in this guide, but I’ll show you what to do if you have some common problems.

Start with your images: If you do nothing else, compress them. Most types of images have unnecessary metadata that take up space, which can be deleted without causing any harm.

Use a tool such as Optimizilla to compress pictures beforehand, or use a plugin such as WP Smush to compress any pictures you upload to WordPress automatically.

In addition, pick your file size carefully. JPEG files are usually smaller once compressed although not as high quality as PNG files. If possible, use vector images (SVG is the most popular format), which can scale to any dimension with no loss of quality.

Next up: Combine images into sprites.

A “sprite” is simply an image file that contains many small images. Instead of having to make a separate request for each image, you only have to get the one. Then, you use CSS to tell the browser which area of that image to use.

Sprites should include often used images such as navigation icons and logos.

Here is a complete guide to CSS sprites if you’d like to do it manually.

An easier way to accomplish this is to use an online sprite creator. Here is how to use it: create a new sprite, then drag as many appropriate pictures as you can onto the canvas:


Next, download your sprite (button at the top), and upload it to your site. It’s much easier than coding it from scratch.

I’ve also collected some of the best guides to other common problems:

You don’t have to fix 100% of the problems that tools highlight, but be careful when you ignore one. Just because one page may have a fast loading speed doesn’t mean that all your pages do.

I suggest testing at least 10 pages across your site, preferably the ones that are the longest or largest (with the most images usually).

How do mobile visitors see your site?

The biggest recent changes to technical SEO have revolved around increasing the importance of mobile friendliness.

On April 21, 2015, Google released the “mobilegeddon” update. While it was hyped up as a huge update, it only had a slightly higher impact on rankings than normal:


But don’t dismiss it: Google has made its opinion on the importance of mobile-friendly content very clear. And this is just the first update of more to come; think of it as a warning shot.

The good news is that even if you lose some rankings, it’s not a permanent or even long-term penalty once you fix it:

“If your site’s pages aren’t mobile-friendly, there may be a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search. But have no fear, once your site becomes mobile-friendly, we will automatically re-process (i.e., crawl and index) your pages.”

Test your website’s mobile friendliness: The first and last place you need to test your site is on Google’s mobile friendly checker tool. Enter your URL, and the tool will show you exactly what Google thinks of your page:


Additionally, you can check all the pages of a verified website in Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) by navigating to “Search Traffic > Mobile Usability.”


In a perfect world, you’ll have no errors either way.

However, most sites do have mobile issues. In fact, 44% of Fortune 500 company websites are not mobile-friendly.

So if your site is not currently mobile-friendly, you are not alone. But, it’s something you should fix as soon as possible.

To start with, you can choose from three different approaches to mobile-friendly design.

Approach #1 – Responsive design: This is the best option in the vast majority of cases. A responsive design shrinks and expands according to the visitor’s device.

Instead of setting widths for elements, you set a percentage.


For example, this is non-responsive CSS:

#body {

width: 600px;


It could be rewritten for a responsive site as:

#body {

width: 50%;


With this responsive code, the body section will always take up half of the visitor’s screen, regardless whether they use a phone or laptop.

Although those simple changes solve most of the problems, there is more to mobile design.

You can also use media queries so that you have different CSS values, depending on the screen size.

For example:

@media screen and (min-width: 600px) { CSS code here… }

The CSS you enter there will only be active when the screen is at least 600 pixels wide.

To learn more, read this guide on responsive design.

Approach #2 – Separate URLs for desktop and mobile visitors: This method has mostly died out in favor of responsive design.


This approach involves creating at least two different versions of each page of your website: a mobile one and a non-mobile one.

If the functionality of your website changes a lot depending on the size of the screen, this can be a good option.

But for most sites, it doesn’t make sense. Not only do you have twice as many web pages to update but you also face so many sizes of phones, tablets, and laptops that responsive design usually makes more sense.

Approach # 3 – Serve different content based on the visitor’s device: Finally, you can have a single URL for each page, but first check for a mobile user agent. If a visitor is on a mobile device, you can load a specific page, but if they aren’t, you can load the default page.


It’s similar to Approach #2 in that you’ll have to code for two different pages. The one upside is that all backlinks will point to a single URL, which will help content rank better.

Common mobile design mistakes: Making a site mobile-friendly really isn’t that hard. In most cases, it’s much easier than optimizing page load speed.

That being said, there are seven fairly common mistakes to keep an eye out for:

  1. Blocked JavaScript, CSS, and image files: access is controlled by your robots.txt file (more on that later).
  2. Unplayable content: don’t use flash videos, which aren’t playable on many mobile devices. HTML5 videos are a better option.
  3. Faulty redirects: don’t just redirect mobile users to your home page. Redirect them to an equivalent page they were looking for.


4. Mobile-only 404s: if you’re serving dynamic (separate) URLs, make sure they both work.

5. Avoid interstitials and pop-ups: Pop-ups are always a controversial subject. While they’re annoying to some on desktops/laptops, they are much more annoying and often difficult to close on mobile. If you can, don’t have anything that blocks your content on a mobile device:


6. Irrelevant cross-links: If you have a separate mobile version of your site, always link within that. Don’t make the mistake of linking to a desktop site page from the mobile site.

7. Slow mobile pages: Remember that most mobile users are on a slower connection than desktop users. This makes optimizing your load speed crucial (see above section).

A strong site architecture will get you noticed

Google sends its search spiders to almost every website on a regular basis. However, the spiders need help to discover new pages or updated pages.

Having a clear and simple site architecture will help your pages get indexed and ranked faster. This isn’t new. All the rules and best practices in 2015 are the same as they have been for years. However, this is really important, so don’t skip it just because you haven’t heard news of a new algorithm.

There are four main components to creating a site that Google loves to crawl:

Step 1 – Create HTML and XML sitemaps: It starts with a sitemap that lists URLs on your site. This is the most basic way to direct spiders.

There are two types of sitemaps: HTML and XML.

HTML sitemaps are designed for humans, but search spiders can also use them to find pages on your site. These are typically linked to in the footer of your website, so the links don’t have to be prominent.

An XML sitemap, on the other hand, is essentially a text file with one URL per link. Humans shouldn’t see this—only search spiders. If you have an especially large site, you’ll need more than one XML sitemap. A single sitemap can’t be more than 50,000 URLs of 50MB.

You can (and should) also make separate sitemaps for each type of content (video, images, articles, etc.).

While you can have both, you need at least an XML sitemap. It will serve as the starting point for most spiders.

You have a few options to create your sitemap. First, you can use the Bing plugin to generate a server side sitemap.

The most popular option is to use a WordPress plugin to automatically create and update your sitemap. You can either use a specialized plugin like Google XML sitemap or use Yoast’s all-in-one SEO plugin, which has the option to create a sitemap.

Next, submit your sitemap in both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

In Google Search Console, go to “Crawl > Sitemaps,” and add all your sitemaps (one at a time), using the “Add/Test Sitemap” button in the top right.


Similarly, in Bing, go to the “Sitemaps” navigation section, and enter your sitemap(s):


Here’s the part that most site owners forget: you also have to add sitemap locations to your robots.txt file. This tells other spiders where to check. Plus, Google would check there if for some reason it had problems with your submission.

Your robots.txt file should include a section like this, with a line for each sitemap:

User-agent: *



You can even look at Google’s own robots.txt to see its sitemaps:


Step 2 – Silo content as much as possible: Another major way Google uses to crawl sites is to follow internal links. In addition, this is partly how it assigns relevance to a page and website.

Siloing involves breaking up your content into different categories. For example, since the Crazy Egg blog covers conversion optimization, email marketing, etc., there are different categories for each:


Each category page links to the posts in that category. The point of this is so that Google’s spiders could land on the homepage (or any post), navigate to a category, and then visit all the most recent posts on the category page.


Because of this, no post is more than a few clicks away.

Of course, there’s a problem when your site gets too big or you sell too many products as you can only fit so many per page.

You still want all parts of your website to be within 3-4 clicks of each other to ensure they get crawled. The most popular option is faceted navigation, which lets you filter results:


The right filters can take millions of results down to several in just a few clicks.

I also talked about one other bonus of having a simple site architecture. With a silo structure, it’s clearer to search engines what your site is about.

Instead of having a bunch of posts and pages on your website in no particular order, arrange them all in categories to make it clear to search spiders which content goes together:


One of Google’s main goals is to provide the most relevant results. The easier it can determine the topics you write about, the more search traffic you will get.

Step 3 – Get rid of crawl errors: The final part of optimizing your site for crawling is to get rid of anything that prevents Google from identifying or crawling your website.

Head over to Search Console, and navigate to “Crawl > Crawl errors”.


If you have a large site, you might see thousands of errors if you haven’t addressed them. That’s okay—you can often fix large batches at the same time. Here is a complete guide to fixing common crawl errors.

Stop confusing search engines

Redirects are necessary to keep any site up to date, but you need to do it the right way.

Use the wrong codes, and it will not only hurt your visitors but also affect your search engine rankings. I’ll explain how in a moment.

A brief overview of page redirects: There are many good reasons to redirect a page. It’s usually because there is an updated version of it or you no longer cover that exact topic but would like to preserve some “link juice.”

There are two popular types of redirects:

  • 301: a permanent redirect
  • 302: a temporary redirect

When you tell a search engine that a page has permanently been moved to a new URL (301), it will transfer most of the old page’s authority to the new one (90-99%).

However, if you do a 302 redirect, the search engine knows that the redirect will be gone soon and won’t transfer the authority of the original page over. If the redirect stays in place long enough, you will lose at least part of your traffic (usually).

Simple rule: If you no longer need a page, create a 301 redirect to an updated page.

The file not found page (404 error): Another common browser code is the 404 code, which means the page could not be found.

It’s important to create a custom 404 page even if it’s simple. If not, it’ll look like this to your visitors:


Most visitors will obviously close the page or return back to where they were.

Instead, creating a custom 404 page, like this one on Quick Sprout, can invite a lost visitor in:


Just below that llama, there are two clear links to important parts of the site. While some visitors will still leave, many will explore, which is great.

There are a few different situations where a 404 error will come up:

  • You moved a page: You should 301 redirect the old page to the new one (it’s easy to forget).
  • Someone linked to an incorrect URL: Either 301 redirect that URL to the correct one (if the link is strong), or create a custom 404 page.
  • You deleted a page: Redirect it if it has links pointing to it (or significant traffic) and you have another highly relevant page to redirect to. Or just have it go to your custom 404 page.

The easiest way to find 404 pages on your site is with Search Console.

Once in your Search Console, navigate to “Crawl > Crawl Errors.”

This time, we’re specifically looking for “not found” pages:


The most useful thing here is that you can click any of these individual URLs. When you do, a pop-up will appear with more details. There’s also a “linked from” tab so you can see which pages link to it (you could correct any incorrect internal links).


Fix the link on those pages, and then mark the problem as fixed.

Another option is to use Ahrefs to find broken links. This is probably the best tool you can use for this in order to correct off-page links (controlled by someone else).

Type in your site in the search bar, then highlight the “Inbound Links” dropdown menu, and click on “Broken Backlinks.”


You’ll get a list of all the sites linking to your main domain, but with links that result in a 404 error. Usually this is because the other party made a typo.

If the link is strong enough, you can go to the linking page, find contact information, and give them the correct URL to replace it with.

Or, as I said earlier, you can 301 redirect the broken URL to the right one, which will preserve some link juice.

Get rid of thin or duplicate content

Pandas aren’t just adorable animals—they are also one of Google’s most famous algorithm updates.

The first Panda update was in 2011, which affected 11.8% of queries (huge). After that, there were a total of 26 more Panda updates in the following three years.

The Panda update was targeting low quality or duplicate content. Sites that had big issues were punished severely.

Curiously, there hasn’t been a Panda update since September 23, 2014 (as of July 2015). I’m not sure if we’ll ever see one again.

Why? Recently, Google released a “phantom” update. This update involved Google changing its core quality algorithm. There’s a chance that it incorporates part or all of Panda. After all, Panda was a filter that had to be run periodically. Google would rather be able to monitor quality constantly.

So that’s where we are now: Google is getting better and better at detecting duplicate content, and you will lose search traffic if you have a significant amount of it.

Duplicate content is bad for visitors, which is why search engines don’t like it. In addition, it can confuse search engines because they don’t know which page is most relevant.

Note: Even if you don’t get a penalty, you can still lose traffic.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to take action to protect yourself against being penalized for duplicate content.

Step 1 – Find duplicate content: It’s pretty simple to find any pages with duplicate content. As is often the case, Google Search Console is the best place to start. Go to “Search appearance > HTML improvements” to see if you have any issues:


Click the number to see specific cases of duplicate content.

Alternatively, you can use a tool such as Siteliner. Enter your domain, and the tool will find any duplicate content, plus sort it by percent match:


Note that the free version only covers 250 URLs, so large sites will have to either upgrade or rely on Google Search Console.

Step 2 – Get rid of duplicate content issues: There are three main ways in which you can solve your problems:

  1. Delete the duplicate content
  2. Add a canonical URL to each version
  3. Reduce the amount of duplicate content

The first solution is trivial—implement it if you can.

Mostly, duplicate content issues are caused by URL parameters. For example, visitors could get to the exact same page with the following URLs:


If all pages are indexed, they will be considered duplicate content. Your only option here is to include a canonical link on the page, if you haven’t already.

A canonical link tells Google that you realize there are similar pages on your site, but there is one preferred version that is the best version for readers to go to.


On this page, I have a canonical link to the original URL. Even if a visitor comes to the page with the parameters in their link, that same canonical will tell Google what it needs to know.

Finally, if you’re getting duplicate content errors because of your “read more” descriptions, you can reduce the number of words you show on your blog and category pages. Alternatively, write a custom description for each.

Describe your content like a pro with structured data

Modern search engines are pretty good at putting together what your page is about just by looking at the on-page content. However, you can make it even easier for them by using structured data markup.

While there are multiple libraries you can use, stick to, which is a project created by all the major search engines.

Structured data isn’t new, but it’s still heavily underutilized. Usually, it’s because an SEO hears the term and gets squeamish, just like with “technical” SEO.

It’s actually really simple, and I’ll show you how to use it for your site in this section.

What schema is – the simple version: The schema vocabulary is just a way of describing content to search engines. You can insert schema terms into your existing HTML.

While Google doesn’t use schema markup as a direct ranking factor, it can use it to help categorize a page and to create rich snippets.

Rich snippets are those things you see in certain searches, e.g., star ratings, pictures, and anything else besides the plain text:

Rich snippets can affect your search rankings. They almost always the increase click through rate, which could tell Google that your page is more important than the surrounding results, leading to more traffic and better rankings.


You can add schema terms to existing HTML code to describe a section of content. For example, the following common term—“itemscope”—tells search engines that the entire “div” section is about the same topic:

<div itemscope>


<span>Director: James Cameron (born August 16, 1954) </span>

<span>Science fiction</span>

<a href=”../movies/avatar-theatrical-trailer.html”>Trailer</a>


But there are thousands of other terms you can use. Here’s the full list.

Knowing which ones you’ll use most often takes time to learn. Instead of looking through that colossal list, you can use Google’s markup helper. It takes you through the process step-by-step for the URL you enter. You simply highlight text on the page, which will automatically open a small menu, and then pick which attribute the text describes:


There are only a few steps to the process. At the end, you can view the structured data incorporated into your page’s source code with the changes highlighted:


From there, you can either manually copy and paste the changes onto your page or click the download button to download the entire page code.

If you’re using WordPress, you could also use the Schema Creator plugin by Raven. It allows you to type in a limited number of important schema values into the WordPress page editor.


Whether or not your code is generated by Google, it’s still a good idea to test the code. Copy the entire code into the structured data testing tool, and click “validate” to see if there are any errors:



Ever wonder how some SEOs charge tens of thousands of dollars per month for their services?

This is why. Consider that this is just a beginner’s guide to technical SEO, and we haven’t really scratched the surface.

Expert SEOs learn as much as they can about all these individual elements and practice their skills for years to master them.

For now, you don’t need to do that. Instead, pick one or two of these technical SEO aspects. Then, see how they apply to your site, and fix any errors. Track your work and the results so you can quantify how much the mistakes hurt you.

I realize that there are some fairly complicated topics in this article, so if you need any clarification or you have some experience with technical SEO that you’d like to share, leave a comment below.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Create Successful Products with the MVP Process


You create a successful product when you deliver something people want to buy, simple as that. Is there a way to figure out what people want before spending a ton of time and money?

There is a way, and it’s becoming more and more popular due to the lean startup movement. It’s called the minimum viable product approach.

The technical definition of minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with the highest return on investment versus risk. And the way you minimize risk related to your investment of time and money is basically figuring out if people want to buy that product.

Most lean startup examples of the MVP approach involve software. Let’s look at a few examples in product categories other than software to give you an idea of how the process can work for you.

In this 13-minute episode of Unemployable with Brian Clark, you’ll hear:

  • How the “Life is Good” brand was created
  • How to create t-shirts people want to buy
  • The smart way to create ebooks and courses
  • How Brian sold something that didn’t exist yet
  • How to go from minimum to More Viable Product

Click Here to Listen to
Unemployable with Brian Clark on iTunes

Click Here to Listen on Rainmaker.FM

About the author


Rainmaker.FM is the premier digital marketing and sales podcast network. Get on-demand business advice from experts, whenever and wherever you want it.

The post Create Successful Products with the MVP Process appeared first on Copyblogger.

Why It's 'Game On' For Video Entrepreneurs

Live streaming apps transform the way major events are broadcast to a global digital audience.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

5 Ways to Increase Your Pageviews Per Visitor by 23.52%

user experience

Why are you spending all this time and effort to get visitors to your website only to let them leave after the first or second page they see?

It’s much cheaper to get a visitor already on your site to go to another page than it is to attract a new visitor to that page.

Guess what? It’s more valuable too. If a visitor is checking out several pages, chances are they like you. Each post or page they read will increase brand recognition and trust, which will lead to conversions down the line.

If I told you that you could double, triple…or even quadruple the average number of pages viewed by a visitor, wouldn’t you be interested?

Assuming you haven’t spend a ton of time optimizing your user experience (UX), you can see crazy results from a bit of work.

This post is going to show you the 5 most effective ways to improve your UX, which will lead to an instant boost in page views. 

User experience is not art—it’s science

The thing that prevents website owners from UX optimization is that it sounds like a complicated thing.

It’s something that you might think that only developers understand.

But in reality, it’s pretty simple and requires no specialized knowledge. Sure, getting experience will help you see results faster in the future, but anyone can start improving the UX of their visitors.

First off, what exactly is user experience?

It’s a broad term, which can lead to confusion. The user experience encompasses all parts of how your website’s content affects someone’s visit. It’s best summed up in the Morville honeycomb:


There are 7 distinct keys to a good user experience:

  1. Useful – your content must accomplish something.
  2. Useable – content should be practical, and tools must work as intended.
  3. Desirable – users need to actually want what you’re offering.
  4. Findable – not only should your original content be findable but your other content should be easily findable as well (good navigation).
  5. Accessible – if visitors can’t access your content (pop-ups, overlays, poor loading, etc.), they won’t have a good experience.
  6. Credible – a user can only have a great experience if they trust what they’re reading/using.
  7. Valuable – your website must accomplish something that people value (essentially an extension of useful).

The 5 ways of improving UX I’m about to show you fall into one of these 7 categories.

A final important thing you need to know is that user experience is unique to each individual.

Sometimes, two sites can make the same change, and the UX on one site will improve but get worse on the other. It depends on your visitors.

What that means for you is that even if you agree with something I show you in this post, test it on your website to see if it’s actually going to be a positive change.

The UX is not an opinion. It should be backed by data from real users.

1. Links are not just for SEO—they’re for users

Too often, site owners make the mistake of making changes and marketing decisions based on how they think search engines will react.

I’ve been guilty of this in the past. Almost everyone has.

When you put a link in an article, it shouldn’t be just because you read that Google rewards content that links out to authority sites. Instead, it should be because it adds value for your visitor.

Have you seen how much I link in my posts on Quick Sprout and


Of course, it depends on the topic, but typically I have a minimum of 20 links per post. This works out to at least one link per 200 words, but often more.

Why are links good for UX?

  • Links can answer questions: if it’s a really common question, you might write a paragraph on it. But if you think only a minority of your readers might ask it, you can include a link just for them.
  • Links logically lead readers to the next step: when you write something, you must pick a scope (what you’re going to cover). Even if there’s a related topic that’s really interesting, you might not have the space to cover it. Instead, a link can connect the reader to another article, giving them the chance to continue exploring the topic.
  • Links build trust: remember those 7 factors of UX? Credibility was one of them. Links to sources and resources in a data-driven post make readers feel more confident about the information you are providing.

If you include the right links, you can let users customize their own experience, which is always a positive thing.

There’s one more thing we need to talk about…

Should you include internal links or external links: I’ll make this as simple as possible. Always link to the most valuable resource for your visitors, whether it’s on your site or someone else’s.

Note that other articles on your site often hold the most value if they are highly relevant because the reader is already familiar with your work and likes it enough to read the current article.

Internal links have the obvious benefit of increasing the number of pages a visitor will see on your site. A new site won’t have much valuable content to link to, but a site that’s been creating content for years (e.g., Quick Sprout) will have tons of related content that can be linked to in each post.

External links, as I mentioned earlier, might help you appear more trusted to search engines. That’s a small potential benefit.

The real benefit is that if you link to a great resource, your visitor will associate that with you (you just did them a favor). This leads to more trust and more loyal readers. This is why it might not be the best strategy to link to the first resource you find on Google. Dig a bit deeper to find something really valuable.

Finally, remember that each separate link won’t be clicked very frequently (usually 1-10%). But all of those links add up. If you added 10 extra internal links to a post, you’ll likely get an extra 10-20% pageviews on average from a visitor.

That’s a big difference. Imagine going from your regular 10,000 page views per month to 11,000 or 12,000, just from one simple change.

2. Some of your visitors are turtles

My super long posts (5,000 words or so) typically have a ton of pictures.

I include images for a variety of reasons, but mainly to break up content to make it more readable.

I’m only able to do this because most of my blog visitors use a desktop/laptop. Think about it: who has the time to read 5,000 words on a phone’s screen?

The reason I mention this is because mobile and desktop browsing differ not only in screen size but in speed.

Most people using computers can download a few hundred kilobytes or even a few megabytes in less than a second.

The same can’t be said about mobile phones. A survey found that mobile connection speeds ranged from 0.6 Mbps to 9.5 Mbps. Clearly, some mobile users will be able to load your site quickly, but many won’t.

Most phone users accept that their Internet browsing will be a bit slower than normal, but not as much as you might think.

A reported 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in under 2 seconds. But those are desktop users.

Phone users expect pages to load in under 4 seconds, so there’s a bit more leeway. But the average site loads in 9 seconds on mobile, which isn’t even close to good enough.

The real reason this is a problem is that a slow loading page isn’t just annoying—it will turn visitors away from your content. Forty percent of visitors will leave your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load (on desktops). You can extrapolate that to 6 seconds for mobile users, which still is less than the average speed of a mobile site.

The problem with page speed tests: Many website owners have already tested their websites for page speed and found no problems. Unfortunately, there’s a flaw with the average page speed tester.

By default, almost all popular page load speed tests (e.g., GTmetrix, Pingdom) use an unthrottle connection. What this does is take connection speed out of the equation and looks solely at the technical side.

Now, that’s important. That’s how you see if you have any major speed issues. The problem is that the page load time you get with such tests only represents a fraction of your users (even if it’s a fairly big chunk).

Consider this: I tested Quick Sprout on GTmetrix with the standard default settings. It passed with flying colors and had a 1.5 second loading time—nice.


What you can also do is create a free account and then change the connection speed to 3G, which is what a large portion of mobile users are still stuck on (57% of users).


When I run Quick Sprout through the test again, I get a very different loading speed: 3.3 seconds.


In this case, my page load time more than doubled, and that’s on a pretty simple page.

If you run this test for other pages, you will often see the load times more than double. This means that narrowly beating that original 2 second limit is not enough.

I’m not going to write a full guide to page speed optimization here, but I will address the most efficient ways to optimize your site for mobile users.

Factor #1 – HTTP requests: One of the main metrics that any page speed tester will show you is the number of HTTP requests made.

An HTTP request is made to get the information for each script, image, CSS file, etc. within the HTML. Each request takes time to process. About 78% of time is spent making HTTP requests when loading a page.

You can speed up your sites by reducing the number of HTTP requests that a browser needs to make.

How do you do this?

The easiest ways is to consolidate CSS files and images as much as possible. It’s not uncommon for a poorly-optimized WordPress theme to have three or more CSS files requested together on the same page. Copy all the CSS files into a single file, and edit out any references to the now deleted files.

Most sites also have the ability to decrease the number of requests by creating CSS sprites. Sprites are image files that contain multiple images inside them. The CSS code tells the browser which image is located where.

Sprites should be made for all images that are called on every page such as navigation images or logos.

To make this easy, use a tool such as Spritepad. Simply drag and drop your images onto the canvas provided. The CSS with location details will be created automatically.


When you’ve added all your common images, you can download your CSS sprite (at the top) and then call that in your pages instead of multiple separate images.

The above were two quick ways to get rid of several HTTP requests on most websites, but there’s more to it than that. Here’s a slightly more thorough guide for more information.

Factor #2 – Page size: The other main metric measured with a speed tool is the size of the page in bytes. Ideally, your page shouldn’t be more than a few hundred kilobytes (sometimes it’s unavoidable to go over).

If you’re having big page speed issues, you may have to reduce the number of images you use, but there are a few things you can do before then.

First, compress your images. Most image files have useless metadata attached that take up a lot of space. Use a tool like Optimizilla or a WordPress plugin like WP Smush to reduce file size.

Second, use HTTP compression to compress the size of files as they are transferred. The most common form of HTTP compression is GZIP. To use GZIP compression in WordPress, check the GZIP option in the W3 Total Cache plugin.


Finally, simplify your site as much as possible. Don’t include an excessive sidebar or tons of images in your header. Stick to simple text and HTML as much as possible.

Factor #3 – Hosting and delivery: Even if you do all that technical stuff right, visitors may not be able to load your pages fast if your hosting and delivery sucks.

The hosting part is pretty simple. If you’re paying $5 per month for a shared plan, your site is never going to be very fast. Unless you are just getting started, get on a serious hosting server that is dedicated to your site.

Secondly, I also recommend using a content delivery network (CDN) for static files such as images. This will cost you more, but your website will grow faster, and visitors will convert better, which is worth it. Here’s a guide to choosing a good CDN.

Bonus Tip – trick your users into being more satisfied by dialing up the relevance: When residents in a building complained that waiting times for elevators were excessively long, instead of speeding up the elevators, the building owners gave the residents something that could occupy their time while waiting. The building manager installed mirrors so that the residents could look at themselves while waiting, and the complaints stopped.

While it’s not a perfect analogy, waiting for a page to load could be as frustrating and boring as waiting for an elevator to arrive. Visitors realize that they are sacrificing their time for content. The more they enjoy your content, the less they will mind waiting. I suspect that a large portion of my readers like you would wait longer than 2 seconds for a new blog post to load.

“If users cannot find what they want on a website, they will regard the download time as slower than it actually might be. Conversely, if users do find what they want on a website quickly and easily, they perceive the download time as faster than it actually might be. I have observed these perceptions, consistently, during usability testing for over 10 years.” – Shari Thurow

What does this mean for your site?

It means that including a table of contents to help your visitors find the answers they’re looking for, writing a highly relevant meta description, and highlighting important parts of your post can make your readers feel that it was worth their time to wait for the page to load.

A happy reader is much more likely to click on other links to posts on your site than a frustrated reader.

3. Your message comes first, so eliminate distractions

Your message needs to be front and center, whether it’s on a landing page or a blog post.

It’s what your visitors are there to read. This falls under multiple UX categories but mostly accessibility.

If you make content easily accessible, readers will continue to read. If you make it difficult, many will either leave right away or not be excited to visit another page on your site.

Although sites vary in their designs, there are 3 common sources of distractions that most site have that should be eliminated.

Here’s how to fix them…

Tactic #1 – Minimize or eliminate the sidebar: The sidebar is a neglected element on most blogs. You need to put a lot of thought into what you put into your sidebar, or if you even need one at all.

Medium is currently one of the most popular blogging platforms, renowned for being highly readable. There is no sidebar on a Medium post—just content:


The no-sidebar layout has zero distraction, so the reader focuses solely on the post.

Others using this layout have been able to increase not only their page views but also their conversion rates by 26-71%.

This can be a good thing, but sometimes you do want to show your readers certain elements of your site every time they visit it even if it might distract them a bit.

If you do continue to use a sidebar, only include the most important information in it such as:

  • opt-in
  • bio
  • links to top posts
  • links to products/service

That’s what I do on my blogs:


Notice, I don’t have anything flashy in my sidebar. Readers know it’s there, but they can focus on the post content if they aren’t interested in the sidebar information.

Tactic #2 – Think about dropping scrolling elements: This is a tricky one. Having parts of your page that are fixed and scroll down as the user scrolls down can improve conversion rates. But if you go overboard, it will have a negative effect on UX.

You need to test any scrolling element you add. Compare before and after metrics for time on page and pages per visitor to see if it’s worth it.

I use some scrolling elements, but not a lot. See how the top menu scrolls down with the page on


Alternatively, I have the thin Hello Bar on Quick Sprout.

Notice that in both cases the elements aren’t highly distracting and only take up a small part of the screen.

But when you start adding a scrolling header, a footer, and social sharing buttons or a sidebar, it can get busy fast. A page like this will turn off many readers, no matter how great the content is:


Tactic #3 – Delay or get rid of pop-ups: Another sensitive subject—pop-ups—are great for improving your email opt-in conversion rate. But they also annoy users, which can lead to a lower number of pages per visitor.

I’ve tried using pop-ups on Quick Sprout in the past and have gotten good results from a conversion standpoint:


If you’re going to use pop-ups, limit the detrimental effect that they have on your UX.

Don’t have them pop up as the page loads because that’s a sure way to scare off visitors. Instead, wait at least 10 seconds—60 seconds might be better.

The longer you wait before showing your pop-up, the less annoying it is. If a reader has already been reading for 30 seconds to a minute, asking them to close a simple box isn’t too much.

4. Consistency is more important than creativity

In order to be credible, your brand must be consistent.

In order to be usable, your layout and content must be consistent.

When a visitor returns at least a few times to your site, they should know what to expect. If they want to find blog posts, they should be easy to find. If they want to hire you, same thing: getting in touch with you should be easy.

There are two main factors to consider when it comes to consistency and UX.

Factor #1 – Branding and symbols: Your brand is defined by many different things but mainly by your logo and symbols.

When I talk about symbols, I’m talking about things like Google’s hamburger menu:


This symbol indicates a menu with settings in it across Google products, including Chrome and almost all Android applications. When a Google user is looking for settings, they look for that hamburger menu.

Whatever your product is, you should use the same symbols and terms across all forms of communication: your blog, landing pages, emails, and in the product itself.

Take a look at the branding on Quick Sprout. You start to recognize the logo and color scheme after a while:


If you go to a landing page, you see the exact same logo and color scheme:


But imagine if you went from the Quick Sprout blog to a landing page that had a different logo and different color scheme. You’d feel there’s something wrong here and likely close the page—credibility lost.

All your blog posts and site content should look like they belong together.

Finally, you can make it even clearer for your readers if use icons and symbols relevant to their function.


Icons might stand alone or be incorporated into a picture/link.

For example, if you’re linking to a tool like Quick Sprout in the sidebar, you could include a magnifying glass.

Or, if your blog excerpts say “read more,” like many do, you can include an arrow right after, indicating that there is more to come.

Factor #2 – Style: Style does include a color scheme, but it is more than that. You also need to think about font type, font size, layout, writing tone, etc.

Someone who maintains a consistent style really well is Bernadette Jiwa, a copywriter. She formats her posts the same way she formats her emails (post below):


The emails have the same colored links, same text size, and same font:


Being consistent helps your readers know what to expect, which improves their UX, no matter the platform.

If you’re on my email list for any of my blogs, I bet you’ve noticed something about my emails: they’re all laid out exactly the same.


There’s a link with the anchor text “the latest (site) post” in the opening line.

After that, there’s a standalone link to the post with the title of the post as the anchor text.

Finally, I give you a quick introduction to the post plus another call to action to go read the post.

After a few emails, you’ll pick up on this pattern and know what to expect. This is good for me and you. It’s good for you because you know exactly what to expect and how to get to the content if you want it. It’s good for me because I know that you know (stay with me) that you can get to the new post from any of those links.

What would happen if in some emails I’d include only the first link and in others only the last link? You wouldn’t know what to expect. Sure, a large portion of the readers would still find the link, but others would scroll right by the first one at the top or not see the last one at the bottom.

5. Make important elements BIG

No, I’m not just talking about making opt-ins huge. When say “BIG,” I’m talking about visibility.

In order for content to be as useable as possible, readers need to be able to identify the most important parts easily.

Here’s what I mean: look at any site with a great UX, and there will always be a focal point on any page:


In this case, it’s an email opt-in box. Although there’s a large picture and menu options, color and size have been used to make the opt-in box stand out.

Here’s another example:


Unbounce made their sign-up buttons highly visible.

Both of these examples show the power of contrast.

If you want something to stand out from the rest of your web page, give it a drastically different color—it will get attention.

But making things more visible is important for other goals, not just email sign-ups or account creation.

Consider links within your content. These should be really easy to see and easy to click (use).

Some sites hide their links in grey or don’t underline them, thinking that readers will click on the links and never come back. You and I both know that if your content is great, your readers will always come back. Plus, there’s the other benefits discussed in the first section of this article.

On, for example, links are displayed as a bright and highly visible orange text. In addition, I use a fairly large text size. Even on mobile devices, links are easily visible and clickable:


Considering that many of these links lead to other pages on the site, it’s a good thing when visitors are interested in them, so why wouldn’t you want to highlight them?

My orange links are another example of using contrast, just for a different purpose.

You can also make elements stand out by emphasizing them. This can be done by separating them from other elements (add more white space), using a unique font, or using bold or italic effects.

For example, Brian Dean at Backlinko uses a special yellow box to highlight his content upgrades. Plus, he bolds first few words to make them stand out:


Being able to quickly identify what a user is looking for is a key part of usability. I recommend trying to get some new visitors to your site and tracking their mouse movement with software like Crazy Egg.

By looking at where most of your readers’ attention goes, you can see what naturally stands out to them when they visit a page. Then, you can adjust your elements and test the difference until you achieve the desired effect, e.g., directing your visitors to an opt-in, link, or specific content.


For all the time you spend building traffic, you owe it to yourself to spend more time optimizing the user experience.

If you implement at least a few of the methods in this post, you should be able to raise your pageviews by a large chunk.

If you currently get 10,000 monthly pageviews, what do you think is easier: to get an extra 3,000 visitors or increase the number of pages that an average user visits by 30%?

In most cases, the second option is way easier.

Keep in mind, however, that optimizing UX is not an overnight process. Remember that you need to split test any changes you make and make iterative improvements until you’re giving your visitor exactly what they’re looking for.

I challenge you to continuously think of, test, and evolve your website’s UX as your brand grows.

If you have any questions or can share results from a UX experiment, please leave me a comment below.