How To Get A Web Site Ready For SEO Optimization (Part I)

This is a brand new website. I've had the domain name for years, but it's just been sitting around. I figured that I could use Murwell.com for something else besides as a domain for a company in that great book, Sympile Weiser, that I wrote.

SEO, search engine optimization, is something that I enjoy doing. Maybe it has something to do with me graduating college as a math major. But the idea of meticulously putting together a website so that it can optimize its search engine placement is fascinating.

What I do whenever I get a new website:

  1. Verify ownership of the websites with Google and Bing.

  2. Make sure that the web design is mobile-friendly. Whether you're using a template or writing the code from scratch, the website has to pass Google's mobile test. If it doesn't, Google is going ding the website on mobile searches. And given that more searches are done on mobile devices than on the desktop, the web designer better not mess this one up.

To test the website, go to Google's Mobile Friendly Test or Bing's and put in the web address.

Murwell.com passed!

As long as I was running one test, I checked if the initial web page is loading fast enough for Google. This Google Page Insight Test scored Murwell.com with a 79 on mobile and 91 on desktop.

Google suggests that I compress two images to save about 10 KiB. Given that it takes 1000 KiB to make about 1 Megabyte, it's hard to believe that saving 10 KiB is worth the effort. But, let's it give it a try and see what it does for the score.

The best I could was compress the "magnifying-glass png" file by about 5 KiB. Apparently, this was not good enough.

Okay, If you think that I'm going to compress the image to try to save 1.4 Kib, you're crazy Google (By the way, this is part of the reason that I prefer Sympile). But I get their point, compress all images as far down as possible.

I then became curious, how does my Speed Result compare to well-known websites. My speed score of 79 tied Google and beat all the rest. But the score isn't really the point. By running these different tests, one can get a feel for the recommendations that are being made by Google.

  • Avoid landing page redirects
  • Enable compression
  • Improve server response time
  • Leverage browser caching
  • Minify resources
  • Optimize images
  • Optimize CSS Delivery
  • Prioritize visible content
  • Remove render-blocking JavaScript
  • Use asynchronous scripts

Several of these recommendations are fairly easy to enact: minify resources, optimize images (compress image file sizes - I use TinyJPG), enable compression on the server so that it serves gzip files, use the asynchronous version of a script rather than the synchronous version (Google even lists the most popular scripts that one should use). Others like optimizing CSS Delivery and prioritizing visible content are more complicated.

The SEO/Web Designer must avoid thinking of page speed in terms of a score. Rather consider Google's PageSpeed Rules as a goal or best practice. Of course, if you're having a problem with a page loading, check it on the page insight tool and get Google's recommendations.

Here are the tests of the various websites that I ran. And if you've ever checked out CNN or Fox News on a cell phone, you shouldn't be surprised that they are both a disaster with their mobile designs.

Fox News

Google Insight Speed Test Result showing Fox News website with a score of 38 out of 100

CNN

Google Insight Speed Test Result showing CNN website with a score of 49 out of 100

Wikipedia

Google Insight Speed Test Result showing Wikipedia website with a score of 74 out of 100

Yahoo

Google Insight Speed Test Result showing Fox News website with a score of 67 out of 100

Google

Google Insight Speed Test Result showing Google website with a score of 79 out of 100

Donald Trump

Google Insight Speed Test Result showing Donald Trump website with a score of 45 out of 100

Hillary Clinton

Google Insight Speed Test Result showing Hillary Clinton  website with a score of 56 out of 100

Wall Street Journal

Google Insight Speed Test Result showing Wall Street Journal website with a score of 52 out of 100

New York Times

Google Insight Speed Test Result showing NY Times website with a score of 59 out of 100

New York Post

Google Insight Speed Test Result showing NY Post website with a score of 50 out of 100

New York Daily News

Google Insight Speed Test Result showing NY Daily News website with a score of 54 out of 100

Breitbart

Google Insight Speed Test Result showing Breitbart website with a score of 77 out of 100

Huffington Post

Google Insight Speed Test Result showing Huffington Post website with a score of 55 out of 100