Thumbnail for video review of Google Lighthouse SEO audit tool

Video Review: Google Lighthouse SEO Audit Tool

Did you know that Google has its own SEO Audit tool? It’s part of their “Lighthouse” suite of webmaster tools, which now is itself incorporated into the developer tools that are built into the Google Chrome browser. (Lighthouse is also available as an extension for Google Chrome, which makes it conveniently accessible from the browser toolbar)

In this video review review I take a look at the SEO audit portion of Google Lighthouse. It certainly sounds promising, and after all, if it’s from Google isn’t it from the horse’s mouth? Spoiler alert: it’s not a replacement for a real SEO audit. Have you used Google Lighthouse? Do you like it? Hate it? Are you mystified by it? Watch the video and add your own comments and questions below.

Google Lighthouse Review: Video Transcript

Hi. This is Ross, with Horizon Web Marketing and it’s time for another SEO checker review. I’ll be right back.

As you probably know, I’ve been working through these free SEO checkers that are online tools that purport to give you an overview of the SEO potential of your website. In most cases, you go to a website, put in the homepage or any page, sometimes, of your website, and you click a button and they’ll give you a report.

SEO Checkers in General

Those tools are often referred to as SEO checkers, SEO checkup tools, free SEO analyzers. There’s a whole bunch of them out there, and if you look down below in our list, in the playlist that we have on this YouTube channel, you’ll be able to see that I’ve done quite a few reviews so far.

Now usually, what you do is you go to a website and you plug in the address for your website, and click a button, and it’ll go, and it’ll do its thing and it’ll check a whole bunch of different stuff, and it’ll give you a report onscreen.

The tool that we’re going to look at today is a little bit different for a couple of reasons. One is, it’s not a website. The second is, that it’s actually produced by a company you may have heard of called Google. Let’s take a look at Google Lighthouse, which is Google’s own tool for conducting what they call an SEO audit on your website, so let’s see how this works.

All right. I’ve been using this particular website, Artisans of Colorado. It’s sort of a demo site, and I’ve been using it in some of my other SEO checker reviews. We’re going to run this website through Google Lighthouse. Google Lighthouse has been getting quite a bit of ink lately. It’s actually been around for a couple of years. It’s a, basically a tool that Google makes available for free to webmasters to get a handle on all sorts of good stuff that has to do with your website.

An SEO Audit is Part of Google’s Developer Tools

Most recently, Google Lighthouse has been getting more publicity because the speed test results from Google Lighthouse are now being incorporated into Google’s own PageSpeed test tool which is … Let’s go here and just take a look just for chuckles here. I’m actually going to Google it. Google’s PageSpeed test, which is this one here, PageSpeed Insight. You can see PageSpeed Insights, and it will give you an overview of the speed of your website, and it’s tied into now another tool that Google had made available called Google Lighthouse.

There’s a couple of different ways that you can run Google Lighthouse. One way is by going and getting it as a free extension for Chrome. Now, I’ve done videos before about how you get extensions for Chrome and the way you do that is you click on the three dots up here at the top right of a Google Chrome browser and then you go to settings. Once you get to settings here, you can over and click on the hamburger menu at the top left.

Using Google Lighthouse as an Extension

Then go down and click on “extensions.” Now, the extensions is going to show you the extensions that are currently installed on your browser. If you click on the hamburger menu yet again, and go all the way to the bottom, you’ll see that you can open the Chrome web store. Go to the chrome web store and just go ahead and type in “Google Lighthouse.” If you want to, you can tick the little extensions filter here but, typically, it’s going to come up at the top anyway.

Here it is, and it says “rate it” on mine because I’ve already installed it. Usually, it will have a little button that says “add to Chrome” and you click, and then it asks you for permission to do it. You add that extension to Chrome, and then it’ll show up, this tiny little icon up here at the top right. See how I have that installed, and that means it’s as an extension on my site.

Now, if I go back to the site I want to check, so all I have to is click on that Lighthouse extension, and then notice it’s got a variety of options that we can set, so we’ll click on that. You’ll notice, it’s got a bunch of different categories it says to include. Performance, it’ll test the, whether your site is built according to standards as a progressive web app. This is nothing that I pay attention to right now. I probably should, but I don’t.

Accessibility, best practices and then finally, SEO. This is, I don’t know when they included the SEO audit, I think it’s been within the last year. I’m doing this in January of 2019. I could be wrong on that, but in any case, now we’ve got this nice little tool here, SEO.

What I’m going to do is I’m going to un-tick “progressive web app,” and I’m going to un-tick the “accessibility” one just to keep the set manageable. I’ll go ahead and click on “okay” for options. Now I’m going to click on “generate report.” Let’s see what we get. Normally, what Lighthouse will do is you’ll see it going through its paces, it’s checking various configurations of the site. Then it’s going to come up and open a new browser window, and it gives me a report.

Performance = Speed Performance

Now, notice it’s given me a 23 on performance. Now, this is how fast the site loads. We’re not really focused on load speed here, but we can use this in order to try to determine whether our site is below par or not. This is the same results or similar results that you would get if you go to Google’s PageSpeed Insights, that has best practices, and then finally, notice, my SEO audit. I’m getting 100% on my SEO audit, so that seems pretty encouraging at face value.

Let’s scroll down here and see what various categories that we have. Now, there is … I was actually pleasantly or, I guess, unpleasantly surprised to see that the best practices show, pointed me in the direction of something I was not aware of and that is that I have a security vulnerability on this website. You’ll notice it here, it says “one vulnerability detected.” You can typically always drop down the little dropdown button. If you’ve got a down triangle, then you click on it and it’ll show you more information.

This is telling me that, basically, the version I have of jQuery has a vulnerability, and so we would need to update jQuery to be able to patch that vulnerability. I’ll admit straight out, I did not realize we had this problem on this particular site. It’s basically a demo site, so it’s not a big deal but I intend now to go and check my other sites as well.

Checklist of Best Practices – Lucky 13

Now, it says that I’ve passed a total of 13 audits. I can see where I’m doing well, and you can see one of them uses https. In other words, our site is running securely. You can see its checked all sorts of different things, whether the page has doctype, it will talk about avoiding deprecated APIs. Some of this is pretty technical stuff. It displays images with correct aspect ratio. These are all useful tests. Really, although they are not under the SEO section of this audit, I would normally audit these things as part of an SEO audit, so you could say that it’s sort of an extension of their SEO audit.

Let’s go down to the actual SEO section right here. Now, it’ll tell me that there are two areas that I need to check manually. Notice, it tells me that the page is mobile-friendly and we do have some structured data going. If you’re not familiar with that, then this isn’t the place to learn, but structured data is looked for by Google and those other search engines that are still trying to be competitive.

Don’t Forget that Manual Check

Structured data is valid, but Google is going to tell me that I should still be checking these things manually as well. In my experience, this is wise advice. Often, automated tools will tell you that your website is mobile-friendly, and then you’ll go and look at it on a phone and you’ll see the automated tool didn’t really show you that it’s not mobile-friendly at all.

The one thing I don’t like about this, if you drop it down, it basically will just give you an opportunity to learn more, and then you’ll have links to more learning resources at Google, some of which are useful and some of which are pretty general. It points you in the direction of Google’s mobile-friendly test tool that you can use to explore your site a little bit more. Structured data. It’ll tell you more about what structured data is, about the testing tool and so forth, so it does give you resources to be able to follow up.

These past audits in SEO, now we’ll take a look, and those are then further subdivided into other categories. Mobile-friendly. Notice here that the mobile-friendly check is very, very sparse, in my opinion. Basically, it just checks this particular tag, which is a viewport tag, and normally that’s used if you have a responsive designed website.

You can’t be mobile-friendly without having that tag, but on the other hand, there’s a whole lot more to actually being mobile-friendly than simply having that tag. When it comes to explanations, Google’s explanation is pretty lean as well. Same way with the legible font sizes. Tells you that the legible text, notice, is greater than 12 pixels.

It still doesn’t tell you a lot of things like whether the fonts are too close together or whether particular elements are overlaying your site. I guess what I’m trying to say is this is a real cursory check. I would not consider this to be a full-blown SEO audit or even close to one. A lot of the tools we’ve checked that are website-based are more complete than this.

SEO Content Checks: Way Too Shallow to be Useful

Let’s go ahead and look at the other sections they have. Content, best practices. Here’s where I have more criticisms of this particular tool. For example, it says, “the document has a title element.” Okay, fine. Most webpages have a title element, but SEO would involve making sure that that title element was the appropriate length, that it described the content on the page, that it was tied into keyword research that you’ve done, that it would appear correctly on a search engine results page.

There’s a lot that goes into SEO beyond simply having a title tag, and so this is almost useless. As a matter of fact, if you looked at this and said, “Oh, hey, my title is fine,” then it’s actually done you a disservice. The same can be said for the meta description tag, is all it does is check to see if you have one. It doesn’t tell you anything about how well it’s been optimized.

The same criticism applies to “links have descriptive text.” Well, okay, descriptive, but descriptive of what? It says, “hreflang.” This is basically a tag that’s used to make sure that you’re compliant with best practices for multi-language, which is usually not an issue. “Document has a valid rel=canonical,” that’s good to know, but it’s still pretty minimal.

Then finally, “the document avoids plug-ins.” They have also crawling and indexing. “Page has success http status code.” Okay, that’s extremely basic. “Page isn’t blocked from indexing,” also basically what it means is like it’s checking your front door to your store during business hours and making sure it’s not locked. “Robots.txt is valid.”

We’ve gone through here a total of 11 checks that Google has done as part of their SEO audit. Now, here is a comparison, the SEO audit that we normally do on a website is 91 different checks, so this is indeed a pretty basic tool.

Bottom Line: D+ to C- as an SEO Audit Tool (Please don’t hurt me Google; I gotta say it like I see it!)

Before I conclude this review, and I’d give this tool a really low grade overall. No offense to Google. It’s great that they’re moving in a direction of giving us more information, but in terms of believing that you’ve done an SEO audit when you’ve run this, you haven’t.

I’m going to show you an alternate way to run Google Lighthouse, and like I said, it is useful, particularly when it comes to page speed, some of these other best practices, checking for security vulnerabilities. Here’s the other way to do it. When you’re looking at your page, you hit the F12 key on your keyboard. What the F12 key will normally bring up is your developer tools. These will show up as a panel. Most developers who do programming are very familiar with these. Usually, they’ll come up on this panel.

Now, you may have caught, when I first brought it up, it showed Lighthouse because developer tools now includes a hook into Lighthouse through the, when you click on the double arrow, depending on how much screen real estate you have, you often will have a “more,” a little double arrow, that indicates more choices. You click on that and you can go down to “audit.” Click on that, and notice, we can access, we can basically access the same Google Lighthouse tools here, and we didn’t have to get a plug-in to do it.

The plug-in is a little bit redundant now. In a certain respect, I want to show the plug-in availability because it does pull up the results in a separate browser window, which makes it a little easier to use.

All right, so there you go. That’s Google Lighthouse. The bottom line, if I had to give this a grade, I’d give it a C or a D as an SEO audit tool. Good to see Google giving us some SEO information, but we’d really like to see something that’s much more in-depth that what we have here. As far as other SEO checkers that are out there, most of the ones that we’ve tested are far more complete than this one that we just checked from Google.

Now, we’ll be doing more SEO checkers as we go along, and I hope this has proved useful to you. I’m going to ask you now for a favor, and that is, if you’ve made it this far, please go ahead and subscribe to our channel. When you subscribe to the channel, it basically is showing Google that, hey, you were interested in the video. Then Google will know to show the video to more people.

Go ahead and subscribe. Hit the “thumbs up” if you like the video and please also, when you do subscribe, click on that little alarm button next to the subscribe button. That means you’ll get a notification when we have new video content that will help you do the digital marketing that will help your website succeed on the Internet.

Thanks again for watching. My name is Ross Barefoot, and I hope to see you on the next video. Bye for now.

Google Analytics How To Video: Give Another Company Access to Your Account the Safe Way

When we start doing SEO and digital marketing for a new client we always need to request access to their Google Analytics accounts. In most cases where companies have used SEO and marketing agencies or consultants in the past, they have shared their Google login credentials as a way to let that entity into their account. So how does that sound to you? Well, if you have even a moderately cautious nature you probably hesitate to give the keys to your Google Analytics account to just anyone, much less a company you’re just beginning a relationship with.

And you don’t have to. Any professional digital marketing agency should be more than satisfied with the solution illustrated in this video. Use it and keep your analytics account secure!

Transcript

Hi. This is Ross with Horizon Web Marketing and this is a quick tutorial video to show you how to add a user to your Google Analytics account in order to give them access to the account. So here you’ll see, this is a demo of Google Analytics account and I’m assuming at this point that you know how to log yourself into Google Analytics.

And if you do [log into Google Analytics] you normally are given this dashboard or one that looks similar to it. And now you have an opportunity to add a user and we often will make a request of clients that we work with that they give us access to their Google Analytics account so that we can either manage it or do diagnostics on their site.

So you go down to the lower left there where it says Admin. Click on that and you’ll be given this panel here and Google allows you to change things that have to do with your account, your property or your view. Now you don’t need to understand what those three things are in order to do this process.

All you need to do is go to the account level which is normally where we need to have access. Click on User Management. It will show you what users are already granted access to this particular account. And then you’ll notice up here at the top right there’s a little blue or a white plus and a blue circle. You click on that and then we’re going to click on Add New Users.

Then you need to be able to do an email address that is a valid email address. So in this case I’m going to say Ross@HorizonWebMarketing. Then you have the chance to leave this by default. It’s checked and that is to notify new users by email. But if the person you’re adding doesn’t need to get an email you can just go ahead and un-tick that.

And then you also have a chance here to be able to enable certain levels of permissions. Now normally when we ask for access to account we want to have all permissions at least above the line here. Now to give full permissions you also need to tick this box here that says Manage Users and normally is you want somebody to be able to add other users to your Google Analytics account you’re going to have tick that box.
With respect to, for example giving access to a SEO Agency typically they’re going to want to have access these three and if you tick the top box here it’s going to by default, enable the other two. So at this point we are done with our job and now that new user is going to appear. And here I am, Ross@HorizonWebMarketing and then you’ll be able to see what the various levels of permissions are under the permissions column.

And once you’re done all you have to do is exit out. You can go back to the home screen of your Google Analytics property and you’re done. I hope this has been useful.

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Is Your Website Infected with Malware? Free Tools to Help You Check.

And You Don’t Even Need to Be “Techy” to Use Them!

Scroll down to watch the video (audio transcript is below that)

Do you know that “bad actors” on the internet will try to infect your site with malware and spam in ways so subtle that you don’t even know they’ve done it? And often they aren’t after your secrets, they just need your website to help them blast spam emails, practice negative SEO, or host hundreds of advertising pages you don’t even know about.

In they process they can hog your website resources and earn you or other websites a bad reputation with Google. For that reasons you need to be able to quickly check your website for unwelcome intruders. Of course there are lots of more technical tools for doing this (if your site is running WordPress our favorite tool for checking and protecting is Wordfence).

In this video we take a look at a number of other tools that require no technical expertise to use, and we find that they are not all created equal.

(Interested in more in depth SEO training? We offer live SEO workshops like this.)

By the way, if you discover that malware is infecting your website, you will need technical help, so be prepared. But whatever you do, don’t ignore this issue. It’s one of the first things we do when we’re doing an SEO Audit.

Audio Transcript

Hi, everyone. I’m Ross with Horizon Web Marketing, and I’m here with another SEO Audit How-To. So, we’ve been working our way through the SEO audit checklist that we use internally when we do an SEO audit on a site and giving you little tips on how you can clear items from your audit checklist. Let’s take a look at the checklist. As we scroll down under the technical factor section of the checklist, you’ll see that one of the sections is security issues, and I’ve done another video that talks about how we can clear these two items. Is the site using https, and is that being served consistently?

detail image of seo audit checklist with the security issues highlighted

Today, we’re going to talk about this question, is the domain clean of hidden malicious code? Now, you may think that your domain is as clean as a whistle, but on the other hand, the people that are out there planting malicious code on websites often do a pretty good job of not letting you know that they’re around. And don’t be going according to the assumption that every time someone hacks into your website, they want to steal something from you. Often they’re hacking into your website so they can do things like blast out spammy emails or put up advertising pages that you don’t know about using your domain, and now also they might use your domain for something called negative SEO, where they plant a whole bunch of really lousy links to other websites to try to take them down, and you’re just the unwitting host of this.

So, here’s how we go about checking a site, and before I do that I’m going to show you this article here and I’ll put a link to this article. It’s a pretty good one, “11 Awesome Tools for Website Malware Scanning.” So I went through there, and I actually saw some tools that I didn’t know about before. They’ve got a list of some. Now, many of these tools are ones you have to install on the backend of your site. What we’re going to focus on today, with the exception of Google Search Console, we’re going to show you tools where you don’t have to have login privileges in order to check out a site.

So, if you do have, when it comes to your own site that you own, probably the first place you’re going to go is to Google Search Console. Now, if you’re not familiar with Google Search Console, you need to change that, and we’ve got some videos that show you how to get set up with it.

When you’re within Google Search Console, on the left you’ll see that there’s a choice called Security Issues, and when we click on that, if Google has picked up on any malware, any malicious code on your site, they’re going to give you a notification here. So typically, they’ll push a notification to you if you have your email entered into Google Search Console, but as a matter of course for sites that we maintain, we make it a practice to check this at least once a month, make sure that Google hasn’t picked up on something that we’ve missed. However, this is a cursory check. It doesn’t catch a lot of stuff. I have had it catch security breaches before, but I don’t think it always does that.

The security issues screen in Google Search Console

Now, some of the checkers that are listed on that page that I showed you are not that great at catching code, so what I did is I decided to go to a website that I know has malware infection because I’ve been following this website for years because they’re a host for what we call negative SEO and have actually been used to launch attacks on at least one of my clients. So, I’m going to go to this website, and here it is. It’s called coopercomputers.com. It’s still up and online. You can see that it’s like an abandoned site. If you dig down into this domain, you’ll see pages like this where basically the pages have been hacked, and then all sorts of images have been placed. And if you dig down into the code, you can find all sorts of shady stuff going on. So, I decided to take this and do a little test on some of the malware checkers that are listed in the article I showed you.

The first one that I went to is this one here called virustotal.com. I ran that site through it, came back pretty clean. This is basically a meta check, so it goes and it goes through a lot of different checks. Notice it shows Quttera’s listing this as suspicious. Quttera is another one of the sites that we’re going to take a look at.

Web Inspector, another one here we go to, and boy, it looks like it’s pretty clean so far. And then I’ve gone to Rescan.Pro, which is another resource. We’ve scanned the site and once again, looking good. Alright. Now we’re going to go to the site that we always use when we do a check like this on a client’s website or on a prospect that we’re looking, for example, for a link partnership arrangement. We’re going to go to Sucuri, and a lot of developers know Sucuri. They really know their stuff pretty well. Plugged in the website. Notice, not so clean. “Warning: malware detected. Critical Security Risk. Known Spam detected. Your site is hacked and needs immediate attention. Malicious code was detected on your site.” Notice down here, “Malware detected by the scan and injected spam detected.” So, obviously this site is not as clean as some of these tools would have made it out to be.

picture of results page of check on coopercomputers

Our Go-To Web-Hosted Site Check Is Sucuri

Now, I have plugged this same homepage of this site into Sucuri, and it’s come back clean, even with this tool. As a matter of fact, just last week I was doing a demo where I plugged this computer in. Sucuri came back and said that the homepage was clean, so I had to go and put an internal page into the checker in order to discover the code. The moral of that is when you’re doing a check on your site, don’t stop at the homepage. Pick a couple of internal pages and run them through a couple of different checkers.

Now here, Google has their own what they call a Safe Browsing Report. Notice Cooper Computers came back clean with Google’s own report. But, Sucuri is not the only one. There is Quttera. Remember they were mentioned. It says, “Potentially suspicious content detected on this website.” And you scroll down here and it’ll tell you that it has potentially malicious files that it found on this site.

Also, Siteguarding here, another tool, actually gave me an extremely good readout on this site although it’s a little bit on the technical side. It says, “The website is infected.” Now, this is the one that was probably the most surprising to me because they actually identified the infection as “Spam SEO Linking Anomaly,” which goes along with the negative SEO. That’s a subject for another time, but basically the bottom line is they were able to pick up on the infection at Siteguarding. I think I have one more example here. Nope. No more examples.

So, there we’ve just walked through a few tools. I would say if you’re in doubt, I would typically recommend Sucuri as my first bet go-to site. But as I’ve shown you, these tools are not entirely perfect, and they don’t claim to be. There’s only so much that a tool can do running a scan, but this will give you a good start in checking whether your website is infected.

So, I hope this has been useful to you. Let me know if you have any comments, suggestions for this video or for any others, and definitely subscribe with the big red button. Next to it there’s a little bell icon. Make sure you click on that too because that’s the only way you’ll actually get notifications pushed to you from Google.

I also drop a few more resources and links down in the description, so be sure that you click on the ‘Show More’ button underneath the description to see everything that’s available with this video. And definitely come back and check out our other videos when you have a minute. I’ll see you next time.

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Secure Protocol 101: How to Check the HTTPS Implementation of Your Website (video)

Another SEO Audit How-To Video

Google wants your website to be secure! That’s why they are favoring websites that use “https” instead of “http”

Image of a website running https

Above is an image of how a website will show in a browser if it is running https

 

Image of a website showing a not secure warning

Above is an image of a site that has not implemented https, or has done it incorrectly

This is another video in our series of SEO Audit Essentials how-to’s. In this video I discuss one of the items we always check when we’re doing an audit on a website, namely whether it’s running on secure protocol (in other words, using “https” instead of “http”), and then, if it is, whether that https protocol has been implemented correctly (often it has not).

Since Google is valuing https in their ranking we always want to make sure that Google doesn’t think the https implementation on a website is broken. It might negatively impact the trustworthiness of the site.

(This video is designed to complement our SEO Audit Essentials free checklist. To get a copy of that checklist for your SEO work, click here)

An audio transcript appears below the video.

Audio Transcript

Hi, everybody. This is Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing. I’m here with another tip for how to use our SEO audit checklist. As you may already know, and may already have a copy, we offer as a free download a checklist similar to the one we use in house for performing an SEO audit on your website. So, we’re just going to drill down into one small aspect of that, and show you how you can do a check on your site. And in this case, it’s for the security protocol that your site is operating under.

Let’s take a look at the checklist. You can see it here. It’s set up in a spreadsheet format.

image of seo audit essentials checklist

If we scroll down a little bit, you’ll see it there’s a setting that says security issues. And the first question is, is the site using HTTPS? Of course, as you probably know, Google is pushing everyone to use a secure protocol and here I’ve got a project site to take a look at. You’ll see up at the top left that the site is using HTTPS, as opposed to just HTTP. Whenever you visit a website, typically, if it’s running this secure protocol, if you’re using Chrome browser, it’s going to show secure, other browsers will show something similar.

Your first step is, if you’re going to check out your site is try typing in the address, just like I’ve done it here without any protocol [ed: without http or https] and hit Enter, and then see what it defaults to. In this case, it defaults to HTTPS. So, so far, so good. I’d click around to a few pages on a few links, see if it’s running HTTPS. Okay, so at this real basic level, it looks to be running HTTPS. But I’m going to check one other thing, and that is what about if somebody has a link out there with just the standard old-fashioned HTTP? So, I’m going to put that in for this site and I’m going to hit enter. Now notice that it redirects again to HTTPS.

So, some sites do not force it to check. Part of what you’re going to do is you’re going to check by taking out that S, and running it through and seeing if it redirects back to the secure protocol. But typically, you’re not done there.

Using the Insecure Content Report in Screaming Frog

Now tool that we use quite a bit, and I’ve talked about on some of my other videos is Screaming Frog [ed: for a link to any tools mentioned in this video, see the description of the video on YouTube]. It’s free for up to about 500 URLs. It’s a free download. Otherwise, if you have to buy it, it’s a good tool to have. I’ll do other videos on what we use it for, a whole bunch of different stuff. I’ve done a crawl here on a somewhat abandoned site called rockymountainsearchacademy.com. Once I do a crawl using Screaming Frog, they have a report that is called insecure content. When you click on that, it’ll prompt you to download a spreadsheet.

image of the dashboard of Screaming Frog

What the spreadsheet looks like is right here. You’ll notice that it will show me every page that has a link on it that points to an insecure destination. In this case, on my page, How To SEO Courses, you’ll see here under the column destination, notice how the protocol over here is HTTP. That’s not really the best case. Now in our situation, we do have what are called redirects in place. So, if someone clicks on that link, they are forced to a secure version of this page. But that puts an unnecessary step in the process. So, this would be an area that I would need to give some attention to, to change these links here to HTTPS.

Using JitBit to Double Check for Page Resources Called Insecurely

Now there’s one other free tool that I’m going to show you how to use. We’ll go back here, and we’ll check this tab. This is a cool little site called JitBit. You can go there and do an SSL check. Now, this will only go up to about 200 pages. But it gives you a good idea whether you might have a problem or not. Notice you have to tweet to gain access? That’s a small price to pay. So, I go ahead and tweet, and I’m going to show you what the result is when I did a check on Rocky Mountain search engine Academy. And you can see in the screen capture here, that it finds just one insecure item. Now, this is because it’s looking for actually where the website is calling some sort of a resource that is using something to build the page that is insecure. Now, this is something that Screaming Frog did not pick up on. And so, in essence, you really have to do a variety of different checks.

At this point, if you find that you do have a problem, and you’re not really technical, here’s where you call in your developer or an outside developer if you feel that your developer, or the person you’re working with, can’t handle this. And you say, “Well, here’s what I find:” In the case of Rocky Mountain search Academy, I have a bunch of insecure links that need to be swapped out. That can be done with a one-step database replacement operation. I would also show them the JitBit document, because it shows where an external script is being called insecurely. Both of those are red flags to Google. And so, they would need to be dealt with. Once you deal with them, you can mark this off your list.

Again, my name is Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing and Horizon Web Marketing Academy. I hope this has been useful to you. Please subscribe for more tips like this, and also click on the bell icon next to the subscribe button. That way, you’ll actually get a notification when we have new videos come out that will help you work through these tough SEO questions. Bye for now.

How to Use Google PageSpeed Insights to Judge Your Website Speed (Video)

Google is Increasingly Pushing Website Speed

Now those speedy people at Google have even made website speed a ranking factor. In other words, how fast your website loads could affect where you rank in search results.

Additionally, speed is a factor in how much people like (or don’t like) your website, so even if we leave Google out of the equation, speed is important.

To help website developers to this end, Google offers a free tool called PageSpeed Insights (here’s a link to it) to help you test how fast your site is. Recently Google has enhanced this tool with a new feature to make its results more realistic.

This video will

  • Walk you through using the tool
  • Explain the new feature it offers
  • Tell you some of the limitations and how best to interpret the data it gives you
  • Link you up with some other complementary link tools

Below the video we’ve also provided a transcript for you skimmers.

Audio Transcript

I hope you’re ready for a Google speed test, that’s what we’re going to be doing today and so stick around, I’ll be back in a minute.

Hi, I’m Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing and the Horizon Web Marketing Academy. Now you’ve probably noticed if you’ve been paying attention that Google is a pusher. You know you could say they push many things but I’m talking about how they push speed. Not the drug speed. They’re pushing website load time speed. In other words, they want your webpage to go faster and the way they’re trying to encourage you to do this is by saying that speed is a ranking factor. Let me tell you what a ranking factor is. A ranking factor is simply something that might affect how high or low you show on Google’s search results page. So if you’ve got a website, if you’re in business, if you depend on the internet, you want to show up in search results, you have to take into account anything that’s called a ranking factor and we have to take into account speed.

Take a look at this quote from Google’s latest Webmaster Central blog post. Now this just came out day before yesterday. It says, “Using page speed in mobile search ranking.” And you’ll notice this quote just in the first paragraph, they say that they’ve been using speed in ranking for some time but the signal was focused on desktop searches. Well, now they’re saying that they’re making that a more important factor not just on desktop searches but on mobile searches as well. Now Google recognizes that it’s kind of hard for somebody who owns a website to know exactly how fast their website is for everybody and so they’ve made available some tools to help you out.

One of those tools is something called PageSpeed Insights and that’s the tool we’ll be digging into just a little bit today. Now this is really relevant to us particularly since we’ve recently released a resource called our SEO audit checklist. One of the first items that we have for you to check is site speed and then we break that down into both desktop and mobile site speed. This is kind of gets into a touchy area and so I thought it was helpful or would be helpful if we had a video that explained site speed just a little bit more.

The way I’m doing this and the way I’ve framed this particular video is I started with a search using a pretty competitive, pretty commercial search phrase called best hotel sheets and this is probably top of mind for me because in our consulting business we do have a client who operates within this space and so we’re always looking at their competitors. Let’s take a look at how our client fares when we subject them to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tools.

This is how it lays out. You type in a website address, you can do it for the homepage of your domain or any of your internal pages. And then they’ll give you some results and they’ll be broken down into mobile and desktop results and it’s a tab interface so I’ve got mobile right here, I can click on desktop and I can go back and forth and compare these. The part that’s new, as a matter of fact just within the last month, they’ve introduced a new metric here called speed. In the past we’ve always had this metric that I’m pointing to on the right which I optimization. Now optimization, I’m going to cover that first because it’s a relative scale. It’s from one to a 100 where one would be the worst and 100 would be the best. And so naturally everybody wants to chase a 100 on that scale ’cause that means they’re the best.

And this is a technical measurement. In other words, Google can take any page and just look at the code and say, “Is this page theoretically built for speed or not?” Now in this case, our client scores kind of middle of the road, medium, 77 out of a 100. And the reason Google has added this speed metric on the left is because they realize that there are theoretical measurements and then there are real world measurements. Speed is tied to something called the Chrome User Experience report and this is basically where Google has their analytical stuff installed in their Chrome browser and millions of users either wittingly or unwittingly are sending information back to Google about their browsing experience including how fast webpages load for them. Google is basing this number here, the speed number, on data they’re getting back from people who are actually visiting this site and you can see these numbers line up pretty well. Speed is average, optimization is medium.

screenshot of pagespeed insights using sah

If I take a look at the desktop version I do have an optimization number which is still in the medium range but the speed is unavailable. Well why is that? It’s simply because not enough people have visited this particular website, this particular webpage for Google to be able to get any sort of a realistic measurement. At times, particularly if you’re looking at a lightly traveled website, you’ll see this unavailable showing up. Now I don’t really know whether these numbers will become more robust as Google gathers more data but for right now there’s a number of pages out there and yours might be one of them where those numbers are unavailable.

But what to do they mean? Okay, it says optimization medium. If I go back to this, speed average. Well how’s that really affecting me? Let’s first of all start by taking look at a few of our competitors to see some of the limitations that I run into doing SEO for clients when it comes to Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Here’s another one of their primary competitors for that search term that I showed you a moment ago and in this case it’s a publisher, nymag.com. They’re showing numbers that are pretty good particularly on the mobile they show an optimization of 81 out of a 100, now that’s just about four points above our client. Their speed is showing very fast. Let’s take a look at the desktop version and here you see where we’re starting to get a little bit of a discrepancy because notice their optimization on the desktop is showing as 66 out of a 100, now that’s even below our client’s website but Google does have some data show here and they’re showing that their speed is very, very fast.

screen capture of travelandleisure.com in pagespeed insightsLet’s take another one, this is Travel and Leisure, a major, major website. Here, they show that they really have some developers working on their website that are very focused on speed because in the optimization category on the right, and remember this is kind of a technical assessment of how the site is built. On paper, this site looks really good, 84 out of a 100 is pretty high number. But the speed is only average. Let’s take a look at the desktop version of this. Now we get something that’s really starting to look a little goofy. The optimization for their desktop version of their site is 43 out of a 100, now that’s really low. So in other words, their desktop website was not really built for speed. It was more like built like a delivery truck lumbering down the road. But at the same time, take a look at the speed, it’s showing as fast. So obviously right here we’re seeing that real world data does not always line up with theoretical data.

screen capture of macys.com in pagespeed insights

I’m going to take a look at one more and this is a really big website because the discrepancy here is really great. This is macys.com, not exactly an unknown site, not exactly a small budget operation. But notice their optimization is good, 83. I mean, again, that’s one of the highest numbers out there but take a look at the speed. 3.1 seconds. Now that FCP stands for first content full paint and that’s pretty much geek speak but it means it takes a long time for the visual experience of the customer who is looking at the site. Now Google has said that page speed is a factor, ranking factor in search but I know from looking at Macy’s they are very, very strong in search. So there’s other stuff going on here not just page speed when it comes to search. Going to take a quick look, their desktop we don’t see that kind of discrepancy.

All right, so now if we go back to the real world implementation of this best hotel sheets, I’m not going to scan down here and show you all the results but I will tell you this, if you go back to our customer’s website, we were getting average numbers remember, so middle of the road. Not horrible, not great but we rank number one for most searches on that page whereas a lot of these much faster sites are ranking further down the page. Why is that? Part of this is going back to Google’s blog post if I can find it here. If I go back to that Webmaster Central blog post, let’s take a look at what they say also in this page.

Notice down here in paragraph two, the last sentence. It says, “The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal.” What do they mean by that? The intent of the search query. What they mean is what the person wants is still the important thing to them. What that person is looking for. So a slow page may still rank highly if it has “great relevant content.”

quote highlight from Google Webmaster Central blog post

Now I don’t have some magical window into Google but I can tell you what this tells me and from what I see in working with other clients as well, I would never tell you don’t worry about speed. Speed is a factor. It’s important to build your website to load as quickly as possible, it’s important for good user experience, right? But it is obviously not something you should slave over.

For example, we would not advise our client if we go back to our numbers here, we wouldn’t advise our client that thousands of dollars be poured into trying to get this medium number up to a 90 or a 100. But I see that some people do. I see comments online and I’ll see guys that are basically have devoted dozens of hours if not hundreds of hours to trying to move this number up and I’m going to tell you my suggestion would be, don’t worry about it. Now if you on the other hand, go to this tool, and by the way, a link to anything I’m talking about to a lot of this stuff and a few other resources I’m going to show you are all going to be in the show notes down here in the description. That’s just a digression there to let you know about that.

Let me go back to Macy’s for example. If I had these numbers, I have to tell you, I’d be taking a look at why my mobile site was loading so slowly. I wouldn’t be ignoring that. But if your numbers are middle of the road, here’s what I suggest you do. First of all, check for the search queries where you want to rank or where you are ranking and take a look at your competitors. You can plug anybody’s webpage into PageSpeed Insights. Take a look at how they’re doing. If you’re more or less in a reasonable range, move onto something else. That’s why going back to our audit tool here, you notice how we phrase the question, “Site speed acceptable?” We don’t say, “Site speed a 100. Site speed really terrific. Site speed better than every other competitor.” That’s not what we’re going for here. Site speed acceptable. Now if you see some numbers that really give you some concern, then I’d also double check those numbers. Google doesn’t make perfect tools any more or less than anybody else out there.

Here’s one that we use all the time. It’s called Pingdom. They have a website speed test and they rank Macy’s pretty good on their speed test. Then I go to, if you’re really have somebody who likes to geek this stuff out, I love this tool, it’s called webpagetest.org is the address. And it has page after page, after page of highly let’s say, extremely geek content. This is the page if you’ve got a developer that wants to dig into this stuff, by all means, send them to webpagetest.org and say, “Have at it. Go through it.” You can often get really good suggestions for improving page performance.

Well that pretty much all I wanted to cover for now. Bottom line, the takeaway from this is pay attention to site speed but once you have it in an acceptable range for your industry and compared to the people that you’re competing with, move onto to something else. It would be much better if you put your time into creating great content and convincing other people to link to your site.

Again, my name is Ross Barefoot here at the Horizon Web Marketing Academy. We like to publish videos that will help business people understand SEO and make the most for their website. So definitely if you’re interested in that, if you want to do better, as good as you can in search, hit that red subscribe button down below. If you’d like to see us cover stuff that we haven’t on our channel, leave us a comment. Give us a suggestion. Offer your own experience. It is a discussion. So that’s it for now and I hope to see you back here next time around.