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Hubspot Website Grader – Review (Video with Transcript)

One of the Most Well-Known SEO Checkers

By virtue of its position as one of the major players in digital marketing, Hubspot’s SEO checkup tool, the Website Grader, has been used to do an SEO check on literally millions of websites. In this review I take you through the results of a check I did as part of our ongoing series of reviews of free website analyzers. How does Hubspot’s Website Grader stack up? Watch the video here and find out.

[Note: Check out the other SEO Checker reviews we’ve posted on our blog or on our YouTube channel]

And, in case you’d prefer to to read, we’ve included a full audio transcript with screen captures below the video.

Audio Transcript

Hi there. Do deep pockets make for a great SEO check up tool? We’re going to find out in just a minute.

Hi, I’m Ross Barefoot, with Horizon Web Marketing and the Horizon Web Marketing Academy. We’ve been working through a series of free online tools that’ll help you do an SEO check up on your website. Now these SEO checkers are pretty common, there’s a lot of them out there, and many of them are made by small teams of developers, laboring away, sometimes more of a labor of love than anything else, and we’ve reviewed a number of good tools. This time we’re going to turn our attention to a tool developed by one of the big companies out there, a company named Hubspot, that you may or may not have heard of.

Hubspot is a major player in digital marketing. They’ve got a great platform for marketing your business. I can’t really review the platform here, but they also have a lead magnet tool, that is a tool designed to generate interest in their business, called the Website Grader. So we’re going to take a look at that tool and see, okay, this was developed by a company with deep pockets, does it show up in their free SEO checker? So let’s have a look.

When you arrive at the website, you know that you’re dealing with a heavy hitter here because their domain is “grader.com.” That’s a pretty high end type of domain for a company to have, and they’ve got “website” as the sub domain, so it reads website.grader.com. You can see it’s powered by Hubspot at the top, very simple interface. It asks, “how strong is your website?” It asks you to put in the website and they also want your email. Hubspot is great for being out there and trying to build their email list. And I’d first like to point out that Hubspot offers lots of great content online. And so I certainly, nothing in this review should detract from the fact that they’ve really made some positive contributions in the world of digital marketing.

Now we’ve been running a website that we’ve been using as kind of a test website, called Artisans of Colorado, and as you can see, it’s pretty plain. This is what it looks like. And it has not been optimized for search, as a matter of fact, we’ve thrown some errors in there just to see if some of these tools will pick up on the errors. So here’s the report that I get when I run artisansofcolorado.com through Hubspot. It tells me that my site is good. That really makes me feel great. It registers it as an 80.

screen capture of results of website grader evaluationThe thing is as someone who’s done SEO for well, going on forever now, since 2002, I can tell you there is no way artisansofcolorado.com deserves an 80 on any scale in terms of search engine optimization. Let’s take a look at what they’ve talked about here. Says that my performance gets a 20 out 30, my mobile readiness gets 30 out of 30, the SEO gets a 20 out of 30, and security 10 out of 10. Then it gives me a screen capture and then we start to get into some of its results.

Now one thing that probably some of you might like, I personally get tired of and that is, they really indulge in a lot of cute descriptions here, so some copywriter went to town on the informal side of things. But I find this tool to be probably the least useful of any tool that I’ve tested so far. It gives me very little data. I’ll give you one example here, it’s showing me my page speed is slow, it’s just giving me an overall number rather than breaking down into the things that Google looks at like when does the page first start to render, when do people first start to see it as opposed to when it completely loads.

Screen capture of speed results from the website grader test

Very basic metrics. Not enough detail to really tell you whether your site is truly slow, and if it is, what to do about it.

The other thing is they tell me that I might try speeding things up a bit. If I click on any of those links to read more, I’m expecting to see some details associated with that, like what specifically I could improve, and instead it just takes me to a very general blog post, and that’s the case with all of this stuff, like page request, page size and so forth. When I drop down here it’ll tell me that I need compression. It’ll tell me that I’ve got some render blocking going on. So it gives me some information, but not really enough. I’m going to have to find another tool to really tell me what to work on with this site.

It will show me that the site is responsive, and this is what I mean by cute, they say, “now that’s a good looking viewport.” You know after a while I probably would rather just have the information than have it expressed in that particular manner. When I drop down here to SEO, they’ll just take a look at like the very most basic of things, does it have page titles, they’ll give me a yes without showing me what the page title on this page is. Same with meta description.

And one of the things I was a little disappointed at, because Hubspot is really great at producing content, like when I clicked on read more for the meta description tag it takes me to this that’s showing me a capture of a search engine results page from like five years ago. You see the little picture here of Ramesh Ranjan up in the left, that type of search snippet hasn’t been seen in a long time, so this is a pretty old page and with something like a meta description tag as they’re talking about here, Google has just in the last six months changed their specifications on that title two different times, so it’s really important to have more current information. When I drop down I see on security, it just basically tells me that I have a secure site, so that’s good. When it says what should I do next, it’s a pretty short list, four different items. And then they’re basically of course offering me a trial of their software.

Screen capture of how website grader does on the seo audit checklist

By the numbers: Website Grader comes up very low. Not many audit items can be checked off with this free tool.

Now, we have been comparing these tools to our SEO audit checklist and one of the things that we do at Horizon Web Marketing and the consulting side of our business is we will do SEO audits on sites and they’re typically pretty thorough, so we’ve taken each of these tools and we’d say, okay, if I’m using this tool, will it help me to clear a particular item on our SEO audit checklist? So the SEO audit checklist here has a total of 91 different items, and the Hubspot website grader is showing here as having been able to help me clear two out of 91 of those items. That’s about the lowest score that I’ve seen, well it’s definitely the lowest score that I’ve seen.

I’m just going to scroll down here through some of the items on our checklist. It was able to tell me that it’s using HTTPS or a secure protocol. It was able to tell me that the site is mobile friendly. But as far as everything else on our audit checklist, it was not able to help me out at all.

So in terms of using the website grader to actually do an SEO check on your website, I’d say choose one of the other tools that we’ve been looking at. That’s not to say anything disparaging about Hubspot’s platform or any of the other things they offer, and as I’ve said before, I really appreciate all their great content, but this particular tool really is not going to be very useful whether you’re experienced or inexperienced in terms of SEO and digital marketing.

Graphic indicating the free download for the SEO audit checklist

Get your own free copy of our SEO Audit Essentials Checklist.

Now that SEO audit checklist that I showed you online, we do offer as a free resource, and I’m going to put a link down in the description of this video where you can click through and get a copy of that checklist for yourself and start working through it. The checklist also has links to videos and other instructional materials to help you to be able to do some of the checks that we have on our SEO audit checklist.

Also, please subscribe to show your support for our video production and the fact that we’re trying to create content that’s useful for business people out there who are trying to do SEO on their own. So just go ahead and click that subscribe link if you enjoy content like this. Also, please let us know if you have any consulting or SEO training needs. We’d be glad to help you out. Again, my name is Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing and the Horizon Web Marketing Academy, and I’ll see you next time.

Latest SEO Checker Review: Dareboost (Video)

In our latest series on SEO checkers (aka Website Analyzers, aka SEO check up tools), we take a look at Dareboost. This may not be the best choice for someone who has no technical knowledge of website development, however if you have even a basic level of understanding you will find a lot of value here.

[Note: Check out the other SEO Checker reviews we’ve posted on our blog or on our YouTube channel]

I will take you on a quick tour of the program in the video. For those of you who’d rather read than watch, well, first, more power to you, but secondly, look below the video for our audio transcript.

Audio Transcript

Dare I say it? It’s time for another SEO checker check up. I’ll be right back, in a moment.

Hi, I’m Ross with Horizon Web Marketing and as you probably know, we’ve been working through a number of different, free, SEO check up tools, that are available online, that purport to help you be able to take your webpage and plug it in and see how it can be improved from an SEO perspective.

Now we’ve done a number of these tools, the next one on my list is a tool called ‘Dareboost.’ So, let’s see if Dareboost can get the job done.
Here we see Dareboost when you arrive at the website, actually I’ve been here before, as you can see down here, it knows that I’ve already done a check. Now when we do these, we’re using a demo site, basically, called ‘Artisans of Colorado.’ And we’ve been using the same site throughout so we’d have something to compare.

So I went ahead and plugged Artisans of Colorado into Dareboost and it comes back with, a very familiar interface here, it’s got a numeric grade, it tells me it’s 68%, they’ll tell me it has 11 issues, 15 suggestions for improvement, 63 areas where it has passed the test.

Dareboost is a Fairly Technical SEO Tool that Gets a Lot of Things Right

It does a lot of things right, it is able to spot a lot of issues, but often at a level where you’re gonna have to have some technical knowledge to be able to even understand the issue, much less to be able to correct it.

So let’s just scroll down here and see what it looks like. It puts a lot of weight on the speed test, putting it at the top and center of the report screen here. And it gives me a lot of very good information when it comes to the speed of the website.

It’ll give me details such as the first bite, start render, fully loaded, so in other words, it doesn’t just give you a number, “Oh, your page took X amount of time to load,” and that’s a good thing, because Google is evaluating your page based on things like ‘when does a user first have an experience with your page.’ So in this case, it’s giving me a lot of metrics and then as I drop down below, it’ll give me the tips and best practices.

screen capture of SEO speed metrics

Website speed metrics are granular and front and center.

Now, one of the things I like about this, is that it has a really good filtering mechanism. So that I can switch from all categories for its observations to just a few. Before when I came down here, I had it set to ‘cash policy,’ but you can see immediately, when you start looking at this, that it’s really designed for somebody with technical knowledge. When it allows you to sort your categories by things like ‘browser rendering’ and ‘number of requests’ and ‘cache policy.’

These are things, that if you’re new to SEO, even if you’re experienced with the SEO but you don’t know much about website development, you’re gonna have a hard time wrestling with some of these issues. But if you do have some knowledge of these areas, it gives you a lot of granularity and a lot of detail that’s very, very useful.

So, I’m just going to pick out a few things here, as I go down, and one thing I would like to point out is the interface does allow you to hide or reveal, the information. Like for example, it’s talking here about a critical dependency that’s detected, I was able to drop this down, it tells me about what … It’s referred to as a ‘front end single point of failure.’ Here again, we get into some of the text speak that is very common to Dareboost, when it does one of these checks.

Often Includes Good Supporting Information

Now, I’ve brought up here, this is a different blog post, but one of the things that I also like about Dareboost, is they do give you links, not just to kind of a ‘hover over’ tip on what a particular metric or particular diagnosis is about. But they’ll actually do a pretty good blog post, giving you a lot of information.

screen capture of a technical SEO blogpost on the dareboost site

So if you’ve got patience and if you are able to engage with their information, they’ve done a really good job on a lot of these subjects, of being able to educate you and I’d say that has a lot of value, right there.

As I drop down, I can see … it’ll show me quite a few items here, that require attention.

One of the things that I like, just from an SEO perspective, is they do a thing like, it will check that there’s duplicate title tags on this page. We’ve thrown a duplicate title tag into this page, just to see whether tools would pick up on it, and most tools don’t pick up on the fact that there’s a duplicate title tag. It also gives you a nice preview here of the ‘Cert snippet.’ By snippet, I mean how you’re listing is gonna appear and how your title tag might affect that particular display, in a Google search result.

So let me just kinda scroll down here, you can see there’s a whole lot of speed and optimization issues. And the tool is pretty, I wouldn’t say it’s exclusively focused, but it’s got a heavy emphasis on performance issues. And if you’re a programmer out there, you can see they’ll call you out on things like here that other tools, typically, will not, using the exclamation important declaration, used 578 times, that’s basically something that you put into your CSS code.

And again, unless you’re a developer, you won’t really know what that refers to, but if you are, it kinda shows you how you’re relying on something here, that you probably shouldn’t be relying on so heavily.

So, again, there’s a lot of subtle things this tool will pick up on and I thought that was extremely good. I just don’t think that the tool is really appropriate for someone who’s just getting in to SEO, unless they’re doing it, going through it with their developer or with an SEO professional.

That having been said, once you’re a little bit farther down the path, this could be a very good resource. I’m certainly going to keep Dareboost bookmarked for the future.

Let’s run the numbers on this, as you know we publish an SEO audit check list, at Horizon Web Marketing, and we offer it as a free resource. In the description for this video, I’ll give you a link to be able to download this audit check list. And we modify and update it on a regular basis.

We have a total of 91 items on our SEO audit check list. Of those, 31 are technical factors and these tools tend to be more focused on the technical factors. So we ran a score on Dareboost, basically what we do, is we say, “Okay, on these various items, that our SEO audit would include, would Dareboost give me the information I need to be able to either clear it or fix it or know that there’s a problem.”

Graphic indicating the free download for the SEO audit checklistNow, the numbers here are pretty low, for Dareboost, I don’t think that should be a judgment on the tool, because, again, this check list is more relayed with a lot of items that have to do with things like, “Is the content relevant to your end user,” and so forth. And Dareboost doesn’t claim to be able to do that.

So, the fact that it had got, it hit 11 out of 90 of our points, 6 out of 30 on the technical, would tend to indicate a pretty low score. And here I’ll scroll down, just kinda give you an idea of what these are. But I don’t think that that’s a really- a valid score in terms of judging this tool. I think the tool, overall, is a really neat tool. I like it quite a bit, so, definitely keep it in mind as one of the tools in your toolbox, and make use of it as you have the knowledge and experience to be able to do that.

Now, if you want to get other reviews that we offer on free SEO tools, please subscribe. It’s also great if you subscribe, because it just shows YouTube that you support the channel. So go ahead and hit that subscribe button down below and if you’d like to actually receive notifications of our … of new videos that we publish, when you click on ‘subscribe,’ there’s gonna be a little bell icon next to that button. Just click on that as well, so you can actually get notifications now.

We offer SEO consulting and SEO training at Horizon Web Marketing. Training is through the Horizon Web Marketing Academy. So definitely keep us in mind for any needs that you might have for SEO services or for SEO training, as you pursue your own Search Engine Optimization knowledge.

And I will look forward to seeing you on our next video. Again, my name is Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing. I’ll see you next time.

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.

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.

How to Set the Preferred Domain in Google Search Console

SEO How-to Video: Make Sure to Set the Right Version of Your Website in Search Console

There are at least two versions of your website, and it’s important you tell Google which version of your site is the “preferred” one. In this video I will walk you through the “why it’s important” and also “how to get it right.”

(If you prefer reading to watching, the text version of the video is below)

Audio Transcript

Did you know that Google sees different versions of your website? That’s the case even if you never intended to create different versions of your website. Did you also know that it’s extremely important to know which version of your website you’re looking at or working with when you’re using Google’s search console.

Well, that’s the subject of our video today in business basic SEO, so stick with us and I’ll be right back.

Hi, I’m Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing and the Horizon Web Marketing Academy where we help business people understand SEO. Now today we’re going to be talking more about the search console, this is a free tool that Google offers to web masters, business owners, anyone who’s working in digital marketing or SEO and who wants to do better with Google.

Now, search consoles are a very valuable tool as a matter of fact in our consulting business, we work with it all the time. In our training academy we teach about using it all the time. Let me explain a little bit what I’m talking about when I say that there are different versions of your website. I’m going to jump over to a website that’s sort of an under developed website. It’s very plain looking, but it will serve the purpose for us.

Now, this website is called artisansofcolorado.com, and you’ll notice up in the address bar, up here for search. Notice the details of how that’s represented, h-t-t-p-s www.artisansofcolorado.com. Now that website also could be reached if I typed in, for example just artisansofcolorado.com. If I type that in it’s actually going to go to the same website, but Google actually views those as two different variations of the same website. As a matter of fact, it’s technically possible for you to have completely different content on the www version of your website, than you have on the non www version of your website.

It goes beyond that, this particular website is running over what we call a secure protocol, and Google has been pushing most site owners to run over a secure protocol. That’s always shown with http and then an S, after the http. So, in essence for any website that’s running securely, there are four different ways to reach that website. Http://artisansofcolorado.com, http://www.artisansofcolorado.com. Https://artisansofcolorado, and https://www

Screen capture of the various versions of artisansofcolorado.com that can appear in Google Search Console

Now, the interesting thing about this is when you’re working with your website, and Google search console each of those variations really should be setup as if you had four different websites. We’re going to switch over now to Google search console, and I’m going to just show you a little bit about how you do this, and how you indicate to Google which one is what we call your preferred domain when it comes to working with Google search console.

Now first of all, adding a website to Google search console and getting setup with Google search console is a little bit more involved and we do have a video that walks you through that process. So, if you have never added your site to Google search console before, I’m going to put a link on screen. I’m also going to put a link down in the notes for this particular video and you’ll be able to link over to that. I’d recommend you stop at this point, go over, learn how you add and verify a website in Google search console. Then come back and conclude with this.

So, what I’m going to do right now is I’m going to use this red button up in the top right, add a property and I’m going to use https//artisansofcolorado.com, and what Google will do is it will add this, it will ask me to verify it.

screenshot of Add a Property button in Search Console

Now, because I don’t want to bog down this video, I’m going to go ahead and complete these steps and then I’ll come back into the video when I’m done, and then we’ll move forward from there. So, here we are back at the search console and I’ve taken a moment and added and verified four different websites, but you and I both know this is really one website.

To Google however they’re going to treat it as four. I have the http version of artisans of Colorado without the www, and I have it with the www, and then I have the same thing for the https version. Both different variants of the site. Google does recognize that these sites are probably supposed to be tied together, but they still recommend that you set which one of these in the settings of search console is your preferred domain. Which one should be dominant? So, how do we determine which of those is which? I’m going to suggest that the easiest way to do it particularly if you’re non technical is to let the internet make the decision for you.

So, go to a browser, and then notice how I’ve typed in just the domain name, now the domain name is whatever word is to the left, followed by whatever is to the right of the period. So, in this case it’s just straight out artisansofcolorado.com and I don’t add in www. I don’t put in http, I just put in the domain name and I hit enter. Notice how the address bar in the top has changed, https and www have been added. So, this indicates to me that this website is setup in such a way that it should default to that particular variant. Let’s return to search console and here’s how we tell Google that, that should be our preferred domain.

screenshot of the settings gear icon in Search ConsoleWe’ll click on this one here, the www version, and then we’ll click on the gear at the top right, and we’ll select site settings. Often when you first set this up, Google will choose one of those as the default. In this case, if it comes up set as don’t set a preferred domain, you’re going to now change that setting and we will here. We’re going to select the radio button. Remember we want to be with the www, we’ll click save. Now, I’m going to show you something interesting about this. Google of course tells us that it views these as four different websites in effect, but once I’ve made this change if I go to any of these other variants. Let me take this one here, and I click on settings.

screenshot of the site settings in GSCNo, it’s changed it for this one as well. So, in other words this does indicate that Google recognizes, as I said earlier that these are supposed to be part of a matched group. Basically we have done what we need to do. Now, the last thing that I need to tell you is, when you come back to search console as data has started to accumulate here, you will not see the same data in each of these various websites. So, the account that you go to for your most consistent, most complete information is going to be the one that you set here and proceeded by your default protocol in the http versus https. That defines what we call protocol.

So, typically when we come back and we want to manage this site, submit site maps to Google search console or see things like for example crawl errors and so forth. We want to focus on that particular property. Now, there is a way where we can further tie all of these websites together and it’s something called the set, but I’m going to leave that for another video. So, for now I’m going to just let you go and set your preferred domain if you haven’t already done so. Of course if you haven’t added your websites to Google search console, then go and look at the other video that I’ve referenced in the description. Then go and add those sites to Google search console. That’s one of the first steps that you do when you’re optimizing a site for search.

I hope this bit of business basic SEO has been helpful to you. If you like tips like this, and they are useful to you, make sure that you subscribe to our YouTube channel down below. Also, go ahead and leave us a comment if you’d like to see videos that we don’t have within our channel. In the mean time, thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you next time.