Not Your Standard SEO Advice (1/7): Page Speed & Distracting Ads

Google guideline and Google representatives say valid HTML matters, page speed is a crucial ranking factors, and distracting ads are a sign of low quality sites.

Yet, this page has 20+ errors and 70+ warning in Chrome browser inspection, failed horribly in various speed tests, comes with multiple annoying pop-up / pop-under ads – and they rank in multiple position 0’s and ranked for thousands of highly competitive search terms.

Page ranks more than 5,000 keywords.
Search traffic valued at $98,430 according to AHREFS estimation.
Page speed test results at GT Metrix.

SEO guidelines by Google and gurus are only for your reference. They are basic knowledge that serves, at max, as your foundation and can only carry you to a certain distance.

The best SEO thing you can do FOR YOURSELF is to monitor SERPs closely and run your own experiments.

Google Webmaster Conference Kuala Lumpur 2019

This was a rare chance for people in Malaysia to get answers from a Googlers, face-to-face, instead of Google the Search Engine.

  • When? August 02, 2019.
  • Where? Aloft Kuala Lumpur Central.
  • Who? Googlers from the search team including Gary Illyes, Stacie Chan, Lucian Teo, Takeaki Kanaya, Duy Nguyen, Anna Ogawa, Cherry Sireetorn Prommawin, and Aldrich Christopher.
  • Why? It’s a conference for website owners, digital marketers, web developers, and SEO professionals.
  • Event details: https://events.withgoogle.com/wmckualalumpur/

Agenda

There were 9 talk sessions and 1 Q&A / panel discussion in the fully-packed 7 hours event. Titles and topics covered were:

  1. Keynotes / welcomes – by Lucian Teo
  2. How search works – by Cherry Sireetorn
  3. What’s new in search – by Gary Illyes
  4. Search console – by Gary Illyes
  5. Partnering with Google Search and Assistant – by Stacie Chan
  6. Image Search – by Gary Illyes
  7. Towards a safer web – by Aldrich Christopher & Takeaki Kanaya
  8. SEO mythbusting – by Gary Illyes
  9. Let’s talk about links by Duy Nguyen

Key Takeaways

Per Googler’s on-stage talks and guidance

  • eCommerce spending in Asean is estimated to hit US$250 billion by year 2025.
  • Content is king.
  • Businesses should focus on its core and worry less about SEO
  • Rankings are tailored to moment. Search engine crawl, index, and rank content in real time.
  • HTTPS is a must – make use of free SSL like Let’s Encrypt .
  • Link out to trustable resources – it helps Google understand the web better and your site rankings.
  • Any links that are obtained with exchange of money should be “nofollow”.
  • Google human raters will check and compare search results before an core update goes live.
  • Speed up your site.
  • Google is working with other relevant orgs to standardize robots.txt
  • New sites discovered by Google will fall under mobile first indexing.
  • Google now renders a web page when crawling a website – just like how users would see the page on browser.
  • Javascript should be used in moderation.
  • Fun story – Facebook used up Google storage capacity when the two tech giants team up to test out hreflang implementation.
  • Use “hreflang” to gain more localised traffic, but prepare to lose traffic if you take it off.
  • Businesses are encouraged to control their online presence by claiming their knowledge panel and creating content on Google Posts and Cameos.
  • Use schema markup to help Google understand your website better – including the new FAQ and How-to markup.
  • You can now markup your videos with spreadsheets.
  • Make use of Tenor.com, one of Google’s latest acquisitions, to improve your brand visibility.

Q&A (in private and during panel discussion)

  • How users interact with content affects how Google understand intent (in real time); how Google understand intent affect how they serve their results in real time.
  • First meaningful content paint is what matters the most to Google in measuring speed.
  • When a website roll back to single-language from a multilingual setup, it will retain its (bigger) crawl budget for short term, which allow new pages get discovered quicker. This elevated crawl budget would be reduced and normalised based on the website size eventually.

Personal Thoughts

Met my school mates – Sebastian and Chik, during the event.

In overall I think it’s a well-organised event.

  • Plenty to networking opportunities with other digital marketers and developers.
  • Plenty of good food – breakfast, lunch, and two tea breaks, to whack throughout the session.
  • Plenty of clear guidance and tips for newbies and local businesses.

A few attendants I met mentioned their disappointment with the depth of the topics. In overall they thought what covered on stage were too basic and lack of insights.

(Biasa-lah.. Of course the Googlers are not here to teach us how to SEO and manipulate their system.)

More

Free Original Logos

Tired of free crappy logos? Some time ago I worked with Chee Ching and made 50 super-beautiful logos.

I was suppose to build a newsletter chain with these logos but I never got time for the project. It would be a huge waste to keep these logos in my hard drive so I am giving out these original logos for free on BuildThis.

The logos are available in .PNG and .SVG format, you can download all of them here in one big zipped file > https://www.buildthis.io/free-logos/

No signup is needed – I am not collecting emails from this.

Promise me you make good use of them! :)

Speaking at WordPress Meetup (March 2019)

I had the opportunity to speak at one of the WordPress Meetups in Kuala Lumpur recently (thank you David). My session was about growing a blog. I shared my ideas in content and non-SEO marketing to ~70 attendants that afternoon.

Key Takeaways

Click here to download my deck.

To grow your blog, you need to produce the right content for your target audience consistently and promote your blog actively.

  • The Basics – Create evergreen content. Do onpage SEO right. Don’t overload your blog with ads. Be original. Don’t post irrelevant stuffs on your blog. etc etc
  • Generating Ideas – Gather and make use of data you can get from others, such as Quora, Patroen, YouTube, and competitors, to generate content ideas.
  • Growing without Google – Repurpose and distribute your content in different channels to build your brand and traffic. Network with other bloggers / brands / developers for win-win.

Digging in

For further readings and actions.

Personal Note

Public speaking is something I have no done for years (ever since I left Bridgestone). Thankfully there wasn’t many big screw-ups in my presentation (according to feed backs I got).

  • Freestyle feels easier (and probably better) – There was a moment in the beginning where I struggled to stick with my script and my mind just got shut off. Eventually I went freestyle and it worked out smoother.
  • I need practice – Obviously. Must get rid of the “uhhhm” “errr” and “ahhh” when presenting.
  • Speaking is fun and useful – The audience comes to you with their problems and questions – this helps me to understand people better and generate new ideas from speaking to them. Should / will definitely do more.

And by the way …

The Kuala Lumpur WordPress Meetup is for all WordPress users from new to experienced to get together and discuss all things WordPress.

Regardless of whether you use WordPress for business or pleasure, as a blogger, developer, or designer, our monthly meetups are sure to help you get the most out of this amazing open source software.

Just like WordPress, joining the group and attending our meetups is absolutely free!

To learn more and see where the folks are hosting the next meetup, check out https://www.meetup.com/Kuala-Lumpur-WordPress-Meetup/

Why are generic domains so expensive?

Another year and another list of the top selling domain names, showing once again why certain domain names are much more pricey (pricier?) than others. If you haven’t been keeping up with the domain name game, let me give you a little spoiler:

All the of the best selling domain names are all single-word, generic domain names.

Now, for most of you, that might not come as a surprise. But, I’m pretty sure there’s someone out there who’s thinking of buying their first domain name (learn how to buy your first domain name here) and are tempted to be as outlandish as possible.

Well, if you take a look at both the 2018 Top 100 Domain Names Sales (see table below), the big money is always going to be with simple, single-word domain names.

Single-word domain names like fund.com or toys.com were some of the biggest sales of all-timesThe trend continued in 2018 with domain names such as ice.com and super.com at $3.5 million and $1.2 million respectively.

2018 Top 100 Domain Names Sales

Rank Domain Price
1 ice.com $3,500,000
2 super.com $1,200,000
3 great.com $900,000
4 liquid.com $750,000
5 christian.com $600,000
6 inception.com $550,000
7 fo.com $510,000
8 sleeping.com $502,225
9 snoring.com $502,225
10 home.loans $500,000
11 dax.com $500,000
12 tokens.com $500,000
13 inspection.com $335,000
14 nwm.com $325,000
15 seva.com $310,000
16 strength.com $300,001
17 the.club $300,000
18 een.com $300,000
19 signet.com $300,000
20 509.com $295,000
21 mastermind.com $275,000
22 crosswordpuzzles.com $249,980
23 sportsmans.com $235,000
24 star.org $225,000
25 dxb.com $220,000
26 gab.com $220,000
27 supernatural.com $215,888
28 jumprope.com $200,000
29 cryptoworld.com $195,000
30 urw.com $195,000
31 hybrid.com $190,000
32 8.top $172,758
33 0007.com $172,500
34 c.top $167,223
35 e.top $163,125
36 soulmate.com $160,000
37 can.com $155,000
38 presto.com $150,000
39 wjx.com $150,000
40 fxt.com $150,000
41 edit.com $140,000
42 cpu.com $140,000
43 bad.de $138,443
44 interspace.com $136,410
45 hpx.com $130,000
46 nbx.com $130,000
47 mappa.com $127,400
48 flo.com $127,258
49 radian.com $125,000
50 ila.com $125,000
51 emx.com $120,000
52 calltracking.com $120,000
53 enhance.com $110,000
54 item.com $102,000
55 music.ai $101,500
56 payperclick.com $100,000
57 hosts.com $100,000
58 jones.com $100,000
59 providers.com $100,000
60 handle.com $95,378
61 cashout.com $95,011
62 koffer.com $86,892
63 3339.com $85,000
64 cryptogame.com $85,000
65 wsb.com $85,000
66 feed.co $85,000
67 carstore.com $82,500
68 at.top $75,198
69 publica.com $75,000
70 myvid.com $75,000
71 cense.com $75,000
72 broker.com.au $73,000
73 osl.com $72,000
74 ebike.com $71,938
75 runner.com $69,000
76 bitforex.com $65,000
77 fakenews.com $65,000
78 damn.com $65,000
79 betterfuture.com $65,000
80 aah.org $63,700
81 hubi.com $63,000
82 my.bio $61,002
83 margo.com $60,270
84 kug.com $60,000
85 totaldesign.com $60,000
86 hodler.com $57,500
87 amz.com $57,000
88 garbuio.com $55,490
89 smartwatches.com $55,000
90 sysadmin.com $55,000
91 walrus.com $55,000
92 btcexchange.com $55,000
93 bz.top $53,904
94 qb.top $52,777
95 bg.top $51,187
96 sponge.com $51,000
97 reasons.com $50,001
98 talk.show $50,000
99 orbs.com $50,000
100 tees.com $50,000

Again, this shouldn’t come as a big surprise as brands with single word names tend to be more popular (and sells better) than those with complicated names. Why? Because it’s just easier to remember and to market – which in turn bring extra value to businesses.

Businesses named over generic words

Just at the top of my head, here’s a list of some of the most popular single-word brand names: Apple, Windows, Grab, Ever, Business, Startups, Hunt, and Blogger.

I can go on and on, but I think you get the picture.

Bottom line, single-word domain names or brands will continue to grow in value over the years. I mean, just take a look at Facebook when Mark Zuckerberg decided to drop the “The”.

Black Friday Deals

Just like past years, my team at WHSR has compiled a list of web hosting / domain companies running Black Friday promos. If you were

If you were considering to switch web host, register domain name, or purchase a new CDN / SSL – now is the best time.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday is when merchants go crazy and offer insane discounts.

But please, do not lose your mind and buy stuffs that you don’t need.

I am glad if you make use of our list to buy a new web host, start a business, and save some money in the same time. But I wouldn’t be happy if you spend money on a bunch of hosting accounts that you won’t use for the next 6 months.

Deals are tempting.

Last year I had one of my writers to write some articles about Black Friday deals – he ended up falling for some of the deals and bought a bunch of domain names.

I bet half of those purchased domains remain undeveloped today.

Buy what you need, not what’s cheap.

And if you miss this year Black Friday, there’s always next year ;)

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Shopping everyone.

The curious case of Black Friday: How it got started?

Black Friday is a shopping day for a combination of reasons.

As the first day after the last major holiday (Thanksgiving) before Christmas in United States, Black Friday marks the beginning of the year end holiday shopping season.

Additionally, people are usually getting the day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The early 2010s have seen U.S. retailers extend beyond normal hours in order to maintain an edge or to simply keep up with the competition. Such hours may include opening as early as 12:00 am or remaining open overnight on Thanksgiving Day and beginning sale prices at midnight.

The trend continued and spread to other countries – first to Canada and United Kingdom, then Mexico, Romania, India, France, Switzerland, etc.

According to Wikipedia:

The earliest evidence of the phrase Black Friday applied to the day after Thanksgiving in a shopping context suggests that the term originated in Philadelphia, where it was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving.
Now we knew :)

 

Stacking Up Endurance Hosting Brands: BlueHost vs Hostgator

As one of the WordPress.org recommended hosts, I think that BlueHost (https://www.bluehost.com/) has a great reputation on many fronts since they were first introduced in the early 2000s. Their services have been touted by many reviewers calling attention to their great plan features such as a free domain offer and the like. Unfortunately, that was (mostly) before they were taken over by Endurance International Group.

HostGator (https://www.hostgator.com/) on the other hand has had just as great a run for its money and for just as long. They started out in the early 2000s but eventually got bought over by – you guessed it – Endurance International Group in 2012.

There is a Winner in Performance

Between these two hosts, technical performance isn’t really an issue.

We have seen HostGator clock up some extremely reliable and fast server performance and in fact it continues to do so. Tests have shown it to hold to a remarkable 99.99% uptime on occasion.

What makes them doubly impressive is the server response time form their US-based servers, which ring the bell at less than 50ms. This figure is extremely rare to see, and I am pretty sure has won them their fair share of groupies.

Hostgator Speed Test Sample

Hostgator response time
Hostgator scored response time below 100ms for U.S. test ports.

Yet BlueHost isn’t really a slouch in the speed and reliability department either since it manages an excellent above-99.85% uptime. Speeds were also good (albeit nowhere near HostGator) and it managed to meet a sub-500ms bar.

Although both HostGator and BlueHost gained positive results in past WHSR surveys, it should be noted that most of the time users preferred HostGator. I wonder if it has anything to do with that cute gator mascot of theirs.

Bluehost on the other hand did gain high marks from users for its newbie-friendly features such as the easy to navigate control panel. They also have a very easy growth path and allow their users to scale up plans at reasonable prices – including for VPS and dedicated hosting.

It also offers a lot in the way of security, but I am tending to discount this in the comparison simply because it is also attempting to charge top dollar for those extras – such as NGINX architecture, custom server cache, HTTP/2, SSD storage and so on.

Is there a Down Side?

Both hosts come with comprehensive support documentation which is a very good thing since they are both EIG companies now. HostGator fox example has been plagued by long waits for support in their live chat services and I expect that things won’t really recover in that area.

Bluehost support

BlueHost maintain a huge knowledge base full with articles, guides, how-tos, instructions, and answers to users’ FAQs.

When it comes to renewal time for hosting plans – that is where both of thee hosts will hit you below the belt. Unfortunately, this seems to be an industry norm and there is no real way of walking out of this one unless you’re willing to move your website every two years or so.

Cheapest BlueHost plan is priced at $2.95/mo during signup but renew at $7.99/mo. Hostgator, on the other hand, charge $2.75/mo on first term and $6.95/mo during renewal.

Verdict: The Winner is HostGator!

If I’m forced to make a choice between these two web hosts, I would have to go with HostGator for their edge in technical performance. Also, because I like gators.

Jokes aside, even as I am suggesting HostGator as a preferred host in this comparison, I do feel that either one of these companies offer newbies and small site owners the opportunity for a reasonable buy in to their first web hosting experience.

They both offer good performance and are part of the mainstream crown, which, means that there really isn’t any way you can go wrong by choosing either.

Self-plug: Check out this hosting comparison tool we made at WHSR.
Use it to compare through a wide list of hosting companies and compare up to three hosting companies at once.

Order Hostgator

Hostgator shared hosting plans
Hostgator Shared Hosting Services.

Things to like about Hostgator

  • Solid hosting performance – Uptime always above 99.95%
  • Fast server – TTFB < 50ms for U.S. sites
  • Free site migration for new customers
  • Full account daily backup and restoration

*Disclosure: I am affiliated to both Hostgator and BlueHost. I receive referral fees (at no cost to you) from the companies if you make a purchase via the links shared in this post.

Why is the new iPhone so expensive?

Good news Malaysia Apple fans! iPhone XS and XS Max will be in store soon and now available for booking. The selling price starts at RM4,999 (iPhone XS 64GB) and goes all the way up to RM7,049 (iPhone XS Max 512 GB).

RM7,000+ for a mobile phone!

In context – the median monthly salaries for Malaysian workers, based on 2017 survey by Malaysia Statistic Department, is RM2,160. Employees with tertiary education of 3.3 million persons earn a median salary of RM4,320 (source)*.

So if you work out the simple maths – Should an average Malaysian want a new iPhone, he or she will need to spend three, or four months worth of salary.

Ouch!

Expensive price tag is good for Apple’s business (duh!)

It’s obvious now that Apple wants their iPhones to be expensive.

They want the majority can’t afford their products.

Weeding out the “poor” is good for Apple.

Chinese joke on iPhone XS price. Translation: “Expensive is never its drawbacks, it’s yours. Booking starts September 14, sales starts September 21”.

If you can’t afford an iPhone – it’s YOUR problem; not Apple’s

Apple announced financial results for its fiscal 2018 third quarter ended June 30, 2018 just recently.

The Company posted quarterly revenue of $53.3 billion, an increase of 17 percent from the year-ago quarter, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $2.34, up 40 percent.

56.1% of Apple’s revenue came from iPhone sales – the company sold 41.3 million iPhones in Q3 FY 2018. Services –  a catch-all category that includes the App Store, Apple Care, Apple Pay, iTunes and cloud services contributed $9.5 million in revenue – a 31% surge from year-ago quarter.

Some key observations:

  1. Apple sold the more or less the same amount of iPhones and iPads in year-ago quarter (Q3 2017),
  2. Apple sold less Mac compared to year-ago quarter (Q3 2017),
  3. Revenue and profit, however, are up 17% and 40%.

In other words, Apple made 40% more money by selling LESS.

what just happened? What just happened?

The strategy of selling higher price iPhones is proved working.

Users who spent so much on a phone are more likely to spend more in Apple Store, Apple Care, iTunes, and Apple Cloud service – the higher margin sectors. Revenue from “Service” just surged 31% Y-o-Y in Q3 2018. This sector will grew even faster in coming quarters.

Selling less units means Apple now has less users to take care of, they can provide better service to their “honorable customers”.

Apple iPhone will soon be the phones for the privileged. Just like how private banking and business class flights are positioned for only high net worth customers.

If you think these services or products are expensive – it’s because they are not for you. Stop pretending, or forcing yourself to be what you are not.

Stop letting Apple to milk you. Get an Oppo or Xiao Mi.

Or why change phone when your old one still works fine?

 


 

* Additional data –

1- iPhone in U.S. market

In United States, iPhone XS 64GB, 256GB or 512GB are selling at $999, $1,149 or $1,349. You need to add $100 on top of that for the iPhone XS Max with a bigger display ($1,099, $1,249 or $1,449). The iPhone XR starts at $749 for 64GB, with 128GB and 256GB also available for $799 and $899.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median wage for workers in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2017 was (pre-tax) $857 per week or $44,564 per year for a 40-hour workweek.

The iPhone price is not as expensive as you would “feel” in Malaysia. But it’s still a big portion on household spending, considering an average American spent just about $7,700 annually on food.

2- Spending on apps and in-app purchases

Apple users spent $63 on average on apps and in-app purchases in 2017; versus Android’s $58.