Want to know how to grow your traffic with the new Google Update coming this summer?
I’m interviewing my husband. partner, and tech guru, David Leslie, about what you need to know to get your site ready for the update, and even how to use it to your advantage to grow your traffic!
This interview is for non-technical bloggers. David breaks everything down so it’s easy to understand and his tips are easy to implement.
Whenever there is a Google update, some people lose traffic and some gain. Many f these tips will help you be on the winning side of this change.
In the interview we discuss:
- What Google is looking for in the new update
- What core web vitals are and how you should evaluate yours
- Why you want to track your top five posts before and after the update
- When you want to use PNGs vs. JPGs
- How you can compete on page speed and increase your rank in Google search results
I recommend all you bloggers and online entrepreneurs listen to this episode. David is so good at explaining complex technical concepts to non-technical people (like me!!). I think you’re going to really enjoy this episode!
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Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian Leslie 0:14
Hello, my friends. Welcome back to the Blogger Genius Podcast. I’m your host, Jillian Leslie. I’m a serial entrepreneur with my husband, we founded MiloTree, the pop-up app, and Catch My Party.
I’m a business coach and a business translator, I take what’s working in online business, and I dissect it and break it down so, you can use these strategies yourself and grow your income.
Before I get started, I wanted to ask you, especially if you are liking the podcast to subscribe to it. We’re on iTunes, Spotify, everywhere you find podcasts, you can just search for the Blogger Genius Podcast and subscribe.
And this way, you will never miss an episode. For today, I am interviewing my husband, my partner, the best tech guru I know, David. And we are talking about the updates Google is rolling out starting next month.
What is the Google Page Experience Update?
This is called the Google Page Experience update. And there are some pieces you need to know. What’s great about David is he is so good at taking complex technical jargon and explaining it to you and me.
If you are a blogger who cares about serving their audience, creating wonderful content, but does not really like the tech part of blogging. This is the podcast for you.
Because you will know just enough so that you don’t end up on your back foot when Google rolls out this update. We talk about Page Speed and Core Web Vitals and caching and photo optimization.
If this all sounds like jargon to you, you are in the right place. So, without further delay, here is my interview with my husband and partner, David Leslie. Hi, babe. Welcome to the show.
Hi, how you doing?
Jillian Leslie 2:25
Good. I wanted you to come back on the show to talk about the new Google Page Experience update.
Yeah, we’ve been hearing a lot about it.
Jillian Leslie 2:36
Yeah, for a long time.
For a long time. But it’s now almost upon us.
Jillian Leslie 2:39
I feel like there’s this anxiety that we’re noticing. People are talking about it; bloggers know there’s something coming on, what is your thought?
Well, we’re all like supplicants to the big networks like Google and Pinterest and Facebook. So, whenever they make changes, it creates fear because we have no power, although we do have a little bit of control. And that’s the good news.
And it’s good in this case that Google has been talking about it for a long time, and giving tools to measure it. So, we actually can take some actions. We aren’t out of control in this case.
Jillian Leslie 3:14
I like that. Okay, so Google then says, hey, guys, hey, all of you, publishers on the internet, we’re going to make these changes, because we want experience, people who come to Google and use Google, especially on mobile, isn’t this all for mobile?
It’s for mobile and desktop.
Jillian Leslie 3:30
Google Cares a lot About the Mobile Experience
They care a lot about mobile, because most traffic now is mobile.
Jillian Leslie 3:36
And so, they come out and say, “Hey, we want the experience for people searching on Google to be super good. We’re going to come out with these changes.”
So, you know, they’re coming and you can fix your site so that they perform better, so that the experience overall is better. I feel like when Google does this, you kind of go, that’s good.
It’s good and bad. I do feel like they wield a lot of power. And they wield it bluntly, and the little guy doesn’t have a lot of say in the matter, so we kind of have to go along.
At least I think their intent is good. Well, they want better performing pages for their customers.
Jillian Leslie 4:20
Got it. Okay. So, if you were to break it down, and explain what this update is about, what are Core Web Vitals?
What Are Core Web Vitals?
So, Google cared about Page Speed for a long time. And I’m sure anyone who’s been blogging for any amount of time you’ve heard about Page Speed. You care about it; you’ve got some sort of caching plugin.
And Page Speed is like the objective measure, like how fast does that page load? So, that’s Google’s early attempt to say, “Hey, we care about the experience of our customers, when they go to websites.” Like does the page load quickly?
And it’s very simple, like how fast does it load? I think what that doesn’t capture is the subjective experience. Like you go to the page, it loads quickly but it feels weird. It feels wonky. Things are moving around. And that’s kind of subjective, like the feel.
And I think they’re trying to quantify that, like, how can we try to quantify feels weird or feels bad. And then they came up with Core Web Vitals.
What is a Caching Plugin and Why Do You Need One?
Jillian Leslie 5:18
Okay, we before we do that, though, you mentioned something called a caching plugin. And I just want you to explain what you said, people have caching plugins on their blog, do you recommend a caching plugin for all bloggers?
All bloggers? Yes. should have some sort of caching plugin.
Jillian Leslie 5:34
Can you explain what that means? What is caching and what is an easy way to put a caching plugin on your blog?
The core basic function of a caching plugin is to make a little copy of your page. When you go to a page in WordPress, it has to construct it.
So, that’s like that code in the background going, “get the post out of the database and get the images and put it all together into an HTML document and sit it down the wire.”
Jillian Leslie 6:02
So, caching plugin just does that ahead of time and creates a copy. So, it happens faster.
Jillian Leslie 6:07
Got it. Okay.
But it gets a little more complicated, because there’s been feature creep and caching plugins. So, they start to do additional things that might help with your Page Speed.
Jillian Leslie 6:18
What is feature creep? What does that mean?
Although there’re other little things you can do that will help with Page Speed that aren’t technically caching, but now are features of most caching plugins.
Jillian Leslie 6:47
Okay. So, I’m a blogger, I’ve never heard of caching. I’ve now heard this on the podcast. I don’t know what to do. What do I do? Where do I find one? What do you recommend? Is it expensive?
I like WP Rocket. We use it for MiloTree.
Jillian Leslie 7:04
Okay, I’ll put that in the show notes.
I like it. There are a lot of good plugins, they can be very complicated to configure. So, I think WP Rocket has a very good balance of, hey, we’ve got a lot of features, but it’s still easy to configure.
You can just use the default settings and you’re going to be in pretty good shape. When we work with bloggers, a lot of them use SiteGround for their hosting and we like it, we recommend it.
They have a built-in plugin called SG Optimizer, SiteGround Optimizer. It’s very comparable feature wise to WP Rocket, and you get it for free. WP Rocket I think is $50 a year. Totally worth it.
Jillian Leslie 7:45
Totally worth it.
If you’re on SiteGround It’s a nice perk because you basically get all that functionality as part of the posting.
Jillian Leslie 7:53
So, how hard is it to add a caching plugin to your WordPress blog? And this is for WordPress?
For WordPress, yes. It is not that complicated.
Jillian Leslie 8:03
There are some plugins, WP Super Cache, they’re super powerful and they work well. But you start to look at the options and there’s like 50 on a page. I don’t even know like, I don’t know, which ones to use. What to turn on what to turn off.
Jillian Leslie 8:19
Got it. Okay. So, let’s go back then. We’ve covered that. But now let’s go back, you were saying there’s this weird feel. So, this one is site speed, which you can measure, how quickly does the site load, but as it’s loading, things can be shifting.
And as you say, wonky, it just doesn’t feel good.
Funny enough. I think Google itself is really bad in their search results, because I don’t if you’ve ever noticed it. They don’t always do it. But if you’re in a search results page.
Jillian Leslie 8:49
On a mobile or on desktop?
In this case, on desktop, you can click on a search result, you’ll see a list of results like 1-2-3, okay, I don’t know which one it is, I’m planning to click on 1 go back at 2, you click on 1, you go to that page.
You click your back button, and I’m going down, hit 2 and all of a sudden, as I’m about to click 2, it drops down like an inch and they put in some suggestions based on that first click you made. And then I clicked the wrong one by accident.
That’s exactly what they’re trying to avoid by punishing everybody else and making them work on their Core Web Vitals. Are things moving around on the page? Ads are classic reason.
Ads tend to load a little more slowly. So, you go to like a blog page. And you’re like, oh, I want to see this recipe. So, I’m going to click that “jump to recipe button”.
As you’re moving your mouse over, you’re about to click and suddenly an ad loads in and that jump button is now below like a big banner ad. You can actually click that ad.
Jillian Leslie 9:44
And now you’re on Nordstrom.
Pops up a window. And then for the rest of the day you’re seeing that ad following around you’re like, come on. That’s annoying.
Jillian Leslie 9:54
Okay. So, Google is trying to avoid this.
What Are the Core Web Vitals LCP and CLS?
Jillian Leslie 9:57
And there are two acronyms one is called and I don’t know which one this is LCP or CLS. What are these Web Vitals?
CLS is Cumulative Layout Shift.
Jillian Leslie 10:12
Why does Google make such complicated terms, Cumulative Layout Shift?
So, that’s exactly what we’ve been talking about, which is, as the page loads, how much do the elements on the page shift around?
Jillian Leslie 10:26
So, like the page loads, it’s kind of there. And then as the rest of the assets, the images load, the ads load, maybe a script loads for the recipe plugin. Then things move and they’re measuring how much things move.
Jillian Leslie 10:45
And they don’t like it.
They don’t like it. Users don’t like it. It’s legit not fun.
Jillian Leslie 10:50
Okay, and then what is LCP? And then let’s talk about how to fix these or how to know how you’re doing.
LCP is Largest Contentful Paint.
Jillian Leslie 10:59
Wait. Largest Contentful Paint. Is “contentful” even a word?
I don’t know. And painting definitely is kind of a euphemism for things drawing on the page. If you think of the text appearing, they’re talking about it’s been painted in.
Jillian Leslie 11:18
They think of themselves as artists, apparently.
Jillian Leslie 11:21
Okay. So, how do you know how that works on your site?
Let’s talk about LCP quickly. That also, they’re looking at the viewable area of the page. This applies to both mobile and desktop. So mobile, when a page loads, it’s what you see on that first screen.
For desktop, what you see in the browser window before you scroll. What is the biggest thing there? Maybe you have a big header. That’s the biggest single thing on the page. Maybe you have a smaller header, you probably should have a smaller header.
So, more text shows up on the page. Because people are there for your body of the page. They’re like, okay, it’s that big H1.
Jillian Leslie 12:08
Okay, which the header.
The title of your blog posts or the featured image, which loads above your posts. What is the biggest thing on the page? And how long does that take to load? Because the biggest thing on the page is the thing that in theory, the user is going to see first.
So, they’re going to measure like, how long before that thing loads?
Jillian Leslie 12:26
How is that different from Page Speed?
Page Speed is a series of measurements. But in effect, that’s like, how long does it take for the whole page to load?
Jillian Leslie 12:39
And again, that’s broken down into all sorts of small things, like how fast the images load, how fast do the scripts load, you can think of Page Speed as like the page.
And this is the thing they’re trying to zero in on, which is in the area that you can see, when you first go to a page, what’s the biggest thing?
Jillian Leslie 12:57
And do you think it’s because you’ve come to a blog, let’s say, and you can read the heading, you can see the image, like whatever that big thing is, comes to life for you.
And then the rest of it. Well, if it takes a little bit longer, it’s okay. Because if I am going to look at that recipe. I want to see the title or I want to see that image.
Sure. And it’s also very closely tied to the layout shift. Because if the biggest thing on the page load slowly, when it does load, it’s going to push the other things around to make space for it. So, they’re kind of related.
Jillian Leslie 13:31
Okay. So, now, I’m a blogger. I don’t want to focus on this stuff. I want to create beautiful content. What do I need to do to make sure I’m okay?
How to Use the Google Page Speed Tool?
Google has their Google Page Speed tool. And they now have integrated the core web vitals into that tool.
Jillian Leslie 13:49
So, you can search for Google?
Search for Google Page Speed.
Jillian Leslie 13:53
Or Google Page Speed tool. There are a lot of tools for measuring Page Speed. But I think since we’re trying to please Google it makes sense to focus on using Google’s tool.
Jillian Leslie 14:07
Okay, and so go there, and you type in your URL, do you type in a page, do you type in your entire URL? Like, do we go milotree.com or do I go milotree.com/bloggergenius, what do I do?
In theory, every page has its own page speed and Core Web Vitals.
Jillian Leslie 14:26
No. What’s interesting, if you go to the Google Page Speed tool, they will tell you an aggregate score for your whole site.
Jillian Leslie 14:35
So, that is important to pay attention to but when you’re trying to work on your own site and manager your own site, you’re going to check URL by URL.
Jillian Leslie 14:44
Really? So, as soon as I post something, I should go there and check it?
Absolutely. Or I might start by going to my highest traffic pages.
Jillian Leslie 14:53
Examine Your Top Five Posts for Page Speed
Right. We talk about that a lot. In general, for a typical blogger, they’re getting most of their traffic from handful of pages. They could be posted or a year or two old. Or, maybe they’re newer, but start there.
So, go to Google Analytics. Find your top five pages or top 10 pages and start there to make sure those are performing well.
Jillian Leslie 15:14
Now, here is a question. And you talk about this a lot, because you are looking at bloggers’ Page Speed. And it goes from like, zero to 100.
Jillian Leslie 15:27
Tell me, it’s really hard to get really high in Page Speed like to get to 95. Is it almost like unrealistic to want to get to a Page Speed of 95 especially say you’re running ads on your page? So, where are you comfortable in terms of the scores?
That’s a tough question. The hard thing about ads is they definitely have an impact.
Jillian Leslie 15:52
They slow your site down.
On your Page Speed score and slowing your site down.
Jillian Leslie 15:57
And do they also impact LCP and CLS?
Jillian Leslie 16:02
So, hopefully, that’s not the largest thing on your homepage. It might be, yeah, maybe more so, the layout shift, as adds load they can push things around. And even more so, your overall Page Speed score.
Jillian Leslie 16:18
Slows down. And you always say this, anything you add on your blog will slow your site down, wait, except MiloTree. We’re going to talk about that.
It’s all a series of trade-offs. So, what is the benefit? I wouldn’t say, “Hey, I’m a blogger, and I make my living with ads. So, I’m going to take off ads to get a better page score, but I’m not going to make any money.”
You have to balance making money with your Page Speed. But the hard thing about ads is you do not have a lot of control.
You’re basically, putting yourself out to this very complicated system of auctions and bids and ads and networks, and there’s not much you can say, like, “Hey, please go faster.”
Jillian Leslie 17:03
They do try. But they’re more, I think, focused on optimizing for revenue.
Jillian Leslie 17:09
Than your Page Speed.
Not your network, necessarily, I think, AdThrive or Mediavine they do care about Page Speed. But there’s a much bigger world out there of these networks and these auction systems that, aren’t necessarily as focused on Page Speed.
Jillian Leslie 17:25
And you should be checking with your ad rep, because there are some things that AdThrive or Mediavine can do with the layout shift.
Jillian Leslie 17:36
Okay, so you’re seeing layout shift, definitely reach out to your ad network?
Basically, we’ve mentioned the tool, Google Page Speed, you put your URL and you run it. And it will tell you exactly what element on your page is the Largest Contentful Paint. You can see it and it’ll tell you which thing is currently causing the layout shift.
It maybe the ad, if it is then you could talk to your network, and they can do things to take those spaces where ads load and kind of solidify it. So, it doesn’t shift as the ad loads. It’ll load in blank or if there isn’t an ad to load, it’ll load in some content.
Jillian Leslie 18:20
Right. Like a PSA, or something like that. So, when you look at numbers, I know I’m going to try and pin you down. When you go, you know what, that’s a good enough score. What would you say?
Because a lot of times, I’ll give you somebody’s blog and go, what do you think of their Page Speed?
What is a good Google Page Speed Score?
It’s interesting. In the past, you could also kind of hedge and go, well, maybe they’re only scoring a 60. But it feels good, because it’s not shifting around. Now it’s getting more objective. I guess you kind of want to be in the green.
Jillian Leslie 18:51
Again, I don’t know what the threshold is for Google in the green if it’s like 65, 70, 75.
Jillian Leslie 18:57
Okay. But let’s talk about though, is it worth it? Let’s say I’m at 65. And I’m in the green? Do I want to work to get it to 95?
It’s like an unanswerable question. So, basically, Google saying, “Hey, we’re going to weigh your scores here in your ranking in the Google search results.”
One thing I’ve shown you and other people is like, hey, look, go to Google. Do a Google search, maybe one that you’re rank for, go to the top couple pages and do the Page Speed test on their page.
Jillian Leslie 19:32
What I’ve seen is pages that score terribly rank really high.
Jillian Leslie 19:37
Really. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these pages are scoring 97?
It is one of many, many factors Google uses. And up to now, maybe they do penalize sites, but there are clearly other things they care about more because sites with poor Page Speed often rank very high.
Jillian Leslie 19:56
Really. That’s good to know.
It is good to know. Hopefully that makes you feel better but don’t let that be an excuse to not work on your Page Speed.
Jillian Leslie 20:04
Got it, it’s all about the content. It’s all about whether people are hanging out on your page, on this post and getting value from it. It’s all of these things.
Again, we can always talk about trade-offs. And the trade-off here is, we’re all time limited. So, are you going to spend time optimizing your page speed? Are you going to spend time writing a new post, which could do really well?
I don’t know the answer. I think there’s a point of diminishing returns on Page Speed. Everyone should be checking it. And you should be making sure you’ve got a caching plugin, and you can look at optimizing your images. So, it’s worth spending a little bit of time.
But at the point where you’re like at 85, and you’re spending 10, 20 hours to get it up to 87, 89 that probably would have been time better spent on doing some cool new posts.
Jillian Leslie 20:57
Right, doing keyword research, finding what people are interested in and creating posts. Okay. So, low hanging fruit caching plugin, optimizing images.
By the way, that’s more potentially Page Speed overall.
Jillian Leslie 21:14
I don’t know if it’s going to help with your layout shift.
What is CLS – Cumulative Layout Shift?
Jillian Leslie 21:18
Okay. So, we talked about CLS, Cumulative Layout Shift. And we talked about if, for example, your ads are switch or moving around reaching out to your ad network. What else could I do for CLS? Which is easier to abbreviate.
It starts to get pretty technical, because you basically want to run the tool.
Jillian Leslie 21:42
Right. But then like, I get a 46.
It will tell you what’s shifting.
Jillian Leslie 21:46
Okay. So, it could be an image.
It could be an image loading slowly, for example, let’s say you have a really big header, and you have an optimized image loading, and it’s really slow. Or something like that. So, then you could go, “Oh, it’s this image, I’m going to take it off.”
You could take it off or you could optimize it or shrink it or something like that. And then suddenly, that’ll change your score. Or maybe something else will suddenly become the biggest thing shifting on your page.
Jillian Leslie 22:25
Got it. Okay, now, what about LCP?
That’s just the thing. It’s almost more informative. It’s the biggest thing on the page.
Jillian Leslie 22:36
And you want the thing to load quickly. So again, the same thing, if the biggest thing is a big fat image at the top of your post, you might want optimize that image, you might want to shift things around.
Jillian Leslie 22:45
So, it doesn’t show up at the top.
Or text. Again, text always loads fast. Although, again, one of the things that can happen is, if you have a lot of fonts.
Jillian Leslie 22:55
That’s like a pet peeve of yours.
It is. Because they load slowly. So, you can have your text loaded quickly. And then, literally seconds later your fonts will finish loading, and it will change the size.
Jillian Leslie 23:12
So, can you explain the difference between your text loading and your fonts loading?
Text is just the literal text content. It’s coming, over the wire without the font.
Jillian Leslie 23:22
Okay, so interesting.
You’re saying, “Oh, I find this really cool script-like font on the internet, and I’m using it.” And it might take a second to load.
So, the text loads first, and then that font loads in, it’s slightly different size, so it makes the whole text area slightly change and move things around.
How Many Fonts Should You Have on Your Blog?
Jillian Leslie 23:40
Okay. And just your advice on fonts? How many fonts should somebody have?
I would say, one to two.
Jillian Leslie 23:50
Okay. And should they be like Google fonts, and just super easy, super easy to read, like, do not go crazy with fonts? If you’re focused on your fonts, I think you would say you’re in the wrong direction.
Exactly. Really, you’re trying to sell your content, usually with images and some text.
Jillian Leslie 24:10
Content, like your solving problems.
Few words that are not the little curves on your T. I know people love script fonts. Script fonts are particularly bad because they’re complicated, they’re a little bigger and a little slower to load.
Jillian Leslie 24:25
Okay, so focus on your content.
Does MiloTree slow down your site? Not one bit!
I wanted to take a short break to talk about MiloTree. We’re going to talk about it in this episode and how it will not impact your Google score. It is hard to grow all the things you need to grow in your business to be successful.
Think of MiloTree as your partner as your ally. It will grow your followers while you sleep on Pinterest and Instagram and Facebook and YouTube. It’ll grow your email list. You can send your audience to a custom link using your pop-up. It is really powerful.
Head to milotree.com, sign up for your account. And now back to the show.
How Concerned Should You Be About the Google Page Experience Update?
Jillian Leslie 25:12
Here is the question that I think we’ve gotten, which is, “How concerned should I be about this?”
We really don’t know. Pay attention now. Look at low hanging fruit, and then when this rolls out, watch and see. If you’re ranking somewhere and it’s starting to go down, then that’s when you’re like, emergency action.
Jillian Leslie 25:39
Okay. So, wait. What I hear you saying is, we don’t know, maybe probably, like every Google change, some blogs are going to benefit. And some blog blogs will be punished by it. You don’t know where you’re going to fall necessarily on that spectrum.
Right. Before all, you know, you’re like, oh my gosh, I’m in trouble because I’ve got like a 40-page score. But for all, you know, the page ahead of you could have like a zero, and you might move up with your 40.
Jillian Leslie 26:05
Exactly. This is not all good or all bad.
I would say it’s neither good or bad. It’s just a change. You want to be prepared for the change.
Jillian Leslie 26:17
Therefore, you would say that before it rolls out in May look at your top five posts before, then wait, how long a month, a week, a day, or just continually check it?
I would continually check it.
Jillian Leslie 26:32
Okay. So, you want to check those posts to see now if they are shifting, like if your best post is showing up on page one in the third spot. And by the way, that can always be shifting, because Google’s always testing.
So, it’s not like you’re guarantee. Right now, you own that spot.
And now from now on. Page Speed is a tool that you can use, but also your competitors can use to try to move up or down on the rankings. Again, we don’t know how much it’s going to have an effect, but it is a tool.
So, if the person below you are at zero, hey, we’re going to commit hardcore to Page Speed.
Jillian Leslie 27:09
And, bump you off.
It’s like, instead of sniping your key phrase, they might go, “Hey, we’re going to try to compete on Page Speed.”
How to Compete On Page Speed
Jillian Leslie 27:18
Oh, interesting, I never thought of competing on Page Speed. But I guess people on the internet will compete on anything. Any way to get an advantage. Therefore, keep an eye on your top five posts both now. And after this happened.
Jillian Leslie 27:53
So, this is not a binary thing. Like, phew I got through that one.
Jillian Leslie 27:58
Alright. Okay, so keep looking then at those metrics to see how it’s going for you.
I think as bloggers we want to be, we’re content creators. I want to be taking beautiful photos, I want to be doing cool projects. Part of the job is having a website that performs well. And so Page Speed is a little part of your job.
Jillian Leslie 28:22
And I would say that it’s about just making sure your fundamentals are good, making sure your host is good. And making sure your theme is good and solid. And it’s like the building blocks need to be there.
Because I think you would know better than me, but it seems harder to fix those things, after you’ve already put these foundational blocks in place.
Very much. So, when people are trying to fix Page Speed. And they have a very low score, it’s really hard to incrementally go up. The easiest thing to do is hopefully you have like a host where you can set up like a staging site.
How to Fix Your Page Speed
Jillian Leslie 29:05
Okay. What does that mean?
So, just like a private copy of your website.
Jillian Leslie 29:09
Like the test.
To test. The public can’t see if you can get in there and work on it and make big changes. So, you can take your copy of your site from your live environment, put it in staging, and then push it back.
Jillian Leslie 29:21
It’s much easier to take it into staging and just turn every single thing off. Just disable every single plugin. You can even switch your theme to the default WordPress theme. So, that’ll tell you, the baseline where you’re starting from.
So, you can start to turn to like, I have to have this plugin. I can turn this one plugin back on. I can turn this one on, and then keep testing your Page Speed and go oh, man, this one’s killing me. This is one I need to replace or get rid of or live without.
The MiloTree Pop-up App Won’t Affect Your Google Score One Bit!
Jillian Leslie 29:52
Interesting. Okay, this is a great segue to MiloTree. First, you’ve always said this, plugins vary across the board. And plugins are not necessarily optimized for Page Speed.
Jillian Leslie 30:12
For whatever they’re doing.
Yeah, whatever feature they’re trying to provide.
Jillian Leslie 30:16
And these are all built by, like people or companies, or who knows, like MiloTree built by you.
Jillian Leslie 30:22
So, let’s then talk about what you look for in a plugin and how you thought about that building MiloTree and the impact of MiloTree, if you’re using it on your blog,
Anytime you install a plugin that has some sort of front-end functionality. Functionality that your user sees.
Jillian Leslie 30:43
Like to manage things in the back?
Jillian Leslie 30:50
It’s the programming language of the browser. So, it kind of adds the interactivity layer in your page. Like, font dropdowns, or pop-ups.
Jillian Leslie 31:01
CSS, which is stylesheets. That’s the colors and fonts and those kinds of things. So, every time we add a plugin, it’s adding these couple extra things. So, that’s what, like, cumulatively.
Jillian Leslie 31:16
That’s our word.
Yeah. Slows down your website, and causes layout shift and affects your overall Page Speed score.
Jillian Leslie 31:25
Got it. So, if the plugin does a lot of stuff on the front end, that’s usually a bad sign?
Often it is. Yes.
Jillian Leslie 31:34
Okay. Now, and so I like your idea of setting up a staging site going through and like literally testing every plugin.
Jillian Leslie 31:43
Now, Milotree, we offer a WordPress plugin, what will happen if you turn off MiloTree and turn it back on?
You shouldn’t see any difference in your Page Speed score. And from the beginning, we built MiloTree for Catch My Party.
Jillian Leslie 31:58
For ourselves. We’re running to ourselves. And we care about Page Speed. So, we can be like, ruthless in trying to make it perform well. And I think we have, and I’m like, Okay, now, before it hits the road.
Jillian Leslie 32:14
Let’s test it.
Let’s make sure we really are, we’ve tested it all along. But we have these new tools now for Google. So, one thing we did first to validate it for ourselves.
Jillian Leslie 32:24
To make sure.
So, we set up a fairly simple page.
It’s like a blog post style page. And run it through Page Speed. Make sure it’s scoring 100.
Jillian Leslie 32:36
So, this is just the regular page?
Then we add the pop-up to the page, run it through the Page Speed tool. 100
Jillian Leslie 32:45
He was so, excited to show that to me.
Jillian Leslie 32:48
Okay. Because we have worked, it is really one of our core values, I would say is performance for ourselves and for our users. I always say, I think you said this first, which is we eat our own dog food.
Meaning we’re using MiloTree every day for Catch My Party to predominantly grow our Pinterest followers, and our Instagram followers. So, therefore, we care. I love when people email us and go, “Do you know, there’s this Google update?”
And I always want to go, “Believe me, we so know that because, we make money with Catch My Party.”
We know it as bloggers, and we know it as MiloTree, a product for blogs.
Jillian Leslie 33:27
Absolutely. When we created MiloTree, we didn’t think about it as a separate company, we did it for ourselves. And then we’re like, hey, if this is working for us, we can offer this to other publishers.
Jillian Leslie 33:40
Other content creators. And so, that was really like the lightbulb moment for us. Therefore, what I will do in the show notes is put a link to the page that you were very proud of that will show that MiloTree does not in any way, slow down your site.
Now, one thing a lot of times ad networks will say, “Take plugins off,” and we get lumped into that category.
How We’ve Optimized MiloTree to Work With Ad Networks
Very annoying. They’re legitimately responding to the ecosystem of plugins, which tend to slow sites down and some plugins are great and some are terrible. So, they don’t know.
Jillian Leslie 34:18
They’re not doing the site speed.
There’re probably 100,000 plugins. A tremendous number of WordPress plugins. The great thing about the WordPress ecosystem is the huge amount of choice.
But the downside is that every possible quality from it will destroy your website to, it will make your website much better.
Jillian Leslie 34:40
Yes, and also, for MiloTree. We work really well with ad networks. You can have your pop-up show above your ads.
Your ads will load first, like we work with these platforms or these ad networks to say, “Hey guys, we want to play really well with you.” And I think we’ve done a good job.
Sure, and again, because we have an ad monetized website ourselves.
Jillian Leslie 35:04
We’re very sensitive to that, because we use AdThrive for Catch My Party. So, we are very sensitive to what their needs are. And therefore, what you can accomplish with MiloTree.
When we first started, we wrote the pop-up for ourselves, it popped up from the bottom of the page. And it wasn’t too long after that, that the kind of sticky footer ad became the norm.
Jillian Leslie 35:28
And where people make the most money.
Yes. So, then we move the pop-up from the bottom right to the right side, a little higher than where the footer would show us. So, they didn’t interfere with each other.
Jillian Leslie 35:40
Yeah. So, we’re very conscious of that, especially on mobile.
Jillian Leslie 35:44
We do that. So, good for you, David, for building that. You’re a blogger. You love making beautiful things. You love serving your audience. Now, you got to think about this. How freaked out would you be?
How Concerned Should You Be About the Google Page Experience Updates?
I don’t think I’d be that freaked out. When Google rolled out the Page Speed, algorithm changed. Not the Cumulative Layout Shift, Core Web Vitals, but just the Page Speed.
Jillian Leslie 36:14
And when was this would you say?
I don’t know, it’s been several years.
Jillian Leslie 36:17
It didn’t seem like there was a huge reshuffling at that point. And again, as I mentioned earlier, we see pages with very poor Page Speed rank very highly. So again, I think it’s another piece of the puzzle.
Jillian Leslie 36:31
So, it’s not the end all be all, I’ve seen so many, in Facebook groups and my emails of like, ah, ah.
It is appropriate to pay attention. And again, as you said in the past, it often causes just like a reshuffling. But that doesn’t mean certain people might end up losing rank. So, be prepared and be ready to respond.
And that’s the point if you if you lose ranking, you need to then step in and be ruthless. And consider, like, hey, the beauty of my homepage isn’t the number one priority, I need to emphasize Page Speed. So, I should be using a simpler theme.
I should be cutting down on my fonts, I need to pay attention to optimize my images.
Jillian Leslie 37:20
Yes, I think that is really good advice.
One tip I could leave people with.
Jillian Leslie 37:26
ADVICE: Know When to Use PNGs and JPGs in Your Posts
Which is to be really careful about PNGs.
Jillian Leslie 37:29
How would you think about them and can we talk about Canva?
Exactly, I was going to mention Canva. So, they’re just different ways to compress images. Images can be really big. JPEGs a way to shrink image size. And it works very well on photos.
It’s designed for complicated images, photos, lots of gradients, lots of colors, lots of complexity, that compress really well. PNG tends to work better for like cartoon images.
Yeah, text on a single color background might compress a little smaller or look a little better as a PNG. But the one thing about PNG, we’re talking about compression. Compression means you might lose a little bit of quality from the original.
And that’s an important trade off, because you might save 90% of on paid sites for like 1% and quality.
Jillian Leslie 38:24
Got it. Okay.
But if you’re a designer, you’re like, I want 100% quality.
Jillian Leslie 38:31
Right. And also wait, if you were saving something to go to the printer and print it, you might want high quality.
Jillian Leslie 38:39
But on the internet, you should be willing to sacrifice quality for speed.
Right. So, the thing I think catches people is you’re using Canva, which is an amazing tool.
Jillian Leslie 38:52
And we use it.
Jillian Leslie 38:54
And it’s great for putting together like your Pinterest images. Your text on. I think by default, it’s going to save it as this 100% quality PNG image. So, the image is going to be like 2 megabytes, 3 megabytes.
And if you save it as a JPEG, it might be 100 kilobytes. So, you’re saving like 98% in size. So, people go to Canva they make the Pinterest image. By default, it will save as JPEG if you tell it to.
Jillian Leslie 39:21
I think the default is PNG.
That’s what I’m saying the default is PNG. It has the capacity if you dig in there in the menu and drop it down and save it as JPEG, you can. But they’re optimizing for image quality as you save.
So, people take that PNG 100% quality, then put it in their post as their pinnable image. That’s huge. That would be like as big as the whole rest of your page combined.
So, that’s just one thing. If I could leave you with one little tip, I see that all the times these huge PNGs.
Jillian Leslie 39:55
You noticed it showing up and you’re like why are all these people saving their files as PNG saving their photos. And I think it was because Canvas default is a PNG. And for web, you want to make sure that’s a JPEG. Unless it is something like—.
Putting it into like an eBook layout, not even eBooks, eBooks use JPEG.
Jillian Leslie 40:17
Something you’re going to print.
Like iBook and you’re going to send it to the printer you want as high quality as possible.
Jillian Leslie 40:25
Okay. So yes.
If all this, is you’re like, oh my god, I’m just confused JPEG, PNG, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. If you’re that person use JPEG 100% of the time.
Jillian Leslie 40:35
Yep. So, definitely go back in your site, especially if you’re seeing when you do these core web vital. When you put your site through that, and you notice these big images.
When you run your Google page speed test on a page, and there are PNGs like this, it will highlight it in a list. say, “Hey, these images could be optimized.” And you’ll go okay, there’s one.
Basically, if you’ve seen images on your site that are over, a few 100 kilobytes, you probably have a big opportunity to optimize by saving it as a JPEG or upping the compression level.
Jillian Leslie 41:11
So, you would have to then take that image resave it as a JPEG, re-upload it to your blog.
Yeah. So, potentially, there are some tools inside, some plugins, these are back-end plugins, so they tend not to affect the front-end.
Jillian Leslie 41:26
Where you can convert PNG to JPEG.
You can convert PNGs to JPEGs. You can re-compressed JPEGs. I’m familiar with the SG Optimizer because we work with SiteGround a lot, they have a tool that will re-optimize all your images.
And there’s yet another format that Google in particular supports in their Chrome browser called WebP. So, it’ll make WebP copies of all your images on your behalf.
Jillian Leslie 41:50
And that’s okay.
Which is great that Google likes that.
Jillian Leslie 41:52
Okay, awesome. I posted in our Become A Blogger Genius Facebook group and ask people if they had questions for you. So, I just want to run through these questions and see what your answers are.
QUESTION: Is it hard to get my page speed insights above 65 on mobile?
So, the first one is, “Is it hard to get my Page Speed insights above 65 on mobile and is that a problem?”
It totally depends. It depends on your theme. How many fonts you have? Are you running ads, if you’ve got a heavy theme, if you’re got tons of plugins, you’re using, like a page builder?
Page builders are notorious at adding a lot of code on your front-end even when you’re not using them on that particular page. Let’s say you’re building landing pages in—.
Jillian Leslie 42:36
Elementor. And then some of that overheads going to trickle over into your blog pages, even though you’re not using it for your blog pages.
Jillian Leslie 42:44
Okay, now, “Are your is are your rankings different on desktop and mobile? And do you see typically Page Speed is lower on mobile versus desktop? What is your thought about that?”
There’s a separate score for desktop and mobile. It’s a little harder to rank higher in mobile than desktop.
Jillian Leslie 43:07
So, you will forego a lower mobile score than say, like will you go, well it’s mobile. So, definitely it will show up typically lower.
Yes. Again, not that you should necessarily be satisfied with what your score is.
Jillian Leslie 43:24
Assume that your mobile score will probably come in lower than your desktop score.
So, if you’re not running ads, and you’re getting a low score, it is on you. It is your choice in theme, it is your choice in the plugins you have. So, you need not be satisfied with a low score.
Jillian Leslie 43:43
Okay. That’s good to know. Alright. Another question.
Is it hard? It may very well be hard. Because you do have to go through that process of figuring out why is it that it’s slow? And we’re talking about simple Page Speed score, it can start with your host.
Your Blog Host Can Be Hurting Your Page Speed
If you’re going, “Hey, I’ve got such a good deal on hosting, I’m paying $1 a month.” There are some things there that you’re probably not getting, in terms of the speed of the host itself, that’s going to put you on your back-foot for Page Speed from the start.
Jillian Leslie 44:21
So, those hosts and we won’t necessarily name them, that are very cheap. You’re paying for it in some other way.
Yes, you pay for it in Page Speed. And there are some things you can do. That’s where a caching plugin might help because instead of the host having to put together your pages.
The caching plugin kind of takes a copy that can help but even so, that might affect your Page Speed.
Jillian Leslie 44:51
That’s interesting. Okay, so definitely think about that. The host we really like is called SiteGround. And just you know, when we build sites for people that’s typically where we put them.
We like it because there are more expensive hosts that are probably a little better. But for us, SiteGround is a nice balance of not that expensive good performance and the built-in caching plugin, or the caching plugin you get for free.
QUESTION: Should my blog posts include a video?
Jillian Leslie 45:32
This is where you lose me. Okay, second question. “Should blog posts include a video and if so, what size and length would you recommend?” I saw you have some thoughts on that.
Yeah, it’s a good question. Specifically, site speed question, but it definitely relates because embedding a YouTube video in your blog can affect your Page Speed. Because there’s a lot of overhead that can come with it.
Jillian Leslie 45:58
No, wait. I’m going to break this down. One thing you can do is embed a YouTube video, the other that people seem to want to do is add it to their media library and have it like live on their blog. What is your thought?
Well, again, it’s getting away from Page Speed. I don’t know. For me, since the context, like the meta of this podcast is how do we please Google? I think YouTube videos, probably please Google.
So, I would lean towards YouTube, just for that reason, using the basic YouTube embed functionality can add some overhead. So, there are tools, I think WP Rocket does it, where it’ll swap out the actual embedded video for a thumbnail of the video.
And then when you click on the thumbnail automatically loads the video, that’s a good way to manage the site speed aspect of embedding a video,
Jillian Leslie 46:55
Or you could just take a screenshot of the video, put it in as an image and link it to the video.
Yes, the advantage of the WP Rocket method is you can still click on it, and it will play in place. So, I kind of dynamically swap that thumbnail.
Jillian Leslie 47:10
Got it. Okay. And for YouTube, it’s so funny because you want to if you are trying to grow your YouTube channel, typically around 10 minutes is what I continue to hear in terms of optimized videos.
But you do want to watch to make sure people aren’t dropping off. Also, again, you were saying that you could have a low site speed score on a post, and it still ranks really well.
Part of that could be you’ve got a really compelling video on the page, people come and they watch your video. So, that’s one of the video people really like video. I do. I recommend if you can add a video to a blog post, do it.
I agree. I think we talked earlier. There’s always a trade-off. So, I think if you have good video content, definitely you can embed it in your blog. Even if it does cost you a tiny bit on Page Speed.
QUESTION: Will This New Google Update Reduce My Blog Traffic?
Jillian Leslie 48:02
Yep. And then our last question, which I think we answered, “Is this change supposed to reduce your blog traffic and why? And is there any way to stop that?” I would say.
I wouldn’t say in general, that blanket statement it’s not supposed to reduce your blog traffic, it’s just supposed to make a better experience for people who use Google.
And if you have a page or a site that has very poor Page Speed, it could lower your blog traffic, but you could be rewarded.
Jillian Leslie 48:34
Totally. And I think that the best way to think about sites like Google or Facebook or Instagram is how can you make those platforms happy. And it’s typically by thinking about what their objective is.
So, if Google wants search to be a really good experience, that’s what they’re optimizing for. So, if you can align yourself with that.
Also, just to loop back to the very beginning, which is Google’s trying to come up with an objective way to quantify something subjective, which is how does the page feel.
So, start there though, yourself with subjectively looking at your own site, and it’s hard, because you live so close to it. One thing we always say is like, as content creators, we look at our site on desktop all the time.
But somewhere between like 70% and 90% of your users are looking at your site on your phone. So, get on your phone, and get out of your house. So, you’re not on Wi Fi, but get out so you’re using your cell phone connection and go to your own website.
And then if it feels bad, you might not have noticed, and you get on your phone, you’re like, gosh, actually, this is kind of annoying. So that’s when you really want to know like, subjectively, I’m feeling bad about my own site, do something about it.
You come to your own site like actually, this is good. I don’t care what Google says. This feels right. Then I wouldn’t be as worried.
Jillian Leslie 50:00
If people have questions. How can they reach out to you?
They can email me at email@example.com.
Jillian Leslie 50:08
And one thing that’s really nice is I think you’re really good at explaining stuff.
I’m in the Facebook group as well.
Jillian Leslie 50:15
Oh, yeah, absolutely. So, in the Become a Blogger Genius Facebook group. If you have a question, and it’s technical, you could say, hey, David. It’s always fun to have you on the podcast.
So, hopefully we’ll do this again soon. And I love you and thanks for coming on the show.
I love being here.
Jillian Leslie 50:33
I hope this clarified a bunch of technical questions you might have had if you have more questions, please reach out to David at firstname.lastname@example.org or add your questions in the Facebook group.
And if you have not joined our Facebook group, please do, it is called the Become a Blogger Genius Facebook group. You can find us on Facebook really easily. And I will see you here again next week.
Other related Blogger Genius Podcast episodes to listen to:
- Get More Traffic in 2021 with these SEO Tips with Jeff Hawley
- Get More Traffic with These Cutting Edge SEO Strategies + New Google Update with Casey Markee
- New SEO Advice for Bloggers to Explode Their Traffic
- Explode Your Traffic Using Simple SEO Tips with Jeff Hawley
- Why Site Speed Can Hurt Your Blog and How to Fix It with David Leslie
Imagine a world where growing your social media followers and email list was easy…
If you are looking for ways to grow your community whether that be email whether that be social media, right now head to Milotree.com install the MiloTree app on your blog and it will do the work for you. Let it do the heavy lifting for you.
Let it pop up in front of your visitors and ask them to follow you on Instagram Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, join your list, check out the exit intent but really get your community growing. And we’d love to help you with MiloTree. And I will see you here again next week.