Big Red Rocket http://www.bigredrocket.co.uk Web Designers, Copywriters And Consultants Fri, 17 Mar 2017 09:13:24 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.3 35090412 AMP Accelerated Mobile Pages – What, Why and How? http://www.bigredrocket.co.uk/amp-accelerated-mobile-pages/ http://www.bigredrocket.co.uk/amp-accelerated-mobile-pages/#comments Wed, 22 Feb 2017 22:39:49 +0000 http://www.bigredrocket.co.uk/?p=605 You may have noticed a new icon appearing in mobile searches on Google. That little circle with the lightning bolt indicates that the page being shown in the search results has been adapted for the new Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology. What is AMP? AMP is a new method if delivering mobile web content that […]

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You may have noticed a new icon appearing in mobile searches on Google. That little circle with the lightning bolt indicates that the page being shown in the search results has been adapted for the new Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology.

Accelerated Mobile Pages AMP

What is AMP?

AMP is a new method if delivering mobile web content that allows for an almost instantaneous page load on a mobile device over a data network.

Google has been very keen on page load speed for some time now and all indications are pointing towards it being a significant metric for Google and the other major search engines in the not too distant future.

When implemented, AMPs are indexed by Google and shown as an alternative to a website’s ordinary page. The search results page will show a small icon on a circle and lightning bolt, indicating to the user that the page has been accelerated for mobile viewing.

Example AMP Listing

When the search result is clicked, the user will find a version of the web page, with stripped out and standardised CSS and Javascript, showing clean text and embedded imagery.

Who Is Using AMP?

AMP is currently being used by some huge content publishers such as The Guardian, The BBC, Mashable and Huffington Post, to name but four.

By these larger publishers adopting AMP and Google continuing to harp about page speed, it should really follow that any person or business, who is publishing content, needs to seriously consider implementing AMP sooner rather than later.

FYI, we adopted AMP in December 2016 and have found an increased click through rate on our articles.

How To Implement AMP

Bloggers and publishers need amp

There is no way to sugar coat this pill, implementing AMP onto many sites will be a complete nightmare. It is not for their faint hearted and those who have a limited understanding of coding. Those behind the initiative have published comprehensive documentation as to adding AMP to a website, which you can find by clicking here.

However, if you are part of the 23% of global websites using the WordPress platform then there is good news. A plugin has been released that will automatically (sic) create an AMP version of all new blog or article posts. That means all you have to do is download the AMP plugin, activate it and carry on publishing. You may also wish to add your AMP to your Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) account also.

About Us

Quite simply, Big Red Rocket is a seriously talented web design and copywriting agency based in leafy Cheshire. We design and deliver beautiful websites all over the UK. If you would like to contact us you can call on 01625 359010 or click here to send us a confidential email.

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Top 25 Google Easter Eggs To Have Some Fun With http://www.bigredrocket.co.uk/top-25-google-easter-eggs-to-have-some-fun-with/ http://www.bigredrocket.co.uk/top-25-google-easter-eggs-to-have-some-fun-with/#respond Wed, 08 Feb 2017 11:59:44 +0000 http://www.bigredrocket.co.uk/?p=399 This is not an article dedicated to a new search engine branded type of Easter chocolate, but a list of Google searches that have some fun and eye-catching results. They are called Google Easter Eggs, and you will not believe what the Google sense of humour is like. It may just give you a lighter […]

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This is not an article dedicated to a new search engine branded type of Easter chocolate, but a list of Google searches that have some fun and eye-catching results. They are called Google Easter Eggs, and you will not believe what the Google sense of humour is like. It may just give you a lighter start to your day.

Google Easter Eggs

So here we go. Just type in the following searches and see what happens.

  1. anagram” will have Google asking you the question “did you mean: nag a ram?”
  2. askew” will tilt the Google results page down to the right.
  3. atari breakout” if you make this search in Google Images, you will be offered a playable version of Breakout.
  4. bletchley park” has Google decode the name in the knowledge graph.
  5. <blink>” or “blink html” will have Google show you examples of the blink element in the results.
  6. conways game of life” will have Google displaying a ruling configuration of the game on the right-hand side of the results page.
  7. do a barrel roll” causes the Google results page to roll over like a star fighter.
  8. festivius” will make Google display a Festivius Pole in the margin of the results page.
  9. flip a coin” Google will flip a coin for you.
  10. fun facts” or “im feeling curious” will have Google tell you a fun fact in the results page.
  11. gay pride”, “stonewall”, “homosexuality” and other like phrases will show a rainbow banner during gay pride festival activities.
  12. google in 1998” (may favourite ¡¡Geek) will take you back to how Google looked in 1998.
  13. is google down” Google will tell you no.
  14. recursion” will have Google asking you “did you mean recursion?” including a link back to the same page.
  15. roll a die” Google will roll a die for you and then give you the option to roll again.
  16. solitaire” has Google offering you a playable game of solitaire.
  17. sonic the hedgehog” shows a waiting Sonic The Hedgehog in the knowledge graph that moves if you are too long.
  18. super mario bros” shows a flashing block in the knowledge graph.
  19. tic tac toe” has Google offering you a playable game of tic tac toe.
  20. webdriver torso” turns the Google logo into moving blocks. Please note that this does not work on mobile devices or when there is a Google Doodle.
  21. what sound does a dog make” lets Google make that very sound.
  22. zerg rush” causes an army of 0s to rampage down the screen, devouring the search results.
  23. the answer to life the universe and everything” gives the answer you and Douglas Adams were looking for.
  24. define anagram” has Google asking “Did you mean: nerd fame again”.
  25. bacon number [actors name]” gives you the degrees of separation between Kevin Bacon and that actor.

I hope you enjoyed them. If you find anymore, please let us know in the comments section below.

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How To Speed Up Your WordPress Website http://www.bigredrocket.co.uk/speed-wordpress-website/ http://www.bigredrocket.co.uk/speed-wordpress-website/#comments Sun, 05 Feb 2017 00:41:17 +0000 http://www.bigredrocket.co.uk/?p=613 There has been much discussion and chatter around the net as to the effect of having a slow WordPress website. The general gist is that any website that takes over 4 seconds to load (some websites say 3 seconds) will seriously risk being bounced off as visitors are starting to expect a quick user experience […]

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There has been much discussion and chatter around the net as to the effect of having a slow WordPress website. The general gist is that any website that takes over 4 seconds to load (some websites say 3 seconds) will seriously risk being bounced off as visitors are starting to expect a quick user experience and virtually instant gratification.

Website speed

Over the past couple of years, Google has jumped on this and declared that page load speed will become, if it hasn’t already, a significant metric when determining page rank. It is becoming such an issue that if you undertake a website analysis through Woo Rank you will find a score above 1 second will get a red mark, and that is not a good mark.

“…most websites can be made noticeably faster, which can improve ROI and conversion rates.”
MATT CUTTS, GOOGLE

WordPress, although underpinning around 23% of the world’s websites, can be a somewhat lazy in loading up. This is because the technology behind a WordPress website needs to do many things, such as accessing the database, loading and rendering the CSS from a number of sources, and loading the Javascript, again from a number of sources.

This all takes time and resource and if your website is hosted on a shared platform, such as with GoDaddy or Heart Internet, your WordPress website maybe sharing server resources with over 1,000 other websites. No wonder it is a little slow. I say a little slow, I have seen some websites that take around 8 to 10 seconds to load, which is way over the suggested load time.

The first thing to do is run a test on your website to have a look at what its load speed is and what aspects of it are causing issues. There are a number of paid services you can use for a highly detailed report, but there are also some free versions that give you a great overview and some actionable ideas. One of these free versions is the Pingdom Website Speed Test which gives some great insights as to what should be done to speed up your WordPress website.

Pingdom Website Speed

Okay, one method of speeding up your load time is to move your website to a dedicated server or a virtual private server. Both these require some pretty deep pockets, but for a sizable website, commanding a lot of traffic, the investment may be well worth it.

So what about the rest of the world who is using a shared platform for their WordPress website. Most WordPress sites are hosted on Linux servers, running Apache, therefore it is with this type of hosting that I will deal will.

The .htaccess File

For this, you will need to have access to your server and public HTML files. In the root directory, you will see all your WordPress files but you will also see a file with the name .htaccess.

AT THIS POINT PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU MAKE COPIES OF EVERYTHING AND BACKUP YOUR WEBSITE BECAUSE IF YOU GET IT WRONG, YOU CAN SERIOUSLY SCREW UP YOUR WEBSITE.

Okay, the above being said and you being properly prepared, opening your .htaccess file should show you something like this:

DirectoryIndex index.html index.php
SetEnv DEFAULT_PHP_VERSION 56
# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>
# END WordPress

In simple terms, this file and code tells your server how to deal with your WordPress website. Other than that it does little else.

One way of speeding things up is to compress your website using gzip or mod_deflate. What this does is to compress your website and serve a much smaller version to compression enabled web browsers. Confused? Fear not, the hero message here is that compressing your website will speed up your website delivery. To compress your site, add the following code to your .htaccess file:

<IfModule mod_deflate.c>
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-httpd-php
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-httpd-fastphp
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/svg+xml
</IfModule>

When you have added this code and saved the .htaccess file, you can check if your website is compressed by visiting https://checkgzipcompression.com.

Gzip Compression

Now then, compression is one thing but we can also add a second layer of performance through the .htaccess file and that is by setting a browser cache. This means that the .htaccess file will load common site assets into the visitor’s browser so when they revisit your website or move through it, specified assets will load from their browser rather than from your server. Obviously, this will make no difference the first time they visit your website or regularly clear their browser cache, but for the vast majority of well-visited WordPress websites, it should make a difference to the page load times for returning users.

To implement browser caching, add the following code to your .htaccess file;

<IfModule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/png “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType text/css “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/html “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/pdf “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/x-javascript “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access 1 year”
ExpiresDefault “access 1 month”
</IfModule>

Optimise Your Imagery

fat panda

One of the biggest issues for page load speed is the use of images. We all need to use images to make the pages more appealing and add interest but if they are big files then it will take more time to load. What you need to do is compress your images either through something like Photoshop or an online compressor such as http://optimizilla.com or https://compressor.io.

With the simplicity of the drag and upload media section of WordPress, some users can get a little lazy in resizing their imagery. For a web page with a width of 800px, there is little point in embedding an image with a width of 3000px, with all the weight that goes with it. Also, try not to resize your image using HTML, such as width=“800” as this will increase load time as your site renders the image.

Clear Out The Rubbish

p3

Plugins make using WordPress a breeze however, these little add ons can have a dramatic effect on load time. Look at what plugins you have and what you actually need. You can temporarily install a plugin called P3 Profiler which will analyse your plugins and see which ones are causing your WordPress website to work overtime thereby slowing it down.

Optimise And Clean Your Database

optimise data base

A WordPress website is driven by a MySQL database. This is here all your data is stored, including all the page revisions within your website. As you develop your WordPress website, make changes and add new content, the database can get a little bloated and have a detrimental effect on performance. You can manually optimise your database within your server using something like phpMyAdmin or you can install a plugin excitingly called Optimise Database after Deleting Revisions which will do the job for you. You can also set it to run automatically.

WordPress Caching Plugins

All that maybe a bit too much for someone who is not too confident in coding or making significant changes to their .htaccess file. In reality, you may just not have the time to do it, That is totally understood and the benefit of having a WordPress website means that there are a number of plugins that can also speed up your website.

By installing a caching plugin, much of what I have explained can also be achieved, as well as creating a lightweight cached version of your WordPress Website.

The caching plugins are designed to take a “snapshot” of your web page and then deliver it to a visitor as an HTML file rather than a dynamic, PHP database driven page. This makes the page lighter and much faster loading.

There are free WordPress caching plugins, those that have the ability to be upgraded for additional features and those that are fully paid versions with even more features and better support.

Two of the best free WordPress caching plugin (in my opinion) are;

WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache

This has been made by those clever people at Automaticc, who actually developed WordPress. It has 3 levels of caching, namely Mod_Rewite which writes to your .htaccess file, PHP which is much easier to get working and Legacy which is mainly used for known users and is a little slower than the other 2.

WP Fastest Cache

WP Fastest Cache

Is a seriously good WordPress caching plugin that also minifies your CSS and Javascript. It has a great amount of additional features and a Pro (paid) version that offer a variety of additional features that can increase your page speed even more.

With regard to a paid version WordPress caching plugin, I have had a lot of great results from WP Rocket Cache.

WP Rocket Cache

WP Rocket Cache

At the time of writing, this caching plugin comes in at $39 for a single WordPress website and gives outstanding performance. It has plenty of features that can help your site load in under a second.

PLEASE NOTE THAT I AM NOT AFFILIATED TO ANY OF THE ABOVE AND ARE MERELY RECOMMENDATIONS MADE FROM MY EXPERIENCE.

Content Delivery Networks

Content delivery networks or CDN’s, are external servers that serve assets to your website which lightens the load on your origin server. Some popular CDNs are Amazon S3, and MAX CDN.

In using a CDN, you would upload your assets, such as images and then code them into your website manually. This would mean that as your website loads, your assets would be delivered from the CDN rather than your server.

Some CDNs can also be used in conjunction with many WordPress caching plugins to improve your site performance even further.

You can also consider using CloudFlare which is a hybrid caching / CDN facility that can enhance the performance of your WordPress website.

Cloudflare For WordPress

CloudFlare offers a number of pricing plans from free to a deep pocket enterprise version for larger websites. It also offers some great security features too.

Getting CloudFlare to work is relatively simple. After you have opened your account and allowed CloudFlare to scan your WordPress website, all you have to do is change your nameservers to those at CloudFlare and you are up and running.

Has This Helped You Understand How To Speed Up Your WordPress Website?

I really hope so, but I have had to fit a lot of information into a small space. If any of these ideas have given you some food for thought then that is great. If you find yourself in the situation that you want to speed up your website but need some technical help then it may give you the tools to have an informed discussion with your web developer.

This was not intended as a definitive guide to speeding up a WordPress Website and I am sure I will get some comments and email stating that I have missed something but please remember that this is an article, not a white paper or a textbook. As ever, constructive comments will be received with absolute pleasure.

About Us

Big Red Rocket is a highly respected web design and copywriting agency based in the leafy Cheshire countryside. We design and deliver beautiful websites and compelling copy that add real value to our clients’ businesses and digital footprint.

You can contact us on 01625 359010 or send us a confidential by clicking here.

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