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Why Google may soon label your website SLOW, costing you money

(MARKETING) Google’s putting warning labels on slow sites! If Ads are your bread and butter, the toaster just got thrown in the bathwater…

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The rumors about consumer attention spans aren’t 100% true.

Every other article will tell you you have to grab grab grab, because anyone on a smartphone is a goldfish-brained, flashing lights junkie who won’t give your poor company the time you really deserve because they’re too overstimulated to know how good you are for them.

Well, first of all, goldfish actually have such good memories, that they can distinguish one human from another, and learn tricks.

And second of all, we can and do hyperfocus online! The catches are, the content has to be relevant, it has to be interesting, and it has to actually be easy to read.

No, I don’t mean easy to read as in legible, though there’s certainly more I could say about people still using black text on navy blue backgrounds. I don’t mean easy to read as in ‘keep Chaucerian references to a minimum’ either.

I mean easy to read in the purest form: your site and its content needs to actually load in a timely fashion.

I’m blessed with full use of my hands, so I can physically open a book in under a second. But connected to a great source of wifi, even with only one tab open, I can’t always make the same boast of opening a new website on any laptop I’ve ever used, and I definitely can’t say that about sites loading on my phone. Before you start an Apple vs PC/Android war, think about your own experience for a minute. It doesn’t matter what your tech specs are—slow sites are a universal demon!

And because they’re always listening, our Google Overlords have decided to do something about it.

The big G is starting to put the smackdown on sites with crappy loading times by branding them with a big ol’ ‘SLOW’ shame badge in the search results.

That means, even if you’re page one, result one, and the first ad in that little pastel yellow box, you can be passed over just like the losers on page 6 because Google will tell your potential readers visiting your site is buying a ticket to frozen screen town.

That town sucks.

So how do you get ahead of this latest development? You attack what makes your load times slow! The bugbears dragging you down are:

Ads

Videos reiterating what your articles say

Needlessly uncompressed graphics

Ads

Sites unformatted for mobile devices

Large gifs

ADS.

It’s ads, okay, the technical stuff is all easily fixable, but your biggest issue is ads.

As hard as it is to deal with your company not bringing in any cash, it’s even harder for consumers to properly peruse your content without getting hit with a video pop-up, some creepy cleavage-ridden clickbait, an animated banner, a new tab forced open, malware, extra sound, and the creep factor of the sites they only spoke about being right in front of them five minutes later.

It’s more than just distracting and dystopian—ish this brings your site load times to a grinding halt.

If they can’t click away from the ads, or have to wait for them to load before your content shows up while everything sorts itself out, more and more users are opting to hit the back button, or click over to be seduced by a competitor’s faster tab. With a ‘Slow sticker’ slapped on your pages by Google, these rightfully impatient browsers will start scrolling past you entirely.

It’s not just a problem for anyone selling directly either. Even the trusty Snopes is getting hit with my ‘NEXT’ thumb swipes on mobile because whether or not I’m scrolling on my personal porcelain or somewhere someone important might notice I’m bathroom blogging, it’s taking too long to get where I need to be.

Bottom line is this: If you have to have banner ads on your website to keep it afloat, it’s time you took the hours to run some intense QA. It’s up to you to vet the ads you’re allowing on your space, to see how they’re affecting your site’s load times, and to ask yourself if the money you’re getting from plastering your content with extra baggage is worth being skipped over for the next search result in line.

Keep your content in the fast lane, or gamble with rocking the sidewalk. The choice is obvious… but as always, it’s yours to make!

You can't spell "Together" without TGOT: That Goth Over There. Staff Writer, April Bingham, is that goth; and she's all about building bridges— both metaphorically between artistry and entrepreneurship, and literally with tools she probably shouldn't be allowed to learn how to use.

Real Estate Marketing

Small metros have cheaper homes, but buyers may still be short on funds

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) New study finds that small to mid-sized metros offer cheaper houses, but unfortunately the available jobs aren’t giving buyers enough income.

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When I told my parents how much my partner and I would be paying for rent at our new apartment, they quickly pointed out that I could purchase a home for that kind of money in my hometown.

Indeed recently published a study where they determined which cities have the highest salaries after accounting for the cost of living, an adjusted salary. Every city on the list is a small or mid-sized metro area which is why they dubbed their findings, “the small-city advantage.” No surprise to me, my hometown made the list.

My parents are right, I could literally buy a home for the amount of money I pay in rent every month to live in a large metro area. But the equation that determines where I, and many other workers should live, is more complex than salary minus housing.

Indeed’s study also shows that bigger metros have faster job growth and lower unemployment compared to these small to mid-sized metros. This is why the number one city on their list, Brownsville-Harlingen, TX, also has a higher unemployment rate than the national average. Some of the other cities on the list are Fort Smith, AR-OK, Toledo, OH, Laredo, TX, and Rockford, IL.

These areas are cheaper to live in, in part, because they may not offer the kind of job opportunities, and therefore social mobility, you see in larger metro areas. Sure, I could make my money go further in my hometown, but the chances of me finding a job in my industry there are smaller.

Your field of work does matter when considering whether or not the “small-city advantage” could work for you. If you work in tech or finance, two traditionally high-paying fields, then this advantage doesn’t apply.

“Before adjusting for living costs, typical technology salaries are 27% higher in two-million-plus metros than metros with fewer than 250,000 people. Even after adjusting for those costs, tech salaries are still 5% higher in the largest metros than in the smallest ones,” finds Indeed.

If a huge tech company offering thousands of high-paying jobs moved into a city like Brownsville-Harlingen, TX, over time it would get more expensive to live there. This is why people were freaking out so much when Amazon was trying to decide where to locate HQ2. It’s the hamster wheel that is currently driving income inequality in some of America’s largest major metro areas.

Finding the right place to call home is never going to be a single factor decision. Yes, salary is a huge factor, as is the cost of living, but there are also lifestyle factors to consider. What kind of opportunities would you have in this city? How much will it cost to move there? How will this effect the other members of your household?

It’s nice to play the ‘ditch the corporate world and buy a country house’ fantasy after a long day at work, but the reality is far more complex.

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Real Estate Marketing

Look at the ghosts of Google companies past to avoid their failures

(MARKETING) The Google Cemetery is a refreshing reminder that nothing—even a Google product—is permanent, it can even help you understand what to not do

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Google is such a ubiquitous part of our lives—even to the point of being a household term understood by ankle-biters and geezers alike—that it can be difficult to envision a time when the tech giant did anything other than win. If, like me, you’re a fairly vindictive individual who’s interested in perusing Google’s mountain of failures, consider checking out their Cemetery.

The Google Cemetery is a well-documented list of every endeavor into which Google has poured time, money, and immeasurable amounts of support before ultimately closing the service in question. Upon visiting the site, you’ll notice a few familiar entries—Google+, Google Allo, and Inbox by Gmail being notable examples—along with some titles you may not recognize.

If you have a specific service in mind, you can search for it by name; Google Cemetery also has the option to sort by year of death, and you’ll even find a specific tab for products that are deemed “near death” by the Google Cemetery.

Simply seeing a former service listed as “dead” may be enough to confirm your preconceptions about said service; however, if you find yourself puzzled or alarmed by the death of something you used to frequent, you can hover your cursor over the service’s “headstone” to read a brief synopsis of Google’s reason for getting rid of it.

The sheer span of Google’s reasons for removing services is staggering. Some services, such as the aforementioned Inbox, went by the wayside solely because Google chose to focus specifically on Gmail, and some services simply became parts of Google Search or autofill APIs. On the other side of the spectrum, you’ll notice that once-familiar websites such as iGoogle or Google+ were ultimately nixed due to lack of consumer interest, software errors, and other failures on its part.

It’s nice to see Google fail at something—if only because they’ve proved that having a few products (to say nothing of a plethora thereof) bite the dust doesn’t have to be the end of the world for your company.

And, failing that bit of optimism, it’s never a bad idea to look back on products that have failed if you’re looking for an opportunity to improve upon the past rather than invent something yourself.

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Real Estate Marketing

Mobile apps: Do people even download them anymore?

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Comscore releases 2019 “Global State of Mobile” Report—With Some Surprises. Downloading apps dominated data usage for a time, but all kings must fall.

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Comscore has released its 2019 “Global State of Mobile” report. This annual look at trends in mobile device usage and behavior has some interesting takeaways.

One bullet point that they’re touting is that nearly 80% of total online minutes in the United States are on mobile. But is that really surprising? People use their mobile devices when they’re travelling, when they’re at restaurants, and even when they’re using other screens. How many times have you checked Facebook on your phone at work, or played a game on your phone to keep your hands busy while you watched Netflix?

It’s no secret that mobile dominates Internet access. Working for a hardware purveyor nearly a decade ago, they were panicking about the pivot to mobile even then. Still, there’s a difference between “nearly every American has a cell phone,” or “users expect mobile access at work,” and “80% of online time is on mobile.” One wonders if this trend will continue, or if this is a plateau.

Speaking of plateaus, people aren’t downloading new apps anymore. Only 33% of people said that they downloaded a new app in June of 2019. That’s down from 49% of respondents saying they downloaded a new app in June of 2017.

That makes sense, in some ways. The Internet feels a lot smaller than it used to. Everyone only goes to like, three websites anymore, anyway. So this advice feels timely. But it also feels like it might be a little out of touch as apps like TikTok gain traction at a regular pace, and people continue to search for a Facebook killer.

But it does have implications for small businesses. There was a window when everyone was scrambling to have their own app. But if people are finally tired of downloading an app for every business they interact with, maybe a strong web presence is enough? Making an app is costly. It means designing things twice over.

It means dealing with accessibility concerns twice instead of once. And if people aren’t feeling it (and maybe never were), it’s worth considering that app development might not be an outright necessity. At the very least, it’s worth collecting some data and making sure you have a business case for one, rather than developing one out of FOMO.

There are some other fun observations, including that women over 55 spend more time in mobile games than any other female age group in the U.S. That said, the study has some limitations. They don’t say what their sample size was unless you download the whitepaper. And knowing how many people were surveyed is important in knowing how seriously to take any statistic. You can check out the whitepaper yourself at Comscore’s website.

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