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Q&A #21: deleting old posts, blurry images, optimizing your homepage, slideshow performance

I’m answering your questions about photography websites, business, marketing, SEO, and more.

You can ask me anything. I’ll try to answer within 24 hours, and the most useful questions get featured here on the newsletter too. Need any help with your website? Don’t hesitate to write, I’m all ears.

Thanks to Ariel, Phil, Hugues & Michaelangelo for these questions.

Check out my answers below, and jump in with your own thoughts by sending me a message or leaving a comment below.

 

 

“Does deleting old blog posts hurt my SEO?”

Sometimes you want to let go of very old posts in your blog archive (that you no longer want clients to see), so it makes sense to remove them from your site.

But add a 301 redirect to a new destination:

  1. take note of the URL of an old post (for example: /2016/10/07/old-post-title-here/)
  2. trash the blog post
  3. add the 301 redirect (in your platform settings or using a redirection plugin) from the blog post URL you noted above, pointing to the new blog post or page you want

That doesn’t mean that you should always do this because some of those old blog posts might carry some SEO value. You don’t want to lose that.

So just do a tiny bit of research:

  • look in Google Analytics > Behavior > Site Content > All Pages to check the traffic numbers
  • look in Google Search Console > Performance > Search results > filter pages to check for clicks and impressions
  • check for any backlinks for those old posts using a free tool like this (with “Exact URL” selected in the dropdown)

Any meaningful results for an old post tell you that maybe it’s worth keeping it.

Otherwise, delete away :-)

In fact, pruning your blog archive can have a positive SEO effect. You’d be narrowing Google’s understanding of the topics on your site, focusing on just the keyphrases you want.

 


 

“Uploaded images to my website appear soft and slightly out of focus while my images in Lightroom are very sharp….what is going on?”

Blurry photos can usually be caused by a few things:

1. resizing in the browser: you upload images at certain dimensions, but the theme/template you’re using resizes them down to a smaller size. That’s normal practice, especially when taking retina screens into consideration, but depending on the actual values, results can get blurry. For example: resizing from 1000px to 500px is very very sharp (because it’s a perfect 50% reduction), but resizing from 1000px to 499px is incredibly blurry (resampling is performed by the browser).

2. image compression done by the platform: it’s possible that the website platform you’re using has some sort of image optimization process that’s not lossless. That can also mess with the image sharpness and quality. See if that can be tweaked in your platform or theme settings.

I once discovered a rare problem with a custom-made website template that showed blurry photos because of a “transform” CSS definition. When in doubt, ask a developer to look into it.

3. wrong Lightroom export settings: double-check that your Lightroom export dialog settings are correct, and closely look at the resulting exported images. Sometimes, blurriness probably can be introduced at that level, before even uploading to the site.

If you feel that these issues are not relevant in your case, let me know and I can try to investigate this further. It would help if you sent me an image file exported from Lightroom, and then a link to that same image shown on the website, so I can better compare them to see what’s going on.

 


 

“How do I optimize the homepage for all possible device sizes?”

Full question: 

“I’ve been subscribed to your emails for a little while now, and I’m enjoying the little nuggets of information and the tips that they contain! I just wanted to get your opinion on something that you’ve often covered, and revisited recently with regards to homepage images, particularly in the hero section, and whether slideshows etc are a good idea.

You often mention the fold line for viewing websites, and how image size or position (and copy, too) relates to this, but surely this all depends on the screen resolution of the person on the website. So, what optimal size should this be based on? 1920×1080? Something smaller? What about those who may find the website on their phones or tablets? It’s almost impossible to suit everyone with the same website design I find, and I know I’ll inevitably be serving some screen sizes better than others.”

Thanks for reaching out and being a fan of my content.

You’re right that you can’t possibly tailor your website to every possible device size out there. I consider this to be a “best effort” type of problem. Not a task you can check, but something that you can strive for. You just try to optimize the site for as many common device sizes as possible.

And a few major device categories come to mind (in decreasing order):

1. large desktop size (like 27″ monitors): we don’t even need to take these into consideration too much, so these types of users are usually using a mouse and are more inclined to scroll anyway. But still, the hero section should probably not go past 800px in height, to allow a tagline or extra information to be partially visible straight away.

2. laptop screens: here, an 1920×1080 resolution is very popular (until laptop screens with 16:10 or 3:2 aspect ratios become more popular!). And sometimes even smaller, since browser windows are always kept maximized on the screen, especially on Mac. And then you factor in the browser title bar, address bar, etc, and you probably end up with something like 700-800 pixels of vertical “real estate”. That gives you an indication of how small the hero area needs to be.

3. tablets: newer tablets usually have good resolutions, so they resemble small laptop screens anyway.

4. phones (vertical): if your hero section on a desktop screen has a panoramic aspect ratio, on mobile (vertical) it can, in fact, be taller, taking up half of the screen height, leaving enough room below to present the tagline or something else that’s interesting on the homepage.

5. phones (horizontal): this situation leaves very little vertical space to play around with. Sometimes, you can’t fit anything else above the fold here, it is what it is. Not that many people navigate websites with their phones turned in landscape mode, so you kind-of have to ignore this group :-)

Overall, sure, you can’t suit all possible devices. But if you just avoid full-screen slideshows or intro images, and just limit the hero area to 50-70% of the device height, you’re good to go.

 


 

“Does replacing a slideshow with separate images make my website slow?”

Full question: “I deleted the slideshow on my homepage and replaced it with images to show a wider range of what I do. Do you think that’s what makes my website slow?”

Replacing a slideshow with a few images is all the same to Google (since a slideshow is in fact just another set of images, just displayed differently).

But the problem is that you have 174 images on your homepage (which is a huge number!) first of all, and then secondly that the theme has to load them as full images even though they are shrunk to be thumbnails.

That’s why GTmetrix “complains” about serving scaled images:

And Google PageSpeed Insights also mentions this as the top problem:

And I’m afraid this comes down to how your WP theme is built, I’m not sure if this is easily fixable.

There are other themes out there that only load smaller image sizes as thumbnails, and then when you click on them to open the lightbox view, only they do they actually load the full image. For example, here’s a gallery page on another photo website: https://www.clairethomasphotography.com/portfolio/kazakh-herders-altai-mongolia/ When you test this page in GTmetrix you no longer get the “serve scaled images” problem. That’s because the theme loads smaller thumbs on the page, instead of the larger images:

So, here are your takeaways:

  1. Reduce the number of images on your homepage. It should just be a set of 15-20 “best-of” images, not more than that. More on this topic here: https://www.foregroundweb.com/selecting-portfolio-images/
  2. Do a bit of research if your WP theme allows loading smaller images as thumbnails. That might mean looking into the theme options if there’s any “enable responsive images” option, or even contacting their developers/support team. If not possible to fix, then you can either:
    • live with it. Reducing the number of images will make this problem smaller and should increase performance scores anyway.
    • consider switching to a different WP theme, but that obviously requires more work.

 


 

Your turn: ask me anything :-)
Send your questions to me via email or on my social media channels (links in the footer), I’d be able to help.

Off-topic or inflammatory comments may be moderated.
Please add VALUE to the web, thanks!
 

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