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Performance Max campaigns are the pinnacle of automation in PPC, so it’s no surprise they continue to be a major topic of debate for PPC professionals looking to balance time savings with peak campaign performance.

But their high dependence on AI doesn’t mean these are set-it-and-forget-it campaigns.

Automation can still benefit from the touch of an expert PPC manager. But because they are so different from traditional campaigns, there are unique ways to optimize Performance Max (PMax) campaigns.

PMax optimization broadly falls into three categories:

Setting them up for success.

Monitoring that the AI is driving the right results.

Tweaking the campaigns to further optimize their performance.

Read on to learn how to get the most out of your PMax campaigns by addressing each of these three areas of opportunity.

How To Set Up PMax Campaigns For Success

Let’s start with what can be done to set up Performance Max campaigns to be successful out of the gate.

Remember that one big risk of automated PPC is that machine learning algorithms can eat up a significant amount of budget during the learning phase, where it establishes what works and what doesn’t.

1. Run It In Addition To Traditional Campaign Types

“It’s designed to complement your keyword-based Search campaigns to help you find more converting customers across all of Google’s channels like YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, and Maps.”

This approach allows businesses to capitalize on the strengths of each campaign type while mitigating their limitations, resulting in a more balanced and effective promotional effort.

Traditional display campaigns, on the other hand, are excellent at raising brand awareness and reaching audiences across a vast network of websites and apps.

PMax campaigns complement these traditional approaches by utilizing machine learning to optimize ad targeting and placement across multiple Google platforms.

2. Exclude Brand Keywords From Performance Max

One keyword-targeted search campaign you should always have is a brand campaign.

Then, ask your Google rep to exclude your brand keywords from all PMax campaigns so they don’t cannibalize traffic from your brand campaign.

But because Performance Max’s mission is to generate more conversions, it may actually end up bidding on really expensive brand-adjacent queries.

(Disclosure, I am the co-founder of Optmyzr.)

In a branded search campaign, I can control exactly which traffic to target using positive and negative keywords. But in Performance Max, there is no easy way to manage keywords, so Google may use the really cheap brand traffic to subsidize the much more expensive brand-adjacent traffic.

3. Create Multiple Performance Max Campaigns To Target Different Goals

The same reasons why you would run more than one campaign in an account without Performance Max apply to why you should consider having multiple PMaxcampaigns.

4. Manage Final URL Expansion

When you create a PMax campaign, you tell Google what landing page to send traffic to. But you also get to decide if Google can expand to other landing pages on your domain.

Final URL expansion should be used cautiously.

At the campaign’s onset, consider focusing all your budget on the landing pages you care most about. If the results are good, then expand to more final URLs automatically.

5. Add Audience Signals From The Start

Adding audiences to a Performance Max campaign helps enhance the targeting and performance of your marketing efforts.

While PMax campaigns already utilize machine learning to optimize ad targeting, incorporating audience information provides additional context that can further improve the campaign’s efficiency.

Adding audience information enables the machine learning algorithms in PMax campaigns to make more informed decisions when optimizing ad targeting and placements. This can lead to better campaign performance and a higher ROAS.

Advertisers should also attach their own audiences to Performance Max campaigns. For example, by attaching a list of all their existing customers, they can choose to have the PMax campaign prioritize new user acquisition.

Because it is generally harder and more expensive to find new users than to convince existing users to make another purchase, adding this setting can better focus the ad budget on what is most valuable to the business.

How To Monitor Performance Max Campaigns For Success

Even when campaigns are well set up, monitoring AI is always a smart idea because it can sometimes make questionable decisions.

When I accidentally turned on automatically applied recommendations from Google, I found that my brand keyword ‘optmyzr’ was removed by Google because the AI felt it was redundant to some other keywords in my campaign, particularly some misspellings of our brand name.

I investigated and found the keywords Google preferred delivered fewer conversions and had a higher CPA than the keywords it removed. So not only was AI semantically wrong, but it also made a bad decision for my bottom line.

So let’s look at some ways to monitor Performance Max campaigns.

6. Report Where Your Performance Max Traffic Is Coming From

If you only look at the overall performance of a PMax campaign, you may be falling into the trap of averages.

Relying solely on averages can be misleading and might not accurately represent the true nature of the underlying data.

Averages can oversimplify complex data, reducing it to a single value that may not capture important nuances or patterns within the dataset, and this can mask the variability or range of values in the dataset, leading to false assumptions about the consistency or homogeneity of the data.

On average, the campaign drives the results you want. But by eliminating some wasteful portions, results could be even better than what you asked for.

Even if the campaign is delivering the desired results, knowing about possible inefficiencies puts you in a better position to address those and tilt the playing field back in your favor.

Tools like Optmyzr make it easy to see where your budget is spent in PMax, and there are also Google Ads scripts that will add this type of clarity to your data.

7. Monitor For Cannibalization

Because PMax campaigns don’t include the traditional search terms reports and only include part of that data in insights, it can be difficult to know when it is cannibalizing the other campaigns you’re running in parallel.

When it comes to standard shopping campaigns and PMax for retail (which replaced Smart Shopping campaigns), the PMax campaign always takes precedence over the traditional shopping campaign. For this reason, it’s important to segment products to avoid overlap.

Regarding keyword cannibalization, Google says if the user’s query is identical to an eligible Search keyword of any match type in your account, the Search campaign will be prioritized over Performance Max.

But if the query is not identical to an eligible Search keyword, the campaign or ad with the highest Ad Rank, which considers creative relevance and performance, will be selected.

And even a keyword that is an identical match may be ineligible due to a variety of factors and still get cannibalized.

The best way to monitor for cannibalization is to monitor campaign volumes and look for shifts. Does an unexpected drop in a search campaign correspond to an increase in traffic to the PMax campaign? If so, dig deeper and use our optimization tip for managing negative keywords that we’ll cover in the next section.

Optimizations For Performance Max

While PMax promises to optimize itself on an ongoing basis thanks to AI, there are some proactive ways you can still help the machines deliver better results.

8. Use Account-Level Negative Keywords

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to add negative keywords to a PMax campaign without the help of a Google rep. And even then, they will generally only add negative brand keywords to help prevent cannibalizing a brand campaign.

But PMax campaigns can work with shared negative keyword lists if you email Support and ask them to attach one of your shared negative lists to your PMax campaigns.

From that point forward, you can simply add negative keywords to the shared list, and they will instantly take effect on the PMax campaign that is associated with the shared negative list.

While Google doesn’t share full search term details for PMax the way it does for search campaigns, it will show keyword themes under insights. This is one good source for negative keyword ideas.

You should also leverage data from traditional search campaigns you’re running in parallel to PMax.

So mine your traditional search campaigns for negative keyword ideas, for example, when users search for things like ‘free’ ‘login’, etc., that never convert well. Add these as negative keywords to the shared negative list that is attached to your PMax campaign.

9. Use Account-Level Placement Exclusions

This is a great starting point to find ideas for placements to exclude.

To exclude placements from PMax, you’ll need to exclude them at the account level, since it’s not possible to add negative placements to individual PMax campaigns. You’ll find this ability under the “Content” section of the Google Ads account.

Just like with negative keyword discovery, consider using your account-wide placement data from all campaigns to find placements to exclude in PMax.

And if you run multiple Google Ads accounts, you can get even better results by finding money-wasting sites and apps in the display network to exclude across all the accounts you manage.

Or when working with a tool provider, they may even be able to help you find negative placement ideas from their own vast network of data.

10. Exclude Non-Performing Geo Locations

Even though PMax uses automated bidding, which doesn’t support geo bid adjustments, you can still leverage geo data in two ways.

You can either exclude locations that don’t drive conversions or use conversion value rules to manipulate the value you report for conversions from different regions so that the bids will get adjusted accordingly.

For example, if you report conversions as soon as someone fills out your lead form, but you know that people in Munich become paying customers at a higher rate than people who fill out the same form from Berlin, you can set a conversion value rule to value conversions from Munich more highly.

This helps automated bidding make the right decisions about what CPC bid will likely have the desired ROAS.

11. Feed Correct Conversion Data

AI can only do a good job for your account if you tell it what the goal is.

And the goal should be precise.

It shouldn’t be to get the most conversions possible if your real goal is to drive profits.

Setting up goals correctly can make a huge difference in how well PPC automation will perform.

Updating goals with margin data or with data from your sales team can be a significant effort, and that’s why I’ve listed this as an ongoing optimization strategy rather than an up-front setup task.

Get PMax up and running with the conversions you’ve already been operating with, and then work to constantly enhance that conversion data.

Conclusion

With these 11 tips to optimize your Performance Max campaigns, you can expect better results while also benefiting from the time savings promised by automated campaign types.

There are many more tips I didn’t cover here that you can discover by joining the dialogue online.

And there will be many more tips to come as PPC automation continues to evolve.

More resources:

Featured Image: TippaPatt/Shutterstock

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10 Best Iphone 11, 11 Pro, And 11 Pro Max Camera Tips

iPhones have always been top-notch (or thereabout) when it comes to the camera department. But with the introduction of the iPhone 11 Series, Apple has taken the game even higher – leaving the work cut out for the rivals like Pixel 4. The dual-camera on the budget-friendly iPhone 11 and the triple-lens camera on the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max mark a new era in smartphone photo/videography in many ways. Ever since the 2023 iPhones landed at Beebom, I’ve been testing the camera on both the standard and pro models. And I can’t help to share some of the best iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max camera tips and tricks that can go a long way in snapping awesome photos and videos.

Best Camera Tips for iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max

Apple has overhauled the Camera app for a more simplified and intuitive experience. And in the typical iPhone fashion, the tech giant has also added a few cool tweaks into the mix to ramp up the performance. While the introduction of slofie seems certain to kickstart a new trend, the arrival of Night mode has turned the spotlight back on the iPhone – at least for now. Besides these big highlights, there are several tweaks hidden under the wrap. With that said, let’s discover ’em all!

1. Get the Most Out of Ultra Wide Angle Camera

While most flagship smartphones had been flaunting the ultra-wide camera for quite some time, iPhones had been lagging behind in the race. No longer! With Apple finally embracing the ultra-wide-angle lens, the iPhones are back in the game with aplomb. To get started with it, all you need to do is just swipe left on the bottom of the viewfinder and tap on the 0.5x button or simply tap on the 1x button and choose 0.5x to jump over to the ultra-wide-angle camera.

2. Switch Between Ultra-Wide, Wide, and Telephoto Lenses

The next tip in line is the way to switch between the three cameras. Though it’s no brainer, there are a few things that are worth taking note of. Depending on the type of shots you would like to capture, you can switch between wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto lenses by just tapping on the numbered buttons at the viewfinder and then choosing the preferred option:

.5: The new ultra-wide lens

1x: Standard wide lens

2: Telephoto lens

Do note that these lens modes aren’t fixed options. So, you can swipe up on any of these buttons (between 0.5x and 2x) to reveal a zoom wheel. Then, you can use the zoom wheel to find a seamless transition from one camera to the other through a number of neat gradations. Moreover, right alongside the wheel, you will also find the 35mm equivalent focal length of each lens-sensor combination. Once you have selected a custom focal length, the wheel will disappear. To get back to the standard focal length, all you need to do is just tap on the center lens button.

When you want your shot to capture plenty of things apart from the subject (see tip 1), the wide or ultra-wide camera is the way to go. But if you wish to make the subject appear closer to the camera or highlight the subject by blurring the background, the telephoto lens should be your go-to option. The best part about this is that you can switch between lenses even when recording videos. The lens switch feels natural and gives you an additional parameter to improve your video recording.

Apple has decided to keep the telephoto lens with the high-end iPhones (11 Pro and 11 Pro Max) only. Comparatively, the telephoto lens on the flagship iPhones is much better than the ones found on iPhone X, Xs or Xs Max. It snaps sharper and clearer pics with more detail.

3. Capture Ultra-Wide Panoramas 4. Shoot 4K Video from the Selfie Camera

4K at 24 fps (film style)

4K at 30 fps (higher resolution)

4K at 60 fps (higher resolution smoother

The smaller the frame rate, the less space your 4K video will consume (135MB, 170MB, and 400MB per minute respectively). So, choose the preferred option and you are ready to go live.

5. Capture a Slofie

Should you think that the days of selfie are no longer exciting, turn your sight on the slofie. And I bet you would love every bit of it. Again, taking a slofie on the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro max is pretty simple. All you need to do is just swipe on the slider (right above the shutter button) and choose SLO-MO. Then, hit the shutter button and you are ready to go. Keep in mind that the TrueDepth camera of the iPhone will always record the slo-mo at 120 fps. I am mentioning this explicitly because the rear cameras can record slo-mo videos at 240 fps.

6. Take Better Selfies

It might seem a bit weird to many that the 12-megapixel front-facing camera doesn’t always deliver 12-megapixels for each selfie. For instance, when you hold your device vertically, the image sensor will zoom in to capture a 7-megapixel selfie. Then, you will need to tap on the expand button on the screen to zoom out to capture a 12-mega pixel pic. It’s quite straightforward but worth taking note of, especially when you want your selfie to look stand out or send social media for an instant blitzkrieg!

When you hold your smartphone in landscape mode, the camera automatically zooms out to let you snap a 12-megapixel cool selfie so that you can fit more people or backgrounds. But if you wish to take the 7-megapixel selfie, simply zoom back in.

7. Bring on the Night Mode

So, how do you enable Night Mode on your iPhone 11 Series devices? Well, it gets into the action automatically whenever the Camera app detects the low-light environment. Thus, you can’t turn it on at will. Bear in mind, it doesn’t work with the ultra-wide sensor.

Based on the lighting around you, Night mode automatically adjusts the effect that it needs to capture a photo. However, you have the option to manually change the level of the Night mode effect. To do so, simply tap on the Night mode icon (looks like a crescent moon) at the top left of the screen (when it shows up in the dimly-lit environment) and then swipe the timer dial to the right or left to select between Auto and Max. While 5 seconds is the auto (default option), 28/30 seconds is the maximum. When you capture a Night mode photo, the slider automatically turns into a timer that counts down to the end of the exposure. And you must hold your iPhone still until the photo has been taken.

Also, if you have a tripod on you, iPhone 11 has another trick up its sleeve. You can use the long exposure, up to 30 seconds, for astrophotography. That means you can capture beautiful pictures of stars and celestial objects in the night sky.

8. Record Video While Capturing a Photo

If you have tried your hands on Snapchat, you would find this feature quite similar. Using this all-new iOS 13 feature, you can start recording a video simply by touching and holding the shutter button. The best part about it is that the video remains in the same frame as the photo. To record the video for a longer time, you can simply swipe right on the shutter to lock it in the normal video recording mode.

9. Easily Change the Aspect Ratio to 16.9

Previously, we had the option to choose from two aspect ratios like  4:3 (rectangle) and 1:1 (square) and each one of them had their own shooting modes. Now, with the introduction of the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, the camera app has grouped the aspect ratio settings into a single-mode. Plus, it has also added a new 16:9 aspect ratio. You can simply swipe up on the screen to reveal a new row of camera settings and then choose the preferred aspect ratio.

10. New Way to Capture a Burst of Photos

There is an all-new way to capture a burst of photos. Simply, slide the shutter button to the left and hold it to snap a burst of photos. Though not as straightforward as before when you had to just hold the shutter button to capture several pics at once, it gets the job done with ease. Keep in mind, you won’t be able to take a burst of photos by holding down the volume up/down button anymore as it will start a QuickTake video.

SEE ALSO: How to Edit Videos Using Photos App in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13

Get the Most Out of the Cool iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max Camera

How To Get The Most Out Of Steam With Augmented Steam

Steam is a unique case, a strange hybrid of an online game e-shop and a platform for managing and launching your favorite games. And, if you so wish, other media and programs. Valve’s creation has many fans, who used to say they wouldn’t replace it with anything. But that doesn’t mean it is perfect with no room for improvement.

Augmented Steam is an extension for the two most popular browsers, Chrome and Firefox. It wakes up and starts working whenever we visit the Valve store through those browsers, transmutating it behind the scenes. The result is the Steam we all know, but better, friendlier, and in the long run, cheaper.

Some of the useful additions Augmented Steam slaps on Steam are:

Price comparison based on data from many popular online stores

Lowest available price and historically lowest price displayed for each title

Game scores from OpenCritic and MetaCritic on each title’s page

“Ignored” titles being hidden from search results

Installation

Accept your browser’s security warning that Augmented Steam will access your data on the Steam and IsThereAnyDeal sites.

Configuration and usage

Before you start using it, go through all the configuration options of Augmented Steam. To do so, visit the list of add-ons on your browser, and from there, Augmented Steam’s options.

Augmented Steam provides a wide variety of options and parameters that allow you to change the way it operates, select which modifications you’d like it to apply on Steam, and even change the colors it will use to “mark” some titles.

While it’s worth looking at all the options, we find most of the defaults to be adequate for most users. The only things we would – and did – change are:

PRICE: Disable Auto-detect and select desired primary currency

The most important and useful addition shows up when you visit any game’s page. Just below the top slideshow and right above the game’s title, you’ll see the best price for the title as found on other competing sites. Just below this, you’ll see the title’s historically lowest price.

How come that’s useful? In the first case, it’s obvious: If a title has a lower price elsewhere, you can buy it from there. It’s worth noting how many of those alternative-to-Steam stores also offer Steam keys. In such cases, after purchasing a game on a different store and getting a Steam key to go with it, you’ll be able to return to Steam and “activate it” there. The result will be the same as if you originally bought it on Steam.

A “historically low price” might seem more like a tease, a lost opportunity, since it usually shows a drastically lower price than what you’ll have to pay now to get a title.

If you think about it, a low historical price means that the title, if you’re willing to play the long waiting game, can and probably will be available much cheaper, again, sometime in the future – perhaps during the next Steam sale. In other words, if you don’t want the title here and now, your wallet will thank you for waiting.

Leave the mouse pointer hovering above the title price, and you’ll see how it fluctuates between different countries. A dramatic difference in its price in one country can be a good indication that a similar reduction will soon appear elsewhere. Again, in such cases it’s worth playing the waiting game instead of buying the actual game itself.

If you check out the informational panels on the right side of Steam, you’ll see some new entries among the familiar crowd. One of them is a direct link to the game’s page on IsThereAnyDeal, the site from where Augmented Steam pulls its price data. Right after it, in the same info panel, you’ll find links to Steam Database and PCGamingWiki, with the latter being more useful for the majority of people. There you can find information on the title’s compatibility with newer operating systems, and instructions, tips, and tools to help it run at its best.

In the game’s details panel, where you can see if it’s single or multi-player, supports Steam Workshop, etc., you will also see a more vivid notice about any “content protection” used in the title. It was already there, but Augmented Steam makes it pop out more to make sure you don’t miss it in case you want to avoid such “annoyances.”

Protections and Digital Rights Management (DRM) are good for protecting a game creator’s rights on the title but can become a significant problem for everyone who only wants to enjoy a game. Just ask anyone who’s bought Darkspore, only to have its box gathering dust on a shelf since the game is unplayable today, thanks to its online protection not being as “online” anymore. Or try playing any game with the latest (back then) versions of the SafeDisc and TAGES protections on anything newer than Windows XP on a PC without optical drives and prepare for a royal headache.

If a game you want comes with a copy protection you’d rather avoid, you can either forget about it or check if it’s available on GOG. The GOG store has a policy of not carrying any titles with DRM.

In the cases of games re-released through it, their team tries to strip any DRM while offering upgraded compatibility with newer systems.

Apart from the above, you’ll also be able to check at a glance the title’s ratings at MetaCritic, UserScore, and OpenCritic. This is extra useful during shopping spree, when your wallet’s run dry and you barely have enough funds for only one out of two games. The games score on those sites might end up being what helps you choose one over the other.

Similarly useful, the HowLongToBeat info gives a ballpark figure of how much time you’ll have to invest in a game to complete it. If it’s a frantic period in your life, with not much time for gaming, you should probably avoid cases like the Witcher series (over 100 hours each)!

Conclusion

Augmented Steam makes lots of small, barely noticeable changes and doesn’t look that of an improvement after you install it and revisit Steam. Soon, though, the features it adds become indispensable, bit by bit, elevating the whole experience of using Steam’s site.

Like most of us who are already using Augmented Steam, you’ll probably appreciate its usefulness only when, after using it for some time and for some reason, you’ll have to browse Steam’s site without it.

Odysseas Kourafalos

OK’s real life started at around 10, when he got his first computer – a Commodore 128. Since then, he’s been melting keycaps by typing 24/7, trying to spread The Word Of Tech to anyone interested enough to listen. Or, rather, read.

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Google Ads Rolling Out Multiple Updates To App Campaigns

App campaigns in Google Ads can now be optimized specifically for driving as many app installs within as short a timeframe as possible.

An update coming later this year will simplify the campaign creation process with a new tool for optimizing images.

Here’s more about each of these updates to app campaigns.

Maximize Conversions Bidding in App Campaigns

Advertisers can now use maximize conversions bidding through app campaigns.

This allows app campaigns to be optimized for generating as many installs in as little time as possible.

Google strongly emphasizes the speed in which maximize conversions bidding is designed to work:

“Whether you’re releasing a new game, launching a seasonal campaign or promoting new content in your app, it’s important for you to be able to grow your audience quickly.”

Advertisers can simply enter their budget and Google’s machine learning technology will do the rest.

To get started with Maximize conversions bidding:

Select the “Bidding” section

Uncheck the box for “Set a target cost per install (optional)”

Save the changes on the campaign

Source: Google Ads Help

Simplified Image Requirements for App Campaigns

App campaigns currently accept over 30 different sizes and dimensions for image assets.

That can get complicated, so Google Ads is shifting from size-based to ratio-based image specifications.

Google says this will make the creative process simpler and more efficient.

The three aspect ratios are:

1:1 (Square): Minimum size of 200 x 200, recommended size of 1200 x 1200

1.91:1 (Landscape): Minimum size of 600 x 314, maximum size of 1200 x 628

4:5 (Portrait): Minimum size of 320 x 400, Recommended size of 1200 x 1500

Google is also increasing the image file size limit from 150KB to 5MB so assets can be uploaded in higher quality.

The approved file format for images now only include .jpg and .png. Google is disabling GIFs as an option.

All app campaigns will be migrated to this set of requirements starting early next year.

As this update gets closer to rolling out, Google Ads plans to introduce a tool for cropping images into either of the three supported aspect ratios.

The cropping tool will also be available when images are uploaded for newly created campaigns.

This tool should be available in the next few months. Here’s a mockup of what it might look like.

Source: Google Ads Help

Website Performance & Health Monitoring: Tips & Best Practices

Setting up and running a website or ecommerce project is great – however, your work is far from done once your site is up and running.

Without appropriate health and performance monitoring, your website will suffer the consequences – which can be far greater than simply slow load speed.

Let’s turn our attention to a hypothetical, ideal scenario where all the websites in the world are functioning as they should. Did you know that, aside from skyrocketing user satisfaction, we would also contribute to a better environment?

Poorly performing websites not only impact anyone who creates or uses them, but they also leave a larger carbon footprint.

According to the Website Carbon Calculator, websites have a carbon footprint, and the average website page emits 0.5 grams of carbon dioxide per view. That’s just the median.

When looking at the mean, which also considers high-polluting websites, that number goes up to 0.9 grams.

Aside from issues on a global scale, an unhealthy, inadequately-performing website will cost you time, money, and revenue. Website health is similar to our own: it’s easy to neglect and difficult to improve.

You need to be aware of the main components that make up website health to conduct appropriate monitoring practices to help save processing time.

With the emergence of quick and easy website builders, crafting websites has become accessible to everyone. All you need to do is sign up, choose a domain, pick your template, and voila! You have a website in seconds.

However, many website owners dismiss the fact that website creation is only the first step. Appropriate performance maintenance and health monitoring are also crucial.

And on that note, let’s look at some essential website health and performance indicators: what they are, how to monitor them, and how to make improvements.

Aspects To Monitor For A High Website Health Score Core Web Vitals Google PageSpeed Insights

The first metrics you should consider when conducting performance testing are your Core Web Vitals. These performance indicators show speed, stability, and responsiveness, helping you understand the quality of your website user experience.

Several tools track your Core Web Vitals, but many website owners gravitate towards a simple tool: Google PageSpeed Insights.

After entering your URL into the tool, you will be presented with a report showing whether you passed your Core Web Vitals test and any other aspects you need to keep an eye on. Here are the three key metrics you will see:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

Aim for a score of 2.5 seconds or less.

If your score is over 2.5 seconds, this could indicate the following: your server is lagging, resource load times are not up to par, you have high numbers of render-blocking JavaScript and CSS, or there is slow rendering on the client side.

First Input Delay (FID)

Aim for a score of 100 milliseconds or less.

If your score exceeds that time, you may need to reduce third-party code impact, reduce JavaScript execution time, minimize the main thread work, keep transfer sizes small, and request counts low.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Aim for a score of 0.1 or less.

If your score exceeds this, you can avoid random layout shifts by including size attributes on your visual and video content (or reserve the space with CSS aspect ratio boxes). Avoid overlapping your content, and be mindful when animating your transitions.

Page Speed Blockers

Several factors can affect your website load speed. However, if you’re on a time budget and would like to focus on the main culprits first, pay close attention to the following factors:

Unused JavaScript and CSS Code.

Render blocking JavaScript and CSS Code.

Unminified JavaScript and CSS Code.

Large image file sizes (more on that below).

Too many redirect chains.

In order to improve the load of JavaScript and CSS files, consider preloading them.

To test your website:

Enter the URL of the page you want to scan.

I would recommend choosing your homepage first.

Another handy tool is chúng tôi which also shows your Core Web Vitals and other metrics that can help you drastically improve your website performance and health. Also, it’s free!

Simply paste a page URL into the search box shown on the site, and it will conduct a full test from a default location.

You can also register as a user and choose from a list of locations to test your website from different countries, devices and browsers.

WebPageTest will show you exactly where your website is in terms of performance, and what could be slowing it down through a Performance Summary composed of four key sections: Opportunities and Experiments, Observed Metrics, Real User Measurements, and Individual Runs.

At UCRAFT, we use a combination of tools such as PageSpeed Insights, Chrome Dev Tools, WebPageTest, and several others, to gain a clear understanding of what we need to work on when it comes to our website performance – especially since the SaaS industry is highly competitive already.

Design Elements

When we think about website performance and health monitoring, we usually leave these to the tech team to deal with.

But what if I told you how you design your website, and the elements you choose can make or break your performance?

That’s right – it’s time to get the design team involved.

Image Optimization

Images are great, but they can slow down your website if they are not sized appropriately. Make sure to resize your images, and avoid uploading giant files when they will not be shown in their entirety.

Likewise, compress your images and try out different file types like WebP, JPEG 2000, and JPEG XR instead of opting for heavier JPEG or PNG files.

Consider implementing native lazy loading to ensure that images are loaded when the user views them, instead of loading them all at once.

Make sure not to lazy load above-the-fold images, as it will degrade the LCP score of your page, and Google recommends using fetchpriority=”high” attribute on images above the fold to improve LCP.

If you use that attribute, no need to preload the images. You should either preload or set “fetchpriority” attribute on images above the fold.

Fonts

Extravagant custom fonts are often challenging to read for users without 20/20 vision, but they can also considerably slow down your website.

Switch externally-hosted fonts for more web-safe fonts, and give Google fonts a try – as long as they are hosted through Google’s CDN.

Moreover, consider incorporating variable fonts into the general aesthetic of your website, since this font specification can significantly reduce font file sizes.

Make sure to preload your fonts.

Animations/Additional Features

This goes without saying: Don’t go overboard with animations, videos, special effects, sliders, or other fancy elements.

It’s nice to include some interactive elements here and there, but saturating your website with too many moving “things” can be frustrating for users and your servers alike.

PWA Solution For Mobile Optimization

Why not go the entire mobile-friendly route and turn your mobile site into a Progressive Web App (PWA)?

Since PWAs are built with service workers, they load cached content at a quicker rate. Not only that, but PWAs resemble native mobile apps, which is great for performance and UX.

Additional Technical Performance Metrics Uptime

Uptime shows how well your website is functioning.

If your website crashes or is down frequently, it will harm your user experience, Google rankings, and, therefore, your revenue.

If possible, aim to have a 99.999% uptime and test your website from different locations.

Tools for uptime monitoring:

Database Performance

If you’ve checked the basics and your website is still slow to respond, it might be due to poor database performance.

You can check this by monitoring the response time for your queries and pinpointing the database queries that are taking up the most time.

Once you’ve done that, get optimizing! You can use tools such as chúng tôi to help you easily identify bottlenecks and find solutions based on accurate data.

Web Server’s Hardware

Your website may lag if your disk space is packed with log files, images, videos, and database entries. Make sure to monitor your central processing unit (CPU) load regularly, especially after you’ve implemented updates or design changes.

Tools such as New Relic can help you improve your entire stack through efficient monitoring and debugging.

Search Visibility

A lot of the metrics discussed above already have a significant impact on search visibility.

So when you run your website pages through Google PageSpeed Insights and optimize them, you are also doing important things for your SEO.

You can also opt for website crawling tools such as Semrush or chúng tôi Screaming Frog, DeepCrawl, or any other tool that best suits your needs.

Website crawlers help find all types of issues, such as:

Broken links.

Broken images.

Monitor core web vital metrics.

Redirect chains.

Structured data errors.

Noindexed pages.

Missing headings and meta descriptions.

Mixed content.

Make sure you’re all set when it comes to the following points:

XML sitemap – Ensure your sitemap is formatted correctly and check whether it’s necessary to make any updates and re-submit your sitemap via Google Search Console.

chúng tôi – Ensure you utilize a chúng tôi file for your web pages (HTML, PDF, or any other non-media formats that search engines can read) to manage crawl traffic better, especially if you suspect your server may be overwhelmed by requests from Google’s crawler.

Website Security And Caching Get Your SSL Certificate!

A healthy website is a secure website.

An SSL certificate is essentially a code on your server that builds an encrypted connection, guaranteeing that user data remains secure.

Obtaining an SSL certificate is not a particularly difficult process, but it can be lengthy when done manually.

However, if you are using a well-established hosting provider such as BlueHost, more often than not, your provider will be able to issue a free SSL for your domain.

Consider Using A CDN

Content delivery networks (CDNs) are distributed servers working in unison to deliver fast internet content.

In other words, a CDN is a tool that speeds up the performance of your website by keeping its content on servers close to users, regardless of geographic location. This is also known as caching.

If you have a global presence, a CDN is a must! It will increase your page load speed, decrease your bandwidth costs, spread out your traffic (reducing the chances of your site going down), and increase security via features like DDoS mitigation.

Top players in the industry include Cloudflare, Amazon Cloudfront, and Google Cloud CDN. However, there are many other options, so do your research and pick the best CDN for your website and business requirements.

Setup Web Application Firewall

A Web Application Firewall (WAF) protects web applications by filtering out suspicious HTTP traffic. It is aimed at preventing applications from attacks such as:

Cross-site forgery.

Cross-site-scripting (XSS).

File inclusion.

SQL injection.

Below is a list of the most popular and trusted web application firewalls:

Or if you use WordPress, you can consider installing plugins such as:

Verdict

That’s a wrap! As you can tell, website performance and health depend on various aspects.

If your website is lagging, the first logical step is to check your Core Web Vitals and see what you can improve. You can also take a look at other technical metrics and improve on them.

SEO is also vital to your website’s health, so check your search visibility, links, and potential load blockers to see what you can improve on.

And don’t forget about your SSL certificate and caching, either.

Your website design can also impact your load speed and performance, especially if you or your designers are fond of using weighty design elements.

Remember to optimize your images, avoid heavy fonts, and use animations in moderation.

More resources:

Featured Image: JulsIst/Shutterstock

Windows Stuck In Dark Mode; How To Get Out Of It?

If Windows is stuck in Dark mode, follow these suggestions to get out of it. Here we have elaborated on some common reasons why your Windows 11/10 PC might be stuck in Dark mode. You need to follow all these solutions according to the cause.

Windows stuck in Dark Mode

If Windows 11/10 is stuck in Dark mode, follow these suggestions to get out of Drak Mode:

Restart Windows Explorer

Disable Auto Dark Mode

Check Contrast themes settings

Verify Group Policy settings

Check Registry settings

To know more about these steps, keep reading.

1] Restart Windows Explorer

If you use Dev or Beta channel, restarting the Windows Explorer process could resolve the issue. If your system includes some bugs or glitches, it might be fixed by restarting Windows Explorer. For your information, you can restart Windows Explorer using Task Manager. To restart Windows Explorer in Windows 11/10, follow these steps:

Press Win+X to open the WinX menu.

Select Task Manager from the list.

Find the Windows Explorer process.

Then, check if it is still stuck in Dark mode or not. If yes, follow the other solutions.

2] Disable Auto Dark Mode

There are some third-party apps that allow users to switch between Dark and Light modes automatically. You can set a time, and the modes will the enabled in automation. If you have such apps enabled on your computer, you need to disable it. One of the most common apps for this purpose is Auto Dark Mode. Check your system tray and Task Manager if you or someone has installed it on your PC.

3] Check Contrast themes settings

Windows 11 and Windows 10 come with some Contract themes that let users opt for a black theme or mode. If you have activated such a theme, you need to disable it immediately. To check the Contrast themes settings, follow these steps:

Press Win+I to open Windows Settings.

Expand the drop-down list.

Choose the None option.

Then, check if it resolves your issue or not.

4] Verify Group Policy settings

There are some Group Policy settings that could be responsible for this issue on your computer. You need to check them one after one and set them to the factory defaults. To verify Local Group Policy Editor settings, follow these steps:

Find all the Enabled and Disabled settings.

Choose the Not Configured option.

For your information, you need to check these settings:

Prevent changing color scheme

Prevent changing theme

Prevent changing color and appearance

Local a specific theme

Force a specific visual style file or force Windows Classic

5] Check Registry settings

You can activate or deactivate the aforementioned settings using Windows Registry as well. If you turned them on earlier using Registry Editor, you need to disable them using the same utility.

To check the Registry settings, follow these steps:

Navigate to this path: HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionThemesPersonalize

Find all the REG_DWORD values with a Value data of 1.

Then, close all the windows and restart your computer.

Read: How to activate Dark Mode on Windows 11

Why is my laptop stuck in dark mode?

There could be several reasons why your laptop is stuck in dark mode. Some of the common reasons and solutions are mentioned above. You can go through these solutions to get rid of the issue. For example, you can check the Registry settings, Group Policy settings, disable Contrast themes, etc.

How do I get my Microsoft Windows out of dark mode?

That’s all! Hope these solutions worked for you.

Read: How to change High Contrast Theme back to normal in Windows.

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