Page Experience – SEO ranking signal starting May 2021.

#seo #google Starting May 2021, Google will include Page Experience ranking signals in the ranking algorithm.

Optimizing is not an easy task, even for simple WordPress sites with a few plugins. I spent quite a lot of time to achieve good score on a few websites.

Suggested tools: (or the Chrome Dev version is even better) – most of the recommendations are easy to implement and will get you a decent score. Do the easy ones first.

Eliminate render-blocking resources is the most significant one, but can be hard without a plugin.

Keep an eye on Google Search Console, it will alert you on slow pages.

To explain it easy, Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) will be the biggest element (in size: width-height) in the viewing part of your page (can be an IMAGE, can be a big paragraph of text). Try to load that element fast.

Made-up marketing is the new Growth Hacking

What do you think about consultants that write courses or posts or promote themselves by saying they will increase your conversion/traffic/…. by 68% or 248% or …? ( If I will get exactly another number can I call you a liar? You didn’t even ask me about the current state of my business.)

Why not just say: “It happened ONCE, to a specific client, that went from 100 clients to 168 or 248. I can try to understand your business and grow your business too, as much as I can.”

“Made-up marketing”/”Lying marketing” is the new “Growth hacking”.

Today from Facebook (Pages) on an abandoned page:

Notification: “You had 30 new visualizations”.I go check out: “1 new visualization”.

Happened multiple times.

Facebook finds reasons to remind you and maybe you start promoting your page.

It works. Spam and other mass tactics work too (if they get 0.1-1% results is fine), but that’s not a reason to do it.

What to read next as an entrepreneur?

As an entrepreneur, you do not learn only from books about entrepreneurship, but also from books that can make you mentally stronger, to be able to survive all the challenges entrepreneurship throws at you.

I often look for the best books to read/listen to that can really help me develop personally and professionally.

I want to get the maximum amount of knowledge for the time I invest, so I look for recommendations.

In the last year, I’ve been following The CEO Library and I got good recommendations, so I am recommending it now.

I find many “success” books to be boring or that do not apply to me. So always look for books that are written by someone that had the same challenges as you. Example:
If you are bootstrapping and want to build a lifestyle business, you will learn more from the people that had started in the same way, than the ones that raised VC investments.

I must say that I mostly read articles, than books, and I scan them, instead of reading them completely.

I get my weekly dose of inspiration from Indie Hackers, from interviews on entrepreneurs that bootstrap.

How do you choose what to read next?

Why I am building a tool to monitor competitors

Having business ideas is easy. If you are inexperienced, you might jump to implement it and see where that leads you. If you’ve read stuff about startups for a while, you will probably follow the Lean Startup way (and that is very good).

With Competitive Business, I will focus on the growth stage of a startup, to monitor competitors and get key insights on their strategy.

To monitor or not to monitor your competitors?

Some entrepreneurs will monitor their competitors to get inspired or stay up to date with their strategy, and there are that do not (or not so much).

Hiten ShahIf you don’t pay attention to what’s already out there, you’ll accidentally become a copycat product or start several steps behind everyone else in your space. There’s just too much competition to build blindly. ( Hiten Shah  )

… or against watching your competitors, Peter Thiel – Competition is for losers

I am pro watching competitors 

For startups that are bootstrapping or get small investments and are not market leaders or want to become unicorns, you need all the resources you can get to make the right decisions on your product. Learn what your customers want (find out from your competitors) and do it right from the first time, else you may run out of money, or even out of enthusiasm to pivot.

Monitoring competitors is good for startups

As the CEO, you will be responsible for creating prices of your product, but if your prices are too over your competitors’ prices, you might fail and don’t know why. Prices are based on what a consumer is willing to pay for the product, but if a consumer has other competitors to choose from, he may choose a lower price product.

A lot of startups will start with lower prices and then grow to prices as they develop the product, as the start is more competitive. I started with the minimum of $5/month plans at Monitor Backlinks and now it’s about $20/month (but the product is much better). Prices change, monitor those changes when your competitors will change the prices. Competitive Business has a website changes feature that will alert you when your competition is making changes to his website most important pages (copywriting, prices, links, award badges, …).

Investing a lot of time into monitoring your competitors is not productive. Having a tool that will do all of this (website changes, trial emails/newsletter, social media, …)  and consume about one hour a month, I think it’s worth it, that’s why I am doing this with Competitive Business.

Feel free tell me your thoughts.

Yii2 for WordPress extension

When I first launched my startup Monitor Backlinks, I’ve built it without any PHP framework because I didn’t have a good experience with any that I’ve tried. That was my fault because I didn’t work on very big projects where we could work as a team.

After migrating to Yii2 last year, my development team released today Yii2 for WordPress extension.

Yii2 WordPress is a component for Yii2 framework designed for integration with WordPress CMS via XML-RPC API.

With it, you can easily get new posts from your WordPress blog into your Yii2 application.

You can read more or download the extension on and

[job] Remote Senior PHP Developer on Yii 2 Framework

*** This job is for joining Monitor Backlinks team ***

Isn’t it annoying always to start a new project and not spend enough time to make it close to perfect? to make it a quality project that you can be proud?

You will be responsible for implementing new features on Monitor Backlinks ( That’s it, no other project, and this for the next few years.

We are not looking for someone great, but for someone Awesome!

General requirements:

– Knowledge at least 1-2 PHP frameworks. We work with Yii2 framework;
– Expert MySQL knowledge. Not just to select data, but to know the difference between heavy and good SQL queries;
– Must be an fluent in OO PHP5;
– Javascript, JQuery, AJAX as a bonus;
– Linux/Unix basic to run command,
– GitHub or other SVN;
– Experience working with 3rd-party web services APIs;

We are looking who is not afraid of and even more loves:

– Learning! The lack of new & efficient technologies makes you bored;
– Unified code styling (PSR2) for all team;
– Security. You feel mad when find out XSS or SQL injection possibility in code;
– Fast & efficient code and Optimizations. But you already had experience that “Premature optimization is the root of all evil”)
– Vagrant/Virtualbox as personal server;
– Complete PHPdoc for every class, method and property;
– Functional and Unit tests;
– Code autocompletion for everything in your favorite IDE;
– Code refactoring;
– Pull requests and Code reviews before moving code to production;
– Composer;
– Methods no longer than 40 lines;
– PHP 5.4 – 5.5 features. You know about Late static bindings, traits, understand what is Yield and other white and even black magic;
– Laconical naming for classes, methods;
– Well-organized structure;
– Know how to write testable code / dependency injection / phpunit tests;
– We use Trello for organizing tasks, you’ll like it;

Preferred skills that could be a big plus:

– Python
– Redis
– Memcached
– Gearman
– Node.js
– nginx
– Percona and XtraDB
– Amazon Web Services
– Web Crawling / Screen Scraping
– Highload and bigdata

If you don’t know most of them, you’ll have a remarkable opportunity to deal with them and learn new interesting things during work in our startup.

A link to your Github profile is required and Yii or other framework code sample you wrote before (full class).
Please provide when applying else your application will be ignored.

If you provide a portfolio, don’t just provide URL’s, but specify what you did, what problems you dealt with and how you solved them.

To apply, send an e-mail with all the required details (CV, Portfolio and answer to the question “Why are you the best at this job?”) to razvan [at] monitorbacklinks [dot] com


Think before choosing freemium for your startup

Launched in 2010, AppFog finally gives up on freemium business model.

Over the past few months, a subset of free users have engaged in abusive actions that has negatively affected the stability and uptime for all users.

We have taken numerous steps and dedicated resources toward addressing abuse, but have come to the realization that larger changes are needed to bring AppFog back to the level of reliability our customers have every right to expect…

New customers will no longer have the option to sign up for a free plan. We will offer a trial starting very soon.

It’s nice to start by offering free accounts (even if limited), hoping that this will get you more and more users for your product, but look at the downsides.

I hear a lot this advice: “Go freemium, look at what DropBox did and it worked”. I did offer free accounts in the beginning and dropping the free accounts was a good decision for me.

1. Attracting the wrong user

In my startup, over 80% of the resources used by the free users were from Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia) with a conversion rate to paying user close to zero.

If they do decide to pay, they will be a pain and they will have a small lifetime value. A lot of them will ask for discounts and even if you give them, they still might decide not to pay. This will also mess up your projections, thinking that you have many users and that you are growing steady, but after a while seeing a lot of cancellations.

2. Wrong feedback

The free users will not only use your server resources, but also your support time, asking many questions and having all kinds of requests.

Now if you think this is feedback, you are wrong. Don’t look for feedback from the people that won’t pay for your product, because they like to talk, they like to make you work, but in the end they will still not pay and you spend quite a lot of your time working on features that would drive your product in the wrong direction.

Also, you should not give discounts easily. I have a lot of discounts requests, but

3. Undervalue your product

If you start by offering your product for free, they will want to continue to use it for free because “hey, you can afford a small free account just for me”.

Marketing on discount websites is wrong again. I offered the product for almost free (discount + fee = zero revenue) and at the end of their discounted period, 95% cancelled. And just so you know, I had a really low churn-rate with the other users.

When to choose freemium?

There are a lot of cases when freemium work, see Dropbox or Bufferapp. Depending on your product and the resources consumed it can work for you.

You can chose freemium easier if you got a big investment and you are not pressured to go on positive operational profit very fast.

Do you have use freemium model or trial based for your startup?



Getting fewer visitors to your website is a good thing

fewer visitors to your website


For the last 2 years, I watched how the traffic of my startup grow. After I had managed to get more and more visitors to my website, I started paying more attention to conversions.

The effort to increase my website conversion from 2% to 3% (that’s about 30% increase) is lower than increasing your traffic by 30%, not to mention you improve the quality of your website when you optimize it, you make it clearer to the visitors.

Having good numbers in Google Analytics is not everything though. What good is a visitor that registers, but he doesn’t know that he will eventually have to pay for your product? “On the web you can find everything for free, right?”
So I did also a few tests directing my register now button to the Pricing Page. The conversion numbers from visitor to registered user dropped yes, but the conversion from users to premium users grew significantly.

On the free tools page, 80% of the visitors didn’t even think about converting (based on geographical analysis and conversions), but they were using the tools heavily. Keep this in mind when you offer free tools. Even if the tools are free for them, they are not for me: I pay 3rd party services for some data, server power etc.

Focus on getting quality traffic

You may often find that promoting heavily in social media or posting everywhere can get your website bounce rate really high (high = bad), so measuring channels just on visits or conversion rate is not really enough.

Look at the effort spent on each channel. From some channel it’s easier to get 1000 people to visit your website, but only 5 to register and from some another channel you may work the same to get 100 people to visit your websit,e but 20 to register.
Where should you focus your marketing efforts?

Once I’ve hit my product market fit, I started going where my targeted user were. This showed in a decrease in traffic, but a lot higher quality visitors (bounce rate improved by 20% and average visit duration by 40%).


[Freelance] Remote PHP Developers for Monitor Backlinks

Looking for some very good PHP developers to work remotely for Monitor Backlinks.

Skills required:

  • PHP/MySQL (a lot of proven experience)
  • HTML/CSS (medium)
  • GitHub is a plus
  • PHPUnit testing is a plus
  • Experience building scripts using different API’s
  • Anything extra that can help us! (just show it in the CV)
  • Initiative! (you see a bug, have a great suggestion? DO IT!)

You will be given small projects that will help improve Monitor Backlinks. You will be responsible of your piece of code.

If you are interested send your CV and describe your experience (and tell me your hourly rate) at contact [at] monitorbacklinks [dot] com