If you want to be noticed in our crowded digital world, an optimised website is vital to your success. Optimising your website can literally put you ahead of the competition by increasing your SEO ranking, resulting in more organic online traffic as well as improved useability for your visitors. There are some simple changes you can make to ensure your website is search engine friendly and set up for the best user experience.
It’s time to give your website a health check – and here is your website optimisation checklist:
1) Make sure your website loads fast
Google prioritises websites that are highly optimised and will provide the best value experience for its users. After all, nobody likes a site that’s slow or non-responsive. According to Website Builder Expert, 40% of web visitors will wait no longer than 3 seconds before they decide to leave your website. Yet they also reported that the average website load time for desktop is 10.3 seconds, and 27.3 seconds for mobile. So, what if your site falls into this category?
- Set up caching via a plugin or your hosting. This will speed up how your site loads.
- Your images should be pre-sized and optimised before loading them to your site. Alternatively, if you use WordPress, use a plugin like Smush to automatically compress your images down.
- Streamline and simplify your plugin or extension usage. Be aware that each one loads scripts, and that slows down your site.
2) Is your website safe?
Search engines and web users now have a heightened awareness of site security, and a site detected as unsafe will reflect poorly on your brand and its credibility. A survey by digital marketing agency, John Cabot, in the UK, found that 64% of visitors would instantly abandon a website if it’s not secure (Source: Search Engine Land).
- Get an SSL certificate for encryption. You need to have the green padlock when people visit your website on their browsers. Note however that you should NOT pay for this certificate, as most good hosting providers include it for free.
- Get a plugin or firewall that protects your site from being hacked.
- Get a virus checker to make sure that bad code or malware has not been put into your site. If this happens, Google can blacklist your website from being shown, or will put up an error that your website is dodgy in the search results.
3) Make it mobile friendly
Surfing the web on your mobile has been a trend on the rise for a while now. In fact, mobile devices account for up to 70% of web traffic (Source: Tech Jury), hence why you NEED to ensure your site is easy to navigate from a smartphone.
- Is your menu optimised for mobile visitors? Make sure your contact info is clear, cart icon is easy to access if you sell stuff, and that your menu does not take up too much space.
- Don’t make people scroll too far to get to a CTA (call to action) button or link. These should be everywhere for easy access of what next steps to take with you.
- Test all your pages yourself on a phone. Are your images aligned? Text big enough? Pages too long? Etc…
4) Make sure your site is listed with Google
Worldwide in 2021, Google accounts for over 70% of desktop search engine market share, and just over 88% for mobile (Source: NetMarketShare.com). It is therefore crucial to use Google’s tools effectively to increase your visibility and capitalise on their vast share of search traffic.
- Sign up for a Google My Business account. Fill out your profile fully and keep it as up to date as possible.
- Set up a Google Search Console account. This tells Google what pages are on your site (a sitemap), and allows you to address problems that Google thinks your site has.
- Install Google Analytics on your site. This lets you see what people are doing on your site, such as pages they visit, where they are from, device type, etc.
5) Do onsite SEO
There is no doubt that the first page of search results is where you want to be. According to Zero Limit Web, the first five organic results on the first page alone account for over 67% of all the clicks. Strategically utilising onsite keywords can help you achieve this.
- Make sure you have a blog and use it. Each article can be optimised for a focus keyword or keywords, which is what people will Google to find an answer to their problems or their desires. The more you write, the better the chance your website will rank well in Google.
- Cross link to related content on different pages or blog posts throughout your site. Instead of using the words “click here” in a blog post, use a keyword phrase and hyperlink that. For example, “Here are my favourite beauty products for younger looking skin.” You would link “beauty products for younger looking skin” to a page on your site that sells those products.
- Make sure your pages are easily readable. Google uses a test called Flesch-Kincaid to see if your paragraphs are short and you use clear language. A great tool to test this is Hemingway Editor, or in WordPress, you can use a plugin like Yoast SEO that automatically checks your writing and makes suggestions for improvement.
If optimising your site isn’t already a priority, it should be! Implementing these tips above might sound like a significant time investment, but in the long term, will be a cost-effective strategy to increase your digital visibility in leaps and bounds. Ultimately, it’s also a worthwhile branding exercise, and may even gain you that slight edge on the competition.
About the author: Heather Porter runs Website Love, a website development and social media training company that has built over 500 websites. She is an Amazon Kindle #1 bestseller, co-author of four business books, and host of “That Social Media Show” on the Bizversity business app used in over 100 countries to train small businesses. She has taught over 250,000 businesses globally through her podcasts and speaking appearances and is one of eight Facebook Community Trainers in Australia and New Zealand.
For more tips from Women Love Tech on maintaining your website, visit here.