For almost all businesses these days, having a high-functioning website is absolutely essential whether the focus is on driving online sales, marketing your products or services or driving new leads and opportunities.
But, as with any of your staff members, having a happy and healthy website is just as important – your digital ‘team member’ works 24/7 for your business and is oftentimes the first interaction or engagement a potential customer has with your business… suffice to say that if you aren’t prioritizing website health you’re going to miss many opportunities to add to your bottom line.
What is website health?
Much as you would service your car regularly to keep it running optimally, your website needs a frequent and regular ‘service’ to ensure that all its working parts are working as they should.
By maintaining website health you’re not only ensuring that visitors to your website have an enjoyable experience – meaning they’re far more likely to complete the goals you have planned – you’re also ensuring that Google ranks your website higher up the search results pages, giving you the best possible chance to attract visitors in the first place.
Fortunately, unlike servicing your car, maintaining website health is an easier and simpler process that you can undertake each month. There is a range of online tools to help you assess the major elements of website health including:
- Page speed
- Link health
- Mobile responsiveness
- Keyword rankings
- User Experience (UX) design
As the name suggests, this is the measure of how fast your website pages load when visitors click on them. Tolerance is increasingly lower and lower – 40% of site visitors will drop off a page or website if the page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, which significantly impacts on leads, sales and enquiries.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool enables you to assess your website’s mobile and desktop page loading speeds, giving you a score out of 100 for each.
It will also give recommendations for improvement such as optimizing large image files, minimizing and optimising multimedia files such as videos, animations and audio files, and embedding videos on site rather than hosting them on your site to reduce load times and enhance user experience.
Your website’s internal and external links are an essential part of user experience, ensuring that visitors can navigate easily from page to page on your website, or link out of your website to any useful and supplementary websites.
But if the links are broken, whether that’s moving from page to page within your website or linking out, the experience becomes very frustrating and visitors will move away completely.
Using tools such as brokenlinkcheck.com or Google’s Chrome extension can ensure that your internal links are all functioning as they should.
For links away from your website you should always ensure that these open in a new page – after all, you don’t want visitors to link out to another website and forget that they were on your website to start with!
The dramatic rise of Smartphones and improvements in data availability for mobile users has had a huge impact on how people browse the internet.
The latest statistics show that nearly 54% of all website visits are now conducted on mobiles, meaning it’s hugely important that the mobile version of your website offers as enjoyable and engaging an experience as your desktop version.
Additionally, in mid-July of 2019, Google officially switched to mobile-first indexing as a priority, meaning that your search results ranking is weighted more heavily on your mobile website than on your desktop version.
To ensure that your website is mobile responsive you can simply test it using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test which will give you an indication of what your website looks like on mobile, as well as whether it’s usable and can be successfully crawled.
Your website needs to be accessible for all web users, including those with some form of disability or impairment.
This is achieved by ensuring elements such as high-contrast colours, using easy-to-read web-friendly fonts, having clear section and page headers and navigation, including Alt-text on your images, including captions or transcripts on media elements and including an accessibility widget to your website.
You can assess how accessible your website is by using any of the following tools https://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/tools/.
One of the most effective ways to ensure that your website ranks well in search results and delivers an enjoyable and useful user experience is to ensure that your content is relevant and contains well-contextualised keywords related to your business and area of interest.
Knowing what your industry’s specific and relevant keywords are is crucial – there are a number of keywords that will remain relevant, but as your industry evolves and new trends come online, new keywords will spring up, so you need to be on the pulse to ensure that your content evolves at the same time.
The best way to achieve this is to create a list of keywords that are relevant to your industry and begin your research there.
Use Google Ads Keyword Planner or other keyword research tools such as Ahrefs Keyword Rank Checker, SEMrush, Moz or others to assess not only how your list of keywords is ranking but also what suggestions they have for other keywords that you should consider.
These tools will show you vital data such as number of monthly searches, competitive ranking, paid and organic average positions and more, helping you make informed decisions about your website’s content as well as your digital marketing strategies.
User Experience (UX) design
UX design is an encompassing term describing how your product’s elements come together to deliver the best possible experience for anyone visiting your website.
Using the tools described above will give you a good impression of how well many of the UX elements are performing, but to do a final and more specific UX design evaluation you can use tools like Crazy Egg or Hotjar, which use heat-mapping to track exactly how users interact with your website.
Over time you’ll be able to identify parts of your website that perform better or worse than others and optimise your design accordingly.
Ultimately, achieving the best possible user experience for all your website visitors – although an ongoing process – can be achieved fairly simply using the tools above.
Working with your website partner to ensure all the data the tools supply is interpreted correctly and that changes are implemented regularly is just as important, so that your website can constantly evolve and give you the best possible return on investment.
Find out more about how Realnet’s team of UX experts can help you understand and optimise your digital soutions to ensure you get maximum return on investment.