It amazes me that in 2017 there are still several major corporations and businesses who choose not to address major issues with their websites that affect usability and search ranking. As someone who regularly provides site audits, I thought I share 5 major factors that every website owner should address.
I do believe many companies still don’t take their websites as serious as they should. Having a well developed website can generate more leads for your business and if you’re not constantly improving your online presence than your competitors who likely are, are the ones reaping all the rewards including better search ranking.
1. Make your website mobile friendly
Mobile search has officially surpassed desktop search yet there are still companies with websites that are not mobile friendly. With WordPress becoming the most widely used content management system and now making up almost 1/4 of websites on the internet it can easily fix this problem. If you already have a website developed in WordPress you can update your theme or by converting your website to WordPress which has themes that are already mobile responsive that can adjust to almost any screen or device size.
If you’d like to test your website for responsiveness there are a few ways. There are plenty of websites available which provide a visual representation of how a website displays on several devices with a simple Google search. You can download Chrome extensions which can be installed which allow you to select from a list of several devices to test from however I find these extensions to not be accurate all the time which is why I would recommend double checking on your smart phone.
2. Install an SSL certificate
About 15 years ago I would only install an SSL certificate on e-commerce websites when they were quite expensive, sometimes costing as much as $300 US. In 2017, having an SSL certificate not only mean making your site more secure but can also improve your search rankings. In addition, Google will start displaying alerts to visitors on websites that do not have an SSL certificate. This can potentially affect bounce rates or causing visitors to leave a website that doesn’t not seem secure.
Nowadays you can purchase an SSL certificate from your hosting provider for roughly $20, from third party sources for less than $10 or if you’re really tech savvy you can install them for free.
If you’re running a WordPress website, installing an SSL certificate is only part of the solution. Images and links within website content will require updating to use https rather than http in order for the site to display the SSL is working correctly.
3. Improve your On-Page SEO
There are many factors that are widely debated by SEO experts. In fact you can ask 10 online experts what they thing are the most important factors and you’ll likely get 10 different answers as there are several factors to consider.
If you’re running a WordPress website then I highly recommend installing the plugin YOAST which has become almost a standard plugin for WordPress SEO. This plugin allows you to easily manage your title tags, meta descriptions, XML sitemaps, social media and more.
For basic on-page SEO make sure your title tag, H1 tag, page URL’s, image alt tags and content all include your target keyword or phrase.
4. Improve your site speed
This is a debated SEO factor as some SEO experts concede it can affect search ranking however I’ve seen websites rank well in excess of 10 seconds. However speed is definitely a killer when it as it can not only affect search ranking but also affect user experience. Most experts concede that your websites should ideally load under 3-4 seconds.
Think of a time you went to a website and it took too long to load. How frustrating is that experience and was your reaction? Chances are you probably left that website and went to alternative website that loaded faster. Leaving a website is called “bounce rate” or the percentage of users who visited a webpage on your site and left. You can get this data through Google Analytics assuming you have it installed. If your bounce rate is under 50% this is pretty normal but if it’s greater than you may have some issues you’ll want to address.
If you’re running WordPress you can improve your page loading time. The size of your websites images can hinder your page speed which is why it’s important to optimize your images. You can either compress images using online tools available, resave them in Photoshop or by simply installing WordPress plugins which can batch compress images which I’ve found more efficient.
If you’re running a WordPress website your loading can potentially be due to too many plugins, the wrong plugins, the theme or several other factors. One handy plugin I like to install when performing a WordPress audit is P3 Profiler. This plugin provides insights as to how much memory certain plugins are demanding. Choosing the wrong plugin can hinder your page speed by seconds.
There are several WordPress page speed plugins which can address several other issues which can impact your loading time such as adding page caching, compress JS and CSS files or load images on request rather than all at once.
If you’re looking to improve your page speed then NexToronto can help you achieve a better page speed as we’ve done for many clients in the past. Every second counts and having a website that loads from 5 seconds to 3 seconds could decrease your bounce rate as much as 30%.
5. Accelerated Mobile Pages
Accelerated Mobile Page or AMP is a relatively new factor to consider that few developers consider much less businesses who have no idea what it is.
Considering the two points I mentioned previously, mobile search surpassed desktop search and the importance of site speed. AMP is a solution that dramatically improves the performance of mobile sites on the web to the point where the loading seems almost instant.
If you’re running a WordPress website there are several plugins available that make this possible.
Contact NexToronto today to have an expert audit your website and provide solutions to what is likely hindering your sites search ranking and user experience. Call 416.893.3231 and speak with an expert today!