5 Items to Put at the Top of Your Website Audit Checklist
A company can create the greatest content in the world, but if its website isn’t set up for success, no one is going to find it.
A range of disturbances can cause visitors to flee from your website before getting any value from your content. For example, a load time of longer than three seconds causes more than half of website visits to be abandoned. Having to reload or resize to navigate the site on a mobile device is another annoyance. And a single pop-up can cause a once-willing visitor to slam their laptop shut — or chuck their phone across the room.
A technically sound website is easy to use, fast-loading, and easily crawled by search engine bots. If your website has the proper technical setup, search engines can more easily understand what your site is about and enable you to reach your target audience in search results. From there, you can forge meaningful connections with your ideal prospects.
But how do you know whether your website is up and running and performing well enough to keep visitors engaged?
How to Improve Your Website in 5 Technical Steps
The following technical considerations can form a sort of website audit checklist that you can use to ensure your website is performing at its best. This is not an exhaustive list, of course, but it’s a great starting point for creating a strong, high-performing website that ranks well. Let’s dive in!
1. Fix your page load speed.
When learning how to fix a website, load speed should be near the top of your list. It’s the factor that has the potential to close a door in your prospect’s face rather than welcome them warmly into your world. It’s also an important SEO ranking factor. An optimal page load speed is one to two seconds. Let it drag much longer, and visitors will notice and start to think they’ve stumbled upon an antique.
You can monitor your load speed by using a tracker app (such as the page load time Chrome extension) and comparing the page speed to the bounce rate. Remove or streamline any features that are dragging your site down — such as unnecessary plug-ins, excessively large images, or a lack of caching — and you should see those metrics improve.
2. Migrate to HTTPS.
HTTPS stands for hypertext transfer protocol secure, and it is a safer way of hosting a website. For starters, any website still coded as HTTP is marked as “not secure” by several browsers, including Chrome. Most importantly, the addition of SSL/TLS protocol means that any data that runs through your site is encrypted, so your site will appear as a more trusted source in search.
If you’re not using HTTPS at the moment, it’s not too difficult to migrate by buying an SSL certification, backing up your website, and redirecting all your internal links to HTTPS.
3. Use an SEO-friendly URL structure.
URLs act as signposts for the various pages of your website, and their parameters send crucial information to direct users to the right place. URLs also appear in search results right alongside your page titles and meta descriptions. So, making these one-liners as succinct and meaningful as possible can give people an understanding of where the links will take them and encourage them to click through.
To make URLs more SEO-friendly, consider including keywords, using descriptive and easy-to-parse language, and sorting pages into relevant categories that can help users make sense of them.
4. Check your mobile-friendliness.
Mobile devices are now responsible for the majority of internet browsing, so there is no excuse for having a website that loads poorly on a mobile screen. Google is also cracking down on mobile-friendliness with a series of mobile-driven updates to its ranking system, stating that “while it’s not required to have a mobile version of your pages to have your content included in Google’s search results, it is very strongly recommended.”
Keep checking and updating your mobile-friendliness as part of your regular technical website audits. This could include switching to HTTPS, checking load times for images and pages, and making sure any buttons or calls to action appear in the right scale on mobile displays.
5. Embrace structured data.
Having structured data means organizing your website’s information in a way that’s helpful to search engines and searchers. It’s a standardized format that helps websites speak the same language. Many website owners still aren’t using structured data, but it has become a necessary feature thanks to Google’s preference for sites in standardized formats.
Having structured data can also put you in the running for benefits such as featured snippets, greater click-through rates, and faster indexing because you’re helping Google find and understand your content more easily.
When considering how to improve your website, a technical website audit can be a great place to start. Perform the actions you know will make your site faster, more readable, and more secure while cozying up to Google’s all-important algorithm and helping searchers find you in search results.