Is your website set up for success? A business’ website is often a potential customer’s first impression and can determine if the shopper converts into a customer or continues on to a competitor.
While there are countless technical aspects that can be considered, there are simple checks you can perform on your own to gauge your website’s effectiveness for shoppers as well as search engines such as Google.
“The Eye Test”
Start with a simple eye test. Take an objective look at your site as though you were a first-time visitor or better yet, ask a friend or family member to browse your site and offer impartial feedback.
Is the website easy to use on both desktop and mobile devices? Are there any images or text not easily visible? Are there clear calls to action such as clicking to call your business or submitting a message via a form?
It’s important to check if your website displays and navigates well on different types of devices, especially smartphones. Consumers are increasingly visiting sites from mobile devices, and Google has even shifted to evaluating websites based on their mobile device performance instead of desktop.
Another aspect to consider is how quickly your website loads, including on mobile devices over network connections. With the recent rollout of Google’s Core Web Vitals, quick loading of a website and its content are priorities for search engine optimization.
Items such as overly large image files and unnecessary code can contribute to slow webpage load times and poor browsing experience for shoppers.
Google offers a free tool called PageSpeed Insights that provides in-depth analysis of any accessible website.
One aspect of a website that is relatively easy to optimize for SEO but is sadly often overlooked is webpage metadata, comprised of a page’s title and meta description.
When performing a search on Google, a webpage’s page title is the text that is typically displayed as the large blue/purple headline of a webpage’s listing. The smaller gray text located underneath the headline is typically the meta description specified for a page.
Most website providers allow you to easily populate metadata fields in their settings. When crafting these elements, keep them concise. Incorporate popular keywords your shoppers are searching for though avoid forcing too many terms into a page’s metadata (known as “keyword stuffing”), which can have a negative impact on your site’s presence. Typically, page titles less than 60 characters and meta descriptions of less than 140 characters aren’t cut off when displaying in search results.
Hyperlinks from one webpage to another make navigating content easier for both shoppers and search engines. If you mention content on one page of your site that is related to another, add a link to make it easier for a visitor to continue browsing deeper into your site’s content. The text of a link that is visible (also called “anchor text”) should be keyword-based and not “click here” or “learn more.”
If you have links on your site that point to a third-party website, most website providers offer the ability to open these links in a separate browser tab. This ensures that a visitor can continue to the new destination, but that your site remains open in the original tab and is not as easily forgotten if the visitor spends significant time on the other site being linked.
Whether a hyperlink points to an internal or external page, ensure it is functional. Non-working (or “broken” links) are poor for visitor experience and for search engines. Periodically review your site or utilize a web crawl tool to monitor for any links that may have become broken as a result of changes you make to your site or an external site’s update.
A business’ website can make a strong first impression to prospective customers – good or bad. Periodically reviewing your site and employing web crawl tools offer the ability to improve your site for both shoppers and search engines.