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Believe it or not, your website is often the first interaction potential customers have with your brand. With billions of websites competing for attention, it is very important to keep your website in top shape.

Achieving website perfection isn’t the goal. Instead, focus on regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly and effectively.

In this blog, we will explore a straightforward 5-step website health check that will help you stay on top of your game. Keep on reading for more.

Step 1: Enhance User Experience

Did you know that users form an opinion about a website within 0.05 seconds of landing on it? You can read more about this topic in this article by Forbes.. I am finding the exact number of 0.05 seconds a little hard to believe. But one thing is certain: 

You have less than a blink of an eye to make a good impression online. And that includes the people who land on your website. 

So, keep your visitors engaged and prevent them from bouncing away by ensuring your website is easy to navigate:

  • Optimise the layout of your homepage: Your homepage is often the first page visitors see when they land on your website, so it’s essential to make it visually appealing and easy to navigate. Use a clean and uncluttered layout that guides visitors’ attention to the most important elements, such as your value proposition, featured products or services, and calls to action. Incorporate visually engaging elements like high-quality images, videos, and graphics to capture attention and encourage exploration.
  • Include clear calls to action: Calls to action (CTAs) are prompts that encourage visitors to take a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, or requesting a consultation. Effective CTAs are clear, concise, and action-oriented, using compelling language and persuasive verbs to inspire action. Start your CTAs with strong verbs (doing words) like “Learn,” “Discover,” or “Gain” to convey a sense of urgency and motivation. Place CTAs strategically throughout your website, making them easily accessible and visible to visitors as they navigate your content.
  • Organise your content effectively: The organisation of your website content plays a crucial role in guiding visitors through their journey and helping them find the information they need quickly and easily. If possible, limit the number of menu pages to no more than six. This will help you to avoid overwhelming visitors with too many options. Prioritise the most important pages or sections that align with your business goals and audience needs. This will make it easy for visitors to navigate and find what they’re looking for without getting lost or frustrated.

Step 2: Use integrations, like social media accounts and sign-up forms.

In 2023, over 90% of the world’s population were using some sort of mobile device to go online. These users expect to be able to seamlessly move from their browser to their favourite social media apps, and so your website should support that.

With more people accessing websites from mobile devices than ever before, you must make sure your integrations are up-to-date and compatible with various platforms.

Take advantage of integrations, and make sure they are working correctly. Here are some of the key integrations you should have on your site:

  • Social media icons sending users to your key social accounts
  • Sign-up forms for newsletters, resources, or special offers

Every element should work seamlessly to provide a frictionless experience for your users.

Step 3: Make sure SEO is working for you.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. This translates to your website’s visibility on search engines. In April 2024, almost 87% of people who use a search engine online were using Google. And here’s another mind-boggling number: over 8.5 billion searches conducted on Google every day!

Having a strong presence in search results is essential for driving organic traffic to your website.

You can improve your chances of ranking higher in search engine results pages by using the right keywords, maintaining an active blog, and ensuring your URLs and sitemap are SEO-friendly.

Let’s break down this hot mess of marketing jargon:

  • Keywords: Keywords are the words and phrases that people type into search engines when looking for information online. By adding relevant keywords into your website content, you increase the likelihood of your pages appearing in search results when users search for those terms.

    For example, if you run a bakery in Greenwich, using keywords like “London bakery,” “freshly baked bread,” and “artisan pastries in south east London” can help your website rank higher for local bakery searches.

  • Blog: A blog (such as the one you are visiting right now!) is a section of your website where you regularly publish new content, such as articles, guides, and industry insights.

    Maintaining an active blog gives useful information to your audience. But it also tells search engines that your website is regularly updated with fresh content. This can improve your website’s visibility in search results and attract more visitors over time.

    For instance, if you’re a fitness trainer, regularly publishing blog posts about workout tips, healthy recipes, and exercise routines can position your website as a go-to resource for health and wellness enthusiasts.

  • SEO-friendly URLs: SEO-friendly URLs are web addresses that can be understood easily by both users and search engines. SEO friendly URLs normally contain relevant keywords in a logical way.

    For example, a URL like “www.example.com/london-bakery/freshly-baked-bread” is more SEO-friendly than “www.example.com/page123.”

    By using descriptive and keyword-rich URLs, you help search engines understand the content of your pages and improve your chances of ranking for relevant searches.

  • SEO-friendly site maps: A site map is a file that lists all the pages of your website and helps search engines navigate and index your site more effectively. Search engines look at (also known as “crawl”) millions of pages each hour to be ready to serve it up to people looking for those pages.

    A great way to make your site map more accessible is to submit it to Google via the Google Search Console. You can do this every time that you make changes to the pages of your site.

    Find out how to submit your site map to Google Search Console here: Submit a Site Map to Search Engines | Yoast SEO

Step 4: Track the performance of your key metrics

If you want to make informed decisions and continue improving your website, you must understand how your visitors interact with it.

By tracking key metrics such as page load times, bounce rates, and conversion rates, you can gain valuable insights into user behaviour and identify areas for optimisation.

Review key performance indicators (KPIs) regularly. This will allow you to measure the effectiveness of your website and make data-driven adjustments to achieve your business goals.

To find out more about this, check out my other blog: My easy guide to online performance analytics for small business

Step 5: Don’t forget about data security

With cyber threats on the rise, protecting your website and customer data is more important than ever.

Data and security compliance is the invisible protector of your credibility. Don’t snooze on this vital part of your website development.

By ensuring your website has a valid SSL certificate, a clearly stated privacy policy, and an up-to-date cookie notice, you can build trust and confidence among your visitors. At the same time, you will keep their sensitive information safe from potential threats.

Once again, let’s unpack some of this information:

  • SSL certificate: An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate encrypts data between a user’s web browser and your website’s server, ensuring that sensitive information such as login credentials, payment details, and personal data is protected from hackers. Websites with an SSL certificate display a padlock icon in the browser’s address bar and use the “https://” protocol, indicating a secure connection.

    A valid SSL certificate can boost the confidence of your website visitors in engaging with your website, making purchases, and sharing personal information.

  • Privacy Policy: A privacy policy is a legal document that outlines how your website collects, uses, stores, and protects users’ personal information. Having a clearly stated privacy policy demonstrates transparency and accountability, reassuring visitors that their information will be handled responsibly and ethically. It also helps your website comply with data protection regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and can mitigate the risk of legal issues related to data privacy and security breaches.

    Here is a handy template that you can use to create your own site’s Privacy Policy: Create Your Own Privacy Notice | ICO
  • Cookie notice: A cookie notice is a message displayed on your website to inform visitors that your site uses cookies to track their browsing behavior and preferences. By law, websites must obtain consent from users before placing cookies on their devices.

    An up-to-date cookie notice notifies visitors about the use of cookies, explains their purpose, and provides options for managing cookie preferences, such as accepting or rejecting certain types of cookies. By respecting users’ privacy preferences you improve the overall user experience and compliance with privacy regulations.

That’s all folks!

Wow, that is a lot of information! I hope that you can now understand the many facets of developing a great website.

Maintaining a healthy website isn’t just about aesthetics. It’s about creating a positive user experience, maximising search visibility, and protecting your data and security.

By performing regular website health checks using the steps outlined in this blog, you can ensure your website remains a valuable asset for your business. For more in-depth guidance on website optimisation and digital marketing strategies, be sure to check out this resource by Digital Boost: 12 Tips to Improve Your Website

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