Would you greet your clients in an office with wood paneling and shag carpet? I didn’t think so.
Your website is your office in the digital world, it is where you make your first impression on clients and provide them with the information they need to make an educated decision on your product or solution. So why not treat your website the same way you treat your office?
A website that is not up to date loses value, not only do search engines prefer a well maintained website it can also entice visitors to keep a vigilant eye open for new content and ideas, allows for PR opportunities and allows you the opportunity to use the latest and greatest in functionality.
In addition to improving your design for search engines, the real value is in increasing user experience (UX). As Rand Fishkin points out “User experience’s greatest impact to SEO is through the increase it creates in organic sharing and distribution.”
Previously, we covered how you can tell if you need to redesign your website. But how do you go about this?
Build and Maintain a Blog
Consistent blogging is a corner stone to inbound marketing and a great way to keep your website fresh and exciting for your visitors. If you don’t already have a blog, you should consider getting one.
Maintaining a blog can be daunting at first glance from coming up with topics to actually finding the time to write. HubSpot reports that business that maintain a blog see 55% more visitors than those that don’t. Meanwhile a staggering 71% of purchasers report that blogs impact their decisions.
Make Your Site Responsive
“ When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps. As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns. In the past, we’ve made updates to ensure a site is configured properly and viewable on modern devices. We’ve made it easier for users to find mobile-friendly web pages and we’ve introduced App Indexing to surface useful content from apps. ” – Google Webmaster Blog
As we discussed previously on our Mobilegeddon piece, mobile search has overtaken desktop usage in search. In fact, according to Google, more Google searches take place on mobile platforms than on computers in 10+ countries including the US and Japan.
While creating a unique, mobile only website may allow you to add mobile specific features, maintaining two websites may be cumbersome. This is where a Responsive Website shines, allowing you to implement changes that are viewed regardless of viewing platform, unifying marketing efforts for a seamless transition between devices.
Speed Up Page Speed
Page Speed or Page Load Time is the time it takes a specific page to fully load. While there are obvious benefits to improving this from a user experience aspect, it is also a confirmed ranking factor from Google with Matt Cutts confirming in 2010 that slower performing mobile websites have the potential to be penalized.
Improving Page Speed can also have a positive impact on your bounce rate, in fact, according to a study by the Aberdeen Group a 1 second delay can result in a 7% loss in conversion! So how can you optimize your page speed?
Where I always start is:
- Ensuring I have minimize HTTP Requests – you can do this by simplifying your web design. Minimize the number of elements per page, utilizing CSS as opposed to images where possible, combining style sheets where possible and reducing the amount of scripts running on the site and move them to the bottom of the page before the closing body tag.
- Enable Compression – You can reduce the bandwidth of your pages by enabling GZip Compression. For more detailed explanation on how you can utilize GZIP compression to optimize your website visit this article.
- Reduce Server Response time – target your response time to less than 200ms
- Minify Resources – Utilizing a page builder or what you see is what you get resources can make it incredibly easy to build and maintain a website, however, this can create un-optimized code that can ultimately decrease the speed of your website. Ensure your sites code is as lean as possible by reducing extra spaces, indentation in code and line breaks.
- Optimize Images – It goes without saying that a 4096 × 2160 image takes longer to download than a 1280×720 image. Ensure you are optimizing your images by cropping to the appropriate size and reducing colour depth where possible. Where possible use PNG or JPG, using GIFs for small graphics or animated images and avoid using BMP or TIFF.
- Optimizing Delivery of CSS – Avoid the use of CSS in your HTML code and utilize an external style sheet in order to reduce the size of your code and limit duplications.
- Ensure You’ve Prioritized Above the Fold Content – Here it is again “Above the Fold” if all else fails, ensure that the most important information you are conveying to your visitors is not only above the fold but loads faster, even if the rest of the page takes longer to load.
- Limit Plugins to only necessary ones – I love plugins as much as the next person, but it is strongly advised to limit the use of plugins to only the bare minimum of what you need in order to have the correct functionality on the site. You can begin removing plugins by simply disabling select ones and testing the outcome.
- Limit the Amount of Redirects – The simple fact is redirects add extra HTTP requests that can easily be avoided. Keep redirects to a minimum
As Moz points out: “There are a limited number of variables that search engines can take into account directly, including keywords, links, and site structure. However, through linking patterns, user engagement metrics, and machine learning, the engines make a considerable number of intuitions about a given site” Metrics influenced by user experience such as click through rate, bounce rate and time on site have an indirect but important, measurable benefit to its success in SERPs.
Consider making the following adjustments to ensure the best user experience.
Ensure Consistency in Messaging
Review your title tags, Meta descriptions and on page copy, do they communicate consistent messaging to the visitor in what they can expect from visiting your website? Remember, just like your website is the first impression for new users your Meta data shows in search result pages and acts as the initial influence that captures their attention.
Fix broken links – broken links are the thorn in all webmasters side (and the visitors) Broken links can also have a negative impact on both on and off page SEO. It is recommended that you check your website for broken links on a regular basis. Depending on the size of your site this could take you only a couple minutes to check for broken links. There are many tools available to run crawls on your website so you don’t have to manually click on every link.
Limit the number of direct navigation links to the most meaningful, traffic heavy pages in your top navigation. Utilize sub-menus for less important pages.
In addition to navigation improvements, ensure you are utilizing contextual internal links within your page copy. This can assist in leading the visitor down the right path for conversion and improve the indexation of your internal pages.
These simple changes listed above can improve not only your websites performance in Search Results but the overall user experience which can lead to better conversions on your website. If this list seems a little daunting at first, grab that low hanging fruit and go after 2 -3 of these recommendations to see an improvement in your websites performance.