We are often asked to take a look at websites for how effective they are. Some of the factors are technical, some relate to user experience, and some to your content and message. We’ve put together this checklist so you can measure your site against best practices.
Do you have the keys?
Now more than ever, your online presence is a valuable part of your business and needs to be treated like other valuable information such as your bank account. You know where your accounts are and who has access to them.
Domain Name – Your domain name is your business identity on the web and serves as your online business address. You pay a yearly fee to a domain registrar for the use of the name. This fee is usually $20 or so and you may have renewed your domain name for multiple years. Registering the name is separate from hosting a website or having email with your domain although a domain registrar may also provide these services separately. When it comes to your domain name, you should know where it is registered and the account information to access it. *Pro tip: Don’t use an email address at your domain as the contact email for the domain. If you lose access to the domain for any reason, you won’t have access to the email at that domain either!
Website Hosting – Website hosting refers to the server and files where your website is located. Depending on how your website is set up, you may have several accounts to access administration for different functions on your website. You should know the name and contact information for the hosting company, username, password, and who has access to your website.
Email – Your website hosting plans may have come with free email addresses for your domain. With security and spam concerns, as well as people wanting to sync contacts and emails across multiple devices, many organizations turn to dedicated email services for your domain like GSuite or Office 365. These work just like the consumer versions of the email but the email address is @yourdomainname instead of @gmail.com or @outlook.com. These services provide additional tools like calendars, shared drives, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, online collaboration, chat and video conferencing. If you aren’t using your site’s domain name for your email yet, you should.
Is the site modern?
People want relevant content available to them quickly no matter what device they access it from. Does your website achieve this? Does your site give a good user experience?
Mobile-First – Mobile internet use has increased dramatically in the last few years and search engines like Google prioritize mobile-friendly sites over sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. Is your site mobile-friendly?
Up to Date – Once trendy features like Flash components and pop-ups that make you click through to the content can date your site and get in the way of a good user experience.
User Experience – Pretend you are a customer or prospect for your products or services and look at your site on mobile. What is it like to find out the answers you need and to do business with you from a mobile device? If you as a consumer were looking for something and had this experience, would you do business or would you click away?
Is the site secure?
In recent years, there is a greater emphasis placed on privacy and site security. Your audience wants assurance that their information is safe when visiting your website or providing personal information to you. A secure connection is now a search engine ranking factor as well.
HTTPS – Having an SSL certificate means that traffic between your website and audience is encrypted. You and your website visitors can see the little lock icon in the upper left hand corner by your URL indicating your site is protected. Is your site protected?
Is the site fast?
In addition to site security, Google ranks websites based on speed. A fast website is also important for your user experience. Is your website fast? You can check your website speed with the Google Page Speed Insights. Don’t let your website get slowed down by too many bells and whistles. Is it fast?
Is it organized the way your audience expects?
Look at your site from the point of view of your audience. How do they expect to find information? An insurance company that organizes their articles by content type: Videos, Podcasts, Articles, Whitepapers doesn’t provide a great experience to a consumer who is looking for Auto Insurance or Life Insurance. Which button do you click? Voice search is on the rise with the prevalence of smart speakers like Alexa, but one thing to consider as part of voice SEO is how your website is organized and keywords you use.
Use their language and answer their questions – Write your content in the language your audience uses. Keywords or phrases on your website should be relevant to the questions your audience asks. Because voice search is also on the rise, you should also make your content more conversational. Does your website answer questions in a relevant, conversational way?
Does it tell your story?
Now more than ever, it is important that you are telling your story online.
Who is your ideal customer? – If you try to appeal to everyone you will end up attracting no one. Not everyone is your ideal client. What problem do they have that you can solve? Where do they spend their online time? These are all questions you should ask yourself to determine how to best communicate with your target audience.
Why you? – When you talk to someone new about your business what do you say? How are you different and what is the experience of working with you? Does your website explain what your business is in a personal, relevant way?
Does it have a call to action?
What do you want people to do? – Do you want people to sign up for a service, get involved, or purchase a product? Having a clear call to action will help drive business from your website. Do you have a clear call to action?
Are you using Google’s free tools?
Google has a set of free tools that allow you to get more exposure in search and on maps, and provide insights into your website visitors and the actions they are taking. You should be using these three tools.
Google My Business – Google My Business is a must for local businesses as it claims your location on the map or your service area if you are a business that delivers services at a client’s location. It also gives you the ability to share your normal or special business hours, respond to reviews, add photos or videos, and publish promotions or events.
Google Analytics – Google Analytics measures your website traffic and conversions. You can find out your most popular content and referral sources.
Google Search Console – The Search Console is a collection of tools to help website owners monitor website performance in the Google search index. It notifies you about indexing issues, mobile usability issues, and shows you queries on your website.
Is your website the center of your strategy?
Don’t build your online presence on rented land – You own your website, meaning you decide what goes on it and when. Social media is a great tool to build your online presence, but companies like Facebook control the environment. Your most important content belongs on your website. You can also share it via email and social media, but the content has a short shelf life there and your website content is relevant over a longer period of time. Is your website the center of your strategy?
Do you have and implement a content plan?
Once you’ve established who your audience is, made your website the center of your digital marketing strategy and decided on what tools you’ll use, it’s time to create a plan.
Understanding the buyer’s journey – The buyer’s journey is a little different for each business, but a typical buyer’s journey consists of a number of phases: awareness, consideration, decision, purchase, retention, referral. Does your marketing take into consideration your customers’ needs at each stage of the buyer’s journey? Are you providing information that is needed at each stage?
Repurpose content – Repurposing content saves you a lot of time and gets you back to working on building your business. A single video, for example, can be embedded in your website, have a transcript, be uploaded to social media, and shared via email marketing.
Your website should be a dynamic representation of your business, and change as your business does. Use this checklist periodically to make sure that your website is serving your business and your customers’ needs. We also offer website audits, contact us for more info!