Everyone wants a website that is successful – Most people think that because their website looks great that it will be successful and bring them all the visitors, conversions and riches that they desire from their website – but that’s not necessarily the case, especially without a well thought out strategy and review of your website.
There are a number of things needed to make a website succeed, here are 6 of the top ones:
Speed – Speed is something Google and users love. Why? Because it gives an incredible user experience. No-one wants to be sat at the park or back of a bus on 4G waiting for a website to load because it is heavy on scripting or animation effects.
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Google took this into account and now takes into account how quickly it takes a website to load and classes this as part of its User Experience and plans to make the web faster.
When using Google Page Insights or another tool such as GTMetrix it’s very easy to see how long it takes your website to load and to also see the issues causing your website to load slowly. Better than that it all tells you why and points you in the direction of how to fix some of the things.
Some of the key things that you can fix quite easily in terms of speed are:
Image size – The larger your images the bigger your page size and longer the loading time, use a tool such as tinypng.com to optimize your images and reduce file size without losing quality.
Browser Caching – You can enable browser caching via your htaccess to cache your files locally on a users computer to ensure that the next time they visit your website your website loads super quick.
Enable Gzip – Your web host can enable Gzip on your web server, what this does is compress HTML and CSS files to be a smaller size which helps with your page load time.
Page speed ties into method number 2 which is all about usability….
Usability – Making your website as super simple as possible to use is a great way to make your website more successful.
If your website navigation is tricky to find or if it takes too many clicks for your user to get to the page that they want, then this is classed as poor usability – and often results in your website visitor leaving due to frustration.
Some of the goals you want to be looking for to improve usability are:
- Positioning of key/important elements
- Positioning of content
- Integration of things such as autofill, voice commands and 1 click check out
All of which help your website visitor achieve their goal as quickly and swiftly as possible.
Usability also ties in with Call to actions….
Call to Actions – This is your big clear buttons and text that direct your website visitor where to go or what to do next.
You will often see a very vague call to actions such as “click here” or even using more direct response language such as “click here now”.
The aim of a call to action is to take your visitor by the hand and take them down the path (conversion funnel) from landing on your website to checkout or inquiry – Whatever your end goal may be.
Call to actions are often on contrasting color buttons, repeated throughout a website and positioned very prominently.
This is because the call to actions can make or break your website. The more specific and descriptive the language eg “Click here to complete your transaction securely and pay now” the better as it tells visitors what to do and what to expect next and can also be used to reassure them, as the above example did by mentioning the keyword “securely”.
On-site SEO Optimisation – Most website visitors think their website will automatically rank at the top of Google or even worse: they start building links to their website without optimizing it on-site which is as bad as trying to fill a leaking bucket.
Before you start doing any SEO, or when you first hire a local SEO agency the first thing that they should do is an audit of your existing website and the on-site SEO issues that may need fixing.
If the first thing that your SEO agency does is to start building links then that could be a red flag or at the very least hinder your progress and increase the time it takes you to rank.
Some of the very basic onsite things you should be looking for are:
- Title & Description tags, ensure that they contain your keyword, are written for humans, add value, are click-worthy and also include your brand name at the end. A consistent formula should be sued throughout your title tags to ensure consistency across your entire site.
- Page interlinking – This is linking from your pages, naturally, to each other. As an example, you may have a blog article that talks very briefly about how X & Y are related – Yet you may have a very in-depth blog post on X so linking from the brief sentence to your more in-depth blog post will help expand on the topic and provide more value to your user experience and usability. Think Wikipedia how it highlights and links certain keywords to more detailed pages.
- Sitemap submission – Ensure that you have generated an XML sitemap that you can submit to Google webmasters. This will allow Google to better crawl, understand and index your website.
- No broken links – There are lots of tools out there, not least mentioning Google Webmaster tools that can help you find broken links on your website. Using a tool such as Broken Link Checker can help you find out which links/pages on your website are broken so that you can fix them as going full circle broken links leads to a poor user experience.
User Testing – This is a great way to find out issues with your website that you may not be aware of. There are a number of ways to conduct user testing such as:
- Five second tests – These allow you to put your designs to a pool of users for 5 seconds and ask questions to collate your feedback. This can be a good way to show your website and get users opinions on what the website is for/business does. A five second test can give you a great insight into your website and you can also set other tasks such as asking for feedback on 2 designs side by side to get users opinions on your re-designs.
- User Testing – This allows you to set tasks for real humans and have them record their-self taking a journey through your website. During these videos, users will aim to complete the tasks and record their feedback using both video and audio. This will allow you to see first hand how people are interacting with your website and get their feedback – When you can see people searching, clicking, it gives a great insight to issues on your website that you may not of other wise picked up on.
- Inspectlet – A cheaper option that allows you to install some software on your website that records the screens of visitors to your website and maps out their journey through your website along with all their clicks and scrolls you can watch back videos in live time of people interacting with your website. Whilst this doesn’t collect feedback and leaves it for you to piece things together, it certainly helps and you can see what, where and how people are interacting with your website – A visitors clicking somewhere you weren’t expecting them to be?
Data Analysis – This ties of from User Testing and involves you trawling through all the data in a platform such as Google Analytics to work out possible issues.
Whilst this won’t tell you exactly what the problem is, where as something like Inspectlet would, it can certainly point to issues in terms of bounce rate, time on site and any specific issues with devices.
Google Analytics allows you to break down your traffic by region, device and many other metrics.
Perhaps you have a high bounce rate and don’t know why – You can look into Google Analytics and dive down to view bounce rates by device, maybe your website isn’t working so well on an iPhone 6, this won’t tell you the exact issue but prompt you to test on an iPhone 6 and find what the exact issue is.
Analytics will also allow you to look at times on pages, this is known as how “sticky” your website is. Are visitors staying around and reading all your content for a minute or 5, or are they only sticking around for 2-3 seconds before leaving? If this is the case then you may want to revisit your content headlines and opening paragraph to entice reads to read on.
Remember to break your content down to include more than words, use headings, images, video, and infographics all of this helps with engagement.
This article was written by Craig Murphy of ALT Agency – ALT Agency are based in the heart of Birmingham and specialize in creating websites that generate clients a measurable return on investment.