Websites are often built in a flurry of activity and excitement and then very often ignored and forgotten. Even those that are updated with new blogs and content can gradually fall behind as technology and legislation change. A website that was state of the art when built can fall below standard expectations in a couple of years. With this in mind I’m going to run through a few things I strongly recommend you check on your website. Most of these issues are quick and easy to resolve. However, if they are left in place they can start to cause you all sorts of problems including visitors getting a poor impression, visitors unable to use your website, visitors not being effectively converted into leads and having your ranking on Google suppressed.
The items to test
What is this and how do you know if you have one? First, what is it for? All normal data that travels across the internet is insecure, anyone can read it, or tamper with it between sender and receiver. This is true of most emails you send. An SSL certificate allows your website to communicate with your visitors securely, by using a code that only the website and your visitors can understand. If your website has an SSL certificate and it’s working then you should have a padlock symbol in the address bar when visiting your website. If you don’t have a padlock symbol then you don’t have an SSL certificate. Some browsers will point out to visitors that there is a problem with your website as it doesn’t have an SSL certificate. If that is the case you need to talk to your hosting provider and get an SSL certificate. Some changes will then also be needed on your website.
Many websites have SSL certificates but have problems with them. The broken padlock shows your page is not set up correctly. You can use https://www.whynopadlock.com to find out what the problem is.
Google checks that your website has a working SSL certificate. If it doesn’t then Google will suppress your position in its rankings.
Do all the links work on your website? This includes links within your website and links to other sites. It is also worth ensuring all of your contact information is linked (so if you click on your email an email is sent, or click on your phone number a phone call is made). You can check all of your links at the dead link checker.
Google my business
What is Google my business? Well, it’s a free service from Google that gives you a pin in Google maps (or an area that your business covers if you prefer) and gives you a box that appears on the side of a Google search as seen on the left here. This isn’t part of your website, but without it, it’s very hard to be found on Google. To see if you have it, simply search for your business or organisation and see if the box appears. If you have it, check the information is correct. If there isn’t a box then go to Google my Business and set one up for your business. If there is a box, but it says on it “Claim this business”, it means Google has automatically created the entry for you. However, you want to ensure you claim it so you can control what it says about your business.
Google my business is where Google reviews are stored. These are great, giving visitors access to your reviews before they’ve even clicked on your site. Good and recent reviews also help to move you up the Google rankings. Don’t forget to keep asking for the reviews.
Mobile and tablet friendly
If a site was made five years ago and was not mobile friendly it wasn’t the end of the world. Now it’s vital. According to Google, over 50% of searches are now completed on a mobile. This proportion does vary significantly from industry to industry, but no-one can ignore the need to have a website that works on both tablets and mobile phones. Google also checks to see if it thinks your site is mobile friendly and will suppress your position in the rankings if it is not. You can check here to see if Google thinks your site is mobile friendly.
The first thing I would do is visit your own website on a mobile. Does it look right? Does it look identical to your desktop website or has it adapted for mobile? Has the menu changed into those three lines at the top? Do you need to scroll from side to side to see the whole site or does it properly fit within your mobile screen? Check all of your pages on your mobile in both orientations and a tablet in both orientations. All sizes should look good and work well.
The speed of your website makes a huge difference to your customer’s experience and, again, to Google’s view of your website. There are all sorts of tricks that can be done to improve the speed of your website. The first, and most simple, is to use high-quality UK based hosting. Click here to test the speed of your website. This is a Canada based testing system so the load time will always be slow for your UK based website. This doesn’t really matter unless you are looking for customers on the other side of the pond. What does matter are the two A to G rankings the test site gives you. Anything E or below needs some urgent work to speed it up. Anything C and above is good and there’s not too much to worry about. There are a couple of things you can do to improve the speed of your site (apart from having excellent hosting). The first is to ensure your images are the correct size. If you upload a large image file to your site and then display it as a very small image it will still be sent to your visitors as a large file. This can slow your website right down.
If you have a WordPress site there are a range of plugins available that can make lots of technical tweaks to your site to speed it up. I recommend using Hummingbird. This makes a huge difference to your site and is quite easy to use.
Call to actions
This makes a difference to how effective your website is at converting visitors into leads. Visitors to your website need directing to take an action. For example, if you have two paragraphs of text about your accounting services and then it’s the end of the page then visitors will read about your accounting services before moving on to something else. If your description finishes with a button “click here to get help with your accounts” or even better “click here for a free 1-hour accounting health check” that directs visitors to do something. In the second case, it tempts them with a free offer as well. Having call to actions like this makes a huge difference to the effectiveness of your website.
How has your website done?
Most of the issues here can be fixed quickly and easily. The key then is staying on top of the updates on your website. Don’t leave it ignored for long periods of time. Ensure content is updated and you are keeping up with rules and regulations. A website that has been ignored is easy to spot, doesn’t give a good impression fo your business and eventually Google will pick up on its faults and start to push you artificially down in its rankings.