How to Optimise Your Website
This is a brief summary of the main activities needed to optimise your website. Use it as a checklist rather than a step-by-step guide. The majority of these activities require additional investigation to get them right - and plenty of work to execute them!
1. Focus on the key tasks you want your website users to complete.
First off, identify the key tasks that users need to complete in order for you to be successful online. This list is likely to include one or more of: finding your contact details, sending you a message, registering for a newsletter or email subscription, finding products, downloading information, buying products, getting help, managing an account.
Once you've defined your list, you need to ensure that your site structure, navigation and functionality allows website users to complete all tasks simply and quickly. For example, if one of the key tasks is for a website visitor to submit a web form, have you made it easy to navigate to the form? Does the form contain the smallest number of fields possible to avoid over-complication? If a user makes a mistake, is the error message clear and helpful? And do you make it clear when a form has been submitted successfully, and how long it will take for you to respond?
2. Understand how your website is performing - especially in relation to the key tasks.
Use website data to see how many people are visiting your site, which pages they go to, and how many are completing the key tasks. What does this tell you about the strengths and weaknesses of your website and where are the biggest opportunities to improve?
3. Do your keyword research.
Which words and phrases do people use in Search Engines to find your company, products or services? Once you have a list of the most likely terms (single words AND phrases), you can use this to optimise your website for search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing).
4. Review the competition.
Understanding what your competitors are doing online is a great way to recycle good ideas and help you compete. What are your competitors doing well? What keywords do they rank for? What content do they have on their website? How are they using website design to engage competitors? If you can get your website to a similar or better level than your competitors, you stand a great chance of stealing market share from them, at least online.
5. Optimise your website for Search Engines.
Search Engine Optimisation is one of the key activities - and also one of the most time consuming. Successful websites bring in large volumes of FREE traffic because they have been optimised for search.
Use your list of keywords in page titles, navigational links, internal text links, meta page descriptions, image alt tags and in your page content.
Also use your keywords to ensure there are no gaps in your site. For example, if your priority is to rank highly for "plant pots", you need a quality landing page for plant pots, which should be linked from somewhere in your main navigation.
6. Work out what content you need.
This comes back to your list of keywords. Use your list to dictate the content you need in the form of videos, articles, blog posts, infographics and imagery.
7. Make sure your site works well on mobile.
Most modern websites are Responsive, which means that they are designed to look good on any device: computers, laptops, tablets and mobiles. People increasingly access the internet on mobile devices so it's important they have a good experience when they view your site on their smartphone or tablet. Additionally, search engines are likely to penalise websites that don't work so well on mobile.
8. Review your site speed.
Find out how long it takes for your site to load using free tools such as Google PageSpeed.
Website users are not usually very patient and will not wait more than a few seconds for your website pages to load. In addition, Search Engines take site speed into consideration when ranking search page results.
9. Continuous Improvement
It's important to keep testing new designs, page formats, messages, offers and content. Nobody can expect to create the most optimised website first time. Furthermore, over time your users' behaviour might change and your web content may become stale or out of date. Another advantage of continuous improvement is that Search Engines love to see websites being updated.