How To Optimize Your Website For Search Engines
Ariane Alyerunga

Ariane Alyerunga

March 4, 2020

Wondering how to optimize your website? Conduct a site audit. It is a critical part of online presence analysis, and its primary goal is to identify the factors that negatively affect website performance. A website audit is a comprehensive analysis of all the factors that affect a website’s visibility in search engines. If you’ve never done a website audit, or it’s been a while since you did, or you’re planning a website redesign. This post offers practical tips to ensure your website is set for maximum conversion and SEO results.

Do keep in mind that unless you’re tech-savvy, you’ll probably want to pair with someone with technical experience in this field. It could be your in-house IT technician or a representative from a digital marketing agency.

Benefits of a website audit

Before you get to actually improving your website, it may be helpful to consider how it will benefit your business. Here is what you gain.

Website performance optimization: in a website audit, you’ll evaluate both the technical performance and content of a website. As a result, it will offer you the chance to analyze the robustness of your website’s technical infrastructure and frameworks, and evaluate how friendly it is to search engines and determine how easily users navigate your website to find the content they are looking for.

Search engine optimization: by auditing your website, you’ll gain the opportunity to identify any unutilized optimization opportunities and, as a result, the chance to correct any poorly implemented SEO strategies. This will significantly improve your website’s current ranking in search engine results pages

Conversion rate optimization: Website audits allow you to assess your site based on conversion and lead generation, i.e. you’ll find any previously missed opportunities to convert visitors into leads. The audit offers insights into where you should put calls to action, and reveal any weaknesses in your landing pages so you can optimize them for better conversions.

The four assessments needed for a website audit

Navigation

For the first part of your site audit, you’ll assess how users navigate your website. I.e. how they move from the landing pages to your blog, home page, and any related content. You should list all the pages on your website and then consider the following questions

  • Is your website set up for maximum usability? The more traffic you attract to your site, the more opportunities you’ll have to generate leads and customers. While this statement is generally true, as you might imagine, merely having a website, even one that draws traffic, does not guarantee results. As part of your assessment, you should check whether the design and overall usability of your website provide a good user experience. Your site’s aesthetics and navigational style will likely depend on your industry.

Regardless, the main goal is to make it easy for people to find the information they are looking for. So, you’ll want to look out for the following

  • Are all the main value propositions of your business easily accessible via the primary navigational menu?
  • Do you have a simple and intuitive page layout and design? Your pages shouldn’t be overly cluttered, filled with ads and unnecessary calls to action, since these hurt user experience.
  • Are your conversion paths or shopping cart processes intuitive? You’ll want to check these aspects of your website to ensure there aren’t any distractions that could cause friction for your website’s visitors.
  • General website speed; How large are your webpages and media files? Does your site go down frequently? Site speed is often limited by large image files and inefficient HTML or CSS code.

Improving your site’s code and optimizing its media content will lead to higher visitor engagement and retention, which, in turn, will result in higher conversions. To assess your website’s load time. You may use MozBar, an addon you can install on your browser to analyze any of the pages you visit.

SEO analysis

Conducting an SEO analysis will help you make smart, informed decisions about how to improve your site’s search engine optimizations strategy. Here’s what you should consider

  • How good is your content? As evaluate the quality of the content on your website, think of it from the target audience’s perspective. Will the information leave them satisfied, will it answer all their questions? Does it provide all the resources relevant to the topic? Quality content should reach out to the needs, interests and problems of your buyer personas. It should be exciting and provide detailed, valuable information about the target topic and leave the reader with a clear course of action such as links to related resources and calls to action
  • Is your site search engine optimized? You’ll need to verify that all your site’s pages follow the best practices for SEO. To evaluate your site’s on-page SEO, you’ll need to do the following.

Review your website’s analytics to evaluate keyword performance. Which keywords draw the highest number of people to your website? The best performing keywords reveal the topics that interest your audience. You should use them in future content marketing campaigns to maximize conversions.

Evaluate how well your keywords are utilized. Use your analytics software to evaluate metrics such as keyword density and content relevance.

You should also review fundamental on-page SEO elements such as page titles, URLs, Meta descriptions and copy. Ensure you add your target keywords to those elements to let search engines know what your site is about

Conversion Rate assessment

Is your website optimized for conversions and lead generation? Marketing offers, calls to action and landing pages are crucial to the performance of your website. Besides their ability to capture visitor information, they can keep visitors engaged with your content and brand.

To audit your website for conversions, review the following

  • Do you have a variety of marketing offers that appeal to all your buyer personas?
  • Do you have any conversion forms or landing pages on your website, to begin with?
  • Do you have conversion opportunities for visitors at various stages of the buyer funnel?

Are you using your calls to action effectively, are you missing opportunities to add Calls To Action on the pages of their website

Technical assessment

After you are done with the first three sections of your audit, you can get a developer to do a technical evaluation. You may also hire an external web design company.

Here’s what to consider for this stage of your website audit

Are your website pages responsive?

Your website should cater to multiple screen sizes. The use of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, has grown remarkably in recent years. In 2017, they accounted for more than half of all pages viewed on the internet. In fact, mobile devices have become so popular that Google’s search engine ranks mobile-optimized sites higher than those that aren’t.

Error codes: Are response code errors showing up all over your website in places they shouldn’t? It could be an indication that there are several broken links.  Although search engines appreciate proper response error codes, users don’t like them because they signify missing content. To find error messages and clean up broken links, you could use tools such as Google’s webmaster tools or Ahrefs to scan your website.

URL optimization: Are your page URLs too long? Sometimes, a site will display session ids and other dynamic parameters in the address bar as it loads a page. The problem with this is that it makes the URLs too long for search engines to read and index. Shortening your URLs will improve your site’s performance in search engine results.

Does your website have too much JavaScript or flash?

 Identify which areas of your website are wholly built using flash or javascript. Search engines have trouble accessing and interpreting these, and it could keep essential parts of your site from being indexed.

These elements cause issues from a usability standpoint. Visitors are often looking for a particular piece of information when visiting a site. If you force them through a 10-second video before they can identify something like your hours of work, then you are going to scare them away.

How is your website crawled by search engines?

This is usually done through the use of robots.txt files and sitemaps. They help guide site engines to the most useful content on your website.

Robots files and tags: The robots Meta tag will let you use a highly specific on-page approach to control how webpages are indexed and served to others. The tags should be placed in the head section of the target webpage.

A robots.txt file is a text file that tells a search engine how the entire site should be crawled. Before crawlers index a website, they will usually request a robots.txt file from the server. Within the robots file, you can include sections for crawlers, then specify directives that state which parts of your site should or shouldn’t be indexed.

Website audits are a sure way to improve your website’s performance, both from a technical and marketing point of view. They will help you identify errors in your code and weaknesses in your marketing strategy that you never thought existed.  This can be quite challenging, especially for those without any web design experience.  That said, the results it brings are genuinely worthwhile. If you feel you need professional help, there are several web design companies in Uganda you could consult for advice with your website audit.