1. Does your website have a security certificate?
As internet usage continues to go from strength to strength and user spending habits progressively make the shift to online outlets, the need for stricter security measures online has become a pressing matter. EConsultancy reports that by 2018, approximately 10,000 retail stores will close, marking an 18.4% drop in the use of offline shopping. Meanwhile, online shopping will own 17.8% of the market share and around £61.8 billion in sales. This market share is expected to grow year on year as technology advances and user buying habits evolve.
As these figures rise, it is becoming increasingly apparent in the digital community that it is not only the responsibility of the organisation to deliver a safe and secure digital experience, but search engines have an obligation to be fully transparent in the security of any given website. As a result, all websites without a security certificate (with the new Chrome 68 update) will be clearly marked as ‘Not Secure’. Google has gradually introduced this feature over the years with an update initiated in July 2018.
How do I get an SSL?
Whilst your developer is perfectly capable of making the change from a http to a https domain (and in doing so, implementing a security certificate), an SSL certificate is a type of website migration. As with any migration, there is the potential for a loss in traffic. Consult a search engine optimisation specialist and ask them to oversee the implementation of the certificate to ensure that all traffic retaining measures are put in place.
2. Set up your website on Google’s Search Console
Search Console is a great, free tool provided by Google that adds further insight to your website data. It allows you to easily assess the health of your website from a technical perspective. A few helpful features that you can easily check in on include:
- Penalty alerts – If your website has been hit with a penalty from Google, you’ll be alerted via Search Console. Check your inbox regularly.
- Recommendations – You’ll also receive messages concerning the performance of your website and how to improve it. Perhaps Search Console has a brand new interface for you to explore? We recommend checking your Search Console inbox weekly (or even daily, if possible).
- Security Issues – Another great feature is the ‘Security Issues’ section. Here, you can find out if Google has detected any security issues with your website. It’s also a great place to learn more about website hacks and how to protect your website from them.
3. Crawl your website for technical issues
A common misconception is that once a technical audit is complete and all errors attended too, there is no need to review the technical condition of a website again. A website is a live platform, an entity that changes with use and time and, as a result, technical issues can arise at any point.
Whilst it is always advised that you have a technical search engine optimisation strategy and plan for implementation, it is good to be able to know how to check your website for any critical errors. Downloading a free resource such as Screaming Frog will allow you to identify issues such as meta title length and image size. Tackling technical SEO fixes is not for the faint-hearted, we advise working with an SEO professional to ensure that all areas are accounted for.
4. Perform basic user experience checks
Google Analytics should be installed on every website, regardless of the amount of traffic it receives. Without it, making informed and reliable changes to the website is almost impossible. If you feel as though your business is not quite receiving the number of enquiries that you expect, it is time to look at the way that users are engaging with your website. Whilst Google Analytics displays a range of informative and useful metrics for you to explore, there are three that allows you to evaluate user experience.
- Bounce rate – The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that navigate away from the website after viewing a page. Depending on the type of business and industry, the target bounce rate will differ. For example, research has found that B2B websites often have a higher bounce rate than B2C websites. A great way to decipher if your website has an acceptable bounce rate is to navigate to the ‘Admin’ area of Google Analytics, ‘Account Settings’ and enable the ‘Benchmarking’ box. Now you should be able to see the average bounce rate for your industry.
- Pages per session – Pages per session is the average amount of pages that have been viewed in one singular session. The length of a session is dependent on your Google Analytics settings, by default a session lasts until there are 30 minutes of inactivity. This metric is simple, the more pages per session, the better your user experience is.
- Average session duration – Similar to pages per session, the higher the session duration, the more engaged your audience is. There are a few variables to consider when analysing average session duration. For example, the type of content that you have on your website (e.g. blog content, infographics, videos), whether your website is e-commerce, whether or not you’re running any other marketing campaigns.
5. Analyse the Behaviour flow
Navigate to the behaviour flow area of Google Analytics. Here, you can see exactly which pages your users enter the website on, and which pages they’re leaving on (also known as a drop-off). Using this invaluable data, you can set out to improve the quality of content and layout of pages with high drop-off rates.
There’s a whole range of tools at your disposal to help your business get more from its online marketing data. Regular maintenance checks are vital to the performance of a website in search engine results pages and will help to improve enquiries, brand awareness and, ultimately, return on investment. Of course, there are many more techniques that can be employed, but these five steps are a great start.