Knowing how to optimise your website is vital to any business in the modern world. It is not enough today to just have a website. Many believe website optimisation is all about website loading speeds, but there’s much more to it than just that. Focusing on the speed of your website won’t increase your website traffic alone.
Did you know, that the average attention span of any website user is just 8 seconds? And it’s just 2.6 seconds for a user to form an opinion about your website and your business.
When someone lands on a website, they subconsciously go through a digital version of the “fight” or “flight” response in people. Whether they should stay on your website, or go somewhere else. When someone visits any online store or website, they might buy from you or look to get in touch.
But if any website:
- Has a poor unprofessional or outdated design,
- Has a poor load speed,
- Or is too complicated to use,
- Fails to work properly on a mobile device,
- Has out-of-date or not very easy-to-follow content,
then visitors are going to bounce right off and leave.
That’s why I refer to this initial interaction on any website as the “might” or “fright” response in prospective customers. If a website isn’t optimised, you are going to scare them away. This is what makes website optimisation so important.
In this article, we explore what website optimisation is all about, the different areas of website optimisation and why it remains an important step within website development which is often overlooked in business.
What is Website Optimisation?
Website optimisation is the process of making a website’s marketing and technical capabilities as effective as possible. The goal of website optimisation is to improve the visibility of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs), increase traffic to the site, and improve the overall user experience. This will also lead to greater click-through rates and conversions such as an online sale or sales lead for the business.
Knowing how to optimize your site for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and conversions is a crucial part of your website’s success. It will help make sure the site is working as intended. Good SEO means more traffic and more possibilities for converting visitors for any business.
A website created with the goal of maximizing conversions typically has higher metrics, including time on page and bounce rate, which Google views favourably and therefore ranks higher.
There are many factors that go into website optimisation, including on-page factors like title tags, meta descriptions, and keyword placements, as well as off-page factors like link building and social media engagement.
Website optimisation is an ongoing process, and it’s important to regularly review a website’s analytics to identify areas for improvement. With the ever-changing algorithms of search engines, it’s also important to stay up-to-date on the latest SEO best practices which will keep you informed on how to optimise any website moving forwards.
Why Does Website Optimisation Matter?
In a world where first impressions matter, a website is often the first port of call for potential customers. It needs to be representative of your brand, and it needs to be optimised for search engines if you want to rank highly on Google and other search platforms. Ignoring this is one of the biggest website mistakes you can make today.
There are many different aspects to website optimisation, but some of the most important ones include making sure the site loads quickly, is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate. If a website ticks all of these boxes, you’re more likely to convert visitors into customers.
Website optimisation is important because it can help you to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), which in turn drives more traffic to your site. It also helps to improve the user experience on your site, which can lead to more conversions.
The Benefits of Website Optimisation
The benefits of website optimisation and ongoing maintenance are often overlooked by developers. Mainly because they are not sure how to optimise websites for a chosen market.
However, the list below shows the importance of making sure you keep working on a website and continue to improve it:
- Increased website traffic: Website optimisation can provide any business with a number of benefits, including increased traffic and improved search engine ranking.
- You raise a website’s profile and customer base: By optimising a website for search engines, you can ensure that the site is seen by more potential customers. This can lead to increased sales and improved brand awareness and increase online authority.
- Make any website so easy to use so people can’t go wrong: Website optimisation can also help to improve the usability of any site, making it easier for visitors to find the information they need. This can lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Save money on PPC: by growing a website from organic keywords you are saving money on pay-per-click (PPC). This means you end up getting free traffic and potential customers without needing to pay for each click.
- Increase trust with customers: If you are high in the Google rankings this increases people’s trust will increase. Adverts are often frowned upon as people are trying too hard and they can be used by scammers too. Organic growth is more genuine.
- Keep ahead of the competition: Optimising a website takes skill and careful thought. However, the business that ranks higher in search engine results will always obtain and procure more customers than the business that does no website optimisation.
- You can adapt: Unlike other forms of marketing, you can measure the effectiveness of any website and adapt the strategy accordingly. Let’s say you dropped down the rankings for a keyword. Don’t panic, simply learn what’s changed and optimise accordingly and you’ll climb the rankings once more.
- Your content will become assets: SEO grows over time. It is not an overnight success (unless you did something dodgy in which case you will eventually be penalised and potentially blocked). For each bit of optimised content, you add you continue to grow your presence online. You can update, reuse and repurpose your content in all other areas of marketing. This in turn helps drive you up the rankings.
- Your website will provide the best experience: With an optimisation mindset, you will make your website provide the best experience to users. Google favours positive user experiences and uses them as part of its ranking factors. After all, if a website is slow loading and people are leaving, it’s not in Google’s interests to keep that website at the top of its rankings. It makes Google look bad.
- You will obtain targetted customers easier: With a website optimised for chosen keywords, users landing on a website will be interested in what you have to offer, sell and deliver. This means you don’t have to qualify them. They are already interested in you and they are getting to know the brand and business.
- Fix Any 404 Errors: This error message means a webpage cannot be found or no longer exists. If you detect any 404 errors on your site fix them asap as they damage a website’s performance and reputation. If you no longer need the URL you can leave it alone and it will die out from the rankings but if you have changed the webpage URL, you need to perform a 301 redirect to tell search engines where to find the new page. If you don’t you may well be losing valuable traffic.
Tips to Optimise Your Website
An optimised website can mean the difference between a successful business and one that struggles to find customers. By following a few simple tips, you can make sure your website is working as hard as it can to bring in new business.
Perform On-Page Optimisation
On-page optimisation (also known as on-page SEO) is the process of making sure a website is as search engine friendly as possible. This includes things like ensuring title tags and meta descriptions are well written and informative, and that the site is easy to navigate. This includes internal linking (where you link to content within your website) and external linking (to other websites).
It can also look into loading times, server speed and even IP addresses. Optimising all the website images to make sure they load quickly and that all are weighted according to keyword density (believe it or not it’s possible to over-optimise!) is all part of on-page optimisation too. As is ensuring a website loads across multiple devices and works on multiple screen sizes with a responsive and simplified design.
One of the most important aspects of on-page optimisation is keyword research. A keyword is the search term users type into a search engine such as Google. Keyword research involves finding out which keywords potential customers are using to search for businesses like yours and then incorporating those keywords into the website content, providing internal links to other blog posts or content pages on your site.
More advanced optimisation will focus on creating logical link structures, anchor links, URL structure, and design impacts such as mobile optimisation, call to action (CTAs) with conversion rate optimisation and minimising loading times for all code and files. All of this will have a positive impact on a website’s load times and user experience.
Perform Off-Page Optimisation
Off-page optimisation is the process of making a website more visible and attractive to search engines. This can be done by optimizing a website’s backlinks and external links and promoting content via social media, email marketing campaigns and guest blogging (amongst others) to increase overall search volume. Off-page optimisation is essentially anything completed to drive traffic to your website.
it is a critical part of any SEO strategy. By making your website more visible and attractive to search engines, you can increase your site’s traffic and visibility in the SERPs (search engine results pages). Backlinks are one of the most important factors in off-page optimisation, so it’s important to focus on building high-quality links from authority sites.
With off-page optimisation, you will also check for and fix any broken links which might be on the site which leads to a poor user experience. You also need to make sure that the websites you are linking to are reputable. It’s no good having a lot of backlinks and external links to websites which frequently crash, contain no relevance to your content or are malicious in their intent.
How to Optimise Your Website Loading Speed
The initial loading speed of your website is the first impression to any visitor. Is it snappy, fluid and speedy? Or sluggish, bitty and “heavy”?
There are a number of things you can do to improve the loading speed of your website for greater optimisation. These optimisation techniques all lie outside the actual design of the website which can also play a major role in the speed of your website loading time.
- Use Server and Website Caching: Caching is the process of storing a present version and elements of a website on the web server, and serving it to website visitors until your site is updated. This means the number of requests to the content is reduced as it doesn’t need to keep loading over and over again, speeding up the loading time and performance.
- Try a Content Delivery Network (CDN): By using a content delivery network, cached versions of your site will deploy on servers around the world, so when a user tries to access your site, they are served the content from the closest server. This reduces the loading time as there is no need to send data all the way from America if the user is in the United Kingdom.
- Minimise HTTP Requests: Try to minimise any HTTP requests. Each time a browser request information from a server, it creates an HTTP request. These requests take time, so reducing them will help speed up your website.
- Enable Gzip Compression: Using Gzip is a way of reducing the file sizes which are loaded each session. The HTTP requests are also reduced along with the server response time too. When the content is requested, the server simply unzips the content and provides it to the user.
- Choose Web Fonts Carefully: Fonts can make or break a website design. Sadly, the use of custom web fonts can greatly slow down a website’s performance. They increase the HTTP requests and slow down the site accordingly. Make sure you use only modern fonts and choose only the required styles for your site.
- Compress Your Images: Images can take a long time to load. If you add a 5MB image to a homepage for example, then you will see the image slowly load as the page loads, dramatically decreasing your website loading time and user experience. Compressing images will also improve the mobile users’ experience too. You should keep all images as optimised and compressed as possible to keep image sizes down to a minimum. Images can be one of the major players in slowing down a website’s speed and performance.
- Optimise the CMS Database: If you are using a content management system then it will come with extensions and plugins all working from a central database. It will also be storing all the content too such as posts and pages. This can all take up lots of space. Make sure you keep your database optimised for a faster website.
- Update and Manage the PHP Version: Make sure you are using the latest applicable PHP version. This will ensure any website loads quickly and optimises the website for a faster, more streamlined delivery. Just updating the PHP version on the server can have a dramatic difference.
- Use a Proper Web Server: It’s always best to use the best web server possible. Cheap web hosting means you’re sharing a website with other users which means they can slow down your website and you can be tainted by association. If you’re serious about your website at minimum look to a VPS server and if you’re very serious about your website, choose a dedicated server. This adds additional security and greatly increases your website loading speed and of course, sends a message to search engines that you are serious about your website as it will have its own IP address too.
Optimise Your Website Content
When it comes to content optimisation then high-quality content will always win the day. But what does this actually mean from an optimisation perspective?
The first step for your content is to do some keyword research using keyword research tools. Essentially, look up what keywords (words people are entering into search engines) and search queries are being used so that you can provide value to them and match your articles to user intent. You should look completely around the topic too and see what questions people online are asking too. This also saves your writing content that no one searches for. Once you have your ideas you can then go about building high-value content.
A tip for your content optimisation strategy is to use what is known as evergreen content. This is a piece of content you don’t tie it to a given date and time and make it so you can reuse it and improve it again in the future.
The foundations and basic principle of optimising your site for quality content should centre around the concept of building your authority, your relevance and building up your trust. The relevancy part is of key importance when it comes to your content. If you sell sports equipment but have a blog and content that talks about nothing other than gardening, then you will score low on the relevancy scale.
To optimise and rank well in Google, any content needs to be:
- Unique: This means that you haven’t copied and pasted it from somewhere else hoping that it will rank well – it won’t. Google checks for plagiarism. This also applies to copying and pasting news into content articles. Make it as unique as possible for you.
- Using natural language: What this means is that it is readable by humans, not complete jibberish. The more natural sounding the content, the better. It isn’t just automatically generated and put online with spelling mistakes, a mish-mash of paragraphs and poorly constructed unformatted text. Your content should be created for people, not search engines.
- Useful: Does your content provide helpful information and relate to what people are searching for online? If it’s of no use to people no one will read it and it won’t support your website traffic.
- Up to Date: Is the information you’re providing up to date? If people are looking for your opening times for example, does it provide the most accurate information? If it doesn’t, people are likely to jump straight off your site which won’t help your bounce rate.
- Providing value: Does your content provide more and further value than other articles online of the same keyword?
- Engaging: Does your content keep users engaged enough? Does it have high-engaging imagery and pictures of your products? Is it distracting users with poor spelling and lots of adverts or does it keep the reader engaged? Could you perhaps include some helpful videos or even audio within the content so they can experience it across multiple platforms? This all helps to keep them engaged with your work.
- High quality: Does your content have a great leading title relevant to your long-tail keywords, and carefully selected sub-headings to break up information and make it easy on the eye and easy for readers to digest? You also need to make sure your content does not contain content from other websites, copying and pasting paragraphs here and there will not serve you well on a quality ranking. Is your content factual or completely made up? Does this impact your trust and credibility?
In essence, you need to avoid the following:
- Creating content which is short in length, with little and no original content. 300 words are too short, to rank well you need to be 1000 words plus but this varies based on the keywords you have researched.
- Using AI (Artificial Intelligence) to write the whole article. AI writers are growing in popularity and work well for outlining a structure, but they are often inaccurate and are not a solution for the human touch.
- Cloaking, where you present different content to humans vs search engines. This is the practice of providing a different experience than the end-user was expecting to get when they found your website.
- Using targetted redirects to grab attention and then redirect people away to something else. A bit like clickbait but with content headers and misleading metadata.
- Using hidden links and text. For example, people used to cram keywords into a page and then if the background was white make the text white so it didn’t show up on the page.
- Content which has been scraped from the news or other sources. For example, you might through an RSS feed pull information into your website to republish it to make your website look busy, but all this is doing is creating duplicate content across your site.
- Building a link scheme where you are building multiple low-value websites to build up your backlinks. You are best served by creating one authoritative website with high-quality content.
- Using doorway pages are created to rank for specific keywords but lead to multiple similar pages which then take the user to the same destination just with slightly different content. This content may not be as useful for example and be of poor quality, thus reducing the user experience.
These are just a few, there are more but it gives you an idea. As you can tell, content goes a long way when it comes to knowing how to optimise your website. You need a strategy in place.
Optimise Your Website for SEO
If you want to ensure your website is optimised for SEO, there are a few key things you can do.
As outlined above, the first thing you need to do is create a list of keywords and long-tail keywords so you can create relevant and top-value content.
You should try and connect with another high-quality website once you have your content rolling and get some backlinks in places such as through guest blogs or reciprocal links which will increase your ranking.
You can also repurpose your content across social channels and into forums so that you are building up your relevancy further around your keywords and gaining traction and authority.
Here are some key tips and SEO basics you can follow:
- Publish relevant content regularly and keep it up to date.
- Target keywords which you can realistically rank well.
- Place keywords in titles and sub-headings.
- Use bold and italics in places for your keywords.
- Focus on optimising your SERP and metadata to catch user attention.
- Make sure you use alt tags in your images relating to your keywords too.
- Link to other relevant websites which deepen user understanding and help them further.
- Be patient and preserver, high ranking SEO doesn’t happen overnight.
Track Your Progress
When optimising your website, it’s important to keep tracking what is going on. After all, what gets measured gets done.
Sometimes the results will be favourable and you’ll feel like a hero, but sometimes the results will not be so great, and you’ll get a little down. But it’s during these times when the tracking becomes invaluable because you can improve on what you now know.
Here are some ways you can track your website optimisation progress and journey:
- Check your page speed and make sure your site is loading quickly. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to check your page speed and get recommendations for how to improve it.
- Use Google Analytics to track your website traffic and see how users are interacting with your site. Analytics can help you identify which pages on your site are performing well and which could use some improvement.
- Ensure you set up Google Search Console (GSC – formerly known as Webmaster Tools). Google Search Console tools and reports enable you to analyse your website’s Search traffic and performance, search for bugs, and improve your position in Google Search results.
- Keep an eye on your bounce rate, which is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate can indicate that something is wrong with your site design or content.
- Use A/B testing to try out different versions of your web pages and see which ones perform better with users.
- Use a keyword tracking tool to see how your targetted keywords are performing. You will find that sometimes these keywords go up, and sometimes they go down. Without knowing where you stand you can’t adapt your website optimisation strategy and increase your ranking factor. You can also use such tools to “borrow” how your competitors have or have not optimised their websites.
- Review your domain name authority which predicts your website’s performance against competitor websites. The higher the authority, the better.
As mentioned, website optimisation is never really over, it’s a continuous process but one which will give you a competitive edge online.
Website optimisation is an ongoing process but knowing how to optimise your website is key to gaining a competitive advantage online. What works now might need tweaking in the near future. However, by following these steps, you will keep ahead of the competition:
- Research your keywords.
- Use those keywords throughout your website.
- Create compelling and original content.
- Design a user-friendly intuitive website.
- Promote your website through social media and other channels.
- Be patient and respond to the data presented to you.