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How Strong Is Your Website?

Jul 23, 2018 | Web

What is a website audit?

It’s a complete breakdown of your entire website. We examine the overall layout, security, and content on every page. By performing a website audit, you will be able to set S.M.A.R.T. goals based on whether you are trying to gain more traffic, engagement, or online sales.

 

When was your last website checkup?

Your website is just like fashion, in the sense that is it never done, it is constantly changing. You should go through this list twice a year, just like you would a routine teeth cleaning… we hope this check up is a bit more pleasant. It is a general rule of thumb that a website should be revamped at least once every 2-3 years; technology is constantly evolving and you want to make sure your business stays on the cutting edge.

Website Audit

1.) Where is the website hosted?

Your website should be hosted with a company that is optimized to handle large spikes of traffic, preferably on an NGINX server (As opposed to a Linux Server). We recommend hosting with FlyWheel, Dreamhost, WP Engine, or Kinsta. Please never use a cheap hosting provider GoDaddy or HostGator, we have had horrible experiences with them in the past. We also don’t recommend going with Squarespace or Wix. While this may be a good option for a blog or personal website, Squarespace lacks the advanced features and customizability that comes with a content management system like WordPress.  

 

2.) Is the website mobile responsive?

Your visitors can be using a phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop, make sure your website looks great on all of these screen sizes. You should be able to resize your browser window and see the contents of your website rearrange to best fit everything in the window. Text should be relatively big and legible, and content should display full width for easy readability. Phone numbers on the site should be clickable/dialable and your address should up in the phone’s native Maps app. Pages need to be optimized for mobile, anything that has high-resolution images, sliders, animations, or visual effects needs to be removed or scaled down. The goal is to make your website load the fastest, especially because mobile devices connect to slower networks. If your website is not mobile friendly your business is losing customers, plain and simple.
 

3.) Does the website have an SSL Certificate?

It is extremely important to have an SSL Certificate installed, on your website, so the security of your users is not comprised. It adds an extra level of encryption and boosts your search engine rankings. This is needed anytime you are taking in data from a user, whether it be for a contact form, online payment, or newsletter signup. With an SSL, you will typically see a green padlock with Secure or the company’s name next to the URL bar on your internet browser.

 

4.) Is Google Analytics setup?

Installing Google Analytics on your website is important because you are able to access data and insights on who is visiting your website and how specific pages are performing. This also helps to identify why some pages have a high bounce rate or do not attract a lot of visitors, allowing you to optimize your site to perform better. You can break this info down by demographics such as geographic location, age, gender, device, internet browser, etc. You can also set up monthly, or even weekly segmented reports detailing how your website is performing sent straight to your email inbox.

5.) Is Social Media integrated into the website?

There should be links to all of your social media accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Google+, easily accessible from both the header and footer of the website. Bonus points for having it on your contact page – this does not count as duplicate content. It is important to note that the website’s images should Pinable, especially if the site revolves around women’s topics. Pinterest is HUGE when trying to advertise and market towards the female demographic. Any kind of content, whether it be a press release, eBook, or online article, should be easily shareable via Social Media. Meaning there should be buttons either at the top, bottom, or side of the page that allows you to easily share the URL on social media, without having to leave the current page.

 

6.) Is there a Privacy and Cookie Policy?

Every website should have a Privacy Policy, this is essentially their “Terms of Use” stating what data is being collected and how it is used. Although you can create your own, using a service like Ibuenda helps with the legal requirements, so you can focus more on your business operations. You just tell the service what data is being collected and they automatically generate a compliant privacy policy that fulfills all the necessary legal requirements. Compliance for websites and apps is huge, especially now after the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was passed. Although this pertains to EU law on data protection and privacy, it is still extremely relevant not only in the United States but also around the globe. If your website uses Cookies to track user behavior, you also need a Cookie Policy. Solutions like Iubenda deal with consent by using a cookie banner notifying your users that your website uses cookies, prior blocking, and asynchronous re-activation. 

 

7.) How is the quality of the website’s content?

The most important aspect of a website is its content. If the website has poorly written content, who will want to view its pages? There should be at least 900 words on every page, this not only serves a major SEO benefit but also provides enough information about a topic to make you seem knowledgeable and legitimate. It is also very important to break up large bodies of text with headings and rich media. Your website’s keywords should be evenly distributed throughout the page, making sure not to overstuff the content, you want the text to flow naturally.

 

8.) Is there a call to action above the fold?

The first thing your visitors see when they visit your website before scrolling is called “above the fold”. A call to action should feature some kind of offer or incentive to engage your visitors. You should have big, bod, easy to read text, with a button or form that captures the visitor’s contact information. It is very important to have the user interact with your website, that way you can either target ads to them through remarketing or send them personalized email newsletters. Visually speaking, use contrast to your advantage and feature a darker background with bright text and elements. Integrate Parallax images into the header to add a sense of depth to your page.

 

9.) Is your website set up to generate leads and improve conversions?

Whether you have a contact form, or you are collecting data from your users via a newsletter signup, you need to make sure your website is optimized for lead generation. Buttons should be very big, bold, and colorful, leading the user further down your sales funnel. Form fields should be prefilled with placeholder text to show the user what should be entered. The best place to have this is the first thing on the page below the menu, or “above the fold”. Pop up and scrolling banners are also very effective, check out plugins like OptInMonster, and Sumo. Including an incentive or discount, as mentioned above, is a huge way to draw people in and ultimately convert leads into sales. Offering a downloadable e-book in exchange for their contact information is a great way to engage your users and naturally build your mailing list.

 

Website Improvements

These website improvements and UI / UX enhancements will make your website more appealing and engaging to your visitors, ultimately strengthing your brand’s online presence and generating more sales for your business.

Home

Your homepage is the forefront of your business, it’s the first place people go to when they want to find out more information about your business. The more visitors that come to your website, the more leads you will be able to generate.  Unfortunately, just because you have a website doesn’t mean you will see results. You have to make sure your website is properly optimized for mobile devices and easily navigatable with your users in mind. For the homepage, there needs to be a call to action directly above the fold to immediately engage the user. Please stay away from using a slider, these are highly ineffective, and ultimately slow down your website. Instead, try using a hero image with big colorful text and buttons.

 

Contact

Make sure there is a contact form, so users can easily get in touch with your business. Please actively monitor this so customers don’t slip through the cracks, or lose interest because it has taken too long for a response. There should also be other contact information such as phone, email, and your address. You should have an integrated Google Map showing your geographic location. Your users should have the option to sign up for the newsletter, as well as easily download older newsletters. You can also integrate an aggregated Social Media Feed, so your visitors can interact and see what you have recently posted.

A great thing to look into is integrating live chat functionality onto your website, although you can set up a chatbot, you generally need someone actively monitoring for incoming chats. This can be done through a web, mobile, or SMS interface. This adds a personalized touch to your website and helps capture immediate attention in your goods or services, this is especially helpful on e-commerce sites when a visitor might have a quick question about a product. You can answer their question without them having to even leave the page they are on.

 

Blog

Every website needs a blog.  You can easily set one up using WordPress and add the option for readers to comment on and share your content. Having a blog is not only really good for search engine rankings, but it also shows your visitors that you are knowledgeable and passionate about the content on your site.

SSL Certificate (HTTPS)

SSL stands for “secure sockets layer” and is a form of security for sites that handle sensitive information such as customer names, phone numbers, addresses, and credit card numbers. It creates a secure connection between a customer’s web browser and the server of the company they’re interacting with. SSL is essential for any site that sells goods or services as it ensures that all information handled stays private and secure. This also helps improve search engine ranking and will be needed if you want to accept payment for events.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Using a content delivery network can make website speeds faster because it decreases the distance between servers and your website’s visitors, thereby decreasing the time it takes to load the site to people in different geographical locations. Depending on the size of your site, using a content delivery network can help significantly increase website performance.

Scheduled Backups

Make sure to keep full backups of your website, of both the database and the site’s contents. You should store these backups both on and offline, we recommend keeping recent backups stored on your web server while leaving older ones saved on remote cloud storage. This ensures that you can revert to a previous version of your website in the event that a change is made that breaks the site, or if a hack, security breach, technical malfunction, or other issue occurs; keeping your important data is safe and secure.

 

Website Security

Having your hosting with a secure, reliable provider is the first step to having a safely protected website. Using a WAF (Web Application Firewall) helps protect you against DDoS, malware hacks, and brute force attacks. It’s also very important to enable two-factor authentication, and randmomly generate your passwords every 60 days.