Website optimization can involve a lot of different things. You might be optimizing for brand fit, messaging, search engines, or user experience.
We all know that these things are essential -- but you don't always know the best way to make these changes. Plus, sometimes you may not even know why these changes are necessary.
Optimization is a relatively simple concept. You look at how your site is performing now, and then you make a change to improve the performance.
In this article, I'm going to walk you through 13 website optimization tips that you might not have known. I'll explain why each one is important and show you how to do them.
Optimize for Branding
Your brand is what your audience thinks about when they hear your name or see your logo. It represents who you are as a company. Your brand has two equally important pieces: visual style and tone.
Your visual style is how your brand looks. Your brand includes things like your fonts and colors. Visual style also includes your logo, patterns, and other recognizable elements that your brand regularly uses.
Your brand can be applied to layouts that you tend to use. For example, your brand may favor layouts with more white space that feel open and airy. Or you may be more of a colorful and creatively organized kind of brand.
Tone is how you represent your personality. Your brand may be fun and lighthearted, or it may be very serious and somber. Your brand’s tone is defined by the unique way that you word things and the emotion behind the words that you write.
Optimize Your Images
According to NewsCred:
- Articles with images get 95% more views.
- 40% of people respond better to visual information.
- 93% of people say that the images were the number one factor that impacted their decision to purchase.
To use images correctly on your site you need to keep a few things in mind.
Use services such as Optimizilla to compress your images. This process reduces the overall size of the images without compromising quality.
Rename Your Files
Many people overlook this simple step and keep the default file name. Take an extra few minutes and rename your images so that it is keyword rich and descriptive but, be careful and don't “keyword stuff.”
Include the Alt Tag
Alt tags are alternative text that is used when an image can't be displayed on a web page for some reason. While you're taking time to rename your image, you should also take an extra couple minutes to add a tag. Describe your image in easy to understand words and do not “keyword stuff.”
Use the Right File Extension
JPG or JPEG images are ideal for high-color photographs and gradients. GIFs are good for lower quality simple illustrations and blocks of colors. PNGs are more detailed than GIFs and are suitable for logos, charts, etc. SVG files are scalable to any size no matter what device you are on.
Avoid Generic Stock Photos
If you don't have time to take your photos or create custom graphics, then at least take the time to find the right images. Scroll past the first page of search results and find something that is a good match for your brand. You can always edit or customize them to fit your needs if you see something that is close.
Optimize for Trust
Many people will avoid a website if they feel that it's sketchy or untrustworthy. So take the time to help show that your site, your company, and your team are trustworthy.
Include an SSL certificate on your domain. If you are not sure how to do this, contact the company that hosts your website, and they will be able to take care of it for you.
Once it is properly installed, the SSL certificate will show as a green lock in the browser when someone is viewing your web page. You will also see that your website domain has the HTTPS prefix to indicate that it is secure.
Include testimonials in your site. Try to include details about the person that left the testimony. These details include things such as their photo, name, job title, and any other relevant information.
Display any certifications or other items that would lend credibility to your company. For example, if you have an excellent rating with the BBB or any other trustworthy companies; those should be included on your website.
Optimize Your Service Pages for Local SEO
Service pages need to contain some crucial information. They should clearly explain the service that you offer and what steps someone should take to purchase it from you. If you have any guarantees or promises that go along with that service, be sure to include those as well.
List any awards, certifications, qualifications, reviews, industry association memberships, or other trust-building facts related to the service.
Include imagery -- especially if your service is visual. These pages are designed for conversions, so you need to give people an idea of what they are purchasing.
Optimize Your Page Titles
Page titles are the first step in building a relationship with a reader. They make a promise that the page content must deliver on. This step is especially right for blog articles and other informative pages but, it is also applicable to the main pages of your website as well.
For example, your about us page should present information about your company, your staff, and your history. A contact page should include all of the available methods for someone to contact you and your company.
Your page title should be no more than 80 characters and ideally less than 60. It should be placed on your page using an H1 heading tag so that Google knows that this is the most important and descriptive information on the page. Be sure not to include more than one H1 tag.
You should also include your page title in with your meta information so that Google knows what the title is.
Optimize Your Navigation
Your website's navigation helps search engines and users find their way around your site. It's essential that the path from one page to the next is intuitive. Try to avoid using cute and non-helpful wording.
For example, your contact page should be very clearly labeled in your navigation as contact and not get in touch. If users find it hard to get around your site, they are more likely to navigate away.
This tip applies to all navigation elements throughout your site.
Your primary navigation at the top should be limited to less than ten items. You should include links to the most common pages.
The footer navigation at the bottom of your site could include additional pages that people would visit. These pages typically include things like legal pages, contact page, and other supporting pages.
Include Social Sharing
It would be best if you gave users the opportunity to share the content that you have created. Social sharing buttons are the ones like you see in this article. They are small buttons that are typically located at the top, and sides of the blog post.
They contain icons for the different social media channels, and when clicked, they will make it easy for you to share the page directly on the social channel that you choose. These buttons are a very passive tool that can have a significant impact.
Optimize for Mobile Devices
It's crucial for your website to be optimized to be viewed clearly on a variety of different devices. These devices include smartphones, tablets, and even some gaming devices.
When we’re talking about mobile optimization, we're looking at a couple of different things.
Mobile-first indexing means that your website has been designed to look well on a mobile device. This mobile-first approach includes things such as making sure that the content fits on the screen and including alt text.
Mobile usability refers to how easy your site is to use from a mobile device. This mobile usability can be things such as making sure that the text is big enough to read and that clickable elements have enough space between them to be easily processed with the touch of a finger.
Google looks at these features as well as many others to determine if your site is mobile optimized. Sites that have passed the test are rewarded with a higher search rank for mobile phones. We can also expect to see Google making a shift towards higher search rank for mobile-optimized sites even on desktops.
Submit XML sitemaps
Google will eventually crawl your site on its own. So there is some debate on how essential submitting an XML sitemap is. If you have recently launched your website, or you have made updates to it, submitting an updated site map can be a great way to let Google know about your site much faster. Updating your site map essentially tells Google all about the most important pages on your site. It provides it in a way that is structured and easy to understand.
To submit your sitemap, you log into Google search console, click Krall, then click on site Maps.
After you submit your sitemap, it may take Google a little bit of time to begin the index. The sitemap allows Google to index optimized web pages and can directly affect your search engine rankings.
Fix 404 or Broken Pages and Links
If your website has 404 errors that means that you have pages that are broken or do not exist. These errors can happen if you had a page that existed at the URL, but then you changed it later or unpublished it. It can also occur if a link was mistyped causing it to link to a page that doesn't exist instead of the one that does.
Obviously, if it’s just mistyped you can simply fix the link. However, if you purposely change the link, then you need to make sure that you set up a 301. That will automatically send the visitor from the old URL to the new one. It also lets Google know that you have moved this page from its previous location.
When you have broken pages on your site, Google is not able to crawl them. If it finds a significant number of broken pages, this can negatively affect your search rankings.
You may also find that the pages that are linking to this broken page will see a decrease in search ranking as well. There are a few different tools that you can use to help determine which pages on your website are broken.
LinkMiner is a Google Chrome extension that works on a per page basis to scan links that are alive and identify the ones that are broken.
SEMRush gives you a report of all of your pages and their statuses in minutes. You can then organize your pages and decide where you redirect each one too.
Google Search Console lets you check for crawl errors. Under the not found tab, you'll see a list of your 404 error pages. You can even dig in further and click on the link from tab to see which pages these 404 pages.
Once you fix your broken pages and links, you should generate a newly updated sitemap and submit it to Google.
Remove Duplicate content
Duplicate content means that two or more of your pages have identical content. The duplicate content causes Google to become confused about which page it should rank first.
Duplicate content causes you to see your search rankings fall and affects your overall website traffic. SEMRush’s site audit tool is a great way to gain a list of duplicate content errors. Once you have that list, you can start working on how to fix them. The more obvious solution is that you should make sure that your pages are unique. You can edit the content on your pages or remove the duplicate pages all together and use 301 redirects on the removed pages.
If there is some reason that your page needs to have duplicate content, you can add a rel="canonical" link to one of them to let search engines know which page you want them to show in the search results.
Optimize Site Speed
Have you ever visited a website and left because it was taking too long to load. You're not alone.
Over 40% of users have left a site because it took too long to open.
It may surprise you how brief of a window you have. Users are more likely to leave if your site doesn't load in less than 3 seconds on a mobile device and two seconds on a desktop.
Because Google's primary concern is the user’s experience as they search for information, your sites load speed is taken into consideration when determining your page rank. One of the biggest causes of slow site speed is large images.
By compressing the image just like we talked about above that can drastically improve your sites load time. Additionally, you can utilize a Content Delivery Network, CDN, to load these images faster.
If you are not sure what your load time is currently, you can test with Google PageSpeed Insights tool. The tool will give you some value animation so that you can start working to improve your load time.
When a visitor comes to your site, it's important that you make sure that they can figure out what to do next. You want to make this process intuitive and simple. Provide them direction so that they know what pages to view or actions to take once they are done with the content that they wanted to read on this page. A call to action is one of the elements that you can add to a page to help clarify this next step. While you may know that already, it can be easy to fail to use them correctly.
Most people focus on the bottom-of-the-funnel actions without having properly nurtured the visitor to start with. These actions can be things like asking them to make a call or book an appointment.
If a visitor has never heard of you before and has never read any of your other content and this is their first visit to the site, they are not likely to decide to make a call during this visit.
However, if they have visited your site multiple times and have consumed numerous pieces of content, they may be more likely to take that additional bottom-of-the-funnel step. Take the time to consider the pages that you're on and the calls-to-action that you're including. On a service page, the visitor may be more likely to want to ask you a question or schedule an appointment. If they are on your homepage, they don't know what they want just yet, so you need to include actions that will help them figure it out.
A great example of this comes right after this tip. Because you were reading a Blog article, it is logical for me to assume that you would be interested in reading other articles. That's why I'm going to include a call to action for you to subscribe to our newsletter so that I can notify you when we publish more.
Some changes are fairly easy and might can even be done on your own. Others will require you to bring in someone with more technical experience.