Regardless of whether you sell a product or a service, the importance of a great website has never been more relevant in the Digital era. And never more so than right now during the pandemic!
Tuning up your business’s website should be an ongoing project, not one that you ignore and completely redesign once a decade. So as you think about the health of your website today, even if you don’t currently have time to get into the finer details, we’d like to posit what we feel are the most important three website considerations to continually monitor and address.
If you don’t have these three meat and potato elements dialed in, it’s pointless to discuss the more nuanced, User Experience and User Interface (UX/UI) design considerations. Which, by the way, we’ll still tackle in another blog post in the future.
While Google doesn’t reveal much about the elements in their search algorithm which determine your site’s internet search ranking, they have made clear that the following three items are extremely important factors in their algorithm. Here they are; and for now, we focus on discussing just the ‘down and dirty’ basics of each.
The first and easiest security consideration is to make sure your site has an encrypted connection using an SSL certificate. If you haven’t added one yet, add it immediately. Make sure all of your domains and sub-domains are protected by your cert(s). And if your cert(s) don’t automatically renew, make sure you don’t forget to renew every year. Paying the nominal costs to a hosting provider to automatically renew and manage your SSL is money well spent. Your search ranking will suffer badly without an SSL cert, and many potential visitors won’t even be able to open any page on your site.
Make sure you have basic firewall, malware and spam protection. Whether its free security plugin for a WordPress website like Wordfence, or protections in the code and server levels for custom websites, like many of those that we build using React frontends with Ruby on Rails backends. If malware takes over your site, it could start spamming your contacts and/or spoofing your domain, among a host of other issues that could quickly spiral out of control. Subsequently, your domain could take a huge and immediate SEO hit.
Mobile Responsive Design
Mobile device website traffic worldwide is now consistently over 50% of all searches . Despite this, many small and medium size businesses still have websites that quickly ‘turn off’ any user the second that they land on their website from a mobile device.
There are many benefits to having a responsive web design, but the most important one is that your internet search ranking will be MUCH greater with a responsive site! In addition, visitors to your site will be more likely to stay longer on your site, and more likely to convert to being a ‘buyer’ of what you are selling (known as lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates, respectively).
In a future blog we will take a deep dive into what the key design elements are which make a great mobile responsive website
Having a website that loads quickly is another huge factor in your search ranking. There are several free, quick, and easy speed test tools out there. The most used is probably Google PageSpeed Insights .
To improve your website load speeds, there are a few main avenues to explore first. Minimize large video and image files on your website, especially if they all have to load at one time, like on your home page. Enable a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Upgrade your website hosting server, including moving to a virtual private server. Fix all broken links and redirects.
For a very in-depth discussion about ways to improve website loading speeds check out this article on Hubspot.
A periodic website health check should always begin with these primary three considerations outlined above. Dial these in, and you’ll have a huge head start on your competitors, before even spending much time on the design and SEO elements.