Your website is another business tool. Ultimately, its sole purpose is to benefit your brand and your business (usually by generating/handling sales). Just as with any other tool, asset or marketing technique, you need to evaluate your website performance on a regular basis. Is it working the way you need it to? Do you need to adjust and optimize your strategy so as to hit your sales targets? What’s more, given the regular updates to popular search engines, browser software, and so on, a website that functions perfectly one day may not do so the next. Regular monitoring is the answer. Being a technological tool, there are dozens of technological solutions solely designed to help you examine how your website is performing. The following suggested sites and apps will give you the information you need (although it should be said that of course, all of these are examples and each has a number of equivalent options just waiting for you to google them).
First, you need to establish a baseline and check your website performance in relation to the rest of the web. Enter your website name in a site such as similarweb.com and receive an instant snapshot of its current performance, including: ranking, geography, referral sites, search traffic, social media, display advertising, audience interests, similar sites, and mobile apps. It may be that there is insufficient data for some or all of these reports but that in itself is useful information, indicating that your focus should be on building traffic.
For more sophisticated and interactive measurement, consider a site like woorank.com (who offer a free trial period) which provides: in-depth reports on SEO, social media, mobile optimization, and usability; and also allows you the facility to check the in-depth performance of specific pages internal to your site, not simply the homepage. Furthermore, woorank offer a competitive analysis service to compare your site’s performance against your competitors; very useful market research.
Find out who is visiting your site and whether they fit the demographic profile of your target market (the results may prompt you to recalibrate that profile) with Social Engage which will give you age, gender, location and other characteristics in reports on visitors that link to your page via their social media accounts.
Next, take a speed test with a site like WebpageTest, to establish how long your website takes to load. Current research suggests that users will only wait a few seconds before clicking on a different option so even if you’re on the first page of results on a Google search, a slow loading time can undermine your sales. Automated music, videos and other visuals can create an impressive first impression but will slow down your loading time.
Don’t forget that with the variety of mobile devices and platforms available, plus the proprietary vs. open source options, there are literally dozens of different browsers that your potential customers could be using. Sign up for a free account at BrowserBite and check how well your website loads on more than 50 browsers and mobile devices.
Backlinks are still a key technique for boosting your page ranking in search results. For a list of the current external links leading back to your site, try Open Site Explorer or Backlink Watch. The other side of search engine optimization is the use of keywords, and you can check your site’s performance on any given keyword using the ULancer Keyword Tool: simply type in the keyword of your choice and your website address and the tool will tell you where in the first 10 pages of Google or Bing results you appear (if you appear at all, that is).
You can check that the text on your site is unique via CopyScape which will find unauthorized versions of your content. This is particularly useful if you blog or post informative articles as part of your SEO and engagement strategies.
Finally, having collected your own information, try doing the same tests for some of your key competitors’ websites – the results are often illuminating, give you a rough and ready competitor analysis and may throw up some obvious tactics that you have been neglecting. From the above research and data you should be able to devise a website optimization action plan, addressing the following key areas:
Accessibility and speed of interaction
Search engine results
Links to partner sites
Social media activity