My 21-year-old son came home from college for a few days this summer, and at a glance, he seemed good. Despite the unruly mop of hair on his head, his face was shaved, clothes were free of holes, and his sneaks were just a few shades shy of white. Good enough for me.
But after a few days, I began to notice a few concerning issues – sluggishness, a persistent cough, and a small rash in the center of his back. When asked if he had seen a doctor recently, he shrugged. He’s tired because he’s been working a lot, the cough doesn’t bother him, and the rash, well he couldn’t see it anyway.
Wait, this isn’t an article about my son, it’s about your website, that centerpiece of all your marketing efforts. The thing that is celebrated when you have a good quarter and blamed by everyone when you don’t.
How is IT doing? Maybe the pages load and the lead generation forms submit just fine, but if you spend some real quality time with your site, you’ll find a few things that you don’t like so much. Like, did you even wonder why the lead generation form takes longer to load than the text? Or wonder where that new “Partners” page came from and who approved it? What about outbound links, is that NPR article from 2019 still live?
The point is this – just as you do for your car, your house, and even your children – it’s a good habit to occasionally inspect the health of your website too. If you don’t have an agency managing these things for you (yes, that was a proud shout out to Peaktwo’s Website Maintenance & Optimization services), a monthly website health check is a really smart idea to identify issues and maintain performance.
5 Areas to Optimize Site Performance
Here are five quick health checks you can perform – and a few important words of advice. Some of the performance checks below offer links to free tools that make it easy to identify potential issues with your site. We strongly recommend not overreacting to any single result. Please don’t Slack the results off to your developer, or send an email cc’ing everyone on the marketing team.
The reason? Not all issues are problems. You should use these results to have a productive conversation with your team (or agency). Many “bad” results have easy fixes, and others may not require fixes at all.
And now that we’ve said our peace, please enjoy the list.
Website accessibility is crucial because it ensures that your website can be used and understood by a diverse range of individuals, including those with disabilities. And depending on your industry or location, accessibility rules may be strictly enforced.
A web accessibility testing tool is a quick way to scan your website for issues and errors. Fixes may need to be done by a web developer, but there are also premium tools (accessibe.com and userway.org) that can quickly add compliance to your website.
2. Broken Links
Nobody likes a 404 page – unless they are really creative ones – and even then it’s frustrating. Broken links confuse visitors and hurt your website’s credibility and SEO rankings. Scan your website regularly using a broken link checker to identify and fix any 404s lurking in your content.
Most broken links can be easily fixed by anyone with access to your website’s CMS.
3. Page Speed
We’re a society with small attention spans. The simple fact that you made it this far in our article puts you in the minority. Like most site performance issues, slow-loading websites frustrate visitors and can have a negative impact on your search engine rankings. So even if your site seems fast to you, it may not be for others. Take advantage of some free tools, like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix. Theses tools can provide insights into your website’s performance, and offer clues for improvement. NOTE: We aren’t recommending you hang your hat on the results (green doesn’t always mean better), but look for the low-hanging fruit that might have a serious drag on speed (large images that need optimization, pop-ups that take too long to load, etc.)
There are a lot tools out there to test the performance of your site across mobile devices (Google’s PageSpeed test has an entire section on mobile), but that’s not what we’re focused on here. We’re talking about how the site displays visually on mobile. Have you ever been on your mobile device and the website you are viewing is floating side-to-side in addition to scrolling up and down? Or the text is really, really big and the images go off the side? Making a website function responsively requires not just great coding, but real user testing.
There’s no perfect tool for this one, just good old-fashioned surfing. Take a few minutes to browse your website on your phone, especially key pages like the homepage and CTA (form submit) pages. An incorrectly embedded video or a recently updated plug-in can easily break a site on mobile. This is especially common when there are to many people with access to make changes on your website.
5. Access & Security
And speaking of too many people, when is the last time you reviewed access to your CMS, hosting, or analytic tools? Employees and agencies come and go, but usernames and passwords live forever. If someone is no longer associated with your company, revoke that access immediately.
The most common overlooked access we find are content management systems (like WordPress), analytic tools (like Google Analytics, Tag Manager, and Business Profile) and CRMs (like Hubspot and Salesforce). Take five minutes to audit your users and make sure that only the people who need access, have it. You may also want to review permissions – if someone doesn’t need to be an admin – often the highest level – drop them down to an editor or manager.
The bottom line is that a poorly performing website leads to bad user experiences, drops in traffic, and lower conversions. If you have the time, start investing in the health of your site with a monthly website health check. Peaktwo also offers site maintenance, analytics & reporting, and enhancement programs proven to improve traffic and on-page performance. If you want to learn more about the program, send us a note.
Oh, and my son? We finally convinced him to see the doctor, and he’s just fine. 🙂