Basic Website Optimization Tips For Small Business Owners

User Experience

In the good old days of brick and mortar stores and billboard advertising, the quality of the products you sold and the integrity of the services you offered were impressed upon the consumer by the cleanliness of the showroom floor and the attentiveness of the sales staff. In today’s world your website, which was once a simple advertising tool, is now the main representation of your business in the eyes of over 75% of consumers. It relays to the consumer who and what your business is all about, how trustworthy it is, and how much value it delivers.

Unlike the past when radio advertisement drove traffic to your physical location (before music streaming and the internet), today’s roadmap to your store is through search engines such as Google or Bing. Your Digital Visibility is driven by several factors, which will be covered in detail later. For your website to be found organically (without paid advertisement) your website needs to be found by your target audience while they are searching for your services or the services of your competition. When deciding who will rank at the top of search results Google & Bing consider; site function, speed, user experience, as well as page content that provides goods, services or answers to your consumers wants, needs, and questions. The importance of a high rank cannot be stressed enough as only 7% of search engine users will ever make it to the third page of the Google search engine results. The seriousness and impact it can have on your business is and has proven stressful enough to drive some companies and web developers to try and cheat the system.

To prevent this system corruption the sophistication of search engines has increased dramatically in the past decade. The old tricks and shortcuts SEO’s (Search Engine Optimization Specialists) used in the past to trick their way to the top of search pages is over. The benefit of this is if you keep your webpage updated (clean, fast, secure), and the content engaging and helpful you will be rewarded with higher page rankings in Google and Bing. Also, you will gain the trust of your target consumer by providing a better user experience that will, along with other factors, convert them from prospect to lead/sale at a more efficient rate. However, if you fail to keep your website up to date and user friendly, you will pay the price two-fold, once with SEO penalties (low page rank) and even worse with consumers who visit your page and never come back due to poor experience. Studies on E-commerce from 2018 show that 79% of shoppers are unlikely to buy from an online store, with which they had a previous bad user experience. Such a high statistic reinforces the necessity of a website that emulates your brand and brand values.

Content is always king, customers & search engines alike want you to provide value through knowledge, products and services. (We will cover SEO from a Content and Technical aspect shortly.) But content aside a fast website that is aesthetically appealing and easy to use is a must in this era of E-commerce supremacy. Let’s dive into the basics of creating an exceptional User Experience on your website.

Creating & Maintaining Great User Experience:

  1. Speed up image loading: Optimizing the size of your images for desktop and mobile use to ensure your images are sized correctly for quick and efficient loading. “According to a Nielsen report, 47% of people expect a website to load within two seconds, and 40% will leave a website if it does not load fully within three seconds.” A crippling statistic for your website’s conversion rate and a easy loose end that will cost your business serious revenue.
  2. HTML Frameworks: WordPress, Magento, etc. If you are using a platform to create your skeleton or building off a template, updates and outdated code need to be monitored and cleaned regularly to ensure proper loading and function. “38% of users will not engage with a website if the layout is unattractive.” With this said can your company afford not to invest it’s time and resources to create an aesthetically pleasing website design”
  3. Optimize JavaScript: The ability to create a dynamic site that will impress and engage your visitors is essential but minimizing your script for fast load time is also essential. Today’s user is not patient, nor forgiving. “The average user forms an opinion in half a second, and 61% will not return to a site with which they had a bad experience.” With customers opinions forming so quickly and strongly, your company must understand and address speed issues before the launch of a new site, or routinely as a standard website management procedure.
  4. Optimize CSS: Cascading style sheets (CSS) are elements of code that enable you to style your website however you want. You can use CSS to change colors, fonts, margins, padding, indentations, columns, and more. Each CSS element addresses a specific part of your website.
  5. Check your plugins: Software is going through constant updates to fix, patch or improve its code. A simple change on the developer end of a website plug can create a 404 return and an image of a poorly run website and business.
  6. Use minification: efficiency, minimize code for the fastest possible site.
  7. Resolve 404 errors: Permanent redirects lead to dead ends for the user and are a clear sign your user needs to leave your site for the competition. The user cannot find the information they want, and you are not updating your site to make it easier for them. Shows the consumer you do not pay attention to details, your business or your customer.
  8. Caching: Saved data from your website, enables your site to load faster on return visits to your website.
  9. SSL Cert: Ensures data security for your consumer, and creates trust, that you are a reputable and considerate business.

For all of us non-website developers these items may not seem basic, but in today’s world, they really are the bare minimum needed to create a site with acceptable load speed while retaining the visual and dynamic sophistication expected from a modern website. Our advice is to always get help when needed! The time and resources invested in creating a strong foundation is crucial to your success and long-term efficiency with digital advertising. Slow clunky websites are more expensive to advertise due to lower conversion rates and less organic traffic. Make the necessary investment in your website and you will see a strong return in your overall marketing spend, and save time and headaches down the road, when your throwing money away on digital advertisement with poor conversion into sales!

Part 2:

SEO: Content Creation vs Technical SEO  *COMING SOON