Are you the owner of a business website and have no website experience? Perfect, this article is for you.
There are several items that have to be set correctly and optimized to assure your website is working well and being indexed by search engines correctly. I put this article together so anyone who owns a website can easily check these important items out with a few simple tools and a little information. Below are five website settings and integrations that I consider crucial to any website. The best part is that you don’t need to be a web developer to do any of this.
1. Is your website using HTTPS and does it have a SSL Certificate?
HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) is the set of rules to transfer a web page between the web server and your browser. When you type a specific URL in your browser, it begins a conversation with the website’s server and downloads everything needed to deliver that web page.
HTTPS (S stands for secure) is the same conversation but the information is secured and encrypted. Only your specific browser and one specific web server have the key to decrypt it. HTTPS is done using a special “SSL/TLS certificate” as a unique encryption key.
This certificate and “key” are used to prove you are who you say you are and that they are who they say they are. Without it, your conversation can be overheard and intercepted by a third-party. And just as important, not having your site running as https now negatively affects your Google ranking.
To see if you website is secure, you can use the free tool below to make sure your website is HTTPS and has an active SSL certificate.
2. Do You Have a Canonical URL?
A canonical URL informs Google (and other search engines) what URL to index specific page content under. This is important because URLs have variations, for example whether or not you use www in your website address or not, and whether or not your website is still http and unsecure, or if it is secure and using https for all of your website pages.
Now imagine you do not have a canonical URL, and someone can go to your website at all of these possible variations of your website URL. Search engines will see your home page as 4 different duplicate pages. Now since http is deprecated, and everyone at this point should be running https, you need to choose between using www or not, as in https://www.yourdomain.com or https://yourdomain.com.
By setting your prefer domain through Google Search Console, your WordPress admin settings and through your website htaccess file, you can let search engines know your canonical URL, and no matter what version of the url someone goes to, it will always redirect to the preferred one.
To see if you have a canonical URL, you can use the free tool below. If you get a green check mark showing that both the www and non-www versions of your website resolve to the same URL, you are all set. If your test result shows you do not have a canonical URL, this needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
3. Is Your Site Optimized to be Mobile-Friendly?
Studies show that if your website is not mobile-friendly people will simply stop visiting it in favor of a site that provides a better mobile experience. Google reports that 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead.
When it comes to people searching, 94% of people with smartphones search for local information on their phones and 77% of mobile searches occur at home or at work, which are locations where computers are often accessible. While search percentages will vary by industry, current trends reveal that a mobile-friendly, responsive website is crucial.
Responsive design modifies the display of your website to adapt to the size of the device screen being viewed. You can check to make sure your website is responsive and has a user-friendly mobile experience using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Want to see what your website looks like on other devices?
Enter your website URL at responsinator.com and view and navigate your website live on multiple devices.
4. Have You Integrated Google My Business Within Your Site?
Google My Business is a simple and easy way to make your website more discoverable. Google My Business (GMB), is a free and cost-effective tool that allows businesses to manage how they appear on Google Search and Maps.
There are a few significant benefits to using GMB:
- GMB makes it easier for customers to find you both physically and online. Using it improves your search visibility in Google. This is especially helpful to boost your Local SEO.
- GMB allows businesses to add helpful information, such as name, location, phone number, website, hours of operation, business type, and photos of your business.
- GMB also provides a place for customers to leave reviews. It also allows businesses to respond to their customers reviews, which can be extremely important in case you receive a negative review.
I previously wrote an article on How to Claim Your Google Business Listing which explains GMB in more detail, and the steps you can take see if your business is claimed, and if not, how to claim it.
5. Is Your Website Slow?
Website loading speed is an important factor in optimizing your website because it affects user experience, search rankings, and even sales and conversions. If your website loads fast, you’ve instantly made a strong first impression.
A fast website immediately gives your user the impression your business is professional and reliable. It promotes ideas of efficiency, trust, and confidence; conversely, a slow website gives the impression it is unsafe, unsecured, and untrustworthy.
- 47% of people expect your site to load in less than 2 seconds.
- 40% will abandon it entirely if it takes longer than 3 seconds.
- 85% of internet users expect a mobile site to load as fast or faster than on their desktop.
Not only does site speed affect how your users react to your site, but Google also allows site speed to affect your rankings:
“Google will reduce the number of crawlers it sends to your site if your server is slower than two seconds.” – Google My Business Page
Google is less likely to pick up your latest blog post or notice any other recent updates if your website is too slow. This affects your bottom line in attracting users to your site and even the amount of conversion rates from user to customer. I always tell my clients, the number one cause of a slow website is usually budget web hosting. If you have poor results using the speed test tool below, see what host and plan your website is on and consider upgrading.
There are several tools available to check website performance, but Pingdom is one of the easiest to read without going into too much detail. If your website load time results come in above 3 seconds, you might want to make plans to speed up your website.
Ready to Begin?
Why not start off with one a day and see how you do? You may have never known your website was not secure or that you didn’t have a canonical URL, but now you can check for yourself and address any issues your website may have.
These are just a few ways to see if your website is optimized and configured to have what search engines are looking for. If you have any questions regarding the above tests, tools or information please feel free to contact me. If you are ever looking to dive a little deeper and really get into how I can help your website perform better, I would be happy to talk.