Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How to Check Your Site's Perfomance

For many people, SEO is a "dark art," at once mysterious and impenetrable, the domain of tech junkies who manipulate codes for higher rankings. In the distant past, the SEO landscape was, indeed, plagued by "black hat" practitioners who practiced coding tricks and spammy link-building. Today, however, the SEO world is a dynamic place, populated by a diversity of talented people who employ time-tested techniques to optimize website performance.

In part, SEO is still about (ethical) coding, but today's SEO specialists are just as likely to focus on the production of great content in any number of mediums: not just text, but images and videos, and interactive applications. More then ever, too, today's SEO landscape is taking cues from traditional marketing. "Optimization" is now about story-telling, the projection of quality images, building relationships.

Still, the false characterization of SEO as "mysterious" (or worse, "dark") endures. One way to dispel this myth is to reveal SEO practices. In part, that is the purpose of this blog. If you were to take the time to read our posts, you would be equipped to optimize your own site.

Of course, most website owners do not have the time or inclination to perform SEO; most just want a simple answer to the question: What can SEO do for my site?

To answer this question, of course, an SEO specialist, will need to understand the current performance of the site. This is a relatively simple practice that can be performed by anyone--however, like SEO itself, it is shrouded in mystery. Below we offer a simple outline for how to check your site's performance.

Believe it or not, SEO is not mysterious.

Test Your Site's Speed 

When analyzing your site, an SEO specialist will look at many factors, including the design (appearance), quality of content, and the website's ability to be crawled (discovered) by the search engines. A fairly simple measure of performance, however, can easily be tested online.

Speed is crucial to your website's success. As we noted a few weeks ago, KISSmetrics reported several years ago that 47% of all browsers expect a page to load in two seconds or less.

If your page is not loading quickly, you are likely not converting your visitors to customers--people who do visit your site, will navigate away quickly.

To test your site's speed, we suggest the Pingdom Website Speed Test. If you do find that your site loads slowly (longer than two seconds) your design could be burdened by any number of factors, including unoptimized images or coding problems.

Test Your Site's Mobile-Friendliness  

The advantages of a mobile-friendly site should be apparent to anyone with a working smart phone. Mobile browsing now exceeds desktop browsing, and more and more consumers are using mobile devices to purchase products and services.

To test the mobile-friendliness of your site, you can take Google's "Mobile-Friendly Test" here. Easier still, you could simply Google your website name from a mobile phone.

Since November, 2014 Google has distinguished mobile-friendly sites with a "Mobile-Friendly" tag in search results. A search for, say, "big pumpkin" reveals two mobile-friendly sites and one not-so-mobile-friendly site.

The middle site here, BigPumpkins.com, is not mobile-friendly.

Check Your Site's Traffic--And Your Competitor's Traffic

You likely know how to check your own site's traffic  but how do you analyze your traffic for meaningful insights? The best way to understand your site's relative effectiveness is to compare your traffic to a competitor's traffic. There are many tools to do this. For a comprehensive overview, try Moz's "Tools to Predict and Monitor Competitor Traffic."

With many of these tools, you can look into the traffic numbers to understand precisely who you and your competition is attracting. If you understand how your competitors beat you, you can begin to plan a counter-attack (that would likely include a targeted SEO campaign to attract a portion of your competitor's visitors).

Check for Broken Links

To Google, a "real" link is a one-way link that points directly from one site to another. In the past, Black Hat SEO specialists created links to a site in exchange for a return link. Google delegitimized this sort of "bad" link-building long ago. No less harmful, however, are broken links that lead nowhere. If your site is riddled with out-of-date, broken links, your compromising not only your SEO, but your user experience and possible conversions.

We like Chrome's extension for checking broken links.

Browse Your Own Site  

We know, this is painfully obvious, but the best way to get a good idea of your site's performance is to browse the site yourself. Do the pages load easily? Is the content accessible? Is the content unique? Do you find the site attractive? If you answered no to any of these questions, your potential customers are likely thinking the same thing. If so, you might think about a site re-design or a new site. Sometimes the best option is starting from scratch.

FREE Organic Website Optimization Audit

If your website is under-performing, Stepmans PC’s Organic Website Optimization Audit will clarify the exact elements of your website that require improvement.

As apart of the audit, Stepmans PC will provide a detailed report showing you how many people have visited your website for a specific period of time, how many of those visitors are unique, the time visitors spent on your website, and other information that will help you convert visitors into potential customers.

With this information and more, you learn your website visitors in depth. To take advantage of this limited time offer, call Stepmans PC now: 215-900-9398 or complete the form on Stepmans PC's website.