By Stephanie Carrillo, Senior Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing
Recently, I started down the path to improve Heinz Marketing visibility by making some essential SEO updates to our website pages. Over my career, I have worked with inhouse SEO teams and agencies, but I am not an SEO expert. As I began to explore why Heinz Marketing search traffic dropped, I discovered a much deeper issue with our website performance. I hope this blog post can help guide other small companies, who may not have an SEO expert or a webmaster on hand, to show a few ways to monitor your website performance and health.
Website Performance and SEO
Website performance and SEO go hand and hand, and so does accessibility and standard website best practices. In fact, some believe there are about 200 separate ranking factors factored into a Google algorithm. That is a lot to keep track of, but I am here to focus on a couple of ways to assess your website for deep-rooted problems.
Often, small businesses do not have a webmaster to keep up with general website maintenance. Heinz Marketing is guilty, we push out new content, but never clean up the backend components of our website. In our company of nine consultants, there are no web developers. WordPress and other marketing tools like Marketo and Hubspot, make it easy for anyone to create a website or build landing pages with little to no experience. So therein lies the underlining problem; these tools make it easy to publish content, but often, website best practices are missed, and your website performance can suffer.
As far as SEO goes, you can push out great content, but if your website is not running smoothly, your SEO efforts are impacted. That’s why the use of these free webmaster tools is so crucial to your SEO efforts and overall website health.
The speed at which your website loads is one of the primary factors for SEO. The recommended page load time is 2 seconds. So how do you determine your site speed? There are several tools out there; I used PageSpeed Insights from Google Webmaster. This tool rates your page speed for mobile and desktop separately. The rating scale is between 0-100. What I discovered; Heinz Marketing mobile website has significant performance issues.
Our mobile pages received an overall rating of 20. Our speed index is showing it takes 7.9 seconds to load our mobile pages, a far cry from the recommended 2 seconds. Yikes! The Heinz Marketing website did not pass the assessment. Therefore, Google will penalize our site for poor performance. Heinz Marketing is now hit with a double whammy because Google also penalizes a website that produces a bad mobile experience. Last July, Google has begun indexing mobile pages first by default. Max Miller’s article on Having a Mobile Friendly Website Does Impact SEO is a great article to learn more.
What to take from this report are the vital areas for improvement. Review each recommendation in detail, do not worry if you do not know what it all means. This list will help you prioritize the items to fix first. If you’re tech-savvy, some of the recommended updates can be made on your own, for instance, adding a new plugin to WordPress. Otherwise, I recommend outsourcing it as a webmaster or developer who is trained and understands coding.
Measure is another great webmaster tool I learned about recently. This tool scores your website performance, accessibility, best practices, and SEO.
In this example, we see site performance is a significant issue, and we need to work on accessibility, best practices, and SEO. Just like the previous webmaster tool, this tool outlines a priority list of the items necessary to fix our site and provides a resource guide for more information.
Boosting SEO Results
To boost SEO results, addressing critical site issues is equal to creating new content. Like I mentioned before, website maintenance and SEO go hand in hand. Do not develop a website and leave it. Check your site for errors, remove broken links, address 404 errors, remove old content no longer relevant, and redirect the pages to a similar updated page. The last tip I want to share is that each new page created on your website might have a unique issue. Not all pages are equal, analyze multiple URLs using the webmaster tools; this will help narrow down the pages with the most substantial problems.