All websites need health checks, preferably every three months or more often. These checks are a crucial part of website management, and yet they are often overlooked – especially by small businesses that don’t have big in-house tech teams.
If you want to put your best foot forward with visitors and search engines, you need to start by understanding where your website stands.
At Watermark Design, we’ve helped hundreds of clients perform comprehensive website health checks. Based on our experience, we can tell you five of the most crucial things to do if you want to keep your website fast, safe, and user-friendly.
Table of Contents
1. Conduct a Real Speed Test
A one-second load time makes users feel stress-free and in control when visiting your website. A ten-second load time, on the other hand, can make visitors feel impatient and bored. The longer your website takes to load, the higher your bounce rate will climb.
According to the most recent stats from 2022, up to 25% of online shoppers will abandon a page that doesn’t load within 4 to 6 seconds. That’s why you need to stay on top of your pages’ loading speeds and address anything that’s slowing them down.
There are many website management tools out there, such as Pingdom Tools and GTmetrix, that will help you test individual page loading speeds. Consider running your top pages through these kinds of tools every once in a while to watch for loading errors.
However, these tools can’t necessarily help you fix the speed-related problems with your pages. For guidance you can act on, you’ll likely want to reach out to a website design consultant to discuss solutions.
2. Assess the Core Vitals
When you attend your annual physical, a nurse checks your height, weight, pulse, and blood pressure. These are your core vitals.
Websites have core vitals, too – and search engines like Google take them into account.
A Core Web Vitals audit is essentially a physical for your website. When performed by a professional, it assesses everything from improperly sized images to chained critical requests. In other words, when you check up on your website’s core vitals, you look for any technical details that may compromise your site’s performance.
While Core Web Vitals do reveal valuable user experience metrics, they won’t mean much if you’re not well-versed on the subject. That’s where expert auditors can help.
At Watermark Design, we ensure that Google’s web crawlers find nothing but green lights on your website. We’ll perform a crawability test, then recommend ways to improve your Core Web Vitals and overall site performance.
3. Perform a Security Test
Another important thing to consider during any website health check: security. Cybercrime is more rampant in 2022 than in any year before – and according to most experts, we can expect to see data breaches and theft continue to grow.
To protect your website and its visitors, you need to conduct regular security tests. Additionally, you should ensure that your website is:
- Hosted by a service that provides security certificates (SSL).
- Protected by a web application firewall (WAF).
- Guarded by secure passwords and permissions.
- Up-to-date with the latest software improvements.
In the wake of the rising cybercrime rates, you may also have seen more websites switch to “HTTPS” protocols rather than “HTTP.” This isn’t just to help users feel safer. Google has actually started to rank sites with HTTPS protocols higher than those with HTTP.
Why? Well, HTTPS protocols encrypt the connection between devices and the website’s server. This means that your information, as well as user data, is more secure – and that’s something search engines and shoppers both appreciate.
If our Watermark Design team discovers an old HTTP protocol during a website health check, we help the website owners update their site to HTTPS by installing an SSL certificate. This is a digital certificate available through web hosting companies that authenticates the identity of the website and allows encrypted connections.
4. Examine Keyword Rankings
Anyone who has dabbled in SEO understands the importance of keywords – but did you know they’re also indicative of your website’s overall health?
Your website could be beautiful, fast-loading, and informative, but that’s not all that plays into its ranking success. If your keyword rankings are low, your website will struggle to rank well in Google’s search results.
But how do you know which keywords your website is (and should be) ranking for?
During your website health check, we recommend using Google’s Search Console to see:
- How users are getting to your site
- Which keywords will best serve your website
- What kind of traffic you’re getting from Google search
Search Console also offers performance reports that help you break down ranking information page by page. You can assess your website’s impressions, clicks, CTRs, and positions within SERPs.
If this all seems a little out of your league, it never hurts to speak to someone with SEO and website management expertise. At Watermark Design, we’re happy to help e-commerce brands and other clients understand their keyword strengths and weaknesses.
5. Check on Your Backups
Lastly, we always encourage people to include backup assessments in their website management protocols. You may have set up a backup system for your website – but do you know that it’s effective and foolproof?
Every car has a spare tire, even if you don’t see it. It’s the failsafe backup that ensures you can get home safely, even if you run over a tragically sharp nail.
Your website deserves the same level of proactive care. An effective backup guarantees that your website can be restored, even when it encounters serious problems, crashes, hackers, or malware.
A good backup will make a complete copy of your website’s files and database on a daily basis – not weekly or monthly. This ensures that you can restore your website to its more updated, recent version, no matter when things go wrong.
Our team always recommends looking into automatic backup solutions that are reliable, secure, and customizable. If you need any recommendations for backup systems, let us know. We’ve been around the block a time or two and can help you select the right option.
Ready to Perform Your Next Website Health Check?
Website management is tricky – there are many small details that go into maintaining and protecting any site. Performing regular website health checks is one of the best ways to ensure nothing slips between the cracks and compromises your site’s performance.
If it’s been more than three months since your last website health check, it’s time to act. You want to get ahead of any potential problems that could hurt your website, its users, or your brand.
Our comprehensive website audit looks at all the factors we just discussed and more. We want to check everything that makes a significant impact on your website’s performance, then advise you on how to remedy any problems we discover.
Contact our team today to schedule your free consultation. We’ll provide a quote for your website audit so that you know exactly what to expect.