GUEST COMMENT Why retailers should kick off 2022 with a website health check – views

AAs we enter a new year, most online retailers are setting big goals for their revenue, conversion and outreach efforts in 2022. With online sales having grown strongly over the past two years (helped by changes in consumer behavior related to the pandemic), companies are naturally looking to maintain this growth and make further improvements to sustain the momentum. Of course, taking the right steps start of the year can help business owners get off to a good start when it comes to achieving their goals by the end of the year.

If increasing awareness and driving more conversions are priorities for your team in 2022, a website health check is the perfect way to kick off the new year.

Why online retailers should start the year with a website health check

In an increasingly competitive e-commerce landscape, marketers shouldn’t rely solely on paid channels to do the heavy lifting of customer acquisition, conversion, and online sales. This is especially true today, with new privacy issues undermining the power of many digital advertising platforms. To be successful in e-commerce in 2022, your website needs to work as hard as you do.

In one report by Econsultancy and Deepcrawl, 89% of marketers surveyed agreed that organic search will generate more revenue in the coming years and nearly half (46%) of respondents estimated that organic search influenced more than a quarter of their organization’s total revenue. But to be successful in organic search, you need to make sure your website is healthy, performing well, and capable of ranking well in search engines.

Implementing solid search engine optimization strategies for your e-commerce business can take time and a lot of effort, but in an increasingly search-driven world, it’s well worth the effort. Of course, creating a better SEO for your website starts with a thorough understanding of your website’s current health.

Top Areas to Audit in Your Website Health Check 2022

Check for website crawling and indexing issues

Technical SEO provides the foundation for websites to rank well in Google and other search engines. This involves many “invisible” parts of your website, such as your underlying website code, your robots.txt directives, HTTP status codes, and Javascript rendering issues. An essential part of technical SEO is ensuring that your website can be both crawled and indexed by search engines. After all, even if your website looks great, if it can’t be properly crawled and then indexed by search engines, it won’t show up to users in their search results and won’t be effective in driving traffic. organic and conversions.

Checking your website’s health should look for crawling and indexing issues to ensure your site can show up for users in searches. This will involve reviewing your sitemaps, ensuring you have canonical tags in place for duplicate content, and ensuring your noindex, nofollow and disavow checks do not prevent crawling or indexing of pages. important websites.

Check your website speed and page load times

Website load times are a huge factor in bounce and click-through rates, with last year’s Google Search updates placing even greater emphasis on Basic Web Vitals Like page speed, addressing this aspect of your website’s overall health has never been more important. To meet user expectations and extend the time they spend on your site, pages should load as quickly as possible.

A 2021 study showed that pages that load in two seconds have an average bounce rate of 9%, while pages that load in five seconds see their bounce rate increase dramatically to 38%.

E-commerce websites, for which conversions are a major KPI, must meet the sub-two-second benchmark to increase their likelihood of generating revenue online. Page speed is a top priority for website health and related issues should be addressed ASAP, as soon as possible. 46% of users are not likely to revisit a site that they consider to be performing poorly.

There are several tools that can help you gauge your overall site speed and the load times of your individual pages. Google PageSpeed ​​Insights and Google Analytics are accessible and reliable examples, but eCommerce businesses with websites that have a large number of pages to analyze may want to seek out a more robust SEO analytics platform. Fortunately, there are excellent SEO tools available in the market today. .

Make sure your content is structured to be competitive in the SERPs

While last year’s Google Search updates focused on user experience and web essentials for SEO, don’t forget to check out the main on-site and content-related elements. that contribute to your ranking in search results. Make sure your title and h1 tags meet your keyword targets, internal links are in place to promote your most important content, and meta descriptions and schemas are in place to drive click-through rates from search engine results pages (SERPs).

Optimize with mobile in mind

Internet usage has seen a dramatic and well-documented shift from desktop to mobile browsing in recent years. Statista reports that 54.6% of internet browsing in Q1 2021 was done on mobile.

Optimizing for mobile and desktop is imperative when it comes to catering to different user models. The primary goal of mobile optimization is to make it easy for site visitors to navigate and convert on all types of devices while ensuring a seamless user experience regardless of their device preference. So when adding, changing, or removing website functionality in 2022, remember how important it is to think about mobile usage.

Your site’s content, navigational elements, and your website’s architecture are primary considerations for ensuring your website is mobile-friendly, and tools to help assess your site’s mobile performance also exist here. . Google offers such a mobile-friendly analytics tool in its Mobile Usability Reports, available through Search Console, which will assess how well your site performs on mobile devices before providing a rating and guide for improvement.

Discover the competition

Part of your website health check should involve gaining a solid understanding of the broader e-commerce search landscape and how your site compares to the organic search performance of your competitors. Use keyword research tools to see which keywords are driving the most traffic for your competitors and how your own website content compares. Keyword research tools can also help you easily identify “content gaps” or content where your competitors are ranking well in the SERPs that your own website is not. This type of competitive research can help inform your long-term content planning for your website and help your team better understand the search queries that lead potential customers to other businesses like yours.

Fix open issues, choose the right tools, and create processes to avoid future SEO mistakes

Once you’ve gained actionable insights from checking your website’s health, it’s time to address any issues you found and establish best practices and processes to ensure your team has a solid SEO plan moving forward. You may also consider adding a dedicated SEO tool to your MarTech stack this year to help create more effective website monitoring through SEO automations and save your internal teams time when performing future health audits. of the website.

For technical SEO issues such as site speed, Javascript rendering issues, broken links, and site architecture improvements, you will likely need to work with your website development team to fix these errors. It is important to have a good working relationship with these support team members and to establish SEO as a priority to ensure the overall success of your website. Often, cross-functional teams struggle to effectively collaborate on SEO projects, so it’s worth establishing ongoing processes between marketing and development teams that will help ensure that SEO issues are addressed in timely.

It’s worth emphasizing that SEO is an ever-changing discipline and your teams will need to keep abreast of the latest developments in search engine technology to stay at the top of search results. Engaging a dedicated SEO platform or professional services team can help ensure that your website health checks engage with the latest best practices and help you guide your efforts as you establish your own set of internal processes to make sure SEO gets attention. deserved.

Understanding the health of your website is crucial to building year-round momentum

The health of your website and organic search efforts aren’t limited to optimizing a specific sales channel. Conducting website health and SEO audits can also provide vital insights into your customer behavior, competitors, and broader industry trends and developments. Having a solid understanding of your website’s health as well as its performance in the broader search landscape can help you better understand what consumers are looking for, what problems your business can help solve for them, and help you track competitive threats.

Getting a holistic view of your website through a website health check allows you to optimize key areas for maximum impact, apply best practices for the year ahead, and ensure your website has the best chance of generating online sales throughout the year.

Edwin S. Wolfe