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

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As we enter a new year, most online retailers are setting big goals for their revenue, conversion, and awareness-driving efforts in 2022. With online sales growing steeply over the past two years (aided by pandemic-related changes in consumer behaviour), businesses are naturally looking to maintain this growth and make new improvements to help sustain the momentum. Of course, taking the right steps at the beginning of the year can help business leaders start off on the right foot when it comes to realising their targets by year’s end.

If building more 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 ecommerce landscape, marketers should not be relying solely on paid channels to do the heavy lifting when it comes to customer acquisition, conversion, and online sales. This is especially true today, with new privacy concerns driving down the potency of many digital advertising platforms. To succeed in online retail in 2022, your website needs to work as hard as you do.

In a report by Econsultancy and Deepcrawl, 89% of marketing leaders surveyed agreed that organic search will drive more revenue in the years to come and nearly half (46%) of respondents estimated that organic search influenced more than a quarter of their organisation’s total revenue. But to succeed in organic search, you’ll need to ensure your website is healthy, high-performing, and able to rank highly in the search engines.

Implementing strong search engine optimisation strategies for your ecommerce business can take time and quite a lot of effort, but in an increasingly search-first world, it’s worth it. Of course, building better SEO for your website starts with a deep understanding of your website’s current health.

Key areas to audit in your 2022 website health check

Check for website crawlability and indexability issues

Technical SEO provides the foundation for websites who want to rank well in Google and other search engines. This involves many of the ‘unseen’ elements of your website, such as your underlying website code, your robots.txt directives, HTTP status codes, and Javascript rendering issues. A core part of technical SEO is ensuring your website can be both crawled and indexed by search engines. After all, even if your website looks great, if it cannot be properly crawled and then indexed by search engines, it won’t appear to users in their search results and will not be effective for driving organic traffic and conversions.

Your website health check should look for crawlability and indexability issues to ensure your site can show up for users in search. This will involve reviewing your sitemaps, making sure you have canonical tags in place for duplicate content, and ensuring your noindex, nofollow, and disavow controls are not blocking any important webpages from being crawled or indexed.

Check your website speed and page loading times

Website loading times are a determining factor in bounce and click-through rates—and with last year’s Google search updates putting even more importance on Core Web Vitals like page speed, it’s never been more important to address this aspect of your website’s overall health. To satisfy user expectations and lengthen the time users spend on your site, page loading should be as quick as possible.

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

Ecommerce websites, having conversions as a major KPI, should adhere to the under-two-second benchmark to increase their likelihood of driving online revenue. Page speeds are a top priority in website health and related issues should be fixed as soon as possible, as 46% of users are not likely to revisit a site whose performance they deemed poor.

Several tools exist that can help you assess your site’s overall speed and your individual page loading times. Google PageSpeed Insights and Google Analytics are accessible and reliable examples, but ecommerce businesses whose websites have a huge number of pages to analyse may want to seek out a more robust SEO analytics platform—luckily, there are some great SEO tools available on the market today.

Make sure your content is structured to compete in the SERPs

While last year’s Google search updates have put a strong focus on user experience and Core Web Vitals for SEO, don’t forget to check the core on-site and content-related elements that contribute to your rankings in the search results. Make sure your title and h1 tags are addressing your keyword targets, internal linking is in place to promote your most important content, and meta descriptions and schema are in place to drive click-through rates from the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Optimise with mobile in mind

Internet use has seen a dramatic and well-documented transition away from the desktop and towards mobile browsing in recent years. Statista reports that 54.6% of internet browsing in Q1 2021 was performed on mobile.

Optimising for both mobile and desktop is imperative when catering for differing user patterns. The primary goal of mobile optimisation is to enable site visitors to easily navigate and convert on all device types while ensuring a seamless user experience regardless of their device preference. So, when adding, changing, or removing website features in 2022, remember how important it is to think about mobile use.

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

Check out the competition

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

Fix outstanding issues, choose the right tools, & create processes to heed off future SEO mistakes

Once you have actionable insights garnered from your website health check, it’s time to address any problems you’ve found and establish best practices and processes to ensure your team has a strong SEO plan moving forward. You may also want to consider adding a dedicated SEO tool to your MarTech stack this year to help create more efficient website monitoring through SEO automations and save your internal teams time on conducting future website health audits.

For technical SEO issues like site speed, Javascript rendering issues, broken links, and site architecture improvements, you’ll likely need to work with your website development team to fix these errors. It’s important to have a good working relationship with these supporting team members and establish SEO as a priority for driving your website’s overall success. Often, cross-functional teams find it hard to collaborate efficiently on SEO projects, so it’s worth establishing ongoing processes between marketing and development teams that will help you make sure SEO issues are addressed in a timely manner.

It’s worth highlighting the fact that SEO is a constantly evolving discipline and your teams will need to keep up with the latest developments in search engine technology to stay at the top of the search results. Enlisting a dedicated SEO platform or professional services team can help ensure your website health checks are engaging with the most up-to-date best practices and help guide your efforts as you establish your own set of internal processes to ensure SEO is getting the attention it deserves.

Understanding your website’s health is crucial for building year-long momentum

Your website health and organic search efforts are about more than just optimising one specific sales channel. Conducting website health and SEO audits can also provide vital insights into your customers’ behaviour, your competitors, and larger industry trends and developments. Having a solid understanding of your website’s health alongside its performance within the wider search landscape can help you better understand what consumers are looking for, what pain points your business can help solve for them, and help you keep track of competitive threats.

Gaining a holistic view of your website through a website health check allows you to optimise in key areas for maximum impact, enforce better practices for the year to come, and ensure your website has the best chance at driving online sales throughout the year.


Craig Dunham, CEO of Deepcrawl

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