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Just as humans are bombarded with ‘new year, new you’ advice, it’s a good analogy for websites. Neglected websites are lacking in energy: they don’t climb up the rankings and they aren’t quick to engage with users.

Thanks to a tumultuous 2020, businesses have had to review and revise their use of digital. Barclays Bank reported that during the pandemic a third (33%) of retailers have had website upgrades, 32% have started to accept new payment methods and one in four (26%) have embraced data analytics for the first time.

It’s competitive online! You may not have the resources for a new website, so how can you improve the performance of the website you have?

1) Write thoughtful meta descriptions

The meta description is a summary of a webpage and is shown by search engines after a search query. A good description will show people that the content on the page is relevant to them, and so increase the number of clicks. If you get lots of clicks from searches your website will be ranked higher. Try to use keywords from the page and make the description unique to the page.

2) Find and fix broken links

Broken links, or 404 errors, make a bad user experience and can result in high bounce rates. They can also affect your search ranking. Try the W3C link checker to find and fix broken links.

3) Add alternative text for images

Alt text is a description of the nature or content in an image. Having alternative text for images is very important as it allows visually impaired users to access the content on your page. Search engines will also read your alternative text and this will improve your image ranking. Moz have some useful advice on writing alternative text.

Another pointer on accessibility is how you write links. It’s really important that you don’t add a link to the phrase ‘click here’ because it has no context for people using a screen reader. If you want to link, for example, to a price list then use a link that reads ‘read the price list for 2021’.

4) Optimise images

Images that are too big can slow your website down and have frustratingly long page load times. You may be able to see this frustration reflected in a high bounce rate. To optimise your images – i.e. to compress them – for use on your website use Squoosh.

5) Disavow toxic backlinks

Links from authoritative websites that point to your site are an important ranking factor. Whereas links from low-quality, spammy websites have the power to damage your website’s rankings. Google can remove harmful backlinks on request.

6) Plan and utilise keywords

Use Google Analytics to see how much traffic keywords bring in. Where are keywords pushing your users to enter the site? Which keywords are most useful to work on in terms of growing your ranking and bringing in more users? A useful place to start is Google Trends as you can visualise the popularity of search terms over time and find your niche. Once you’ve done this you can go to Google Keyword Planner which will help you find the keywords that are most relevant for your niche and how often these words are searched.

7) Understand your users with Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager allows you to quickly and easily update measurement codes on your site without the need for a developer. When used correctly it can show you what content is most appealing to your audience and how their user journey begins.

You can tag individual elements on a page with unique identifiers so whichever single element is clicked it will be registered and you can then collect unequivocal evidence of what is being used on your website and what is either being ignored or is simply not necessary.

Tag Manager will then generate reports in Google Analytics which can then be incorporated into your regular user experience audit and the results can contribute towards future website improvements.

Get your website working

It’s always hard to start a new regime, when there are so many other things that need attention. But getting your website into shape will be a great start to the year. And having a website that performs well will attract new users and help you reach your goals. Try using the tools we’ve mentioned to refresh your site. Or contact us to find out about how we can support you to get your website firing on all cylinders.