I have an annual physical coming up in the next week or so, and that got me thinking about how often we should be performing website health checks. A website health check is a routine checkup to ensure it functions optimally. This should be done regularly because it helps identify any issues affecting your website’s performance.
Just as a physician has his clipboard of items to check in a physical, here are some things to check regularly to ensure your website is healthy.
Page Speed: A slow-loading website can lead to visitors leaving in frustration and search engines dropping your ranking. You can use a speed test tool like Google Page Speed Insights, GTMetrix Page Speed Tester, or the Pingdom Website Speed Test to check how fast your web page loads.
These tools will give you a score and explain why your site might be slow. Spoiler alert: the most often reason for a slow-loading website is images that are not optimized properly.
On-Site SEO: Good on-site (or technical) SEO is the foundation for any successful SEO strategy. You should keep page titles unique and clear, ensure each page on your website is unique, and write helpful meta descriptions. For example, ensure images always contain titles and alt text values relevant to the content.
If your station’s website competes with other radio stations and media in your market, you might put more effort into providing better content. Not so. Putting proper SEO practices in place is more important because it ensures that the content you do have can be found more easily. Great content without proper SEO will be less likely to be found.
It’s a good plan to make on-site SEO a monthly check you run on your website. Several tools can help you spot any issues. Start with the free Hubspot Website Grader. This tool scans your website for SEO-related issues and offers solutions.
For ongoing help, SEMRush and Ahrefs are paid-for tools that can run regular audits on your website. It should be noted that tools like SEMRush can also help you research your competitor’s websites to spot weaknesses that you can use to your advantage.
Analytics Tracking: Analytics are essential when determining which content is popular with your audience. Checking that you’ve set up your Google Analytics correctly is important to get the most accurate representation of visitor activity. Adjust your content strategy over time to give your online audience more of what they like best to ensure your traffic numbers are always growing.
Mobile Responsiveness: A responsive website is essential because more traffic is being done on mobile devices. If your site isn’t easy to browse on a mobile device, you are undoubtedly losing visitors. And even if your website is mobile responsive, are all aspects of your content visible? We’ve seen radio stations use a third-party service to handle a specific contest. The desktop pages functioned perfectly, and the client was happy. However, halfway through the contest, the client discovered that the form didn’t function properly on mobile devices.
It’s important to routinely audit your content on a mobile device to ensure everything is easy to navigate and works properly.
Website Security: Your site should be using several security measures. The first and most obvious one is an SSL security certificate. This is what shows as “https” in the URL. Every website should be secure now to help with search ranking and ensure visitors have confidence in your website’s security. Otherwise, they will be skeptical about filling out a contest form or anything else.
An important security measure is ensuring everyone uses strong passwords. Your website security is only as strong as your weakest password. If you or your team use weak passwords that are used anywhere else, it’s only a matter of time before your website is hacked. We highly recommend using password manager software and two-factor authentication, where you receive a text message or e-mail to verify your account.
In our 11 years of providing radio station websites, we’ve only experienced one security breach, and the cause was a station manager using a weak password.
How’s Your Website Health?
A “healthy website” is fast loading, easily found online, and provides insight into what visitors are doing. It’s also mobile-responsive and secure. Regular website health checks can help you flag concerns and improve issues before they become severe problems. We recommend monitoring your website health at least once a quarter. If you have a Digital Content Manager in place, this should be one of the regular duties.
Unfortunately, many wait until there’s something drastically wrong and look to hire someone to fix everything quickly. This can be very expensive. Proper website health doesn’t require complete website redesigns and expensive marketing companies. It can be done in-house using free or cheap online tools, following best practices, and having some common sense.