I love tech, and I was born in this era, when it is easier to create and analyze a website in full HTML than building an outdoor shed (even if I can do both now). Allow me to share this short and easy guide to analyzing a website. Below, you can find a small list of things that I do when I check a website.
I am aware that the C-Level crowd may not be as familiar with the web, especially since technology changes every day. The logic behind a website is similar to any marketing media, the good thing (or bad depending on your perspective) with the web is that everything leaves a trace. It is not enough that a website looks good, it also needs to be accessible, clear, and trustworthy.
Here are my tips:
The Idea of Customer Experience and the Look and Feel of a Home Page
Put yourself in the shoes of a the customer and go through the motion of visiting your website. If you feel like something is missing, or if you feel the urge to leave, it means that the website is not exciting enough for your target. You may have links that take people outside of the page to check some content or references. While helpful, these might be lost opportunities to keep them on your site longer.
You should have 1 or 2 clear calls to actions, and not open the door to a lot of different directions (unless you are writing a personal blog and don’t have to worry about these things).
You should be able to identify the message of a website from the home page by the imagery, photos or video. I know some people believe that they are selling to everybody, but they are not.
Make Content Easy to Read
The Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease is an excellent tool to measure the readability of your content. Here is the particular formula used to analyze the text:
RE = 206.835 – (1.015 x ASL) – (84.6 x ASW)
Put yourself in the internet viewers’ shoes. Would you want to be buried in information from the first page? For comparison’s sake, the New York Times has a reading level of 60-70; the Harvard Law Review has a score in the low 30.
Even if the target is highly technical, a website should be in the 50s. I use this one: https://readability-score.com. My score for this article is 70.
Are You Using Google Ads?
Social and web advertisements can be an important part of the strategy of a website. Google AdWords is the most popular ad service online. Consider, as a rule of thumb, that if marketing gets extra funding, Google Ads has an 80% chance of being funded first because it is by far the most popular search engine. On top of that, it helps with SEO (even if it is not supposed to). Further, the program can be used to deliver some insight on the strategy being employed by the company. If you Google the name of your brand and a competitor appears on top of your search results, it is time to invest some extra cash to appear first. No excuses or reasons, this is about principles!
77% of buyers using digital media start their journey with a simple Google search – Christina Rohde @ Pardot
Are you running Analytics in your code to measure what people are doing on your website? Some of the most techies companies are not. It can be because they don’t have the resources, or didn’t think about this. Analytics is one of the most popular tools to check metrics on websites. It is not perfect, but it is powerful, convenient, and best of all – free!
You can check if a website is using Analytics here: http://www.gachecker.com
The most authoritative websites have a lot of people that are talking about them and linking to their content. This is what backlinking means, and website administrators should pay close attention to it. The idea is that if your content is great, people will be talking about it, and the bigger the websites that are talking about you are, the better it is for your ranking on Google search results. I check backlinks with this tool : http://www.backlinkwatch.com, but there are a lot of very useful tools online that you can use as well.
When was the Webpage Last Updated?
It can be useful to know when a homepage was last modified. It gives some information on the “freshness” of the content and if someone is managing the brand’s online presence. Websites should be refreshed at least twice a month. When you click on the link below, a small window will appear at the top of my page.
You can also use the following link to check other websites: http://cachedview.com
If your website is not shown using the link above, you should contact your agency to address this. People may not be able to find you in their search engines soon.
Check Website Meta Tags
Meta tags are the way Google can tell what your website is talking about and create a profile on what you are offering. This tool is awesome for the job and gives you recommendations to improve these areas: http://www.seocentro.com/tools/search-engines/metatag-analyzer.html.
There are is a chance that you cannot dig into the code to change this information, but you can tell your agency or coders to fix this.
Full SEO Analysis
I have put this at the end of this post, as an extra tidbit if you have read all the way. If you don’t have the time to do all the footwork, you can download an SEO analysis of your website here in few seconds: http://neilpatel.com/seo-analyzer/. I have just discovered these guys, and I think that their work is pretty awesome and complete.
Learn the Coding Basics
If you want to learn to code to understand page sources and being able to have a discussion about the language used, I would recommend Code Academy: https://www.codecademy.com. These guys are great; I have learned to code with them. Ask your kids to use this website for the holidays and next year at the same time they will be rocking their tech class. Every marketer should have basic understandings of code and computer science to establish scientific marketing strategies.
In any case, you are brilliant, so rely on your experience and check the work from your agency to avoid bad surprises. This list can also be used on competitors if you are curious. You may not have to spend thousands to do a basic check of your website after all.
This also can help you stand up if you are a small fish in a big pound or a job seeker – come with metrics to back up your claim that you are good at digital marketing. Have you ever come with a full SEO analysis of a website to a job interview complete with recommendations and timelines for implementation? If you did, leave a comment. I want to stay in touch with you, we’ll create a club!
Merry Christmas, everybody!