Want to know how to optimise your website? These things are pretty easy to do and I’m sure you’ll be able to do them. I hope this will become a living document which will be updated with the input I receive from other professionals. But remember that this is a basic guide only for people that don’t know much about web design or SEO. It will be hard to optimise your website if it isn’t hosted on cPanel or if it isn’t a WordPress site, in which case some of these options won’t be possible for you.
Step 1: Check your website speed
Go to Pingdom, enter your website URL into the test box, click the ‘Settings’ arrow and choose the city closest to you. Click ‘Test Now’. You can ignore any alerts or prompts to sign up or buy anything. The tool is free. The reason I do this first is to see what the current site speed is and so I can see if the speed has improved after making changes. Take a screenshot of the results or record them using another means.
Step 2: Check Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool
Go to Google’s Page Speed Insights tool and enter your website URL. Click ANALYZE. Take a screenshot of the Mobile and Desktop scores. This tool, although owned by Google, isn’t the best tool to use for analysis, but it does give a good overall score of speed and usability of your website. You will also be able to see the improvement of your site using this tool. There will be some issues that just can’t be improved. Try to get 85/100 for desktop performance. Mobile is usually always going to be lower than this.
When running this tool you’ll probably see a suggestion to ‘Reduce Server Response Time’. This is usually a problem with your host. for that matter I recommend getting a quality website host. As far as Australian hosting goes, I’ve tried a lot of different hosting companies. But there is only one website hosting company I recommend for all my clients now. But better to get in touch with us to find out which would be the best for your needs.
Now that we have your website’s current performance data, we can start to identify areas for improvement, and work out how to optimise your website.
Step 3: Optimise Images
First of all, if your site is on a host that uses cPanel, usually there is a tool called ‘Optimize Website’. Login to cPanel (usually yourwebsite.com/cpanel) using the cPanel username and password your hosting company gave you. Do a search inside cPanel for ‘Optimize Website’. Choose ‘Compress All Content’, then update settings.
Then, go to your website and download all the images on your main landing pages. For most local business websites, this will just be the homepage. You can download the images by hovering over the image, right click, and “Save As”. Create a new folder on your computer to save the images from your website.
After you have completed this step, go to an image compression tool like Compress JPEG. Drag and drop all images into this tool and wait for them to finish being processed. When completed download the whole batch, saving them to your computer.
Once the images have been compressed, check the name of each image file and make sure there is a relevant keyword in the file name. For example, if the file name is image101.jpg, change it to something like yourbusinessnamekeyword.jpg. Don’t put any spaces or underscores in the file name. But you can-put-dashes-if-you-want.
Upload your optimised images to your website, replacing the old ones. Also make sure each image has some ‘alt’, preferably with your keyword in the alt text as well. If you need help with this, please let just know. (we can make a video on it)
Step 4: Install a caching plugin
If you’re using WordPress, you can install a free plugin. If you’re totally new at all this, we recommend WP SUPER CACHE. You’ll need to turn it on in the settings area of the plugin. If you need help with this, please let me know. I’m going to make a post about setting up a more advanced plugin,W3 Total Cache, in the future. But for the sake of simplicity, WP Super Cache does a pretty good job. If your site has an SSL certificate (https), you’ll pretty much have to go with W3 Total Cache and get some help setting it up.
Step 5: Get your Header Tags sorted
Search engines give a lot of value to header tags. If you want to see what your current header tags are, you can run the SEO Audit Tool on one of Webgator’s SEO pages. About halfway down the report you’ll see the h1, h2, and h3 tags that your site uses. It’s important that there is only one h1 tag on each page of your site. Your main keyword/s should be in your h1 tag. Your h2 tag should be like a sub-heading of sorts, which also contains your main keyword or related keyword phrase. H3 tags are great for other important keywords you want to rank for. You can have many h3 tags on your page if you have many keyword terms you’re going after. But make sure there is only one h1 tag.
If you don’t know how to do this, please let me know and I’ll try my best to help you out.
Step 6: How to Optimise your Website Title and Description
The Title and Description of your website are what display in the search engines. If you’re using WordPress, you can use a plugin like Yoast SEO. I plan on doing a post or video about how to set Yoast SEO properly. You can input the title and description of your homepage by editing the homepage itself. You will see the Yoast SEO box under the content area of your homepage. Your title should contain your main keyword. For example, if you are trying to rank for Web Design Brisbane, you could use a title like “Webgator Web Design Brisbane – Website Designers” or something similar.
Under the title section you will see the description area. In this area you can put the sales copy of your page. Don’t both stuffing keywords in this section, as it doesn’t carry much ranking weight (if any). Use this area to sell your customers so when they see your site listed in the search engines, they’ll want to click on it. The Yoast SEO plugin will tell you if you exceed the maximum amount of acceptable characters.
If you’ve already installed a caching plugin, you’ll have to empty the cache after making any changes before they’ll appear.
Step 7: Recheck you site using the tools in Step 1.
If there has been some slight improvement with speed and performance, that’s fantastic! If there has been no change, maybe your web designer already did a good job of getting your site optimised.
Remember too though, this is a basic guide and there are lots of other things an SEO will do to optimise a website. But if you’re on a tight budget, or a DIY fanatic, you should benefit from following these steps.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below!