Do you feel like your website a bit slow or under the weather? You need to know how to complete a proper health check on your website. As well as knowing how to improve its performance.

There are so many parts that can affect the performance of a website. It can be hard to know where to start. Some of the issues can include sluggish loading speeds, poor page design, navigation difficulties and out of date content that can affect your online statistics. The good news is that there are plenty of tools, including Google Analytics, to help you diagnose problems and sort it out for you.

1. Check the exits

The best way to judge how a website is performing is to see where people are leaving from. Look at the specific pages where either people leave your site, the places where you expect people to leave, or has something gone wrong? Live chat pop-ups are a useful tool at points where website visitors seem to be struggling. Websites use a pop-up to ask helpful questions such as:

  • ‘Do you need help checking out?’
  • ‘Can’t find what you are looking for?’
  • ‘Not sure what the right fit will be?’

2. Conversion rates

Getting people to buy is about building a tunnel to conversion and keep people moving in the right direction. A health check on how many people are going through all the steps from the product page to basket and checkout? This is all about navigation; you need to work out where the biggest drop-offs happen and improve navigational content. This could be entering card details or signing up to the website. Frequently, navigational problems are caused by a lack of CTAs (calls to action) or pages that send visitors to the wrong place.

3. Loading speeds

Site speed is more vital than ever, and it’s worth checking your loading speeds every three to six months. You can use many tools online like GT Metrix, which tests the loading speed of URLs. This rates them from A (good) to F (bad) and offers specific advice on how to improve performance. Normally it comes down to basic server-side things you can do that speed everything up. If you have a lot of pages you can test different types of templates to see which designs are loading best.

4. Time spent on site

Another good website health check is to see how long people spend on your website or on specific pages. This can show levels of user engagement, but it all depends what you want people to do. People won’t spend the same amount of time on all your pages.

For example: If people spend a short time on one page and then move on to the next step in a buying journey. It’s a successful visit.

Page times, bounce rates and exits are specific to you and your website. These are things you should compare with other pages on your own website. Not to compare with other websites. You need to know what’s normal for your site before you decide which pages are performing better than others.

5. Traffic

When it comes to website traffic, it is worth comparing your performance with competitors. Website traffic is about how people find your website, how many of them visit and how that stacks up against your rivals.

There is a tool online called SimilarWeb, you can put in your URL and your competitors’ URLs and it compares monthly traffic and the source of that traffic. You can find out more about your competitors’ marketing strategies. It shows their top keywords and their top referrers. You can see if they are getting loads of traffic from paid search, it could be a good indication that you should be doing pay-per-click as well.

6. User testing

Not every website problem can be diagnosed with data alone; user testing can be incredibly revealing when it comes to finding out exactly how people use your website.

User Testing is a great service that allows you to watch people using your website and hear them talk about the experience. You can set a specific task for a specific panel of users and they are then filmed going through the process. Another useful tool is Hotjar which provides heat maps and recordings that capture people’s behaviour on your site, showing exactly where they go.

7. Search

A simple way to spot problems with search and improve your search results is to sign up for Google Search Console. This shows your natural search results on Google. It tells you what you are being found for and where people are landing on your site. Google will also tell you if they are having problems with your site and you can give them a sitemap so they can crawl you more deeply.

8. Mobile

You can’t look at site traffic as a whole anymore, there are many different platforms, and checking traffic on mobile is vital. A lot of the bigger competitors are now designing specific sites for mobile and desktop as their needs are so different. But most small businesses have one responsive site. You need to keep checking the analytics to see if things are affecting traffic on desktop or mobile. When you are having problems with mobile, a quick remedy is to turn off pop-ups. Google has said users aren’t prepared to put up with pop-ups on mobile anymore. In fact, with any functionality, if it’s intrusive, turn it off for mobile.