Understanding SEO is just part of the equation for having a profitable website and generating new business. Website optimization is the other part of the equation, just as important, if not even more important, than SEO. Ultimately, increasing sales for your business online comes down to how well your site performs from a technical standpoint. That performance largely affects your website’s rankings (and whether or not your visitors follow your sales funnel all the way through to either contact you or make a purchase). Here are 7 of the most common website optimization mistakes that can cost you.
The following website optimization issues are a few areas of importance and focus on better site performance.
- Website Speed
- Image Optimization
- Avoid 301 Redirects
- Browser Cache Leveraging
- Use of Web Fonts
- Hotlink Protection
- Fix 404 Errors
Website Speed Optimization
The speed at which your website functions will, in part, determine where your site ranks in the search engines. Your visitors expect your site to deliver almost instant results, and if they have to wait for more than a few seconds, the majority will click out and go to another site that doesn’t make them wait. That’s just human nature in the digital age. Think “the faster, the better” for both your visitors’ user experience and your search engine rankings. Therefore, the first thing you should do is test your website’s speed using a website speed test tool. LOCALSYNC’s business scan includes a free website speed test tool, just enter your information in the box below and we will send you your free report.
After you’ve tested your site, you will need to determine what issues are causing the bottlenecks that are slowing it down so you can make the necessary corrections to improve its performance. You can do that by running a load test to find where the performance issues are originating. In addition to the LOCALSYNC location scan report, there are plenty of online tools that can help with that such as, Blitz, BlazeMeter, or Load Impact. Once you have identified where the performance issues originate, you can fix them or contact an SEO professional to do that for you.
Image Optimization – The Number 1 Website Optimization Mistake
One of the most common website optimization mistakes has to do with image optimization. We have all been stuck on a web page that takes forever to load only to realize that each of the images we 10MB EACH. Finding the optimal settings for your website’s images is both an art as well as a science, and it takes careful analysis if you want it done in a manner that brings you the best results. And since most web pages contain a wide variety of images, it’s in your best interest to make this a priority. Several popular image minify plugins and third-party tools can automate this task for you, such as TinyPNG and JPEGmini.
Avoid 301 Redirects
Redirects have a huge impact on your site’s performance by slowing it down. A 301 redirect generates more round trip times (RTT), increasing the time it takes to load your first HTML document. And that’s even before it has a chance to start loading your other content. Therefore, you should avoid 301 redirects whenever possible.
Browser Cache Leveraging
Another huge website optimization mistake many webmasters make is not leveraging browser cache. Managing your browser cache is extremely important, especially for content that rarely changes. HTTP caching happens when a browser stores copies of resources for faster access. The HTTP cache headers are generally the most important. These are called cache control headers, and they are made up of several directives that will let you define when and how a response should be cached and for how long. It’s best to implement a max-age of seven days.
Use of Web Fonts
Using web fonts can be great for design (especially when your goal is to make your content easier for your visitors to read). Also, using custom web fonts is great for consistent branding across all your different mediums. However, the problem with using custom fonts is that they add extra HTTP requests to external resources, and they are also render blocking as well (which slows down your page speed).
So what should you do if you want a great-looking site that’s easy to read, but that doesn’t slow down your site speed? What you’ll need to do is focus on mastering web font optimization because it’s a critical piece of your site’s overall performance strategy.
Another thing to remember is that if you are using custom web fonts from a third-party web font host, you are at their mercy if their site goes down. There are occasions when any visitor might be using an older web browser not compatible with your third-party fonts. Because of these compatibility issues, you should always use fallback fonts. A fallback font is considered a safe font, and those are generally pre-installed by most operating systems. You can find a full list of safe fonts on cssfontstack.com.
Hotlink protection prevents others from stealing your images. Using a hotlink protection tool will keep other websites from directly linking to the files and pictures on your website. This is important for more than the obvious reason of preventing theft of your content. It’s also important for preserving your bandwidth.
Here’s an example: If someone takes an image from your site and uses the full URL of your image, then that image is being downloaded from your website anytime someone looks at the other website. That means they are using your bandwidth and server resources for that image. You must use a hotlink protection tool from your web host or by installing a hotlink protection plugin to protect both your intellectual property as well as your server resources.
Fix 404 Errors
What is a “404” error? Anytime you have missing files or broken links on your website, it will generate a 404 HTTP error. These errors put quite a burden on your server and are bad for SEO. Best practices dictate to test your site for 404 errors periodically, and there are many resources to streamline this task. However, it’s not always best to use plugins or other modules to check for those 404 errors. You’re better off using an external broken link checker tool, so you don’t waste any of your server’s resources to perform these types of tasks.
Website Optimization Mistakes – The Bottom Line
Website optimization is not a “one-size-fits-all” process. You also need to look at social optimization as well as technical website optimization. It takes plenty of analyzing, testing, and forward-thinking to determine what will have the biggest impact on your website. Studying other sites and stats will help you better understand what works and what doesn’t. It is important not to allow yourself to become complacent. Building a website and generating new business for your company online is not a “set it and forget it proposition.” You have to be diligent when it comes to continually testing your site and correcting issues as soon as they are discovered if you want to enjoy continued success.