Just about every week I get the question, “What can I do to improve my website’s performance?” The truth is, there is no simple answer. It depends on what metrics you are using to gauge performance and there are a lot of factors that should be taken into consideration. But there are some common cleanup tricks everyone with access to their website can do to improve their users’ experience and search engine crawl speeds, which in turn improves performance.
All the Magic Starts in Webmaster Tools
If you haven’t setup Google Webmaster Tools for your website, you are at a remarkable disadvantage in trying to gauge the performance of your website. I will give a walk-through of Webmaster Tools in the near future for those of you who have never heard of it. Setting it up is fairly easy. Just go to http://www.google.com/webmasters/ and sign in using your Google (GMail) account. You will need to have the ability to edit your website in order to get Webmaster Tools functioning as a short meta tag must be added to the header.
Once you are verified, as long as Google has previously crawled your website, you will be able to access data that will help improve your website’s performance.
Right from the dashboard, I can see crawl errors that could be effecting both search and user experience. When you click into crawl errors, you will see a list of pages of your website that Google can no longer find. These pages may have moved on your site or may have been eliminated. If you are on WordPress, using a simple plugin like Simple 301 Redirects will help you “redirect” the page value, visitor traffic and search engine bots to another page. If the content no longer exists, you should pick the page that most closely resembles the content of the missing page.
Other Crawl Stats
On the menu on the left hand side of Google Webmaster Tools under the “crawl” section, you will find a link labelled “crawl stats.” Upon entering crawl stats, you can check Googlebot’s activity on your website and how fast they are able to crawl your pages. Seeing large spikes in page load times or steep drop-offs in pages being indexed could indicate a problem. Using a service like Pingdom or Google’s own PageSpeed Insights, you can test the load times of your pages, which will help you figure out where there could be an issue. These issues are usually pretty simple, such as an image file size being too large, but sometimes it’s not so simple and search engines may be getting blocked by a script or your robots.txt.
Stay Tuned For More
Come back regularly to Digital Law Marketing, Inc.’s blog. We will continue providing short walk-throughs that will help you analyze your website’s performance as well as trends in the legal marketing industry that could help you get the jump on your competition. If you have questions about your website’s performance, at Digital Law Marketing, Inc., we provide free consultations for attorneys, including a website performance report on request. Until next time…