What’s Wrong With Your Site: The 6 Most Common Web Performance Issues Today

In the modern era, no matter what vertical you’re in, from software to retail to food service to manufacturing, your web presence matters.
What some people may not understand is just how crucial a strong web presence can be. It only takes 50 milliseconds for a web visitor to decide whether they like your site or not, and if they don’t, they may never come back. Bounced visitors are lost leads and lost revenue, but there are a lot of reasons a visitor might leave your site that you need to account for. Here are some of the most common problems we’ve encountered.

1. Mobile

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the single biggest problem our clients’ (and our own) websites face when it comes to SEO ranking is keeping up with the shifting norms around mobile design.

It’s essential that your website is optimized to load just as quickly on mobile as it does on desktop, if not even faster. Everything from features to the sitemap, from navigation to image layouts, should work intuitively and easily. There’s a good chance that potential customers will visit both the mobile version and desktop version of your website before making a purchase, and that transition needs to be seamless.
Even if your website statistics indicate that virtually none of your traffic is coming from mobile, Google has forced your hand. In the last few years, Google has transitioned to a “mobile-first” indexing algorithm that ranks sites (even the desktop version) lower if the mobile version is optimized. If your site doesn’t work on mobile, you’ll slide down the rankings.

2. Loading Speed

Modern web users are impatient. More than 50% of users will abandon a page if it takes more than three seconds to load, and mobile users tend to be in an even bigger hurry. Nevertheless, most websites take too long to load. According to a Google study in 2017, the average loading time for a website on mobile was 22 seconds, more than seven times too long to capture a user’s attention.

There’s a crucial caveat to this number: web visitors aren’t seeing the entire page at once. With modern website coding, you can specify which elements load first and insert light, fast-loading placeholders that signify where larger elements like photos and videos will appear. As long as your user can see that they’ve arrived at the right place, they’ll wait a little longer to actually interact with the page.

  • The number one contributor to slow loading times is media — usually photos and other visuals. Site visuals are important, but there are a few strategies to make sure they’re not slowing you down:
  • Use a CMS that creates and saves multiple versions of each image for various screens. There’s no reason to wait for a 4k photo to load on a 5-inch phone screen.
  • Compress images as much as you can without sacrificing quality. Play with different image formats to see which ones give you the smallest files.
  • Be judicious with your use of imagery. You don’t need high-resolution images as the background to every page when you can use white space and other visual elements that load much more quickly.
  • Use vector graphics instead of bitmaps whenever possible. For logos, basic shapes, and graphics (any visual element that isn’t a photo), vector graphics are likely to be much smaller, load faster, and scale infinitely to any screen size.

3. Landing Pages

Routing all your potential leads through the homepage is rarely the best way to entice the average user. A landing page, on the other hand, sees much higher conversion rates on average as it’s designed to capture a visitor’s attention and collect their contact information or provide them with the content they’re looking for. It should be tailored to the channel that brought them to the site, the device they’re on, or their prior activity.

There’s no limit to the number of landing pages you can create, but be careful to use “noindex” tags to keep Google from crawling them. If Google seens a hundred nearly-identical landing pages, it’ll penalize you for duplicate content and a needlessly contrived sitemap.

4. SEO

The world of SEO is always changing and gaining complexity, but you can’t afford not to keep up. We’ve already mentioned that slow loading times, large images, and a badly organized site can hurt your SEO rankings, but there are a few other elements to keep in mind:

  • Using the right keywords: while Google is savvy to old tricks like keyword stuffing and hidden text, it’s important to make sure that your site is using the terms that people search for.
  • Metadata: every page has a meta title and meta description that might never appear to your web visitors, but they’re still important to let Google know what your site is for.
  • Backlinks: use internal links from one page to another to show that your site is properly networked. Encouraging other websites to link back to your site is also a good way to increase your authority and thought leadership, which will help your rankings

One note of clarification: when we say “search engine” optimization, we mean Google. Google has dominated web search volume for decades now, with Bing and Yahoo following very, very far behind. If Google makes a change to the way it scrapes or ranks sites, you need to adjust.

5. Security

Cybersecurity should be a top-of-mind concern for any business owner, regardless of the size of your business or the industry you’re in, and your website is one of the most popular targets for malicious actors. An insecure website is not just a potential compliance issue, but could put you at risk for data breaches that will hurt your brand reputation and compromise your customers’ privacy. Think about:

  • SSL certificates: the HTTPS protocol is no longer optional — Google severely punishes the search rankings of sites that use unsecured HTTP protocols
  • Exposing email addresses: in addition to keeping your customers’ data secure behind firewalls and encryption, make sure that the contact information on your site can’t be scraped by email harvesters that will cram your inbox with spam
  • Password encryption: processes known as “salting” and “hashing” can allow you to store user passwords without ever knowing what they are, but some companies are much lazier about password storage.

In 2018, T-Mobile Austria was confronted about storing at least part of their customers’ passwords in plaintext, but dismissed the problem on Twitter, saying that the company had “amazingly good” security. Less than six months later, the company announced that the data of more than two million users had been compromised.

Again, Google has taken steps to encourage or require better website security. Sites that don’t comply with basic security protocols are ranked very poorly or even completely blacklisted from Google’s search results, regardless of how well the rest of the site might be built.

6. Bad Writing

There are a lot of technical aspects and backend code to a site that make a big difference to the quality of the site, but don’t forget that websites are for humans, too — and thanks to recent advances in “conversational” intelligence by search engines, appealing to humans is just as important as appealing to the robots that run algorithms.

What we mean by that is that your actual site content, including the writing and visuals, has to be good enough to keep people interested, keep them coming back, and encourage them to share your content. Higher-quality content will make people linger on your site longer and return to it more often, which will boost its search engine rankings.

Write using relevant keywords, proper grammar, and with a focus on readability and format. Keep long blocks of text to a minimum, and break up the formatting with visuals, bullet points, infographics, and other variety. For your site to bring in traffic, it needs to be genuinely useful.

Talk to the Experts

Navigating the ever-changing guidelines for optimizing your website isn’t easy, especially when you’re trying to run a business at the same time. That’s why you need the expert help of a technology consultancy like Madison Taylor Technology. We can examine the details of your current technology stack, your business needs, and your website to design a site that’s perfect for you and incorporates all of the features that matter most. If you’re ready to start taking your web presence seriously, talk to Madison Taylor Technology today.

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