If you’ve ever wondered how well your website is performing, chances are you’ve done a little bit of research about how websites are analyzed. Doing a basic search, you might have found tools related to website traffic, SEO, and even services or agencies that will measure performance for you.
Just doing a search and seeing all the different tools, blogs, services, and metrics can be a little overwhelming. It’s hard enough to understand each of these components, let alone know which ones are best for helping you improve your website.
To help, we’ve put together a guide with a list of different tools our team uses to analyze the performance of our client’s websites. From user-experience to on-page performance, we’ve put together some of our best tips & tricks to get you started on the right path.
If you ask several of our front-end web developers what the most important factor is to a website’s quality, they will most certainly answer with a strong user experience. User-experience goes beyond what visitors see when they arrive on your homepage and encompasses almost every aspect of your website.
Components like how your website is laid out, links, meta tags, and even the navigation between pages all play into how visitors interact with your site. Things like font size & color, backgrounds, and even the path your visitors take to finding content all affect the performance of your website.
If your website portrays a poor user-experience for any of your visitors, your bounce rate, organic search rank, and other performance metrics are probably going to suffer in the future. While there is no central authority or rulebook on user-experience, making sure your content is accessible to all visitors is an industry rule-of-thumb.
While you might be thinking, “My website seems perfectly fine and I can find everything I need” you need to put yourself in the shoes of your visitors. Users with certain hearing, vision, or intellectual disabilities will interact with your content differently. To test your website and see how different components like images are displayed to various users, there are a few different tools you can use.
aXe by Deque
aXe is an open-source accessibility testing tool that you can download to your browser. It runs in the background of each page and allows you to run an analysis of your site through inspecting the source code. Once you open aXe, it will provide you a list of different accessibility violations that should be addressed on your website. It will also link you to Deque University and give you in-depth explanations behind each violation and how you can improve your website.
Website Accessibility Initiative
If you’re interested in learning more about accessibility guidelines and different tools you can use to analyze your website, W3.org is for you. With the latest updates regarding different initiatives to improve the web, W3 has a comprehensive online library of links, tools, and articles you can read to stay up-to-date on the latest practices.
Search Engine Optimization
Creating a strong user-experience and accessible content is only one component of building a quality website. Regardless of how well your website is put together, it means almost nothing unless people can find it on a search engine.
The topic of SEO and how website content is found on the internet is one of the most popular ways websites are evaluated. Many professionals believe if a website doesn’t rank well for certain keywords on search results pages that key customers will not be able to find the site while performing a search.
Strictly speaking, if a website doesn’t perform well during a search, chances are it doesn’t have a high volume of traffic visiting its’ pages. A low volume of traffic usually translates to poor sales or brand exposure overall. With a low volume of traffic, conversions, and other metrics it’s hard to attach a high value to the domain.
That’s why many companies do their best to optimize their websites according to SEO best practices and drive as much quality traffic to their domain as possible. There are several online platforms that offer tools to analyze every aspect of a website’s SEO. Moz and SEM Rush are by far the most popular.
Moz is one of the foremost authorities for everything related to SEO. With their Moz Pro tool pack, you can perform full site audits of your domain and receive reports on how to improve the SEO of your website. You can see things like missing meta tags, low word count on pages, and even get suggestions for optimizing the keywords for your content.
SEM Rush provides several of the same services and tools as Moz. SEM Rush works both internally and externally on your site as well. Through this platform, you can run audits on your site to determine keyword difficulty, link data, and produce reports of your results. SEM Rush takes analytics one step further by giving you the ability to track social media and analyze paid online advertising efforts.
One of the most common areas our developers and clients use to measure the quality of a website is visitor traffic. Through tracking how many visitors arrive at a webpage, engage with content, and other essential metrics, we are usually able to see if a website is performing well, or if it needs a few adjustments.
Think of your website’s traffic as potential customers visiting your store or calling your sales team. If potential customers walk right into your store, view your products and then leave, there is probably a problem. The same applies to your website.
Using tools like Google Analytics, you will be able to see how visitors interact with your website and determine what areas work well and what areas need to be improved. Maybe you have a high bounce rate on your homepage? Perhaps your site navigation is leaving users confused and affecting your conversion rate? Maybe your most popular page isn’t mobile friendly.
Through installing Google Analytics on your website, you’ll be able to measure key metrics like bounce rate, page views, session duration, and determine if your website is good to go or if you need to make a few improvements.
On-page performance is one of the most overlooked and influential areas of website performance. Numerous website owners and developers overlook this component because it isn’t always the easiest to address. Website features like the time it takes a page to load, whether a page is responsive to different devices, and how it looks across multiple browsers are all key performance factors.
To provide the best user-experience possible, be competitive in SEO, and have a strong positive influence on your website’s traffic, you need to optimize the performance of your entire website. To measure these metrics and get an idea of where your website stands, there are several free online tools you can use.
Google’s Page Speed
Developers around the world have used Google’s Page Speed to run audits on their sites and learn how they can make improvements to loading times and other metrics. By simply entering the URL of your site, you can see how your site performs on both desktop and mobile devices.
The dashboard will give you an overall score out of 100 and provide suggestions for how you can improve your performance. Below is an example from Amazon.com
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test
Even though Google and other popular search engines like Yahoo and Bing have been stressing the importance of websites being mobile friendly for years, many sites are still not compliant. To test and make sure your website displays content correctly to mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and notebooks, Google developed a simple tool to use.
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test allows you to simply type in the URL of your website and receive a clear determination of whether the site is mobile friendly or not. It also provides reports on usability metrics and can provide you with suggestions for how you can improve your site. An example from VIG is below.
Understanding how your website is performing and how you can make improvements can be an ongoing challenge. We’ve had many of our clients ask us how they can improve their website and how we measure the quality of our work. For many, the answer is simple. Great websites require continual improvement and dedicated attention to detail.
The best websites on the internet today aren’t the ones with the most videos, images, or unique features. They also aren’t the ones with the best deals on holiday gifts. The best websites are easy to use, display content in a useful manner, provide everything visitors need and nothing they don’t, and above all are accessible to a diverse group of users.
Want to take your website to the next level? Think VIG!