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Website health: How to improve it, sustainably

A healthy website ensures long-term visibility, market reach and higher sales. In this article, we’ll show you what to pay attention to when monitoring and optimizing your website, and share some free and paid tools to do so.

If your website health is poor, then users can't find what they're looking for, and your chances of digital success will decrease substantially. In this article, you'll learn how to check and improve it across a number of key metrics, to set yourself up for long-term success.

What does website health actually mean?

Website health issues can be technical (such as server issues), or content-related. We’ll look at some important metrics for how to measure each of these below, along with some tools for doing so.

This should also help you prepare an action plan for prioritizing any optimizations you need to me, once you have checked your own website.

Website health is therefore an essential part of any SEO action plan: it sits at the intersection of technical SEO, on-page and user experience optimization, and content optimization.

How poor website health affects your business

Have you ever visited an online shop and found that it took several seconds to load? Did this give you an unfavorable impression, so you left without buying anything?

Then you probably ended up in an online shop with low website health. And you can already guess what consequences this can have for the operators of the site.

Bad website health means that:

  • Many visitors will leave, and won’t return

  • Sales of your products or services decline

  • Subscriptions to your newsletter falter

  • Your digital brand suffers

  • Your webpages no longer rank well in search results

  • Your reach and visibility will decrease

  • Your website traffic falls

  • Your bounce rate increases significantly

The website health therefore has a significant influence on your sales, and the digital success of your company. A negative user experience and technical flaws on the website will also harm your branding, whether you're a new or established brand.

However, new brands must work particularly hard to build trust (and especially ecommerce sites). If customers do not trust your website, they will not buy anything from you online, and may not book or buy your services or products in person either.

Which means that website health is not only relevant for online shops or ecommerce, but it can also influence your company image offline, and affects in-person sales.

You can assume that every second potential customer searches online for your company and opening hours before visiting you in person. If they experience poor website quality, you might lose them before they even set foot in your office or shop.

So as you can see, website health is fundamental to your digital business success, regardless of your business model .

10 ways to measure website health

You can tell whether your website is doing well, and what is behind any issues, by at various "symptoms", or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). It's important not to look at these values in isolation, but rather how they interact with each other.

By monitoring both individual KPIs, and how they interact with each other, you can quickly determine whether your website is healthy (or not), and where improvements should be made.

1. Loading speeds

This can be checked via Google's Core Web Vitals scores, which show how long it takes for a URL to be usable after the first click (along with a few other metrics).

2. Dwell times

It's important to look at how long visitors stay on your website, or on a specific URL. If it is only a few seconds or fractions of a second, there is definitely a need for page optimization measures.

3. Bounce rate

A high bounce rate can indicate possible technical problems or poor content. However, this KPI should only be considered in combination with dwell time. A high bounce rate alone can also mean, for example, that users have simply found what they were looking for and therefore do not have to click on another page.

4. Click-through rates

The click-through rate (CTR) measures how many people see your webpages in search results and then click on them. If CTR is low despite good rankings, or if you notice sudden drops, it may be necessary to optimize the meta description, for example.

5. 404 error pages

If error pages accumulate, this can negatively affect the user experience and the crawling of your website. Therefore, you should keep an eye on the accessibility of your pages.

6. Server availability

A server that can be reached without interruptions is the prerequisite for your content to be consumed at all. If there are interruptions here, this can also lead to abandoned shopping carts for online shops.

7. Content quality

If the content quality drops, this can lead to higher bounce rates and a shorter retention time. Bad content doesn't mean anything good for your rankings either, because Google devalues corresponding URLs.

8. Mobile-friendliness

Even though mobile-friendliness has been prioritized by Google for many years now, there are still many websites that can only be used on smartphones to a limited extent.

With more than half of all visitors now arriving via mobile devices, this is a serious problem and should be fixed urgently. Check out our ebook on optimizing for mobile if you need help here.

9. Shopping cart abandonment

This KPI is particularly relevant for ecommerce sites. Poor website health might cause customers to put products in their shopping cart, but fail to complete the order. This is where it becomes very obvious how negative website health can affect digital success.

10. Faulty redirects

If your redirects don't work, performance and user experience can suffer. That's why you should keep an eye on your webpage redirects, and fix any broken ones.

How to monitor your website health

There are several ways to monitor website health, with both free and paid tools available. Some are more powerful, or more full-featured, than others. As always, consider your own particular needs as a starting point.

1. Click through your website regularly (free)

Many website operators forget something very simple when checking website health: Visit your own website and click through the offer. The following questions can help you with the analysis:

•Can you call up URLs with your smartphone without any problems? Can you access the content with different browsers?

•Is your menu structure structured in such a way that you can reach all URLs within a maximum of three clicks?

•Does your website load fast enough?

This simple self-test can lead you to a possible trace of problems or defects.

Tip: Let friends or employees access the website regularly. They can give you valuable feedback on the user experience . Also use the feedback from customers. For example, offer an easy way on one page to report bugs quickly.

2. Connect your website with Google Search Console (free)

With the Search Console you have a very extensive free tool from Google at your disposal. The GSC informs you, for example, quickly in the case of possible crawling problems or gives tips on user-friendliness . You also have access to detailed reports such as the Core Web Vitals report and can quickly monitor mobile optimization.

Here we show you how to set up the Google Search Console.

3. Use a website traffic analysis tool (free)

With Google Analytics or other analysis tools like Matomo, you can keep an eye on KPIs such as bounce rates, click rates or length of stay . Establish a regular routine and preferably check the data daily.

4. Monitor your server availability (paid, with free trial available)

Ryte's Quality Assurance features automatically monitor your server availability and alert you to you possible outages. This gives you a quick overview of possible malfunctions or limited website health at the server level, and enables you to respond quickly:

Fig. 1: The Ryte Server Monitoring Report

5. Monitor your website health with Ryte (paid, with free trial available)

With the Ryte Platform you can monitor your website holistically and quickly identify errors and optimization potential across six pillars: SEO, quality assurance, web performance, compliance, accessibility and sustainability.

The Ryte Platform's dashboard and issue overview are your best friend when it comes to checking your website health. The Issue Overview ranks website errors according to their relevance, so that you can easily identify and start working on the most serious issues:

Fig. 2: The Ryte Issues Overview provides a quick overview of website issues and their priority

With one click you can access the corresponding report, and get detailed insights into the respective area.

Summary: Improving website health

The health of your website is comparable to your own health. Without a healthy diet and exercise, it can quickly deteriorate, causing visible problems.

You should therefore work regularly on your website quality. These are not one-off actions for quick results, but important maintenance tasks if you wish to have sustainable and long-term success on the web. Happy optimizing!

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Published on Apr 27, 2022 by Philipp Roos