Customers have high expectations when they visit a website and rightly so.

They expect it to be easy to navigate, to work on any device they’re using and to be able to transact with your business without the need to speak to someone or encounter issues.

A poor experience may mean that you lose a sale, your reputation is tarnished and site visitors don’t return.

Here are seven areas you should focus on to optimise your website which will help your business stay ahead of the competition:

  1. Monitor your website traffic and user behaviour

Check your site analytics on a regular basis. Your site analytics will give you a deeper insight into how visitors behave including on different devices. Typically desktop users have more time to browse whereas mobile device users are more likely to make impulse purchases.

You’ve no doubt found that a significant proportion of your site visits now come from users on mobile devices. Industry research indicates this is only likely to increase as more people choose to browse while on the move.

From your website data, you may discover parts of the site not getting any or very little traffic (are these pages needed), where people are leaving your site (would you expect them to leave on these pages) and how they move around your site (is the flow as expected or are they getting diverted to the wrong part of the site?).

  1. Conversion rate optimisation

When users are interacting with your site they are making decisions about what they see on the screen. It’s a worthwhile exercise to regularly user test the content and structure of your website to glean actionable feedback.

From there you can create hypotheses to run A/B or multivariate tests and following the test results make iterative improvements to your site.

Sometimes tests work exactly how you expect them to and at other times the one you least expect to work will win. What you can establish though, is that the results are based on users and their behaviour on your site – it’s very hard to argue against that.

It’s important to know how many enquiries and sales you receive through your website, where they have come from and how much it cost to acquire a sale.

This allows you to measure your marketing spend across different channels, evaluate the success of any iterative improvements to your website, and ultimately measure the underlying success of your website in converting visits to sales.

  1. Make sure your site is mobile responsive

A mobile first approach to your ongoing website development is essential. If your website isn’t navigable on mobile devices, it’s likely you’ll see your search engine ranking suffer as the major search engines consistently focus on the ever increasing mobile traffic accessing their sites.

Mobile device users have a different mindset to desktop visitors. They want to access information quickly (page load times are important here) and to be able to navigate your site with ease.

Visitors will get fed up if they have to pinch and zoom or squint to view your site content. If your website isn’t optimised for mobile devices, your bounce rate in your analytics data will be high.

By catering for mobile visitors you will ensure their user experience will be enjoyable and in turn drive engagement and ultimately more purchases or enquiries.

  1. Search engine optimisation (SEO) improves site visibility

The days of using keyword stuffing to improve your site’s visibility on search engines are long gone.

Complex algorithms have been developed to seek out and rank sites with relevant content, clearly defined page structures and codes and tagging to enhance user experience.

If you’re serious about search engine optimisation for your business’s website, then ongoing SEO is the only way to go.

In order to remain competitive in the world of online marketing – and in order to remain on Google’s good side – ongoing SEO is vital.

  1. Relevant content is a winner

If your site offers a positive mobile experience which serves users with relevant content then they’re more likely to return.

You need to have the right mix of functional content to inform users about your products and creative content which will get your brand noticed.

It’s important to continually refresh and add new content to ensure users have something new to read and explore. It can be a simple image refresh on your homepage, changing a button colour based on a test result through to a redesign of the information architecture based on user behaviour and insight.

New and optimised content can help you reach a wider audience because you can tailor content based on user feedback and long tail search terms as well as seasonal trends.

  1. External links to your site from high quality sites

Link earning is an important part of SEO, but it must be done right, or it will hurt you, rather than help you. Google wants to see links to your website on other high-quality sites, not on fly-by-night link farms, or even dubious guest blogging sites.

And the only way to get those links is to slowly but surely reach out, build relationships, and share your content with the owners of those high-quality sites.

This process takes time – and that’s the way Google likes it, as well. Search engines reward slow, gradual, natural growth in this area.

Websites that pop up out of nowhere with hundreds of links to them already in place raise red flags, and will probably be penalised.

  1. Keep a watchful eye on your competitors

Last but by no means least. Ongoing analysis of your online competitors allows you to make changes to your own site to make sure you maintain your rankings and relevance on search engine result pages.

If you drop off page 1 or fall down page 2, this could have a negative impact on your business.

Website optimisation should be treated as an ongoing, iterative process. Ultimately your site visitors’ behaviour speaks volumes. If they’re having difficulties on your site you may encounter a drop in sales or high bounce rates on certain pages.

These should be triggers to investigate and address any issues before it has a detrimental impact on your sales or visitor numbers.