Website performance testing is – or should be – a very important part of running an online business. A website that doesn’t work properly results in unhappy customers and, potentially, lost sales.

Monitoring your website for errors and uptime/downtime is an essential first step to improving your online presence.

Tracking Load Time and Uptime

If you do nothing else, you should at least track load time and uptime. Why? Because it’s not uncommon to see a surprising amount of downtime on a website, according to Garrett Perks, the Founder and Creative Director of EvenVision, a web development and digital marketing firm. “This can be especially true for smaller sites running WordPress in a shared hosting environment,” Perks explains.

Tracking uptime has become especially important due to recent changes in the way Google crawls websites. “Uptime issues, as well as load time issues, can both impact your ranking in Google,” Perks says. This is because Google constantly crawls sites: If yours is down and Google is unable to crawl it, it will be pushed lower in the rankings. 

Keep an Eye on Broken Links

Broken links are one of the simplest SEO issues to fix, but the problem is often ignored by website owners, leading to major issues. Why? Because “search engines see the broken links as a big no-no and can quickly drop you from the top page,” according to Ross Davies, account director for Strafe Creative, an expert design agency. “If a broken link is going to annoy a user then search engines see it as a bad thing.” 

The solution? Davies says you should make your site super easy to use with no broken links so search engines will send more traffic to it.

In addition to affecting your ranking, broken links can also cost you customers. “There’s nothing more annoying from a user point of view than flicking around a website to then be met with a broken link and a 404 page,” Davies says. “It’s one of the easiest ways for someone to leave your website and you lose that potential sale or leads.”

The solution? Find the broken links and apply a re-direct to the correct page, or to a page which is similar. “These can be done simply if you know how to code,” says Davies. “Or if you’re using WordPress or something similar, there are plenty of plug-ins, such as Ultimate SEO, which can we found using the search option in your WordPress’ plug-ins area.”

Checking Your Website’s Speed

Being that mobile usage has continued to climb over the years, it’s important that your website loads quickly on all devices, according to Brandon Seymour, an online marketing director at BioTrackTHC. “In wake of the recent ‘Mobilegeddon‘ many site owners opted for a responsive design, because, in many ways, it’s the most cost-effective way to make a site mobile-friendly,” Seymour says.

The problem with responsive design technology, however, is that it often equals slow websites. “In fact, a 2014 study found that over two-thirds of all responsive design sites had ‘unacceptable’ load times,” says Seymour. “Some sites took over 48 seconds to load” [Note: the acceptable time is less than a second]

The solution? Use a page speed tool that checks different pages of your website to see how long it takes them to load. “In addition to improving the overall user experience, evidence suggests that there is a high correlation between site speed and higher search engine rankings,” Seymour adds. 

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