How To Improve A Website In 2022
Making improvements to your small business website can be as easy as updating often, connecting to social media, and investing in a good hosting service. Read our 15 tips to find out more!
With major Google search engine updates rolling out on the regular and changing user expectations, you have to regularly improve your website to get found in search engine results.
If you’re not sure where to start or even what needs to change, keep reading for a simple guide on how to improve a website.
Whether you need to improve your website on the technical end, produce more engaging content, or you’re just looking for website improvement ideas in general, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.
15 Tips For Improvement Of A Website
If you want to make your website better, focus on two things: the people visiting your website, and the search engine robots “visiting” your website. Let’s start with the more technical website improvement ideas, then move on to the creative ones.
1. Make Your Website Mobile-Responsive
According to Statista, 63% of Google searches are done on smartphones now. Also, Google’s search engine prioritizes discovering and cataloging (a.k.a. crawling or indexing) mobile versions of websites over desktop versions.
These two facts alone tell you why you need a mobile-responsive website.
“Mobile-responsive” means that your web pages load well on both desktop and mobile devices. Your page display will change based on the device a viewer is using to search.
Use Google’s mobile-friendliness test to get a general idea of how mobile-friendly your web pages are.
A good mobile-responsive website displays well on all screen sizes, has easily digestible information, and is stable on mobile devices (i.e. page elements like images and buttons don’t shift upon scrolling).
To make your website more mobile-responsive:
- Choose a mobile-responsive web builder and template
- Make text large and hyperlinks easy to click on
- Remove long block text in favor of shorter paragraphs, bullet points, and visuals
- Make buttons large enough that a user can easily click on them
- Minimize animation usage
- Make images (especially infographics) large and easy to scan
Your mobile website should not be a scaled-down version of your desktop website. It should be a stripped-down version that’s way easier to navigate.
For example, the mobile version of the National Weather Service’s website is just a mini version of the desktop site. It is not mobile-friendly.
By contrast, here’s an example of one of our favorite mobile responsive sites (cough cough).
2. Reduce Page Load Times
Users and Google search engines prefer fast loading webpages over slow ones. If your pages load slowly, Google won’t rank them highly. More importantly, users will get impatient and leave your site.
Slow loading pages are defined as pages that take over two seconds to load. To check any webpage’s loading time, use Google PageSpeed Insights.
To improve page speed, consider doing the following:
- Invest In Good Web Hosting: Web hosting is a service that allows you to post your website online via special computers called servers. When someone clicks on a webpage, the computers “serve” them your page. It’s worth it to invest in the best web hosting providers with the fastest server load times.
- Register With A Content Delivery Network: A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a set of data centers around the world where your web pages can live temporarily. All you have to do is register your site on the CDN closest to the majority of your site’s viewers so they can access content faster. Cloudflare and Cloudfront both have free CDN options if cost is a concern.
- Optimize Images: Large, high-resolution images take a long time to load. Compress your images with a plugin or website like tinypng.com to reduce load times. Better yet, convert all your png/jpeg images to WebP format. WebP produces the smallest image sizes, yet the compressed images themselves are visually indistinguishable from the originals.
- Remove Unnecessary Add-Ons: Periodically audit your website to remove any plugins, apps, and files that you don’t use. Make sure you don’t have two add-ons that do the same or very similar things.
- Choose Fonts Intentionally: Use a free Google font or “web-safe” font like Times New Roman. These kinds of fonts load quickly and are easy on the eyes. Include one or two fonts max on your website.
- Reduce Moving Assets: In general, site elements like sliders and animations are taxing to load. They can also make your web pages unstable. Only use these elements if they will significantly improve your users’ browsing experience.
- Place Fast-Loading Content First: Web pages load top-to-bottom, meaning that the content at the top of the page loads first. Place “heavier” elements like maps, image galleries, and related posts lower on the page.
- Incorporate Asynchronous Loading: Asynchronous loading, also known as “lazy loading”, is a technique where different elements load at different times, so users can still interact with a page even when other “heavier” elements are still loading. Web builders like WordPress and BigCommerce have add-ons that enable lazy loading. Other web builders like Wix and Duda automatically incorporate this technique.
- Reduce Redirects: When you send a user from one URL to another, this is a redirect. You might redirect users when you change your business name or send them to a page with updated content. Sending users from one URL to another can slow loading speed. Use a free tool like Screaming Frog SEO Spider to identify redirects you don’t need, then delete them.
Keep in mind that some web builders do not come with simple solutions for decreasing page speed. For example, the Weebly web builder does not have a built-in lazy loading option.
Optimize what you can, but don’t go too deep into your website’s code unless you feel comfortable doing so.
If you do want to thoroughly improve your website’s speed, Google’s developer resources are a great jumping-off point.
3. Keep Your Site Secure
Every website should have an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. SSL certificates are a sign of site security for people, browsers, and Google search engine bots.
You can get one from your web hosting provider. However, there may be more cost-effective and feature-rich SSL options elsewhere. Shop around before committing to anything. Make sure to renew your SSL before it expires, or your site may have a lapse in security.
4. Improve Your Site Navigation & User Experience
The way websites get cataloged is this:
- Google’s search engine robots will look through pages of your website and try to make sense of them.
- If the bots understand the content and value of your web pages well, they will make your pages discoverable in organic search results. The better your website is, the higher it will rank, and the more visitors your site will have.
Google cares about giving users the best browsing experience possible. Offer that high-quality experience, and you’ll rank higher in search results.
Here are a few easy tools you can add to your website to improve navigation and user experience:
- Search Bar: Include a search bar throughout your site, ideally as part of your top menu bar.
- Categories: Add categories and subcategories to your site to help users find exactly what they’re looking for. As an example, a cooking website might have a recipes category, with a subcategory for world cuisine, then another specifically for Asian recipes.
- Breadcrumbs: A “breadcrumb” is a type of navigation that shows where a user is within a website. For example, the cooking website above has a “Recipes” page, linking to a “World Cusine” page, then to a page with what they define as “Asian” recipes. On the user’s current page, they can see the path they took to get to the page. They can also click on breadcrumb links to get back to a category page.
- Internal Linking: Link different pages of your website together so users can easily move through your site. Don’t include too many links on any one page. Also, you should be able to get from your site’s homepage to any other page in five clicks or less.
5. Find & Fix “Page Not Found” Errors
“Page Not Found” errors, otherwise known as 404 errors, hurt your website’s reputation in the eyes of readers and Google search engine bots.
You can find 404 errors using Google Search Console and Screaming Frog SEO Spider.
To fix 404 errors, you can use a 301 redirect. This redirect tells browsers that the content the user is looking for is in another URL, then redirects them to the correct URL.
Depending on your web builder, there are redirect functions already built-in, or plugins and apps that can create 301 redirects for you.
6. Use Keywords Throughout Your Site
All websites have one or a few core subjects, with topics branching out from them. Those topic words are known as keywords.
Think about all the relevant subjects and topics on your website. Then, include those keywords in:
- Page title tags
- Subject header tags (H1, H2, etc.)
- Category names
- Page meta descriptions, which show up as descriptions in Google search results
- Alt-text for images, which are descriptive words that help search bots and people who can’t see the image understand what the images are
- Paragraph text
For example, BetterVet is a mobile veterinary service. At its core, the website is about mobile veterinary care. The website’s primary keyword is “mobile veterinary care”, and the keyword is used frequently throughout all pages of their website.
There are other important associated or secondary keywords: veterinary advice, mobile veterinary provider, in-home pet care, cat care, and dog care.
Create a cluster of primary and secondary keywords that relate to your industry or subject. Then, add them to your web pages and blog posts.
Try to strike a balance between words that are relevant to your site topics and topics that people are actively searching for.
Don’t use keywords too often, or Google might interpret your website as spam and bump your site down in search engine results.
7. Follow Modern Design Trends
To stay competitive, your site has to appear current. Let’s run through a few modern design trends for mobile sites that you should keep in mind:
- Use White Space: Don’t cram information into your web pages. Allow your pages to “breathe” by focusing them on a few key elements, especially as you’re scrolling down a page.
- Choose Branded Colors: In general, try not to use any more than three colors for your brand. Include them across your website and social media profiles.
- Minimalism Is In: Your website does not need to be flashy. Strive to do more with less. Use a few carefully curated pictures and videos on your website’s main pages.
- Make Header Menus Simple: Don’t add too many clickable URLs to your top menu. It looks cluttered. Instead, use simple terms, then branch out to other pages. For example, the marketing agency website below has a “Services” menu item that links to a page listing specific services. Then, they link to specific service pages with a “Learn More” button.
- Incorporate A Mega Footer: A mega footer is the huge block of the bottom of every page of a website, which has links to important pages, lists contact information, houses social media buttons, asks readers to fill out a newsletter subscription form, etc. Add your logo brand colors to your mega footer.
If this sounds like a lot (and you have the money for it), hire someone else to design your website.
8. Get Quality Backlinks
Backlinks are hyperlinks from other sites that lead to your site. If a trustworthy, authoritative website links to a page on your website, they’re giving you their vote of confidence. Both your site visitors and search engine bots will acknowledge and appreciate this.
“Quality” backlinks differ by industry.
For example, if your website is about catering services, it doesn’t make sense for an automotive dealer’s website to link to yours. They’re not related at all, so they’re not useful for your site visitors.
If you got a food blogger to write about your services on their website and link to yours in the post, that would be a quality backlink.
To get quality backlinks:
- Identify authoritative websites in your industry with a domain authority checker
- Find some sort of offering that is beneficial for their website (a piece of content that could benefit their site, a review of one of their products, an interview, etc.)
- Pitch your idea to that website via email
These are the basic steps. There are many methods for getting high-quality backlinks.
9. Have Clear CTAs
A call to action is a prompt that directs your site visitors to take a certain action. It normally comes in the form of a large, well-placed button that spells out a simple course of action. “Sign Up For Free,” “Learn More,” “Subscribe” and “Get Started” are all good examples.
Without a CTA, your website is just a source of information. It won’t be clear what they should do with that initial information they find when they interact with your site.
For example, say you develop an online course and make a web page full of information about the course. You advertise it and send people to that page.
If you don’t include a “Sign Up Now” button or link somewhere on the page, then you’re essentially giving people cursory information and no sense of direction.
Ideally, you should place your CTA near the top of your homepage so your site visitors don’t have to do anything to find it. For example, this is what you see when you visit Wix’s home page. There’s no ambiguity regarding what Wix wants you to do here.
You can also place CTAs within reviews and blog posts so readers can act based on what they read.
10. Include Great Images
Be choosy about which images you use on your website. You don’t want to add too many, or your load speed will decrease.
The images you do include should be intentional and add value to your site. They should also be well-lit, focused, uncluttered, and personal to your brand (read: avoid stock photography whenever possible.)
Examples of value-adding images:
- Founder/team member headshots
- Product-in-use images
- Your business/workspace (if relevant)
- Previous events (if applicable)
- Impacts of a project you or your business are/were involved in (e.g. hosting a fundraiser, doing outreach to schools, improving a business’s workflow)
If you want high-quality photos and don’t have time or energy to take them yourself, hire someone else to do it. Find a photographer in your area, or hire a freelance photographer from a job platform like Upwork or Freelancer.com.
11, Write Engaging Copy
Engaging copywriting has to:
- Include Many Details: Give as much detail about your product/service/mission as possible. The more your users know about your offering, the more they will trust and buy into your offering.
- Show Utility: Paint a picture of how a product/service can be used in a reader’s life, how their contribution will help your organization’s cause, what they can do with the information in a course, etc. This part is dependent on the purpose of each web page.
- Appeal To A Specific Audience: Think about who might want what you’re offering, or want to do what you’re asking them to, and why. Then, write using words that align with that target audience and their purpose.
As an example, let’s look at engaging copy about faucet aerators, the boring, yet useful screens that get screwed to the end of a faucet.
The web copy includes details about the sensation of the aerators, using words like “gentle, splash-free water flow” and “refreshing beads of water.”
The utilities of the aerator are described in detail in the “functions of faucet aerators” section. This section is also at the top of the page because the reader cares most about the utility of this basic household item, and wants to read about functionalities before anything else.
The copywriter also took into account the kind of person who would buy a faucet aerator and wrote specifically for them.
For example, the kind of person who buys a faucet aerator is specific and pays attention to details, since replacing a faucet aerator is not a necessary or extremely important task. This person is probably efficient and conservative with their time, as they are looking for something to make their property more efficient.
With all this in mind, the writer decided to write short, descriptive, and straightforward sentences. And if writing or even reading about copywriting makes your skin crawl, hire a freelance copywriter.
Note: Include keywords in your site copy. If you’re hiring a copywriter, give them a list of related keywords to include in their writing.
12. Maintain A Blog
Blogs exist to provide helpful information for current readers, draw new readers to your site, and (eventually) present them with your CTA.
Here are some articles types that work well for business blogs:
- Listicles (e.g. “Top Ten Things You Need To Know About ___”)
- How-To Articles
- Dos & Don’ts
- Product Comparisons
- Best Of/Worst Of Lists
- Industry News
- Study Results
- Trends & Fads
Research and incorporate trending keywords, subjects, and queries from your industry. Use the keyword research tools mentioned above, plus social media platforms specific to your industry, to create a list of blog post ideas. Publish new content when possible. Also, update any old, irrelevant, or inaccurate content to keep it fresh. Your readers and Google search bots will appreciate your efforts.
If you don’t feel up to creating content yourself, hire someone who is.
13. Make Pages Sharable On Social Media
All your web pages — and every one of your blog posts — should include social media buttons. That way, visitors can share them on their social media channels.
Word-of-mouth is the best kind of marketing out there, after all.
14. Include Comments/Customer Testimonials
If your website is for a business, posting customer testimonials is a way to build trust between you and your buyers.
Testimonials should be:
- Edited for brevity and specificity, but don’t edit the actual content
Try to scan review sites and respond to negative testimonials, ideally with some sort of solution to their problem or negative feedback. It will let current and future buyers know that you care about your customers.
If your website is purely content-based (think: affiliate marketing) enabling comments will help build your authority in the field you’re writing about. Try to respond to all comments. This will help readers know that you care what they think.
15. Avoid Grammar Mistakes
You can get away with poor grammar on social media, but your website is not the place to be careless.
People may not trust websites that have grammar mistakes, or they may think that the site owners are inattentive to detail. Either way, poor grammar will put off some potential readers. For copyediting on a budget, try using a service like Grammarly. It’s not perfect, but it catches the vast majority of basic errors, and it’s free. Also, consider asking someone else to copyedit your work.
Some of these 15 tips on how to improve a website are simpler than others, but none of them require in-depth coding knowledge. It’s especially easy to make a better website when you use a high-quality website builder.
If you’re thinking about adding eCommerce features to your website or changing your current eCommerce web builder, check out our post on the best eCommerce platforms to build an online store. If you’re not ready to fully invest in an eCommerce builder, read our post on the best free online store builders.