Regardless of your vertical, the impact — or potential impact — of a business website has been growing for years and has never been greater.
We all recognize the importance of digital marketing, but not all of us are marketers. How can non-technical people evaluate their online performance and visibility? If you don't understand what's going wrong, you can't make informed decisions that will improve things.
We want to share a few tests that can help you understand your website so you can ask your webmasters and marketing partners the right questions. Better yet, they don't require a marketing degree to understand! Let's talk about each of them.
1. Are you on Google? Are you sure?
This might seem obvious, but many business owners don't think to check, or don't know how to verify that they're showing up on Google.
The first thing you can do is open Google and type site:example.com, where example.com is your real domain. So, we would type site:blackbeanmarketing.com.
This is a search filter. It will only display results from your website. If you don't get any results, you've got problems! If you do, make sure they're accurate and the titles and descriptions make sense.
Your most visible pages should appear first, and your less important pages will appear later. Make sure everything's in order here. If it isn't, talk to your webmaster about improving the structure of your website.
Finally, remember that Google has lots of types of search listings. From business listings to books and news listings, make sure that you're appearing everywhere you should be based on your products and services. This article by Google is a great beginner's guide to exploring your search visibility.
2. Is your website slow? Do you know why?
Technical performance is often overlooked. A lot of effort goes into making websites fancy, visually engaging, and feature-rich. If these features come at the cost of your load speeds or website reliability, you might be doing more harm than good!
It's not just about making your customers wait. Google and other search engines hate slow websites! If your website has serious speed issues, Google may promote a speedier competitor over your slow website. This is especially true when it comes to search advertising. Slow websites cost more for every click and get seen less often in search ads.
Fortunately, you can check this yourself. Google has a new tool aimed at non-technical users who want to understand their website performance. The new Test My Site tool will give you a report with custom performance and marketing recommendations, ready to be shared with your webmaster or marketing team. All you need to do is enter your domain and access the report.
3. Who are your online competitors? What are they doing better than you?
This is an easy, manual test that we think is very valuable. Whatever you sell, you have competitors. Knowing what they do better than you helps you improve your product. It is a way to help you focus on impactful changes. This test has just a few steps:
- Create a spreadsheet or document. Brainstorm about 5 of your most important product keywords. We might include things like 'digital marketing companies' and 'search advertising agencies', for example.
- Search for each of these keywords in Google. Visit competitor websites that appear at the very top of the page. Note down the website URL in your document, and take notes on what you like or don't like about each website. Do this for several websites, maybe two or three per keyword.
- For each website you explore, run the Test My Site tool on it. Compare the results to your own website. What are they doing better? Where are you beating them?
- Now you have a benchmark specifically for your industry. You can do this in an hour or two in the evening. We recommend pairing this task with a nice bottle of wine.
If you do each of these tests, you'll have a much better idea of what your website does well, where it needs to improve, and where you should invest your marketing budget to improve this vital part of your business.