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A Guide to Improving Website Performance

29-Aug-2014

Improving Poor Website Performance

Poor website performance is not what a business owner expects when investing money and time with a web development company or SEO firm. Business owners expect results, and rightfully so. Therefore, when a website performs poorly, it is the job of the developer to figure out why.

In many cases, a website's poor performance is not due to a single factor. It is a combination of several factors, working together, to create a negative environment that does not allow the site to reach its full potential. Figuring out what is going on means looking at a range of things, including:


web page construction
HTML elements used for SEO
HTML-to-text ratios
responsive web design
use of rich content.

Web Page Construction

Your website is a collection of pages intended to enable visitors to learn about your company and the products and services you offer. Each of the pages on your site should be presented in such a way as to give your visitors exactly what they came for. How a page is constructed is important in this regard.

Web page construction consists of design elements that users see displayed in their browsers and underlying code used for on and off-site SEO. For the purposes of this discussion, we will consider web page construction as relating to design elements. The underlying code will be dealt with separately.

Various studies have shown that getting the key elements of web design right can have a huge impact on the success of the website's performance. Our designers focus on these key areas in order to improve website performance by way of creating an optimal user experience. Those areas are: typography, graphic appeal, visitor engagement, strong calls-to-action, page balance, and use of colour. The idea is to create a page that is visually attractive but not overbearing. A page designed this way enhances user experience and results in more visitors staying on the site for longer. It is well-known that Google measures bounce rate (people leaving the site without going beyond the entry page), and, of course, Alexa and Google both measure page views and time on site. Therefore increasing page views through good design, navigation, content and visitor experience and engagement has more benefits than first meet the eye.

HTML Considerations

HTML refers to the underlying code that makes a page work. It is the skeleton, of sorts, on which both the design and SEO elements rest. Where SEO elements are concerned, the most important of these elements are: title tags, meta-tag descriptions and header tags.

The title a web designer assigns to a page shows up as a tag in the embedded HTML code. SEO experts know this tag is still the single most important one for telling search engines what a page is about. Therefore, tag creation has to be approached from the angle of tying the title to chosen keywords for maximum SEO advantage.

Meta-tag descriptions are equally vital. These tell search engines how you want your page to be described to web users. Google will usually try to display the meta description tag content in its results and we know these are extremely influential in affecting which results internet users click. Simply put, the brain processes the results so quickly that we click the most appropriate result before we've even know it. Meta tag descriptions could be compared to the descriptive text on the back of a book. The more appropriate your meta descriptions, the more likely you are to get clicked (and it helps the search engines too).

As for header tags, these are used to identify certain sections of web page content. For example, the H1 tag designates the main title of the page; the H2 tag usually refers to subtitles. Header tags tell search engines that your content is not just a running collection of keyword stuffed sentences. Rather, it is a well structured, properly thought out collection of useful information. SEO experts always recommend using all 6 H tags; however, these should not be stuffed with keywords for the sake of it as this displeases Google and will be quite meaningless to the visitor/ reader. 

Other Considerations

The last three considerations to talk about are HTML-to-text ratios, responsive web design, and the use of rich content. As far as HTML-to-text ratios go, there is quite a bit of debate over what is an ideal text/HTML ratio. Clearly high HTML ratios demonstrate a plethora of unnecessary code; this can sometimes by generated by on-line website builders and web creation software; sometimes the developer will find it difficult to reduce this, but moving code-heavy content to external files can help greatly. The general consensus suggests developers should strive to reach ratios between 25% and 70% (text/ HTML). Whilst these parameters may seem vague, the actual ratio will depend, of course, on the page content; Google is now favouring longer pages so increasing your blog or web page content would seem to be only a good thing.

Moving on to responsive web design, this is something that is critical for two reasons. Number one, more people are using mobile devices to access the Internet than never before. Responsive web design addresses this by attempting to create pages that work seamlessly across all platforms. Second, not all responsive web design is good web design. It goes without saying that poorly executed responsive design could actually be worse than a good website which is not responsive, quite apart from being detrimental to SEO. It's another reason why recommend our pre-configured responsive layouts and designs, because we know they work beautifully on any device.

Last but not least is the idea of rich content. Creating rich content is about improving SEO performance and enhancing user experience simultaneously. So what makes some content rich and other content less so? We believe that rich content is simply good content: interesting, well-written quality material which people want to read, not some 'spun' nonsense created by a computer program. Rich content is what tells search engines that your web pages are worth listing. Creating content that is keyword rich, relevant, and fresh will tell the search engines your website is a credible and authoritative source. If your website is performing poorly, this is one of the first things to look at.

Poorly performing web pages do not necessarily need to be scrapped altogether. If you are looking to change things, perhaps a few refinements in the areas we have talked about will be all it takes for improving traffic to your website. We encourage you to learn more by downloading and reading our Business SEO Guide 2014. We believe it is an important resource for anyone building a productive website for the modern Internet.


Robert Wakefield

Robert Wakefield

Robert Wakefield founded Siteglide in 2012 after having worked in the web design, SEO and IT sector since the mid-90's. Robert's main interests include website usability, visitor experience, SEO and website marketing in general.

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