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The ultimate checklist for successful website optimization

You've worked day and night setting up your website from scratch. You've covered all the bases to ensure your site looks and feels great, paying close attention to the minutest detail. But despite all your efforts, website metrics haven’t improved. What gives?

Last updated

13 May 2022

When you’re competing against thousands of websites answering the same search intent, only a strong optimization strategy can drive traffic and enhance your site’s discoverability. Many businesses struggle to meet their traffic goals even with an optimization process in place because of half-baked strategies and an ad-hoc approach. 

This article will give you a detailed 10-step checklist to optimize your site at every stage of the optimization process to help you provide a great user experience (UX).

Let Hotjar do the legwork for your optimization needs

Monitor your website visitors and review their preferences to test and revamp your site. 

Why do you need a website optimization checklist?

The more you optimize your website, the higher it will rank on the Google search engine results page (SERP) and the more visible it’ll be. Optimization brings traffic—which translates into conversions. 

Besides increasing your sales and profits, a website optimization checklist can work its magic in many ways:

  • Get a sense of direction and alignment: a checklist will help you learn more about your audience’s preferences and tailor your website or product page to better address customer wants and needs

  • Improve cross-functional collaboration: a good optimization strategy consolidates the efforts of multiple teams, including development, UX, marketing, and sales. A predefined checklist streamlines the coordination between teams and promotes cross-functional collaboration.

  • Avoid missing crucial elements: optimizing your site will help you identify missing page elements that can boost user engagement and increase your conversions. You can study user behavior to find what’s missing and fix what’s not working to avoid any unsatisfactory experiences. 

  • Improve website performance: your optimization efforts can zero in on your audience’s changing needs, enhance the user experience, and increase organic traffic. Web optimization can also maximize conversions from existing traffic with quality UX. 

Given the many benefits of optimizing your site, a website optimization checklist can help you maximize results and create user-centric experiences. So, let’s jump right into it.

How to optimize your website at different stages

Simply knowing the factors that push websites up on search engines isn’t enough. You need a full-fledged roadmap to ace the search engine algorithms and conversion rates. 

Let’s dive deeper into this website optimization roadmap and see what it looks like in three different stages.

Before website optimization

Like every marketing tactic, you need to do the legwork and create a game plan before you begin with the execution. Here are five steps you need to follow to create a leakage-proof action plan:

1. Analyze your current website performance 

Looking at where you currently stand is a great place to get the ball rolling. Analyze your existing website to get a preliminary picture of how you’re doing and where you can improve, paving the path for better UX. 

#A thorough website analysis involves multiple aspects that focus on user experience.
A thorough website analysis involves multiple aspects that focus on user experience.

There are three key areas you should monitor to perform website analysis:

  • SEO audit: review your site’s SEO robustness with thorough audits of on-page elements, backlinks, search engine ranks, and site health. 

  • Website speed: discover how quickly and smoothly your website loads and determine its impact on the user experience. Use Hotjar Session Recordings to see your load speed in real-time from a user’s perspective and identify friction areas for improvement

  • Traffic volume: consistent website tracking is essential during the analysis process. Examine the quantity and quality of traffic you’re drawing to your site. Cross-check where this traffic is coming from and what it's leading to. 

2. Collect user feedback to identify improvement areas

Once your research pinpoints where you’re lacking, supplement this objective data with subjective viewpoints by collecting user feedback. 

Directly speak to your users and identify their primary pain points. You can then use these insights to make your optimization strategy more user-centric rather than gut-driven. 

Let’s say that your site Heatmap shows a few unpopular elements on the homepage. Collecting your users’ opinions through Hotjar Surveys and Feedback will help you collect voice-of-the-customer (VoC) feedback and get an answer to why they don’t like these elements—pushing you in the right direction to modify your website. 

#Hotjar Surveys give you valuable user-backed insights to increasing customer satisfaction.

Source: Hotjar
Hotjar Surveys give you valuable user-backed insights to increasing customer satisfaction. Source: Hotjar

3. Perform competitor analysis

A rundown of your top competitors can detect the gaps in your website and open up new avenues for your optimization strategy. Competitive benchmarking for SEO involves factors like:

  • Keywords

  • Page traffic

  • Authority

  • Backlinks

  • Content 

  • Mobile responsiveness

This in-depth analysis is a tried-and-tested technique to identify areas of improvement in the first stage of your optimization framework. 

4.  Create a website optimization roadmap

Once you’ve evaluated your website from all possible angles and completed the initial research, you can start chalking out your game plan for web optimization. 

Consider this plan as the answer to how you’ll optimize your website

The roadmap will outline all your user goals—aligned with your business objectives—and list the actions or steps to achieve these goals. It will also create a framework for prioritization to guide the implementation process seamlessly. 

Suppose one of your optimization goals is fixing local SEO because you want to attract more visitors around your region. So, your roadmap will give you the tactics to build and boost your local SEO presence through community listings, local schema, directories, and more. You can determine metrics to track your performance and monitor them to set improvements in motion. 

5. Prepare a set of questions in alignment with your performance goals

The next step after defining your goals is measuring your progress on each objective. So, right before you start executing your roadmap, you also have to formulate a set of questions to check your progress regularly. 

Refer to our list of website optimization questions that can fine-tune your strategy toward reaching your goals. 

During website optimization

The first phase of your website optimization project is dedicated to research and review. At the end of this stage, you have real action points you need to execute in the second stage to give your site a facelift. 

Here are five steps you should consider for this stage of your journey:

1. Make your website more user-centric

User-centric design is the key to unlocking your product page's maximum potential. It refers to the practice of designing from the perspective of your end-user. Optimizing your UX can boost conversion rates by up to 400%, so user-centric design is critical to your web optimization efforts and impacts brand perception.

Here’s how you can make your website more user-friendly:

  • Create a responsive design for both mobile and desktop users

  • Use and position your CTAs strategically through rigorous A/B testing

  • Optimize your website content and landing pages for your users’ key pain points

  • Factor in your audience's perspective when choosing the typeface and colors

  • Collect and act on feedback from your existing users to eliminate friction areas

  • Improve your site layout for the ease of navigation and quick search

Over 38% of users will not engage with your website if the layout isn’t attractive enough. So, making your website navigation more accessible, convenient, and hassle-free can simplify your buyer’s journey and rapidly drive conversions

Here are a few ways in which you can accomplish this:

  • Use breadcrumbs to give visitors an overview of your sitemap

  • Keep a consistent navigation bar across all pages 

  • Logically group your content into relevant categories

  • Choose crisp yet explanatory labels for your links 

Your website's success goes beyond the first impression. Make sure your website UX and navigation bring first-time visitors back and nudge them towards a purchase with a user-friendly design.  

6. Take an ideate-validate-test approach

Instead of leaving your website optimization process to guesswork, leverage the ideate-validate-test approach to systematically execute your plan. 

Here’s what it will look like in action:

  • Ideate: develop a broad set of ideas related to a problem statement(s). The ideation stage is for the free flow of ideas.

  • Validate: check the practical value of your ideas. Review every idea against specific parameters to determine how it will benefit your website. 

  • Test: all the ideas passed from the previous two stages go through multiple website optimization tests for success. This is where you can pick the best option based on conversion rate optimization practices.

The ideate-validate-test framework gives a more robust direction to your optimization efforts and helps you factor in customer feedback while implementing optimization practices.

7. Improve your website SEO score

Ultimately, the focus of your web optimization campaign lies in beefing up your SEO score. While there's no fixed path to increasing this score, here are a few best practices you can implement:

  • Improve keyword targeting for high commercial intent terms and optimize your site

  • Identify the search intent for your top-performing keywords and repurpose your content to match this intent

  • Win more featured snippets through to-the-point, quality content

  • Distribute content across channels to increase backlinks and traffic sources

  • Map your buyer journey across the website to increase session duration and boost conversions

These are some of the many website optimization techniques you can use to improve your SEO game and increase your score. 

8. Take care of the technical aspects of your website 

On top of your site's layout and content quality, your website's technical factors play an equally important role. These factors are a critical part of search engines' ranking criteria and can make or break your SEO potential, determining rankings and discoverability.

Here are a few technical aspects that impact user experience and boost website performance:

  • Loading speed: make sure your page load speed is less than 3 seconds for the best results

  • Internal linking: allow search engines to easily crawl through your website with a strong linking structure

  • Site health: maintain site health by deleting or fixing broken links to ensure your users don’t feel frustrated at the 404 error message

  • Security: add an SSL certificate and an added layer of protection to inform search engines that your website is safe for browsing

  • Responsiveness: make your website design responsive for mobile users to minimize bounce rates

While these technical factors can help you win over search engine crawlers, they also streamline the user experience—setting you up for better conversions and reduced bounce rates. 

After website optimization

Website optimization is a continuous process. So, once you've researched and implemented the critical improvement points, it's important to monitor and analyze the outputs—then repeat the process from stage one. 

Website optimization is never complete. It should always be continuous since it's an ever-changing entity, and if you tell yourself you're 'done,' you'll always be missing potential chances to positively impact performance.

Sean Potter
Content and SEO Strategist at Hotjar

Here’s what you can do after your optimization campaign is complete:

9. Test your website to measure website optimization performance

You've made data-driven changes to your website and feel confident about this revamp. But how will you know if the changes are actually producing any results? Simple—with website monitoring best practices

Check your website's loading speed and review your SEO score to assess how your website functions. You can also use Session Recordings to get a more granular look into the users' reactions to these changes, while they navigate your site. At the same time, Heatmaps can give you ground-level updates on your website's performance, and highlight further improvement areas. 

#Hotjar Heatmaps tell you which parts of your website are—and aren’t—engaging users so you can make adjustments accordingly
Hotjar Heatmaps tell you which parts of your website are—and aren’t—engaging users so you can make adjustments accordingly

10. Use feedback collection tools to validate your actions 

User validation is the final step in the jigsaw puzzle of website optimization. Seeking direct and unbiased feedback from your users is the easiest way to validate your efforts and evaluate the success of every new change. 

Use Feedback and Surveys to collect user feedback on individual elements of your website, without disturbing their browsing experience. You can make a modification live if your audience is on board with the updated version. On the flip side, work on your users' suggestions for changes that they don't like. 

Validation is a process of constant to-and-fro until your website is on the same wavelength as your users. 

Optimize your website to supercharge your UX

Your website is your biggest marketing asset. By optimizing it for search engines, you can maximize your traffic, boost your sales, and eventually increase your ROI. 

But unplanned website optimization can do more harm than good. Use this checklist to create a carefully designed strategy and get the best results for your optimization efforts. Divide your strategy into three phases and take a staggered approach to ideate, implement, and test your website redesign. 

Let Hotjar do the legwork for your optimization needs

Monitor your website visitors and review their preferences to test and revamp your site.

Frequently asked questions