How Can I Test My Website? Your Complete Guide

how to test my website guide site optimization

There are more than 1.7 billion websites online. Many of these websites are outdated or inactive. 

If you’re updating an old website or getting ready to launch a new one, you want to make sure that everything works before you release it to the public. 

That leads you to wonder, “How do I test my website?” There is a long list of items that you should test before you launch. 

There are tasks for your content writers, SEO pros, programmers, and beta testers to check. Are you ready to learn everything you need to know about testing a website? 

Keep reading to learn why you need to test and how to test your website. 

Why Should I Test My Website? 

That’s a legitimate question, and it comes down to one thing. If you want your website to be successful and make a positive first impression, you need to test your website. 

If you’re on the fence about testing your site, take a look at these statistics: 

• 88% of visitors won’t revisit your site if they have a bad experience. 

• Companies like Wal-Mart found that a 1-second improvement in load times can increase conversions by 2%. 

• Users take about 50 milliseconds to form a first impression of your website. 

If you don’t get it right the first time, your business will suffer. Since your website is critical for so many things, you need to test your website in several areas. 

Websites should be tested in the following areas: speed, performance, menus, contact forms, images, content (grammar), devices, SEO audit, and security. 

We'll take a look at each area of testing so you have the tools and knowledge you need for successful website tests. 

Speed And Performance Testing 

"How do I test my website speed?" There are a few sites that test your website for you: GTMextrix, Google, and Pingdom. 

It’s best to run your site through all three platforms because each site will give you slightly different information. You’ll get a much clearer picture from all three sites than using just one. 

Each site will give you a score and specific areas to improve. For example, Google will tell you the time to first contentful paint. This is the time it takes for a web browser to render content from your webserver. 

GTMetrix has over a dozen areas where you can improve your site. A good example of a site that has a complete rundown of these areas and how to fix your site is this one: https://www.alivebetter.com/gtmetrix-speed-test/

Pingdom is valuable because you know how fast or slow your website server is. You can also tell if your site is too bulky with code. These insights are useful because you can then decide to upgrade your hosting plan or clean up your website's code to increase performance. 

Usability Testing 

The content managers of your site need to check all of the pages on your site for usability. 

This is a chance for the content team to look over the content on your site to make sure it’s grammatically correct. Bad grammar and typos can also leave a bad impression and you need to remove them from your site. 

If there are any forms on your site, they need to be tested as well. Any integrations such as an online scheduling tool or email marketing form should be tested. 

Your site's content needs to make it clear what your business is about in the first five seconds of a new visit. It should also be clear what new visitors should do if they're interested in your business. You may want them to schedule an appointment or sign up for your list. 

Your content team has to put themselves in the shoes of new users. Think of the first page they visit and where they're coming from. If they reach your site from a search result, you want to make sure it's easy for them to find what they're looking for. 

Have your content team check your site from different devices. The text and headings should be easy to read on phones and desktop devices. 

Check the site on different web browsers. Most people use Chrome, but you have to account for Firefox, Edge, and Safari users. Each browser renders information slightly differently. Your site should look the same across all of them. 

One final piece of usability testing is navigation. How easy is it for people to find information on your site? Do you have a search tool? Make sure that it works. Test the menu items and links to make sure everything works as they should. 

Connected to Analytics and Search Console 

How will you measure progress on your website? The best way is to measure traffic and conversions. You can measure progress by the number of keywords your site appears for and your overall search rankings. 

The two tools that let you do that are Google Analytics and Search console. They’re free to use, you just need to connect your website to them. 

For Google Analytics, you can install a piece of code in the header of your website to make the connection. An easier alternative if you use WordPress is to install the Google Analytics plugin. 

With GA, you can view your traffic, where it comes from, and set up conversion rate goals for your site. 

Search Console is a little more complicated to set up. You’ll have to verify your site by adding HTML code to your site or by editing your DNS settings. 

It’s worth the trouble because you can view how your site appears in search results and track SEO progress over time. 

Security Testing 

About 30,000 websites are hacked each day. These sites aren't limited to large corporations. Small businesses are a frequent target of hackers, too. 

There are sites like Sucuri that checks websites for malware, old software, and malicious code. Since your site isn't online yet, you should have clean results. 

There are additional steps to make your site secure. Adding an SSL certificate will improve security and help with SEO. Many web hosts offer free SSL certificates through Let's Encrypt. 

A security plugin like Wordfence or Sucuri is a must-have to protect your site from intruders. 

SEO Testing 

The benefit of comprehensive website testing is that your site's SEO will improve. SEO is a web of algorithms that are used to determine search results. Google is said to use more than 200 factors to determine search results. 

There are some factors that you've already addressed. Using an SSL certificate is one of them. Usability on mobile devices is another, as is site speed and performance. 

What are some of the others that you haven't addressed yet? For starters, if you're migrating a site to a new URL, you have to redirect the old URLs to the new ones. This is done with a 301 redirect. 

Each page needs to have the appropriate title tags and meta descriptions. The information contained in these areas tells search engines what each page is about. You want to make sure that your chosen keyword for each page appears in these areas. 

An XML sitemap is a map for search engines to follow when they index your site. It also helps your site to get indexed faster. Creating an XML sitemap is easy with tools like Screaming Frog or the Yoast SEO plugin. 

You also want to check your site for Schema markup language. This is what Google uses to index sites and it's becoming increasingly important for ecommerce sites and recipe sites. 

You and your content team should run a keyword audit to make sure the appropriate keywords and related keywords appear naturally in the content. 

Backlink Audit 

For sites that are migrating to new URLs or are undergoing a major update, you want to check your backlink profile. Backlinks serve to provide traffic and they show Google that your site has useful information. That leads to better search results. 

You can use a number of free backlink checker tools to see what sites are linking to yours. You can also see how many backlinks each page gets. This can help you develop content that people want after you launch the site. 

Backup Testing 

What happens if a web server goes down and you lose your website? What happens if your website gets hacked? These are important questions to answer now. If you wait for these things to occur, it will be too late. 

A backup system will ensure that your site can get back online as soon as possible. You want to have a backup system in place and test it. 

Beta Testing 

The final part of the testing process is to put the website in the hands of actual users. This is your chance to see how people will use your site in real-world situations. 

They may provide useful information about your site that your previous tests didn't cover. For instance, they may find the font on your site a little hard to read on smaller devices, or they may uncover a broken link. 

What to Do After Testing? 

You have your results from all of these website tests. Now what? You need to organize your tasks. 

Go through the results of each test and make a punch list of items. You’re likely to have a lengthy list of small items to take care of. 

For instance, you may need to fix a few external links and make the heading sizes uniform on your site. These things won’t kill your site, but they can make a difference in the overall usability of your site. 

Create a punch list of tasks that need to be fixed. You can keep them listed in a spreadsheet or project management software. 

You can then assign the tasks to different people on your team. The content editor can fix any content-related issues like external links and headings. The programmers can fix broken pages and security issues. 

By delegating the tasks, you’ll be able to get the tasks done quickly. That shouldn’t affect your final launch date. 

Once the tasks are complete, you can retest the site to make sure everything is working properly. Then you’re ready to launch the site. 

That doesn’t mean that your site will always remain perfect. The internet is a dynamic place. SEO standards are always changing, security threats evolve, and user tastes change. 

You have to stay up to date with these changes and update your website testing checklist. Run your site through the checklist periodically to ensure it’s working properly. 

It’s a good idea to run through the checklist every month or two and fix any issues as they come up. 

Do I Need to Test My Website? Absolutely! 

You may be coming up with a launch deadline and feel like you have to release it without testing it first. You’ll ask, “Do I have to test my website?” You simply can’t afford to ignore testing it before you launch. 

Your brand perception, user experience, search rankings, and conversions are all at stake. If anything is off, your entire business can be impacted. Take the steps listed here to test your content, user experience, SEO viability, speed, and performance. 

You’ll have a list of issues to prioritize and fix. It’s important to test it periodically after you launch the website to ensure your site is up to date and always performing well. 

Once your site is up and running, you’re going to need to find creative ways to drive traffic to your site. Be sure to visit the Digital Marketing section of this site for tips to get traction online. Then continue to keep testing your website each month to ensure your site is functional, updated, and optimized.

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