Tips and Tools to Evaluate and Improve Your Website’s Health and Performance

by Steve Palmisano

You may already know MedThink SciCom for its industry-leading expertise in medical publications, publication management tools, disease state medical education, and scientific platform and lexicon development, but you may not know that we also have extensive expertise in digital strategy and analytics in-house. On top of being a leading medical communications agency, we also help ensure that our clients’ digital properties (eg, websites) are healthy and performing well.

Let’s say you have a disease state education website that aims to educate physicians and clinicians about an emerging topic or condition. What is the value of your website if no one is able to find it using Google? Ensuring that your website reaches your audience and is user friendly are ways to maximize your educational efforts.

It may be that you “don’t know what you don’t know” about website health and performance, but you’ve probably heard of things like SEO (search engine optimization) or mobile responsive websites (building a website in a way that ensures a consistent user experience across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices). These topics (and many others) are critical to ensuring that both your customers and search engines like Google and Bing can access and understand your website and the products and services you offer.

Website health and tools to evaluate it

“Website Health” is a term we use at MedThink SciCom to refer to the overall performance of a website. Your website’s health can be evaluated using any of several automated tools online, and these tools can quickly provide deep insights into the technical aspects of how your website is currently built, as well as how well it is performing in terms of ranking in search engines like Google for the keywords that are most relevant to the products and services you offer.

One popular tool that anyone can use is the Website Grader by Hubspot, which returns a report that grades your site on 4 key “website health” metrics:

  • Site Performance takes into account the speed of your website and other performance factors. Faster-loading websites are now ranking higher in Google because they provide a quicker and better user experience
  • Mobile Experience determines how well your site is rendering and displaying on smartphones and tablets
  • SEO (search engine optimization) measures how well your website is adhering to Google’s recommended best practices for building websites in order to maximize your site’s visibility in search results pages
  • Security measures how securely your website is built, how easily it could be hacked or have information stolen, and whether the information that passes through your website is encrypted and protected

https header

Another great automated website evaluation tool is WooRank. WooRank is a more in-depth tool than Website Grader and will provide a much higher level of detail for the 4 metrics described above, as well as recommendations to improve performance and optimize your website. The WooRank checklist can be printed and given to the agency that manages your website or to your internal technical team. Following an initial use, there will likely be a charge for future uses of WooRank.

Website search engine optimization and search engine rankings

Unfortunately, most websites vastly underperform, and unless you have made efforts to properly build, optimize, and maintain your website, your website may be underperforming as well.

ranking graphic

The topic of search engine optimization (SEO) is too complex to address in a single blog post, but at its core, SEO can be broken down into a few key points:

Keywords

Similar to developing a scientific lexicon, understanding which words and phrases are most used by your audience is crucial to identifying which keywords should be top priority for your website. To the world, MedThink SciCom is known as a medical communications agency, so the keyword “medical communications agency” is a phrase for which we have optimized our website in the hope that we will rank well in Google when a user searches for that phrase. Our optimization efforts have paid off, and we currently rank among the top listings in Google for that unbranded search term.

So how can you know what keywords are currently driving traffic to your website? There are many great tools that can provide insight into this. SEMRush is one of our favorites. You can enter your website domain and it will return a list of keywords that your website is currently ranking well for in Google. SEMRush is a paid tool ($70 per month), but it can be worth the cost because it can provide key insights and learnings not only from your website, but from your competitors’ websites as well. What keywords are your main competitors ranking for that you are not? Use SEMRush to quickly find out.

Generally speaking, ranking for your branded keywords (like “MedThink SciCom”) is good, but ranking for unbranded keywords (like “medical communications agency”) is great. Ranking well for your key lexicon (unbranded keywords) is also a wonderful way to bring new exposure to your company or brand from users who are looking for your products and services, but who may not already know who you are.

Content

Are you updating your website with new content frequently (a minimum of once per quarter)? Search engines like Google love to see fresh, new content on a website and will even deem a website stagnant if content is not updated frequently enough. Stagnant websites often rank lower in search results for both branded and unbranded searches, so it is imperative to keep updating your website, maximizing overall website health. Blogs or newsreels are great ways to steadily update content, but even simple text updates to existing pages can be sufficient.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is a fancy way to refer to a website being built according to the standards and recommendations that search engines like Google and Bing provide. There are back-end tags that users can’t see but search engines can. Your website will still look and function properly without these tags, but search engines like Google will see that you have not built your website according to their standards, and will usually not rank your website as well in search results as it otherwise would.

Specific tags like the title tag, the meta description tag, and the meta keywords tag are just some of the tags that automated tools like Website Grader and WooRank review to determine a website’s SEO score. These tags should also include the high-value keywords that you want to rank well for in Google. Do you know if your website is using these back-end tags properly?

So what now?

Chances are, if you’ve gotten this far into this post, you’re highly interested in making sure that your website is the living, breathing, well-performing digital asset that it should be.

MedThink SciCom is more than a medical writing and scientific platform development agency, we also have full digital expertise on website health and best practices for building, optimizing, and analyzing website performance for your disease state education initiatives.

If you and your team have website assets that are in need of an upgrade or a fresh perspective or simply aren’t driving the traffic you’d hoped they would, let us know. We’ll be happy to start a conversation on how we may be able to help improve your website’s digital health.

For more information, contact Steve Palmisano, Senior Vice President, General Manager (spalmisano@medthinkscicom.com).

© 2016 MedThink SciCom, Inc. All rights reserved.

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