This is a comprehensive, non-technical website checklist for any business or organisation website covering the most important aspects of web design, visitor conversion, usability and SEO.
You can either expand each section individually or use the links below to expand the entire checklist on one page.
Each item on the checklist includes a plain-English explanation with links to further resources showing you how to implement these features on your own website.
If you would like to download the entire checklist as a PDF, please use the request form at the bottom of the page.
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Your domain name is the unique name that identifies your website on the Internet.
If you are, for example, a UK-based company targeting visitors who are mostly based in the UK, it’s a great idea to use a co.uk domain name. This will help your visitors understand where you’re based and improve your search ranking for UK visitors searching on Google.
Owning the .com version of your domain name is also advisable should you decide to internationalise your business and to prevent anyone else from registering the same domain name.
If you have the same domain name as another website this could cause confusion to your prospective customers and make it harder for people to find your website.
12 Rules for Choosing the Right Domain Name
Choosing a Domain Name Registrar
A web host provides a place for your website to live on the internet. If you have used a DIY template service to build your site (e.g. Shopify, SquareSpace etc.) they will also be providing your web hosting.
How to choose the right web host for your business
Good web design is crucial if you want to create a positive impression to your online visitors. This section lists the web design issues to consider when launching a site.
Most online visitors can quickly spot a website that has not been professionally designed. A self-built or template-based website is less likely to convey a professional image of your business and may reduce the number of sales or enquiries.
Reasons Why You Should Hire a Professional Web Designer
Online visitors like to see high-quality images that represent your business, services and products clearly. Using generic stock photography is likely to reduce the ability of your website to convert online visitors into customers.
If online visitors struggle to read the text on your website they are significantly more likely to leave. Make sure that your text is at least 10 points and in a clear and contrasting colour to the page background.
The All-Inclusive Guide to Web Typography Best Practices
Site navigation is comprised of the menus and links that help visitors find their way around your website.
Online visitors don’t read your website menus in the same way as a restaurant menu. Instead, they think about where they want to go and then scan the menu looking for the option that is the closest match to whatever they had in their head. If you use unconventional language for the links in your menus, visitors may not realise that you have a page that is relevant to their needs.
It’s great when online visitors want to view your contact details. It’s a good sign that they may be taking a step towards making a purchase. ‘Contact Us’ links are conventionally placed to the right-most side of the main navigation menu. Stick with that convention and your visitors will be even more likely to visit the page.
A landing page is any page through which visitors might enter your site. For example, if someone searches for “bedside tables” and you have a category page that is relevant for this term, Google is far more likely to bring them in via this category page than the home page of your site.
As your landing pages are the first experience that most visitors will have of your website, it is important that the experience they have is just as positive as if they had entered the site via your home page.
Online visitors are impatient and fickle and your website doesn’t exist in a silo. When a visitor has come to your website via a search engine, they are just a short click away from clicking the back button and returning to the search results page if they can’t understand what your website is about within the first 5 seconds.
Most online visitors will make their decision to stay or leave within the first 3-5 seconds of arriving on your site. They need to get to the key information without having to scroll down or click on any links. Most of the content in the footer area of your web pages will never be read.
The first thing an online visitor needs to understand is what your business is all about. Use a concise and clear strap-line just below your logo to help them achieve this goal.
Once they have understood what your website is all about, they next want to understand what the page is about. If you have a page that describes a “Sports massage service based in London”, make sure that you have a prominent heading that makes it obvious that the page is all about that service.
Try to avoid combining multiple topics all on the same page unless the page links out to other pages that specifically describe that topic in more detail.
Your business does not exist in a vacuum. Online visitors are trying to quickly establish why they would choose your business over another. Help them to understand what makes your business unique using language that describes these features as a benefit to them.
Unless your business is a well-known and trusted brand name, online visitors will need to quickly establish that your company is trustworthy and reputable. Including reviews, testimonials and links to your social media profiles in a prominent position on every landing page will have a significant impact on your conversion rate.
How Trust Signals Can Double Your Conversions
The first rule of good web design is “Don’t Make Me Think!”. Online visitors don’t like to read large blocks of text. They prefer to scan the page or see a simple list of bullet points that highlight the unique benefits of your products and services in simple, plain English.
Including your contact details in a prominent position at the top of every page makes it easier for visitors who prefer to speak to someone before placing an order. It also acts as a trust signal and adds to your reputation.
It’s a good idea to analyse the pages that online visitors most want to view after they have arrived on a landing page and then provide a clear Call to Action button that takes them directly to that page. If you make it easy for visitors to navigate your site they are more likely to stay. It may also improve your Google ranking.
Why Your Call To Action Copy Isn’t Converting
The wording of your Call to Action links should reflect the way that the online visitor is thinking about what they most want to do next on the site. Try to make your Calls to Action complete the sentence, “I want to…” For example, “[I want to] View a List of Services”.
Copy is the name for the words on your website’s pages. They may describe your products and services or tell visitors about your company.
Every page on your website should explain how you provide a benefit to the visitor. Even your “About Us” page should describe your business in a way that reveals a tangible benefit to your customers.
How to Write Website Copy Bursting with Benefits
Think of the most likely reasons that an online visitor might be reluctant to place an order and then address each one of those concerns in the website copy or using a benefits bar in a prominent position on each landing page.
Break down barriers to keep people on your website pages
Online visitors like to see a physical address and a land-line telephone number to feel reassured that the business is trustworthy and reputable. Make sure that your Contact page includes all of the relevant information that they will want to see.
Having an enquiry form on your Contact page is a convenient way for online visitors to send you a message. It is also a great way to track the visitors that take a positive action on your website. You can then create a Goal in Google Analytics to learn more about the type of visitors who complete the form, where they came from and what they looked at on your site before completing the form.
What is Duplicate Content?
An eCommerce site is one that includes an online shop and typically allows online visitors to add products to a basket and then complete the payment online.
A category page is any page on an eCommerce site that lists a range of products in a specific category or sub-category. e.g. Bedside tables, Ladies Denim Jackets etc.
All menu links to the category pages on your site should describe the category in the same way that the online visitor is most likely to search for that product or service on Google. This will help visitors navigate their way around your site easily and also help Google to understand that your category page is relevant for that search.
When you show a list of products on a category page it is also a good idea to include a couple of lines of text to introduce the range of products and explain why your range of products in this category are different or better than your competitors. It is also a good idea to include the category name in the text to help Google understand that the page is relevant for that term.
When online visitors can see the price of a product clearly, they are more likely to click through to the product page and buy the product. Make sure that the prices are displayed clearly on, or every close to, the product thumbnail images.
If you show a grid of product thumbnail images on the category pages of your website, make sure that the images are also clickable links to the product page for that item.
Online visitors don’t like having to spend time scrolling through a list of products that are not relevant to their needs. Add a product filter to your category pages so that visitors can filter the page by the features most relevant to that product. e.g. size, brand, style etc.
Product pages are the pages on an eCommerce website that typically display the details of the product, multiple images of the product and an “add to cart” button.
Many eCommerce retailers will give their products unique names. For example a clothing retailer may name a suede maxi skirt as “Penelope”. While this may add some personality to your products, it does little to help online visitors and search engines understand whether the product is relevant to their needs.
Give your products descriptive names and place the unique product name at the end of the product heading. e.g. “Suede Maxi Skirt – Penelope”. This will help visitors and search engines understand that the product is relevant to someone looking for a suede maxi skirt.
If your eCommerce website uses product descriptions that have been supplied by the manufacturer, it is likely that the same description will appear on several other websites selling the same product. This may lead to a duplicate content penalty from Google and also make it harder for online visitors to distinguish your website from others.
Try to create your own, unique product descriptions and add your own helpful review of the product to every product page.
When an eCommerce doesn’t make it clear whether or not a product is in stock, visitors may be reluctant to place an order. Show this information clearly and close to the product’s price information.
Few things frustrate online visitors more than having to go through the entire checkout process just to find out how much the delivery charge will be. Display this information close to the price on the product page or at least give a rough approximation of the actual delivery cost.
When visitors have to click through to a separate page to find out how long a product will take to arrive, they are much less likely to buy that product. Show this information clearly on every product page and as close as possible to the product’s price.
If an online visitor is uncertain as to the suitability of a product, having a clearly stated returns policy on every product page will make them far more likely to buy the product.
Research has shown that when the “Add to basket” button is displayed in a prominent and contrasting colour from the rest of the page content, more visitors are likely to click on it.
If online visitors can see that their preferred payment method is available they are more likely to buy the product. Make sure that all available payment methods are clearly shown on every landing page, category page and product page of your website.
If you make sure that all of the key information such as price, delivery cost, delivery time, stock availability and returns policy are shown on the product page without forcing visitors to scroll down or click, they are more likely to buy the product.
Research has shown that with every additional field you add to your checkout forms, the visitor is less like to make a purchase. Try to keep form fields to a minimum and allow the user to checkout without having to create an account.
If your checkout page has an option to “Continue shopping or Complete purchase?” you are likely to increase the average number of transactions made by each online visitor.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is the process of making your website as attractive as possible to search engines and search engine users.
By applying SEO to your website you will improve your visibility on search engines such as Google and increase the number of visitors and sales from search engine visitors. Search Engine traffic typically comprises more than 50% of all online traffic from first-time visitors.
Applying SEO in a competitive industry takes time and knowledge but has the ability transform an online business and drive large numbers of qualified visitors to your site without paying for advertising. Learn more about SEO Training by attending my private course.
Keyword Research is the process of selecting the best search terms for your website to rank for on search engines such as Google.
There is little point in trying to rank on Google for a search term that nobody (or very few people) are using. Use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool to make sure that your target keywords have sufficient search volume before you add them to your web pages.
There is little point trying to rank on Google for a terms such as “Fashion” or “Homeware” if the websites already ranking for those terms are more authoritative than your site. Check the authority of your landing pages using the free Moz toolbar and compare them to your competitors’ before you choose which keywords to target.
Someone searching for “Women’s vintage jackets” is indicating a much stronger buying intent and revealing that they have already considered the type of product that they might want to buy.
As a general rule, the longer the search term, the more likely the visitor is to make a purchase. These are what we call, “long-tail keywords”.
One of the first things that any search engine needs to do is to return pages that are relevant to the user’s search query. Making sure that your pages look as relevant as possible to a search engine for the keywords that your prospective customers are using is vital to driving organic search traffic from Google.
The page title is one of the most important elements of a web page. It shows search engines that the page is relevant to a user’s search query. It also appears as the heading when the page appears in the search results.
Make sure that your page title includes the target keyword at the beginning of the title followed by the name of your business or brand. Cluttering your page titles with several different keywords only serves to confuse search engines and visitors as to the topic of the page. Keep your page titles succinct and specific to one topic.
The URL is the unique address of the page on your website. It is the location of the page that appears after your domain name. Search engines will look at the words in the URL to determine whether or not that page has any relevance to the search user’s query. Be sure to include your target keyword in the page URL.
The Meta Description is a text description of the page that usually appears in the search results below the main heading for that page. It helps search users determine whether the page is relevant to their needs. Be sure to include your target keyword in the Meta Description and that your descriptions are unique for every page on your site.
Although the Meta Description is not used by search engines to determine your site’s ranking or relevance. It does play a vital role in persuading search users to click on your listings and visit your site.
When a heading is added to a web page it can be marked as an H1 heading. This indicates to a search engine that this is the most important heading on the page. Search engines such as Google look at the H1 heading to determine the topic of the page. Make sure that your H1 heading includes the keywords you are targeting for that page. Each page should have only one H1 heading.
Search engines such as Google look at the body content of a page to determine its relevance to the search user’s query. Make sure that your target keywords and its semantic variations are included at least once in the body of the page. Be careful not to overdo this by “Keyword Stuffing” or repeating keywords in an unnatural way. Always make sure that your web content appeals to human visitors first.
If you have an image on your web page, make sure that the ALT tag of at least one image includes the main keyword you are targeting for that page. ALT tags help search engines to understand the subject of the image and the relevance of the page for the search user’s query.
Links are the life-blood of SEO. They are still the main signal that Google uses to determine the trust and authority of a website. Gaining a large number of links from other high-quality, trusted websites will be the main factor that determines whether your website is ranking on page 1 or page 20 for your target keywords.
How to Get Links and Social Shares
Your website’s ranking on Google will climb dramatically when you have earned links to your website from other high-quality, trusted sites. If the links to your site have been manipulated or purchased, Google may decide to apply a penalty to your website. This could prevent your website from ranking even for the name of your own business.
A Blog is the area on your website where you can produce content that will be relevant and useful to your online visitors.
One of the key benefits of having a blog is to get your blog posts linked to from other sites so that your website ranks higher on Google. If your blog is on a different domain from your main website most of the authority earned from those links will not be able to flow through to the landing pages of your main website. Always make sure that your blog and your website are on the same domain name.
Many businesses will use their blog as a means of promoting their products and services. When online visitors get a sense that your blog posts are of a commercial nature they are far less likely to share or link to your posts. Make sure that your blog posts are non-promotional and aim to entertain, inform or educate your online visitors.
Your blog content is much more likely to be shared if you make it easy for online visitors to share it. Make sure that you have prominent social share buttons at the top and bottom of every blog post for all of the major social networks.
The titles of your blog posts are crucial in attracting online visitors. Make sure that your blog titles are appealing, relevant and address a concern or benefit that will make your visitors want to read the rest of the post.
Simply posting content to your blog is unlikely to be enough to get the content shared on Social Media. You will need an effective strategy for promoting your content to influencers interested in your topic or industry.
Social Media networks such as Facebook and Twitter have become one of the most effective ways for businesses to reach their target market and promote the content in their blog.
Social Media profiles are also viewed by prospective customers who want to see that a business has a good online reputation before making a purchase.
Create a profile page using your business name or brand on every major social media website. Even if you are not ready to add content to the page it will prevent someone else creating a profile in your name
Free Name Checker Tool
Include links to your social media profile pages in the template of every page of your site. Be sure to use icons in the original colour of the social network to help visitors recognise the links.
The primary aim of your social media profiles is to drive traffic back to your website. Try to include posts that link back to engaging and relevant blog content on your own website.
It is important to make sure that your website is in good technical shape to ensure that online visitors and search engines are able to navigate and access your content.
Make sure that there are no broken links on your site that may result in a 404 “Page not found” error. Broken pages give a bad impression to online visitors and may prevent search engines from indexing your website.
How to Find Broken Links Using Screaming Frog
There are an increasing number of online visitors using mobile devices (phones, tablets and watches) to access your website. If your pages do not load quickly on a mobile connection visitors are likely to leave your site and search engines such as Google will rank your site lower in the search results.
Google Page Speed Insights Tool
A responsive website is one that adapts itself to the screen size of all devices. If your web pages do not provide a good experience for mobile users, visitors will be less likely to stay on your site and search engines such as Google will rank your site lower in the search results.
Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool
An XML sitemap is a special page on your website that is used by search engines to find the content on your site. Make sure that your site has an XML sitemap in the correct format and location.
A robots.txt file is a special page on your website that is used by search engines such as Google to understand which pages on your site they should or shouldn’t look at. By blocking a search engine from crawling pages that you do not need to appear in the search results you increase the possibility that the other pages on your site will be indexed. Make sure that your site has a robots.txt file in the correct format and location and configured correctly for the content on your site.
What is Robots.txt?
Sometimes, it’s necessary to remove or change a URL on your website. If that URL has links from any other page (either on your site or another site) or the page is receiving traffic from search engines, you may need to redirect the old URL to another URL on your site.
Each time a page is redirected it loses some of the authority that search engines pass through the links. Make sure that none of your pages are being unnecessarily redirected by updating your links with the correct URL.
Redirections – Best Practices
Google Analytics is a free and powerful tool provided by Google to help you understand where your online visitors are coming from and how they behave when they are on your site. Make sure that you have configured your site correctly in Google Analytics.
Get started with Analytics
It is especially important to understand the behaviour of visitors who take a desirable action on your website. By creating Goals in Google Analytics you can track visitors who make an enquiry, sign up to your newsletter, buy a product etc.
A Beginner’s Guide To Setting Goals In Google Analytics
Google Search Console is a free tool from Google that helps you understand how your website is performing in Google’s search engine. It also includes various features that allow your to configure your site to ensure that Google indexes your site correctly.
If Google discovers any technical issues when it attempts to crawl your site, Search Console is the only method that Google has to communicate these issues to you, the site’s owner. Make sure that your site is correctly configured in Google Search Console and that the account is held in your own name.
A Beginner’s Guide to Google Search Console
An XML sitemap is a special page on your website that is used by search engines to find the content on your site. Once you have created a sitemap you can then submit it to Google within Google Search Console. Google will also report whether their software is having any technical issues when crawling your sitemap.
Submit a sitemap to Google Search Console
If you operate a local business it is a good idea to get your business listed so that it appears in Google’s local search and map results. A Google My Business listing also allows your customers to leave reviews for your business that will appear with your listing on Google’s search results page.
The Small Business Guide to Google My Business
25% of all websites are now built using WordPress. WordPress is a fantastic platform for building a site but do remember to check the following settings:
Use a free backup plugin to keep a copy of your WordPress site and database. That way, if anything goes wrong, you can bring your site back to life within minutes.
5 Simple Steps to Backup Your WordPress Site
When you own a WordPress site it is your responsibility to keep it updated. This ensures that your site is secure and that you are using the latest version of the software. Look out for the notification messages to ensure that your WordPress software, your themes and any plugins are all kept up to date on a regular basis.
A Guide to Updating WordPress, Plugins and Themes
Yoast SEO is a free plugin that will help you make sure that your pages look relevant to Google for your target keywords.
Page Caching keeps a copy of the latest version of your pages so that they load faster for online visitors. Install a free Page Caching plugin to your WordPress site.
Yoast SEO Plugin
I hope that you have found this checklist useful. If you would like to download the entire checklist as a PDF, please use the form below.
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