Is your website nothing more than a manufacturer’s regurgitated brochure with logos slapped everywhere? Do you need a new website? What’s wrong with it currently? Besides the aesthetics, what should you focus on first? Is it a  SEO issue, or content quality?

Website-Health-Beating-Heart-GraphicsAs you can see if you don’t know what the real problem is, it can be difficult to find the right solution. Worst yet, you’ll waste a ton of time and money if you jump into a solution straight away and it’s the wrong solution.

While most good web consultants have an in depth diagnosis process, it’ll only help if you have some basic knowledge about troubleshooting your website before getting outside help.

It’s like going to a mechanic. If you don’t know anything about cars, don’t be surprised if you get ripped off. You don’t need to be an expert, but if you can self diagnose some things, the more you know the better off you’ll be.

These are my personal tricks and techniques. The only thing it’ll cost is some time. If you have staff on hand, you can ask them to do this once a week.

Hubspot Website Grader

http://marketing.grader.com

What is it?

Hubspot’s website grader gives a snapshot of things every website should have if you want more people to come.

How to use It:

Once on the site – http://marketing.grader.com, enter your website’s URL address. It’ll spit out a number and give you a concise report.

Hubspot Marketing Grader Logo

Why is it good?

It’s fast and easy. The grade it gives you isn’t nearly as important as the things it tells you you’re doing well, and the things you could be doing better. What I like even more is the subtle statistics on the right side. This shows you their recommendations aren’t just based on opinion, but rather industry performance. Consistent updates from Hubspot are a big plus so you know the assessment is based on relatively current standards.

What it lacks:

Sometimes it’ll have trouble finding things like your blog or rss feed automatically which may distort your score. Again, the score isn’t nearly as important as the information it tells you. (It would be nice if there was a button to just fix things automatically… some day it’ll happen.)

Google Analytics

http://www.google.com/analytics/

What is it?

Google Analytics is a software package that tracks where people are coming and leaving from on your website, what things people are clicking, and generates statistics reports for you.

Google analytics screenshot 4-4-2013 11-58-36 AM

How to use It:

You’ll need to install a small piece of code on your website. Installation can be tricky if you’re completely new to the web. However if you can copy and paste and know what the head, body, and footer means in relation to html, then it’s very easy. Google also provides a very convenient way to email the installation steps to your webmaster.

After the installation, you’ll need to wait a couple of days for Google Analtyics to collect data. Once the data is collected, you’ll be able to see traffic reports and all kinds of charts.

Why is it good?

Analytics software can cost thousands of dollars. Google Analytics is basically giving everyone enterprise level tracking for free.

One of the most useful things is setting up goals and conversion tracking – one of Analytics’ most powerful abilities.

If you do any advertising in AdWords, the integration with Analytics is seamless.

Analtyics is also the most widely used website statistics software. So if you need more in depth help, it’s easy to find at affordable rates.

What it lacks:

I wish it came with an analyst. But in all seriousness, Google Analytics can be overwhelming. The first time you log in, you may feel like an avalanche has hit you. I’ve been using Analytics since 2009, and I still learn new things about it to this day. It’s constantly evolving.

Also, the easy part is setting things up and collecting data. The challenge is what to do with all that data? You’ll need to either learn this yourself, or outsource it.

The nice thing is it’s very easy to share your analtyics account with someone else. You don’t need to give them your login information. All you have to do is have their email and grant them administrator permissions.

Google Webmaster Tools and/or Bing Webmaster Tools

http://www.google.com/webmasters/

http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster

What is it?

These are additional tools that help optimize the visibility of your website.

Google webmastert screenshot 4-4-2013 12-00-16 PM

How to use It:

You’ll need to install it like Google Analtyics. In either case, Google and Bing just need to confirm you own the site. Again, this is a simple task for any webmaster. Both offer easy installation instructions.

Once it’s in place, and you log in, you’ll have access to a lot of the “technical” stuff about a website. Webmaster tools will also tell you if there’s anything wrong with your website and help you troubleshoot why your pages aren’t being found.

Why is it good?

It focuses on the basics and helps you monitor if any of the basic technical website things are wrong. This can lead to a very quick “a ha” which will lead to a quicker solution.

Webmaster tools is especially useful at detecting if your site has been hacked.

When your site has been hacked or infected, Google and Bing can ban you from their search engines. At the very least, your site will be flagged and any visitor that comes will see a yucky warning telling them that your website has been hacked.

Website with Malware Example

This is definitely not how you want your website presented to customers.

Next Steps

After implementing these things, you’ll be more knowledgeable about your website. When things go wrong, or you’re trying to find the root problem, all these tools can be used to help you troubleshoot.

And if you ever need to outsource any of these activities, you’ll know what kinds of things to look for.

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