The 2024 Website Checklist: Mastering Compliance, SEO & Conversion

2024 Website Checklist for Compliance SEO Conversion

It’s 2024, and the digital landscape has evolved dramatically. Your website, once a beacon of innovation, now competes in a more sophisticated and regulated online world. As a business, it’s crucial to stay up-to-date to ensure that your website remains relevant. If you’d like to rank higher in search engines and increase your online conversion rate, it might be time for a website revamp. This comprehensive checklist is your roadmap to make the necessary changes to stay compliant and competitive in 2024.

1. Strict Data Privacy & Security

Data privacy and security are more than just buzzwords; they are the backbone of digital trust. Your customers are more aware and concerned about how their data is used and protected. Cisco’s 2024 Data Privacy Benchmark Study found that 94% of companies say their customers won’t buy from them if their data is not properly protected.

How you process and protect your customers’ personal information has become highly regulated, and it’s important to ensure that you comply with global standards like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the UK’s Data Protection Act and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the US. Each US state has its own data privacy legislation, so if your business operates in multiple states, you should be aware of and comply with the specific laws of each state. The same goes for almost every country in the world.

Choose a Cookie Consent Solution that Works

It is your responsibility to ensure that your website respects user privacy while collecting valuable data. Cookies play a significant role in data collection on the internet, particularly in the areas of user tracking, personalisation, and analytics. Many privacy regulations have established rules for how cookies should be used and how user consent should be obtained and managed. Selecting an effective cookie consent solution is crucial.

There are many solutions available that are transparent and easy to navigate, allowing users to choose their level of data sharing. Tools like CookieYes and iubenda are easy to implement and can help you set up compliant privacy and cookie policies and manage user consent and preferences, ensuring that your website respects user privacy while collecting valuable data.

Adapt to the Third-party Cookie Phase-Out

With major browsers phasing out third-party cookies, it’s essential to shift your focus to first-party data strategies. Consider using CRM systems and email marketing to gather data directly from your customers. Start by enhancing your website’s data collection methods through user registrations, newsletters, and customer feedback forms. This shift ensures compliance, maintains personalisation in your marketing efforts and provides valuable insights while ensuring user consent and trust.

2. Website Accessibility

Accessibility isn’t just about compliance; it’s about inclusivity and should be considered a moral and business imperative. The World Bank states that 15% of the world’s population experiences some form of disability. Making your website accessible expands your audience significantly.

Globally, accessibility laws vary, but the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) serve as an international standard. Aim to meet at least WCAG 2.1 Level AA to ensure a broad level of accessibility. In the UK and EU, the Equality Act 2010 and the European Accessibility Act respectively require websites to be accessible. This includes providing text alternatives for non-text content and ensuring that all functionalities are accessible via keyboard. If you operate in the US, you’ll need to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Implement a Web Accessibility Solution

There are many tools available that can make it easier for you to ensure your website complies with the relevant accessibility requirements. You should regularly audit your site for accessibility compliance using tools like the Accessibility Checker. Implementing an accessibility solution like accessiBe will instantly make your site more accessible for people with disabilities and compliant with legislation.

3. Voice Search Optimisation

Smart speakers and voice assistants have become widely used. This has led to the rapid growth of voice search, with a 2022 study from UpCity finding that 50% of US consumers use voice search daily. This number is on the rise, as is evident from Statista’s forecast that by 2024, the number of digital voice assistants will reach 8.4 billion units, which is double the number reported in 2020. 

Adapt for the Rise in Voice Search

Adapting your website for voice search queries is becoming crucial. Focus on natural language, and incorporate long-tail keywords and question-based content to align with conversational search patterns. Also, ensure your local SEO is robust, as many voice searches are local in nature.

4. AI-driven Search Engines

AI-driven search engines, such as those powered by Google’s BERT or Microsoft’s Bing AI, are revolutionising the way searches are conducted and understood. These engines use advanced machine learning algorithms to better interpret the intent behind search queries, providing more accurate and relevant results. For businesses, adapting to AI-driven search engines involves a few key strategies:

Use Natural Language

AI algorithms are adept at understanding natural language. Therefore, content should be written in a way that naturally answers questions and solves problems that potential customers might have.

Create Quality, Contextual Content

AI search engines prioritise high-quality, informative, and contextually relevant content, so focus on creating detailed, useful content that addresses specific user needs and queries.

Optimise Your User Experience (UX)

Increased user engagement signalled by longer visits and more interactions are also important factors considered by AI algorithms. Create a seamless user experience, encouraging engagement on your website to help increase your visibility in AI-driven search results.

Use Structured Data Markup

Schema markup is a standardised form of structured data. It consists of code you can add to your website that helps search engines understand the nature of the information on the page. Search results with schema are more visually compelling, and because of that, they can often earn more clicks. Use tools like Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to implement this on your site. If you run a WordPress website, you can use plugins like Yoast to add the schema that’s most appropriate for your website. Using structured data also helps AI search engines understand the context and content of your pages better, ensuring that your website is visible for relevant search queries.

Optimise for Mobile

With mobile searches increasingly dominating, ensuring your site is mobile-friendly aligns with AI’s preference for sites that offer a great user experience across all devices.

5. Image SEO

Image SEO refers to the optimisation of images on a website to make them more visible and effectively indexed by search engines. Some of the techniques you can use to optimise your website images include:

General Image Best Practices

Rename your image files with descriptive, keyword-rich names, and provide descriptive alt text for images. This aids in accessibility and helps search engines understand the image content. Place images near relevant text and consider using captions for additional context and engagement. This can help search engines understand the relevance and context of the image better.

Reduce Your Image File Size

Images can account for up to 21% of the total weight of a web page, as per HTTP Archive. Large or bloated pages take longer to load and negatively impact your website performance and user experience. Reducing the size of your image files is one of the most impactful ways you can cut down on your page weight. You can optimise your images by resizing and compressing them to improve page load speed and search engine visibility. By using responsive images, you can serve different image sizes based on the user’s device to ensure your page loads as fast as possible, and that your images display correctly on all devices.

There are many free tools available that can help you compress your images without losing quality. iLoveIMG and TinyPNG are excellent online tools you could consider using. If your website is powered by a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla or Magento, there are many plugins you can choose from that can automatically optimise your images as you upload them to your website. Other platforms like Shopify and Wix automatically compress images on your website to improve performance.

Choose the Right Image File Format

By using appropriate file formats for your images, you can further reduce the weight of your files. JPEG is great for photographs due to its compression quality. PNG is better for images with text or transparency. WebP is a modern image format that offers superior compression and quality characteristics compared to JPEG and PNG, allowing you to create smaller, richer images that make your website faster.

6. Local SEO

Local SEO is crucial, with 87% of consumers using Google to evaluate local businesses in 2022, according to BrightLocal’s 2023 Local Consumer Review Survey. For businesses serving specific geographic areas, local SEO is key. These are some of the steps you can follow to optimise for local search:

Claim Your Google My Business

An optimised Google My Business listing can increase your chance of showing up in Google’s Local Pack, Local Finder, and organic search results. Regularly update your profile with new photos, and special offers, and respond promptly to reviews.

Use Local Keywords

Identify and use keywords that are relevant to your local customers. These include not just what you offer (e.g., “Italian restaurant”) but also geo-specific terms (e.g., “Italian restaurant in downtown New York”).

Optimise for ‘Near Me’ Searches

Many users search for services “near me.” Ensure your site mentions areas you serve, and include local landmarks and details relevant to your location.

Ensure NAP Consistency

Your business’s Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) should be consistently listed across all online platforms, including your website, social media profiles, and online directories.

Acquire Local Backlinks

Backlinks from locally relevant sites like local newspapers, blogs, and business associations can boost your local SEO.

Encourage Customer Reviews

Positive reviews, especially on your Google My Business listing, can significantly impact your local search rankings. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews.

Create Local Content

Regularly publish content related to your community or local events. This can include blog posts, videos, or local event sponsorships.

Optimise for Mobile Users

A significant portion of local searches are done on mobile devices. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly with fast load times and an intuitive interface.

Use Social Media to Engage Locally

Actively use social media platforms to engage with your local community. This helps increase local brand awareness and drives traffic to your website.

Utilise Structured Data Markup

Implementing structured data (like schema markup) on your website can help search engines better understand and display your business in local search results.

7. Mobile Optimisation

With over 58% of global web traffic coming from mobile devices in the last quarter of 2023, (Statista), mobile optimisation is non-negotiable. According to WebFX, 74% of website users are more likely to return to a mobile-friendly website. Besides catering to a massive mobile user base, mobile optimisation has a direct impact on your ranking in search engines. Google uses mobile-first indexing, which means that the mobile version of a website’s content is predominantly used for indexing and ranking. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you will be penalised in search rankings. To keep mobile users coming back to your site, and to ensure that your website remains visible in search engines, you can follow some of these strategies:

Implement Mobile-First Design

Mobile-first design is a design philosophy and strategy that focuses on designing for smaller screens first and then scaling up to larger screens. It’s an approach that not only optimises the user experience for mobile users but also aligns with Google’s mobile-first indexing.

Adopting a mobile-first design approach involves prioritising and displaying the most essential information due to the limited space available on mobile screens, using readable fonts, simplified navigation and touch-friendly interfaces. Another core principle of mobile-first design is ensuring that your website is responsive, with a layout and navigation that adapts seamlessly to different screen sizes like smartphones and tablets. Try BrowserStack’s responsive design testing tool to check your website’s responsiveness on iOS and Android devices. You can also use the free Hubspot Website Grader tool to check your website’s performance on mobile.

Consider Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

PWAs are apps that are built using web platform technologies but are designed to look, feel, and work the way native mobile apps do to create a mobile app-like experience, improving load times and offline capabilities. This can significantly enhance the mobile user experience. They load like regular web pages but offer additional functionality like working offline and receiving push notifications.

Users can access a PWA in a browser as they would any mobile website. After engaging with the website, the user is prompted to install the web app on their device. Should they choose to install, the app will download to the device in the way a native app would. Installing the app is like creating a bookmark on your device’s home screen, making it easier for the user to access your app in future. Companies like Forbes and Pinterest have seen increased engagement and lower bounce rates after implementing PWAs.

8. Frictionless User Experience (UX)

A seamless UX can lead to increased engagement and higher conversion rates, while a poor UX can have the opposite effect. Here are some factors to consider when optimising your website UX:

Improve Navigation & Usability

Clear, intuitive navigation and a simplified user journey will reduce bounce rates and improve conversions. Try to eliminate any kind of friction that could be causing your visitors to drop off like long forms, slow-loading page elements, a cumbersome checkout flow or a lack of popular payment methods. Make your website as easy to navigate in as few clicks as possible, displaying information in a logical structure, ensuring a well-optimised website search function, offering personalised product recommendations and providing transparent pricing and return policies. Use analytics tools like Smartlook to understand how users interact with your site and adjust your layout and navigation based on these insights. 

Maximise Website Speed

Website speed is a critical factor in user experience and SEO. According to Google, 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. Optimise your website’s speed by compressing images, utilising browser caching, minimising HTTP requests and reducing server response time.

You can perform a website speed test using the Google PageSpeed Insights testing tool. It’ll calculate your overall mobile and desktop performance score and provide speed metrics and diagnostics with clear instructions on how to improve your website’s performance, accessibility and SEO. By implementing the recommended fixes, you’ll quickly see an improvement in your site speed. If you find the recommendations a bit daunting and technical, reach out to a web development agency like Cybersolve to help you optimise your website. You can check our website performance score here to see the type of results we can help you achieve for your website.

Final Words

In 2024, your website is more than just your digital presence, it’s a dynamic interface that connects you to the world. Each element of this checklist plays a crucial role in ensuring that your website is not only compliant and visible but also a powerful tool for engaging and converting visitors. How ready is your website to meet these evolving challenges?

Optimise Your Website

Reach out to Cybersolve for a website consultation:
Anneli van Rooyen
Anneli van Rooyen
Digital Director at Cybersolve