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How To Use a Website Grader To Improve Your Ecommerce Store (2023)

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could simply tell you if your website is good enough? Historically, businesses have needed to pay an expert to evaluate this for them, and the answers aren’t always straightforward. But recently, there’s been a rise in a new type of tool in digital marketing: the website grader. These tools aim to replace the role of an expert and provide you with a simple understanding of your website’s performance in a fraction of the time.

What is web performance?

Web performance refers to a series of technical metrics that indicate how well a site works. There is no single set of agreed-upon web performance metrics, but below are some most commonly associated with web performance:

  • Page load speed. The time it takes for a website to finish loading. Also called a speed index.
  • Core Web Vitals (CWV). CWV is a set of proprietary metrics from Google that measure how easily a browser can read and load a web page.
  • Mobile-friendliness. Mobile-friendliness looks for issues that appear on a website when it loads on mobile devices. These can include images that are sized for desktop or elements that overlap on top of each other accidentally.

Site performance is a key facet of web development. A website can be beautiful, but if it isn’t easy to use and doesn’t load fast, most web experts would not consider it a good website.

What is a website grader?

A website grader is a software tool that runs a series of automated tests on your website and compiles the information into an easy-to-understand score. As a user, you just need to enter your website’s URL, create a (typically) free account, and receive your free report.

The aim of a website grader is to provide website owners with a quick snapshot of how their website is doing. Although website graders may offer some advice on how to improve, they are different from website audit tools in that they don’t attempt to provide a comprehensive report of all the issues on your site.

How is your website grade calculated?

Every website grader has its own set of criteria for scoring, so depending on the tool you use, you may get a different score for your site. But they all follow the same general principles for scoring criteria:

Loading times

Website graders measure how fast your website loads and test this in multiple ways. They review page speed across different devices and browsers, such as Chrome on iPhone and Firefox on Desktop. They also review speed for different parts of the loading process. The two most common parts to evaluate are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), the time it takes to load the largest element on the page, and Time to Interactive (TTI), the time it takes for a user to be able to click the clickable elements on your page.

Technical SEO

Website graders can help you understand whether you have properly set up your site’s technical aspects for search engine optimization (SEO). Grading technical SEO means reviewing whether the site is indexable by search engines, whether the right meta descriptions are in place, whether all the links on the page work, and more.

Web development best practices

Some web development practices aren’t directly related to loading times or technical SEO, but are important because they improve the user experience. These include having the right security practices in place (such as an SSL certificate), properly sizing images, ensuring your website loads correctly on all devices, and meeting ADA’s standards for web accessibility.

Content quality

Although content quality is ultimately subjective, some website graders attempt to quantify it. They will assess factors such as how readable your text is, whether the call to actions are clear, and whether any elements on the page are broken.

Best website grader tools

There are many website graders available online, and the right one for you will depend on what you want to learn about your website. Here are the top website graders for different types of outcomes: 

HubSpot Website Grader for overall performance

Hubspot was one of the first companies to release its free website grader, which looks for overall site performance, SEO, mobile-friendliness, and security. Hubspot provides learning resources and next steps for each part of the audit, and gives a score out of 100.

Google PageSpeed Insights for loading times

Google’s PageSpeed Insights (PSI) is the market standard for evaluating your site’s loading times. Marketers use it because it shows you how Google perceives your performance, which is one of Google’s ranking factors for its search engine. PSI provides a personalized report on all facets of loading, including LCP, TTI, and more.

LocaliQ Website Grader for technical SEO

LocaliQ is a growth marketing software with a focus on SEO. It is a paid tool, but it offers a free version, including a website grader that focuses on technical SEO performance. It covers indexability, duplicate content, alt text on images, and other key technical SEO best practices, summing them in an SEO score out of 100.

Lighthouse for web development best practices

Like PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse is a website grader from Google that runs on the Chrome browser. Unlike PSI, it is open-source, meaning developers from across the web can contribute to its grading system, and it takes a wider lens than just load times. It includes a Best Practices section that provides insight into site security, code quality, HTML/JavaScript issues, and font installation issues. You must run Lighthouse from within the Chrome browser.

VT Clarity Grader for content quality

The VT Clarity Grader focuses entirely on your website’s written content. It provides grades based on overall readability and breaks down contributing factors such as run-on sentences, grammar issues, uncommon words, and passive voice. 

It also provides a “grade level”—what grade of education someone would need in order to understand the content—and recommends content be written for an eighth grade education or lower (meaning someone who has completed eighth grade in the US school system could read it).

Tips for improving your website rating

The best way to improve your website grader score is to follow the prompts your grader provides. If you want to see the biggest improvement in your overall score, focus on the areas graded below 50%, “fail,” or “bad,” depending on the tool, as opposed to scores graded 50% to 70% or “OK.” 

Keep in mind that while a higher score from a website grader is a good sign that your site is moving in the right direction, it’s not a guarantee of higher performance. Ultimately, you should evaluate your website based on its ability to generate outcomes for your business.

Website grader FAQ

What is a website grader?

A website grader is a free tool that provides a simple score of your website performance, plus tips to improve that score. Website graders automatically generate this score based on your site’s page speed, SEO, and usability.

What are the benefits of using a website grader for your business?

Website graders give you a quick snapshot of your website’s SEO and performance, usually for free. They can help identify major issues in your site’s technical setup.

What components contribute to your website score?

Every website grader has its own proprietary scoring system. But the most common components are loading times, technical SEO, web development best practices, and content quality.

How do I use a website grader?

Website graders just require you to input your website URL, though some graders ask you to create a free account or submit your email. Once submitted, you just need to download and read the report it provides.

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