Website Optimization Tips for Advanced Users

Website optimization is a broad concept and therefore has no clear definition. To give a better idea of the meaning, this description may help: "Improving your website so that it converts better, offers a better user experience, and scores higher in search engines."

What is website optimization?

As shown above, optimizing websites can help you achieve the goals of your organization. In many cases, a process is used to determine where the biggest areas for improvement lie and how they can best be addressed. An example of such an optimization process is: inventory, research, testing, and optimization. A website review can be a good starting point for such an improvement process.

Optimizing a website can be tackled in many different ways, but almost always relates to one or more of the following online marketing disciplines.

Conversion optimization (CRO)

First, we will discuss conversion optimization (CRO). Within this discipline, improvements to the website will mainly focus on increasing conversions. In other words, an attempt is made to ensure that more visitors will 'convert' into leads or customers. Conversion optimization is known for its data-driven view of website optimization. For example, web statistics are often used (for example from Google Analytics) and AB testing is an important part of the process.

User experience (UX)

Another discipline that is much concerned with improving websites is 'UX' (which stands for User eXperience). User research is used to determine how the website can be made more user-friendly. Consider, for example, methods such as user testing, focus groups, and interviews. This department also conducts research into the customer journey and aspects such as personas and segments of visitors are further explored.

Zoekmachine optimalisatie

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Finally, perhaps the discipline that most people will think of when they think of website optimization tips. What this department does is ensure that as much relevant traffic as possible reaches the website via search engines. This concerns 'organic' traffic, which means that these are visitors who have not clicked on a paid advertisement. With SEO, the website is not only optimized for human visitors, but also for search engines. They look at technical matters such as titles and meta descriptions, but nowadays they also increasingly look at the experience that visitors have on the website. To check whether your website is set up correctly, you can do a scan with a tool such as WooRank. This allows you to check a large number of factors and receive advice on what you can improve.

General website optimization tips

A good foundation is a must to successfully optimize a website. Just think back to that one interesting website with such a slow loading time that you clicked away, or that result in Google where an error message immediately appeared after you clicked through. The following general website optimization tips can help you get these basics in order.

Choose a suitable web developer

Website builders come in all shapes and sizes. From the proverbial teenager in the attic to large companies employing hundreds of people. Inform yourself extensively about the ins and outs of your future website and collaboration. Which platform is chosen? How quickly are updates implemented? Are sprints used? Is there a permanent account manager? Can you adjust the website yourself? Etc. If necessary, request a second opinion from someone you trust to get a less one-sided picture of what is offered. Another piece of advice is to look for a website builder that is approximately the same size as your own organization. This prevents you from becoming the largest customer of a small company or the smallest customer of a large company, both of which are often not optimal.

Hosting server

Choose a good hosting provider

There is a lot to consider when choosing the right hosting party. Not only do prices range from a few euros per month to a few thousand euros per month, the quality of the hosting itself often varies enormously. In addition, some platforms such as Magento often require a specific hosting setup, which is then worked out completely differently by the hosting parties. Don't rush into choosing a hosting party and don't let the monthly costs be the only factor you consider in your decision. An additional tip is not to blindly choose the hosting party that your website builder recommends. Ask them why this party is specifically chosen and what their advantages and disadvantages are compared to comparable parties.

Optimization tips for advanced users

Once the basics are in order, it is time to look further. The website optimization tips below provide an idea of the possibilities available to further improve your website. In this way, they ensure optimization in the areas of loading speed, security, accessibility, error resolution, and development speed.

Utilize HTTP/2 or HTTP/3

When you visit a website, the data from that website is sent to your device via the HTTP network protocol. Previously, as a website you only had one choice in this area, namely using HTTP/1.1. However, in May 2015, HTTP/2 was introduced, which uses a highly modified method to send data over the network. In the meantime, HTTP/3 was even officially announced in January 2021, which in turn also has major changes.

Improvements compared to HTTP/1

An important improvement in HTTP/2 when it comes to optimizing websites is that the data packets can be sent in parallel from the server to the browser. This allows a website to potentially load much faster than was the case with HTTP/1. However, to make optimal use of this, it is important that you set up the code of your website properly. In short, with HTTP/2 it is better to load a larger number of small files than a smaller number of large files. The above is exactly the opposite of what was the case with HTTP/1.

Check which protocol you're using now

Using Google Chrome you can check which protocol your website and files are loaded through. You do this by going to your website and then opening developer mode (cmd+shift+c on Mac or F12 on Windows). Then click on the 'Network' tab to open this department. Then right-click on the top row of the table at the bottom of your screen and check 'Protocol'. If you now refresh your website, you will see for each request the protocol used to load it. Are there still a large number of requests with 'http/1.1' among them? Then it may be time to discuss with the developer and hosting party whether a switch to HTTP/2 might be desirable and possible.

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Remove duplicate ID attributes

Each ID attribute in an HTML document must be unique. This ensures that screen readers can do their job well for visitors with disabilities and that JS and CSS code can be linked to one specific element. For example, consider adding click tracking to a call to action button where you only want to measure clicks on that specific button.

Using the Lighthouse tool in Google Chrome you can check whether your website has duplicate ID attributes. If this is the case, you can discuss with your developers what can be done about this.

Add relevant ARIA attributes

Website accessibility is becoming an increasingly important topic. For example, it has been mandatory for some time for Dutch government websites to meet accessibility requirements. However, it is also a win-win for 'normal' websites to optimize them for accessibility. First of all, this naturally ensures that visitors with disabilities can use the website better. However, a by-product of this is that in some situations the website will also perform better for visitors without restrictions. For example, consider viewing the website on a tablet in the sun. By using increased contrast, this visitor will also be able to read the text on the website better without limitations. Furthermore, many other measures that contribute to accessibility (such as adding alt tags to images) also help with search engine optimization.

Which ARIA attributes to use

ARIA attributes are a method to make your website more accessible to visitors with disabilities. Within the WCAG 2.1 guidelines, there are now quite a number of ARIA attributes that you can use. To what level these are currently relevant to your website depends on various factors, which need to be discussed internally within the organization.

Set your HTTP headers correctly

With every page you retrieve in your browser, so-called HTTP headers are sent from the server. These headers are divided into various types, of which equest headers and response headers are the most relevant in this context. Optimizations are possible from a website, especially in the field of response headers. For example, HTTP headers can be used to improve loading speed, security, and SEO.

Curious about the status of the HTTP headers of your website? Then go to developer mode in Google Chrome, open the 'Network' tab and then double-click on the row where the word 'Document' is in the 'Type' column.

Reduce your images

A fast loading speed has always been important for a good conversion rate on your website. However, Google recently also indicated that they will officially include loading speed in the form of so-called Web Vitals as a ranking factor. This makes fast charging speed even more important.

Checking images

Images (due to their file format) play an important role in loading time. It certainly pays to optimize your images, but how does this work? First of all, you can use the aforementioned 'Network' tool and Lighthouse audit to see how your website is doing in terms of images. Does Google indicate that there is room for improvements here?

Effectively reduce your images

In any case, make sure that the images you upload do not have larger dimensions than necessary. It's not rare that I come across images shown as 200 x 300 when they have dimensions at least ten times that size. Please note that so-called retina screens require images to be available in double the dimensions in which they are shown. After you have scaled the images to the correct dimensions, they still need to be compressed. Your website software may do this automatically for you, but if this is not the case, you can of course also do this yourself. On Mac there is a very handy tool called ImageOptim that you can download and use directly from your operating system to resize images. On the PC you can (among many other tools) use the 'web service' that ImageOptim offers on their website.


Optimizing websites takes many different forms and requires continuous attention. However, make sure that you first get the basics of your website in order before you start with more advanced website optimization tips. This will ensure the highest return on your budget and time.

About the author

Theo van der Zee (MSc, Psychology) has been building and optimizing websites and web shops for more than 20 years. As a freelance conversion specialist, he helps companies to improve their websites based on research and experiments.

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