About HubSpot Website Grader
Website Grader is a helpful tool for anyone who publishes a website. HubSpot released the original version of Website Grader in 2008. While the company has given the tool several makeovers, they recently completely revamped it. We’ve updated this article to reflect the newest capabilities of Website Grader, which was released in 2020.
At one time, HubSpot’s Website Grader evaluated a website’s “marketing effectiveness.” It checked to see whether you had a blog. It assessed SEO by looking at your metadata. It searched your site for forms to gauge your ability to convert visitors. It also checked a “proprietary blend of over 50 different variables, including search engine data, website structure, approximate traffic, site performance, and others.”
As a result, your Website Grader score would tell you about the following:
- Website traffic volume
- Number of external links to the website
- Completeness of metadata (page title, meta description, page headings)
- ALT text for all images
- Whether a blog was linked to the website (and it graded the blog)
- Whether a Twitter account was linked to the website (and it graded the Twitter account)
- Domain age and expiration date
- Moz Rank (from SEOmoz)
- Whether there was an RSS feed
- Whether there were conversion forms
We believe the old tool, while far from perfect, was much more helpful than the new 2020 version of Website Grader. The new version seems to be more concerned with the technical aspects of your website—aspects that Google cares most about. There’s even a note on the site that says “Powered by Google Lighthouse.” They’ve given up trying to measure your website’s marketing effectiveness, and we’re sorry to see this change of direction.
But enough pining for the past. Let’s dive into the new version and provide some tips on how to get a good Website Grader score.
Understanding Your HubSpot Website Grader Score
Today’s Website Grader focuses on four key areas of your website:
The first three categories are worth 30 possible points each, and Security is worth 10 possible points. A website can score up to 100 points. Let’s dive into each category.
Studies show that users will abandon websites with slow response times, and Google says website speed is a factor in their ranking algorithm. It’s definitely worth your time to measure your website’s speed and to try to make improvements, especially if you get a low score here.
Here are the subcategories that will affect your Performance score:
- Page Size: Large pages slow down your website. The number-one culprit on most websites is large images. Make sure your images are optimized for the web and take up no more screen space than they should. Try to keep all pages under 3MB.
- Page Requests: Got pages that are cluttered with images and videos? That will also create a drag on performance because each time that page loads, your web server must deliver each of those files to the user’s browser. Every microsecond adds up. Design your pages to minimize their dependence on external files.
- Page Speed: If you minimize your page size and page requests, you’ll also accelerate your page speed. If your pages are averaging more than 5.3 seconds to become interactive, keep working on this area.
- Browser Caching: When you enable browser caching, you allow your visitors to save a certain amount of your content in their browser so pages will load more quickly on future visits. Here’s an article that offers three methods of enabling browser caching.
- Minimal Page Redirects: Page redirects are a handy way of sending visitors to the right place after you’ve moved or deleted content on your website. But each redirect can cause a few seconds of delay for your visitor. So, make sure you never link visitors to old pages that will redirect them to newer ones. And use redirects only when you absolutely must.
- Image Size: As we mentioned above, large images are one of the most common causes of slow websites—especially as mobile devices with small screens continue to gain market share. Use responsive images or SVGs to optimize your images for the many different screen sizes your visitors are using.
- Minified CSS: The same goes for your Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) content. Whitespace, unnecessary line breaks, and comments can create a drag on performance. Use a tool to minify your CSS. Your visitors will thank you.
There’s not a serious marketer out there who doesn’t care about SEO. By now, everyone knows that optimized pages will bring you organic traffic—and you don’t have to pay for organic traffic. Here’s how you can improve your Website Grader score in terms of SEO:
- Permission to Index: Google won’t display your pages in search results unless it has indexed them. And it won’t index them if you tell it not to. Make sure your web developers haven’t put a noindex meta tag or header on pages that you do want to show up in search results. Here’s more from Google on permission to index.
- Meta Description: Meta descriptions show up under your page title in search results and tell potential visitors what they’ll get if they click through to your page. They’re only 155 to 160 characters each (roughly the length of a typical tweet), so there’s no reason not to write one for each page on your website.
- Content Plugins: Plugins have their place on your site—but search engines can’t “read” them and won’t give you credit for the content they deliver. Make sure your best content isn’t only visible through plugins.
- Descriptive Link Text: Generic link text such as “click here” won’t do you any favors in Google—and it’s not helpful to your visitors. Rewrite your link text to say things like “Download My Free Trial.” And, when necessary, rewrite whole sentences so that you can use the most descriptive words as link text.
It used to be that you could just design your website to look good in Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator on an IBM desktop computer. Nowadays, you must design for tiny screens on a host of devices.
Your Website Grader Score will rate you on:
- Legible Font Size: Make sure your font will be visible on smaller screens. To please your visitors and get the best score, keep all fonts at 12px or larger.
- Tap Targets: Ever visited a website loaded with tiny buttons to click? Don’t let your site be that site. Check every page to ensure your buttons and links are large enough to click easily with a fingertip. And make sure they’re not so close together that visitors will click the wrong one.
- Responsive: Responsive design enables your website to reconfigure itself on the fly to look good in a variety of screen formats. Make sure your web developers aren’t still designing pages with fixed width and non-scalable images. Learn more about responsive design.
With cybercrime on the rise, web visitors now expect website owners to implement technology that proves their trustworthiness. Here’s how to improve your Website Grader score for Security:
- HTTPS: Just because you’ve implemented SSL doesn’t necessarily mean your website is secure. Your website may still make some direct calls with HTTP rather than HTTPS. To find the lines of code that do this, try this handy tool by Geekflare.You can also use web tools to find any insecure items on your SSL pages or crawl your whole website for insecure content.
- A more comprehensive look at website security: This free website security report from Experte includes the following website security checks:
- Malware & Phishing
- SSL (Certificate, Protocols, Vulnerabilities)
- HTTP Security Header
- DNS Settings (DNSSEC, DANE)
How to Get More Help
We hope these tips have helped you understand your Website Grader score so that you can take steps to improve it—and give your visitors a positive experience. Need more guidance? HubSpot offers a free Website Optimization Course. Once you’ve graded your website, you’ll see a button for the course at the top of your page.
And then there’s Espresso B2B. Smart web marketing is what we do, and we’ve helped many B2B companies turn their websites into lead generation machines. Ask us how >