In a perfect world successful websites would look after themselves. However, as competition in the online arena continues to grow there is a need to ensure that your website is correctly maintained, focused, is secure and offers a seamless experience for your visitors. Easier said than done! We understand this may be too much for most small businesses so we do offer monthly website maintenance plans. But for those who like the DIY route, there are some things you can keep on top of.
So, as we approach the end of the year there are a number of relatively simple tasks you can undertake which will make your website more efficient and above all keep you in favour with the search engines.
1. Check for broken links
The key to any successful website is both internal and external links, improve the visitor experience and ensure that your site is easily navigable. Even with the best will in the world, links to other websites break, mainly due to the website closing or moving, and internal restructuring or removal of content can make some internal links invalid. This isn’t good from both a customer and a search engine point of view. It is therefore vital that you regularly check for broken links on your website and where possible update the links or remove them. There are various tools out there to help with broken link detection, we generally recommend website auditing tools such as SEMRush, W3C link checker or Xenu Link Sleuth
2. Review your analytical and marketing data and set new targets
If you are looking to improve your website then you need to give yourself goals? If there are no goals, how will you know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? Whether you use Google analytics or any other service it is vital that you regularly review your site data to see popular entry points, popular exit points and what you can do to keep visitors on your website for longer.
If a particular style of content works then replicate it, if a particular style of content isn’t working then change it and find something that shows improvement. The key to online success is to keep the giving your visitors what they want, if you’re seeing high bounce rates and low time on site then there could be a problem you are overlooking. Keeping your visitors engaged for as long as possible, gives a greater chance they will click on an advert, comment, share your content, or buy a service or product . Give your visitors what they are looking for and they will come back time and time again…
3. Is your website user friendly across different devices?
If we look back 10 years ago it was only desktops and laptops which were really relevant to the online market, the internet and smart tech has evolved so much since then. This shows with the looming dominance of mobile surfing. When reviewing your website you should review the experience on all devices such as tablets, smartphones as well as more traditional desktops and laptops. There are browser extensions and websites which offer easy viewing that will show you what your site looks like across a range of different devices. Those who underestimate the power of mobile phones, tablets and other non-traditional devices are the ones who will be left behind or will be losing sales as a result. The potential to increase your traffic by 10%, 20% or even more is possible by simply making your site more user-friendly across different devices. Hanging fruit which you should grab with both hands!
4. Update outdated or thin content
There are two sides to the argument with regards to outdated or thin content, do you delete the content or do you simply update it. There are some who believe that outdated content should be deleted but content can evolve like fashion and may well become fashionable content again in the future, content can also become outdated so may just need to be updated with relevant information to bring it back.
There will be occasions where content is no longer needed, or it could be considered thin content and just isnt worth renewing, this may actually do harm to your search engine rankings than good. It’s important when auditing your content to understand when and how to redirect, but on the whole, any content which ranks for a phrase that is relevant to your website, has the potential to bring in traffic.
5. Content titles and headings
Content titles and headings help give your audience the initial clue as to what the content is about, headings allow that content to be separated in to a “dumbed down” visual blocks that can help visitors digest your content better. A wall of text is off putting and can result in and amazing bit of information, fall by the waste side because its not as visually appealing as an article on another site that….actually isn’t as informative but is easier for the visitor to read.
What was interesting and headline grabbing material last year may not have the same impact this year, or may have been more relevant last year. Make sure your headings and page titles are focused, make them inviting and watch your incredible content get noticed.
6. Delete that drafts, revisions and redundant database data
If you use a system like WordPress to manage your content, If most of us are honest, we will all have content which we started weeks, months or even years ago which has laid in draft form and never finished. The intention to finish this content has been there for some time but for whatever reason we don’t quite get around to it. Bin the draft content you will never finish, clear the decks and focus on the future, rather than stepping backwards.
Aside from draft data you may not be aware of the amount of revisions your wordpress website holds, every time you make an edit to a page as well as auto save data wordpress very cleverly saves a version of your post so you don’t lose it. The problem is these revisions can store for a very long time and as a result if you have a large website it can start to slow it down.
There are some great plugins and tools available to help clean some data from your wordpress installs, but please make sure you backup the website prior to making changes, plugins such as : https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wp-optimize/
7. Update your images
Alt attributes tag on images are a key part of the readability of your website, likewise its good practice to conform to web standards and as a result its something both users and search engines need to have in place. Depending upon the size of your website it may take some time to check all images, but its worth doing. There are a number of things you can do to enhance your images visibility and effectiveness:A
- Add Alt Attribute to every image
- Resize images to the maximum image size required before losing quality
- Optimise the physical file size and/or file type
- Optimise the image file name
We live in a world where cosmetic or visual appeal is massively important, don’t fall behind with half baked image choice and slow loading web pages.
8. Review your sites access details
It is vital that you change your password ensuring its not to easy, if you can remember it off the top of your head its likely that its too easy. Test your passwords with “How secure is my password”, I can hear the gasps from 90% of you than you didn’t realise how insecure your password really is. Always opt for random, numbers, letters and special symbols to construct your passwords for online usage. Never use the same password on more than one website, if one website becomes compromised, your details could very easily be linked to other websites you use.
Let’s not stop there, its likely over the years you’ve allowed access to your website, your hosting account and various other online resources to people like Web designers, developers, marketers. If you created an account for them and no longer use their services, make sure you remove old accounts, especially with administrator rights.
9. Hire a professional
All said and done, maybe this cleaning and maintaining isn’t for you ? Does your website require more than just a bit of spit and polish?, we can help. Check out our maintenance plans or reach out and press the contact us button.