When we think about spring cleaning, we usually think of cleaning up and reorganizing our house. It is also the perfect time to coordinate a cleanup and reinvigoration of your website. Fixing any website issues you have been putting off can help improve your customer satisfaction, search engine rankings, and conversion rates. Here are some things to consider when spring cleaning your website.
Spring Cleaning Your Website: Design
Many older websites were built specifically for desktop computers. Since the rise of the mobile web, desktop computers have actually become the secondary means of accessing websites. Optimizing your website for smart phones and tablets is a huge opportunity if it is still on your to-do list. Redesigning or re-branding your site to make it look modern and relevant is another way you can improve your website.
Custom fonts can enhance the design of a website, and services such as Google Fonts and Adobe Edge Web Fonts make that easier than ever.
If your website has not updated its content in a long time, it is probably also due for spring cleaning. Content is everything that people come to your site for: pages, articles, testimonials, photos and videos. Checking your site for outdated content and replacing it as needed ensures that customers find the correct information and search engines are not confused by conflicting information. Checking for typos, adding new photos, and creating a content publishing schedule will help users find useful information on your site easily. Rewriting content that is jargon heavy can improve your conversion rates, social sharing and customer loyalty. Content that is clear and speaks to your audience in a language they can understand converts better than content that speaks to your industry’s insiders.
Creating new blog posts on a regular schedule can boost traffic and more importantly, help your customers. By sharing your knowledge, it demonstrates why people should trust and use your service. Content such as blog articles, videos, or podcasts makes your audience feel like they know you and are connected to you. Make sure content is compelling and answers the questions people are looking for. If you have enough archived content, you can repurpose it for marketing. One example would be taking old blog posts and creating an e-book as an incentive for users to sign up to your email newsletter.
Including buttons for social sharing on blog posts encourages users to spread your content on the web, which is also good for SEO.
You may have an events calendar that needs updating every few months. Now is a good time to get that information on your site. Do you have new people on your team or profiles that need to be updated? Make sure that your About page is up to date, and that the avatar photos there match your team member profiles around the web.
Optimizing for Search
Maximizing your content for users and search engines is also important. Optimizing the title tags, meta descriptions and content for each page on your site will help your material rank higher in search results. Writing headlines that are relevant and entice your readers can also boost your click-through rate.
Check For Broken Links
Link rot is something that every website has to watch out for. External links to other sites, embedded video or audio, and image links can all change, disappear, or be unpublished. Broken links have two negative effects. First, they lead to a bad experience for your users, and possibly a loss of confidence in your site. Secondly, too many broken links on your site can signal to Google that your site is untrustworthy, and this can impact your search rankings.
404 pages or internal links that lead to Page not Found should also be cleaned up. Google Webmaster Tools can help find 404s that you might not encounter on your own, twll you when they found them, and what page the bad links are coming from.
Checking Social Links
There are several social platforms that have risen to prominence in the last few years. You should link to any new accounts that you are using since your last website design. These could include Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ or others. If you have a Google Plus account, you should connect your account for Google Authorship. This is where the author’s avatar shows up next to the search engine result, and it is very beneficial for SEO.
Some website templates come with preset social links at the bottom of the page. If you have not fixed these on your site, they need to be, so people are not confused if they try to find you elsewhere on the web.
If you are redesigning your website, be sure to also use new social media icons that fit the new design.
Adding Google Analytics to your site will allow you to track visits to your site. You can see what pages users visit, their browsing path through your site, and what mobile devices they are using to visit your site. You can also see what cities your web traffic is coming from, which can be helpful for local search campaigns.
Updating Software and Security
Many websites need general maintenance to make sure they stay functioning correctly. Usually this means making sure that the Content Management System and plugins are up to date. Leaving old versions of the website framework or plugins in place can leave security exploits open to malicious users. Making sure that security best practices are in place is a good idea for every website.Security updates can include making sure you have a secure user login and password, hiding admin files, or limiting login attempts from brute force attacks on your password.
It is also a good idea to walk through the functionality of your site periodically to make sure everything works correctly. Make sure your contact forms, shopping carts, user registration, or other functions work as expected.
Good Hosting Makes a Difference
Site speed is a factor in both search engine rankings and user experience. Many sites use shared hosting because it inexpensive, but it can also be much slower than premium hosting plans. Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom are two excellent tools for testing your page load speed and showing areas of opportunity.
Check to make sure the copyright year at the bottom of the page is current. If customers see something like Copyright 2011 in your footer, they may think that your site has not been updated or monitored since then. At best, they may question whether the information on your site is outdated. At worst, they may reason that if you do not pay attention to your website, what other important things do you neglect?
If your website has a blog or allows comments, it is important to prune out comment spam. Commenting systems are great for building a community, but the presence of unmoderated spam comments can signal to visitors that no one is monitoring the website.
This is a good guideline of where to start looking for ways you can improve your website’s performance, appearance, and usability. Your site is unique, and there may be other improvements not mentioned here that you are aware of. Remember that spring cleaning your website doesn’t have to be a chore. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.