How long has it been since you reviewed your website? I’m not talking about a major overhaul. Just making sure that it’s all still ticking along ok and that its content is up-to-date.
Who is this post for? It’s written for small businesses and soloists who already have a website. You may have a CMS (Content Management System) so you can do most of this yourself. If not, the post can be used as a guideline of what you can check and then ask of your friendly web developer.
Firstly, do these quick checks to make sure everything’s in order and working as expected. We’re not talking about a major refurb, just airing anything musty and adding fresh flowers.
- Does your copyright indicate the current year? It doesn’t really do anything to ‘protect’ your copyright, but it does signal to visitors that your site is still active and loved. I prefer to show a date range – Copyright © 2011-2016 – to additionally indicate how long it’s been in existence. But that’s your choice.
- Do all your links still work? Links aren’t set-and-forget. Their names and locations can change, both on your site and on external sites.
- On a small site you can just run around and click each link to check them.
- If that seems too laborious, there are some simple tools available, like the free Online Website Link Checker or Broken Link Checker.
- You can also check your links via Google Webmaster tools if you have an account setup to manage your website.
- Are your social media follow buttons up-to-date? Perhaps you’ve started using a new social network in the past year and weren’t sure at first if you’d continue with it. If you’re using it and posting regularly, don’t forget to add it to your website. That shiny new Instagram button and link to your Instagram page gives visitors another way to connect with you. Conversely, if you’ve given up on your Facebook page (or other social network) it would be prudent to remove the link from your website.
- Confirm your contact details. Make sure all contact details are accurate. Maybe that’s why your phone hasn’t been ringing so much lately…! If you have contact forms on your website, fill them out and send yourself an enquiry to test the whole process.
- Check your spelling. When you’ve been looking at your own website for so long, your brain can easily gloss over minor mistakes. That’s right, you can’t see for looking. Ask a friend or family member to do a thorough check on your behalf. Or copy the text from each page and paste it into a Word document then use the spell-check tool.
When you’ve got a little more time, sort through your webpages and do a proper spruce up. You might just need to reshuffle some of the content to bring focus to what’s most important. Or you might look at your competitor’s website and see they’ve leapt ahead of the game.
Sit back and take an objective look at what your site says about you, your service and your customers.
- Is it highlighting your business’ most important features and benefits?
- Have you changed your focus or added new services that are still hidden in a subpage somewhere?
- Does your About page tell your current story, or is it looking like ancient history? Update any reference to how long you’ve been in business and highlight any recent experience that shows you’re at the top of your game.
- If you’ve got news articles on the home page that are more than a year old, what does that convey about the business?
- Check that your FAQ page offers up-to-date information.
- Do your photos need a refresh to reveal the new office update?
- Is your text written in large blocks, or nicely broken down into bite-size pieces. Pop in some sub-headings and bullet points to make it more easy to scan.
- Is there a clear Call to Action on each page? If they’re not being clicked, add some polish with new words and perhaps turn them into clickable buttons.
- Do you have some lovely new customer testimonials that haven’t been added yet?
- For any pages that are getting too lengthy, evaluate whether to pare back the content, or maybe split it into 2 or more pages. Keep each page focused on one topic.
Spring is a good time to open the cupboards and see what you can pull out and recycle.
If you have a Blog, go back through the archives and see if you can pull something old out, dust it off and put it back on the display shelf. Good content that still holds value (often called “evergreen content”) might just need a few tweaks to bring it up to date.
Change the title (but not the permalink…!) and share it around on your social networks. Voila! You’ve got upcycled, fresh content with minimal effort.
SEO keyword review
Now’s a good time to check that you’re targeting the right keywords, which may have changed over time. Pop into Google Analytics and see what’s working and what’s not, then get scrubbing…
Keywords aren’t only important in the body of your content, but in your page Title and Description tags.
- Title tags are best kept to 50 characters (yes, that includes spaces). Each page title should be unique and focus on a different keyword.
- Description tags should be around 160 characters and you want them to be enticing to readers, more so than to search engines.
Read more in my DIY SEO post.
Don’t forget to backup
Now that it’s all been spruced up and looking good, take a snapshot! Not really. Although screenshots aren’t a bad idea to remind you of how it looks before and after.
What I really mean is: Make sure you have a current backup, in a safe place (maybe in the cloud, or maybe on a separate hard drive). Even if you have an automated backup process in place, it’s a good idea to have an occasional point-in-time backup. Just in case…
Then mark some future dates in your calendar to remind you to do it all again. Once a year is better than never. But 3 or 4 times are year will keep your website smelling like roses all year round.