A website is for life not just for Christmas! 

It’s not enough to just create a beautiful website and send it out onto the internet, it’s vital that it is kept updated and that it evolves with your business for it to work hard enough that you see the benefit you need. No matter what your business goals, we would recommend that you audit your website regularly but we know you’re busy so we’ve broken it down into small, manageable steps that you can complete quickly and easily yourself, and for free!

Running WordPress updates

If you have a WordPress site, there’s one vital action that we would advise you take on a monthly basis as a minimum. If we host your site, you can skip this step as we do this for you as part of your hosting agreement with us. 

WordPress releases regular updates which contain fixes known bugs and security issues as well as updates and improvements to functionality. In turn, theme and plugin developers release their own updates to ensure that they remain compatible so not installing these updates can impact on site security, functionality and user experience.

If you’re not in the habit of doing this regularly, backup your site (your hosting may take daily backups but do check if you’re unsure) and run your updates now. Then pop a reminder in your diary for the first of every month to do the same.

Images

If you’ve had your website some time, you may now have replaced some of the original images. You may also have uploaded a selection each time to view on the page before making your final choice. But do you delete the images you don’t use?

A bloated media library can slow down your website, as they take up space on your web server and it’s not just the original image. WordPress will have made several copies of it and different themes and plugins may also need different image sizes. As a result, your Media Library may be holding lots of files that you’re not aware of. 

Depending on your web hosting plan, you could even be charged more if your files exceed your available space.

We’re going to Marie Kondo your media library! Find it via the dashboard and delete any images that aren’t being used on the site.

You don’t have to do this manually, you can use a plugin like Media Cleaner to do this for you but it’s wise to take a backup of your site first.

Oversized images 

Large images can slow page load speed and could mean potential customers abandoning your site in favour of a competitor. So today, we’re checking your remaining images.

Go to your media library via the dashboard and check each image. If it’s over 1MB in file size, it needs to be resized and replaced or compressed. You could choose to install a plugin like Smush to bulk optimise your images.

Short of time? Make a list of the images that need dealing with and pop it in the diary so you don’t forget.

Bonus tip – As you look at your images, it is worth making sure that they are correctly labeled (if they’re called ‘photoshoot 2364’ you’re missing an SEO opportunity) and that they have alt tags to help users with screen readers.

404 – Page not found

We’ve all stumbled on this page and it’s often a wasted opportunity. 

404 errors can occur when you delete a page or post from your site or change the url without redirecting it and the original is still out there in social media posts or newsletters.

It could also be the result of guesswork or a typo but either way, rather than stop at telling a potential customer that they’ve arrived in the wrong place, why not create a custom 404 page that makes some suggestions as to where they can find the content they may have been looking for. Or, the content you would like them to find.

If this sounds like something you would like to add to your site, make a note of the pages or posts that you would include and put it in the diary for when you have time to take action. This doesn’t need to be a complicated page or a fancy design, just a means of improving the user experience on your site.

And those broken links… hold that thought, we’ll be helping with those a little later.

Mobile view

Did you know that well over half of your website visitors are probably using a mobile device?

It’s vital that your site is properly optimised for mobile and that any elements that aren’t responsive are altered for mobile view to ensure that your users have as smooth an experience on mobile as on desktop.

Take a few minutes to go through your site on mobile. Does the spacing need tightening? Are there elements that are offset or partially disappear and if you have text rolling over header images, how do they look in mobile view?

If you sell products or book services, follow the process as far as payment to make sure that every step is easy to navigate.

Make a list of everything that needs attention and start to work through it.

Social links and footer credits

This one is very simple but it’s important. Double check that if you link to your social media accounts, the url is correct and that the links open in a new window.

It sounds very obvious but we often come across sites where a business has changed their Facebook page name or created a custom LinkedIn url and the site link no longer leads to their feed.

While you’re there, check the footer credits. If you see © xyz design agency 2019,  what would that suggest to you about how up to date the content might be on that site?

Do you have a cookie policy?

Not the ones with the chocolate chips (although we do think you should have a policy on those too which states that they should always be available). The next task is simply to check that your site has an up to date cookie policy and plan to resolve that if not.

Cookies are small text files that are downloaded to your device when you access a website. It allows the site to recognise your device and store information about your preferences or behaviours.

Your cookie policy needs to clearly state that you use cookies on your website, explain what they do and get your users consent to store a cookie on their device (with the exception of some which are essential to carry out their request). You can find more information on the ICO website to help you make sure that your policy is compliant and if you’re totally unsure, it’s worth considering a privacy/cookies policy template from KoffeeKlatch.

Please get in touch if you need advice on how and where to display a link to your cookie policy and check consent.

Spam emails from WordPress contact forms

If you get far too many spam emails from your site contact forms then this step is for you. We hear this a lot and it’s a waste of your time.

If the basic WordPress form captcha isn’t doing enough to keep the bots out then Google reCAPTCHA is absolutely free to set up and you can do so within your own Google console in a few steps.

Not only will this verify that your contact form submissions are from actual humans, it will give your visitors confidence that you take your site security seriously and are likely to treat their data carefully.

Give it a try and lighten the load in your inbox. Let us know if we can point you in the right direction!

How many CTA’s should you have on your website?

If you have gone to the trouble of writing (or paying for) copy for your website so that potential customers can find out all about you and how you can help them but you don’t ask them to take action then your site is only doing half of its job.

How many call to action buttons do you have and how clear are they? Are they in the right place to catch your customer at the point and prompt them to:

  • Book now
  • Buy now
  • Sign up
  • Or to find out more.

View your site as a customer. Are there places you may have taken action had you been prompted? Make a note of them to add a CTA when you next make time to update your site.

Broken links 

We talked a little about broken links. We’re going to deal with these now because aside from making it difficult for your visitors to find the information they need, Google likes to recommend well maintained and regularly updated sites so having too many broken links can negatively impact on your ranking.

Use a free plugin such as Broken Link Checker to scan your site for broken links to save you checking each one manually. You can also use browser extensions like “check my links”. Take a look at any you find and deal with them. If it’s a typo, fix that or if you’re linking to a page that no longer exists, remove it or link to whatever has replaced it.

Are you paying too much for your hosting? 

Very often, hosting companies offer a heavily reduced rate for your first year and, if you’ve signed up for auto renewal, you may now be paying substantially more.

Check your last hosting invoice to see whether you pay annually or by the month and pop a note in the diary to shop around before it next renews. You may be surprised how much you can save!

We offer managed hosting for £75 a year, billed annually. This includes your site hosting, email hosting and monthly WordPress updates plus we’re here to help if anything goes down rather than a live chat option. If that sounds like less than you’re paying (or more than you’re getting) get in touch to find out more.

External links opening in the same tab

If you add external links which open in the same tab as your webpage, you risk losing your visitors once they follow that link and are distracted. To avoid this, you can set your links to open in new tabs instead. This prevents your users leaving your website entirely, lowering the bounce rate on your page and avoiding negative impact on your page rankings.

Having external links open in a new window or tab is not only good for SEO, but it also means that visitors don’t lose the page they were on and are more likely to go back and finish reading the page or blog on your website once they’ve finished checking out the reference you linked.

The longer they spend on your site, the more likely they are to take action.

Check your external links. Do they open in the same or a new tab? 

When was the last time you posted an article or blog?

There are 3 main benefits to adding new content to your site regularly:

  • It’s an opportunity to establish yourself as an industry expert
  • Sharing a link to your latest blog post on social media drives traffic to your site
  • A regularly updated site keeps Google happy and written with SEO in mind, this can help to improve your search ranking.

Your penultimate task is to decide on 3 blogs that you’ll commit to writing for use in the next quarter. Think about frequently asked questions from your customers and check out our blog on SEO copywriting basics. Spoiler.. it’s not all about stuffing your content full of keywords.

View your site as a new user

One last very simple but very important action and it’s another that we recommend you do regularly.

Look at your site as a new user. Imagine you know nothing about you, your business or the products and services you offer.

  • Does it tell you everything you need to know
  • Is the journey you take logical with as few clicks as possible to reach the information you need?
  • Are you prompted to take the action you want your visitors to take?
  • Are the answers to your most frequently asked questions clear?

If the answers to any of those questions are no then that needs addressing. 

If you need advice on any of the steps listed above or, when you audit your website, would like some support with updating or rectifying anything that you identify, please get in touch and we’ll be very happy to help. 

For more tips or to keep in touch, follow us on social media.

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