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Giving your website a regular MOT

Sara | Friday 9th December, 2016

We all know how good it feels when our new or revised website is finally up and running. It’s a relief to get it launched, looks great, has new and improved functions and is easier for customers to navigate. End result, an increase in business.

Brilliant and job done. But like any fine-tuned engine it needs maintenance to stay in peak condition. To keep it functioning properly you need to ensure you run regular checks, preferably on a monthly basis.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your website in tip top condition:

1. Google Search Console

This is a great tool to help you discover problems which may affect your search result rankings or your user’s experience.

You should have this already set up on your site but if not it is easy, and free, to set up.

This useful tool provides data and configuration control for your site as well as various visitor metrics, sending you notifications of any increase in 404s or possible errors. It also advises you of any issues with, or actions taken against your website such as a detected hack attack or a penalty for bad linking practices.

It can take a while to get to know your way around all the features and benefits so try to focus on the most practical, key features and not get too technical.

2. Be a customer

Go through the steps a customer would go through when visiting your site. Consider how they would search for information, follow the process through and purchase an item or service, checking for any glitches or things that could be improved.

Be on the look out for dead links. Clicking on links that don’t open is frustrating for your potential customer and can lead to a loss in confidence.

Check all the contact forms to ensure that all potential customer messages are received and all fields are working properly.

If you have the time, it’s worth trying out a competitor site too so you can compare the experience and offering.

3. Test your speed

As you are trying out your website and getting a feel for the customer experience, you will definitely notice any speed issues. The more complicated and developed your site becomes, the more chance there is that things might slow down for the user.

You can carry out a speed test on Google page speed and Google can also give you some recommendations to help increase speed. The most common recommendation is to look at image sizes. Overly large files can increase the size of the page so that is takes a while to load.

Don’t forget that speed is a ranking factor in organic search and an even more important feature for mobile viewing so you need to keep a regular check

4. Review your content

Carry out a regular check of your content, descriptions, product lines, to ensure they are up to date and accurate. Review your keywords and phrases to check optimisation. This can be a daunting and time consuming task so break it down into sections or pages.

Look at finding ways to break your site content up, making it easy to digest for visitors. Include infographics and imagery, as well as video content where possible or available. This will add interest and keep your visitor on the site longer

5. Multiple devices

Now that mobile viewing is second nature, you need to check that your site loads and displays correctly across all browsers and devices. That could be an Ipad mini, the latest Android phone or an old or new iPhone. Put your URL into Google’s useful mobile friendliness checker at Google Search Console to find out how your site performs.

6. Keep your content management systems up to date

Regularly update your plug-ins and software to keep your site working efficiently. As an example, if you have an out dated Google Maps plug-in, potential customers may not be able to view your location from the website.

And finally don’t forget to check your back up! Make sure that you back-up all your data and files at least once a day (week for less active sites). As your website grows and gets more complex, you may need to do this more often.

If you have any questions about keeping your website in optimum condition, then give us a shout or if you have any tips to pass on we’d love to hear them.

 

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