Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Just like a car needs regular tune-ups, so does your website. A lot of time and effort went into building the best site possible, so don’t squander all of your hard work by letting it fall into disrepair. Going back to the car analogy for a moment—when you buy a new car, it’s in pristine condition, with everything working perfectly. In order to keep it in tip-top shape, you need to be vigilant with oil changes, washes, repairs, etc. Well, your website is the same way—it may be perfect to begin with, but it needs constant monitoring and upkeep to stay that way. Keep a close eye on the following areas of your site to ensure that it keeps functioning in optimum condition:
First and foremost, you need to check for technical problems like 404 errors and broken links. Having a bunch of errors and links that no longer work is very damaging to your site—with the search engines AND human traffic. Because websites are dynamic creatures with content constantly being added and taken down, constant vigilance is required in order to avoid 404 errors and broken links. If you have social share buttons for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc., you will also want to periodically check them to see if they are doing what they should. Act like you are a first-time visitor to your site and fill out any and all forms you have to test whether or not they work and if they are easy to navigate. Lastly, check your page load speed and adjust it accordingly so you won’t lose traffic because your page loads at a glacial pace.
Feedback and Analysis
Once you’ve made sure that your site is in good working order and is firing on all cylinders, it’s now time to focus your attention on what can be gleaned from any customer feedback you’ve received, unsolicited or not. This data really is your bread and butter and can provide you with valuable information that can have a huge impact on the success of your site. For example, you may think your site’s layout is intuitive and easy to navigate, but the actual users may think otherwise. Whether or not you choose to implement this feedback is, of course, your choice, but this raw data can be your best friend for determining what is and isn’t working on your site. You will also find it helpful to study your analytics data (you DO have some sort of analytics program running on your site, right?) to find out where your traffic is coming from, what pages are the most popular and which ones have the highest bounce rates.
Last, but certainly not least, you should keep current on the latest happenings with search engine optimization. If the whole Google Panda debacle has taught us anything, it’s that SEO best practices are constantly changing and evolving; just because doing things a certain way took you to the top of the SERPs in the past doesn’t mean it will always be the case. Therefore, it’s vital that you stay on top of the latest changes and developments in the SEO world so you can make sure that your site is easily found by humans and indexed by the major search engines.
While checking under the hood of your site may not be the most glamorous or sexy of tasks, it’s something that you can’t afford NOT to do. A successful, highly functioning website, much like an exotic sports car, requires a lot of TLC, maintenance and monitoring, so don’t neglect these much-needed tune-ups and calibrations.