Getting Your Website Ready for 2018
The new year is a perfect time to take a look at your website and do some upkeep or fine-tuning. As we head into 2018, are you getting the results you want from your website? Do you have other goals with which your website can support you?
To start, below are a few quick website diagnostics you should run to see how your website is doing technically. The tools below will give you a checklist to provide to your web developer. Once the technical aspects are covered, we’ll also provide a few questions to diagnose your website’s effectiveness overall.
One of the premiere tools for analyzing website marketing overall, SEMRUSH is the tool used by SEO experts around the world. But you can get a free site audit by creating an account – no credit card needed. Create an account and then choose to run the site audit (middle of the page) on your site. It will take bit of time to complete, depending on the size of your site, but will give you an overall site health score. A score of over 90% is great.
There are three types of issues:
Errors: These should be fixed as they are actual errors. Errors will range from “duplicate site content” issues to “broken links” to “robot.txt errors” to “404 pages”. Some of these you might be able to simply fix yourself. SEMRUSH provides a small “why and how to fix it” on each section so you know exactly what’s going on.
Warnings: While not as important as errors, these should also be fixed. You might find pages that don’t have enough text (low text to HTML ratio) or have duplicate H1 tags. Again, some of these you’ll be able to fix without much technical help depending on how familiar you are with your website.
Notices: These are just items that look unusual to SEMRUSH. They don’t necessarily mean somethings wrong with your site, but you’ll want to take a look to see if you want these set up this way. If you find that these are correct, you can hide the issue to get rid of the notification that you have notices to deal with.
You can fix the items here that you understand, and then bring in a web developer to fix the remainder of the items. This list will provide them with exactly what they need to fix and it also provides you with an independent check to know they were fixed!
Google Pagespeed Insights
Probably the simplest test you can do on your site is a Google speed test. While Moz found no direct correlation between overall site speed and Google search results, about half of users will leave if the site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
To do the test, simply add your domain name and hit enter. Google will provide an overall score for your site’s speed, as well as using color-coded results: red is bad, orange is ok, and green is good. It will also give you items you’ll need to fix.
For most business owners, the biggest influence on page speed that non-programmers can change is optimizing images. You’ll need Photoshop or a similar program to do this, but it’s highly influential on your site speed. To optimize the images, click the “Show how to fix”, find where the images listed are on your site(starting at the top of the list), and resize and optimize them.
Of course, you can also provide this list of items to your web developer and have them fix them. Unlike the SEMrush items, these are not absolute. You can optimize many of the photos, but depending on how they’re loading, you might not be able to optimize all of them (ie. Twitter or ads on your site); or your server response time might be too high, but it’s because of how your theme is built which would require a total overhaul.
This site covers additional marketing items. While similar to SEMrush in some items, this ranker has an overall site checklist for very important items. If you’re looking for a quick check, this is it!
This will let you know (green arrow) if you’ve got headings, no broken links, meta descriptions, a good robots.txt file, mobile friendliness and more. Directly below each item is a notification including how important it is and how hard it is to fix. You can also hover over each item and get a question mark if you want more of an explanation.
At the bottom of the report, make sure you also take a look at your backlinks score and where you stand in social media sharing.
You can download a PDF of this report at the top of the page and then fix the items you can before handing the rest off to a web developer.
Your Website’s Effectiveness
No one wants their website to be a bottomless pit they’re throwing money into. To avoid burning your money on your website, here are a few questions you should answer to get you ready for a successful 2018.
What do you want users to do?
Your website should have 1 primary goal for users to accomplish when they visit your site. You can have 2-3 backup goals for your overall site, but keeping that primary goal front and center is important. So what is the one thing you want users to do? Call you for an appointment? Fill out a form? Sign up for a newsletter? Visit multiple pages? Each business strategy will have a slightly different primary goal; figuring out yours is vital to making your website effective.
Is that primary goal obvious?
While the “above the fold” terminology is little passé, it still is very important when confirming your primary goal. If your website has an image on the top, make sure it’s not just eating up that real estate without calling the user to do something. Your website’s homepage should call users immediately to do exactly what you want them to do. Don’t make them guess!
What is your conversion rate?
If you’ve added your primary goal and made it obvious, you want to be able to test if
Is your site easy to navigate?
One of the biggest pitfalls business owners can fall into is bad navigation. Some people use “cutesy” titles that their users won’t understand; some use industry-specific words when their ideal user isn’t a part of their industry; some are simply disorganized.
Take another look at your site and make sure you don’t fall into the the pitfalls above.
Is your site working?
The number of sites that have errors can be surprising. Your site should be looked at regularly to make sure everything looks correct and is working – including testing your email forms and your mobile site.
Coding is constantly changing (see below) which can lead to issues in your site if you aren’t double-checking regularly. At White Fox Creative, we check all our retainer client’s sites at least monthly to make sure they are all working well.
Is your site updated?
One of the primary ways WordPress sites are hacked is because of outdated plugins or WordPress. If you don’t have a developer doing this for you (call us for retainer packages), log into your site and check the Plugins on the left. When WordPress is out of date, there will be an additional notification on the top of the site. When updates are needed, you can click the update button on the appropriate items. However, be careful! Updating plugins can “white-screen” your site. Make sure you have a backup of the site and know how to restore it if something goes wrong.
As we head into 2018, use January to run a site audit to make sure your site’s technical aspects are looking good. If your technical site is going strong, answer the questions below to keep your site productive and useful.
- What do you want users to do?
- Is that primary goal obvious?
- Is your site easy to navigate?
- Is your site working?
- Is your site updated?