The Ultimate Website Review Checklist for 2014
It’s a brand new year and it’s time to pay attention to your website right now! This is the perfect time of the year to get into the habit of doing a once over on your own website. Whether you maintain your website yourself or you have web person handle it, as the owner it is your responsibility to make sure that your site is up to snuff.
This is the ultimate website maintenance checklist for you to use when you review your website annually. What you decide to actually do to your site to update it and freshen it up…is of course up to you, but this list is what I professionally would recommend minimally to consider for all websites. Even if you have grand plans to “overhaul” the content, this checklist will help you make sure you are always looking your best to your potential clients and customers.
1. Change Copyright Date
Update your copyright date in your footer please. Your website will look unloved and old with last year’s numbers showing. Also, if you have been super busy with growing and planning your business, then you might want to remove all the published dates of any blog entries or content that may be a bit old. Having gaps in time also makes a website look neglected. So simply remove the dates and you can help your site appear “timeless.”
2. Check Every Link
Test and check every link on your site from menu items to links inside your content. Isn’t it frustrating to find a great article with a handy reference link that hits the ugly 404 page? Your customers won’t like it either so start clicking away and checking every link. Chances are you are bound to find a few links that need to be updated. What do you do if you can’t update a link because it’s an external URL and someone else moved the content? Just take the link, remove the hyper-link and insert an asterisk (*) with a note at the bottom of your content explaining the link has been moved.
3. Test Every Form
Go to your site as a potential customer and fill in any forms or sign ups you may have. Again, sometimes when you have pasted code from say your CRM provider, it may need to be updated once in a while. Fill in the forms and click submit, make any notes that you may want to change or update and check your email. Fix anything that needs to be fixed and update anything you like.
4. Create Back Up Copy of Site
This sounds pretty mundane, but let me ask you how many back up copies of your website do you actually have downloaded off the web and securely saved? I am not here to judge you – only help you. So if you know how make a full website back up, preferably from your server, then get to work. Request a copy of your current website from your web designer if you have one. If not and the term “server” stops you in your tracks, then call up your hosting company and ask them how to do it over the phone. Your hosting company should be able to easily walk you through the steps of a full back up copy from your server. If you have time you might want to test that back up copy by duplicating your website in a subfolder on your website away from the public. A good back up is a tested back up. But any back up is better than none.
5. Pull Together All Website Information
There is more to your website information than just a username and password. I have received calls from people in the past that had the web person pass away unexpectedly and the owners’ had no clue where to begin to regain control of their own website. If you have a business your website information is considered an asset and is important enough to include in your files with your will. The information you should have minimally is the username and password for the following:
- Website Domain Name Registration Company Info
- Website Hosting Company Info
- Website Administration Access Info
- FTP Access Info
- Social Media Accounts Info
- Email / CRM Account Info
- Any 3rd Party Website Extension Info
If you don’t have this information in your own possession, then you are risking everything. It’s your website and you are the owner and you should be able to access your website when you like. You should also test the usernames and passwords for everything to make sure you have the most up to date information as well. I have seen website owners held captive by other website designers or builders. Whether by accident or not, take control over your own website.
6. Review Page Titles
Page Titles are the lines of information that appear at the very top of the browser window and are also one of the first pieces of information that search engines read when indexing your website. You don’t have to be an SEO expert to know whether your Page Titles are good or not. Just click on a page on your site, and then read your browsers’ line of text at the top. Does it tell you what the page is about using great keywords? Don’t over think it here, just give it an update to make the line of text better if you can. It’s not one of the most important parts of SEO, but it is one that is easier to see, update and improve for most all users. You can improve it by placing the keyword that describes the page and is most important first. Some people may have their company name there, but if someone doesn’t know you exist, then that is not going to help them. The keyword is going to help. (I will write about keywords this year for you). For example, let’s take the contact page. Does it say Your Business Name Contact Page? Or do you think it would be better to say Contact This Business at Phone Number or email? This is simplified example, but i think you get the idea.
7. Update The Front Page
You don’t have to overhaul your front page to add some new content. Take a look at it and see how long the same information has been on the front page. How about swapping out an article teaser for a different page on your website. Many website tease one page or another from the front page, so change it up. If you lead with the About page all the time, change it for your Services page. Add a new photo, or connect to a new social media account. Point out the new addition and highlight it so people now you are alive and well. Again, it doesn’t have to be a big update, even a little update can freshen up the whole page.
8. Check Critical Business Information
You would be surprised when I review website for clients and students, how many are missing key business information in critical locations of their site. The way sites are built today there is no reason not to have your critical information listed in your header or footer. Your header and footer are the same for every page and therefore provide a consistent location for key information. Is your phone listed, physical address of your location or email. Every site may have different needs, but you won’t know what page your visitors will enter your website, so make it easy to find out who you are and how to get a hold of you or your staff. Whether you have a mobile website set up or not, asking people to click to the Contact Page is asking too much.
9. Review Social Media Connections
Most every business has at least one social media account floating around somewhere. Make sure your are linked to it from your website. Check the link and if it’s easy to find on your site, and it works, you are good to go. If you want to take it a step further, then decide if you want to add a new account. Since social media accounts are free, try them. If your target audience might be using one of them, then you should try to connect with your audience. Again, let’s not make a big drama out of a new account, grab your logo or profile picture and set up your account and link it up. Fill in the profile completely when you set up the account, and then let your users know you have the new account. It can become its own micro-marketing campaign. Include the new addition in your email signature, newsletters, and post it in your store. Just getting it started is the point with this list.
10. Add 1 New Piece of Content
Finally, I place this review point last so you could have a 9 point checklist if your too busy, or a 10 point checklist if your ambitious. Updating your front page was already on the list – remember? I am not trying to double down here but instead remind you that if you have gone through 1 – 9 first, then you will have your business on your mind, and realize that you might have missed some information on your website that would be good to post. This is the perfect time write new content. Maybe you never had a chance to post your business hours, or frequently asked question section. What about letting your customers know how to get a hold of you in an emergency if they need to? Maybe you don’t accept credit cards anymore or have modified your services you offer. Think about the questions your customers ask you regularly over the phone or in person. Put that information on your website. It may save some time for both parties. You don’t have to write a new article if you don’t have time, but that is a great idea if you do have the time. Find something new to add to your site, and I think you will find that it will be easier to update your website more frequently.
If you use this list once a year, it’s a start. Another way to use this list is to schedule your website review quarterly. When you do estimated taxes, make a note to review your site for a season change. There are infinite things you can do to help you freshen up your website. Doing the basics will keep you out of trouble when you least expect it though.
Suggested Review Time Reservation: 2 Hours
How long will executing this checklist take? Well it depends on the size of your site. But for most small business website owners I suggest to schedule between 1 – 2 hours to take a good review of your site. Your website is a main marketing tool in your business tool kit. Don’t let it get stagnant. While you are busy with your customers, your site needs to be fresh and inviting to new customers to follow. So schedule the time in your calendar in advance. One more thought – it may be obvious to some but skipped over by others. When you do your review, keep an eye out for typos!