It’s the year 2020 and we’ve witnessed massive technological advancements in the last decade including Google’s driverless car, the iPad, Oculus VR and Instagram.
Societies habits are evolving with a higher dependence on their smartphones to make any purchasing decisions or who they decide to hire. At the same time, Google is always improving their algorithm to provide the best results to users queries.
Business owners can no longer neglect their website and online marketing if they’d like to stay competitive. I suppose some businesses haven’t clued in and unfortunately have websites that are SO 2002.
It’s time to put your website and digital marketing strategy under the microscope to find any deficiencies, areas for improvement or may want to just take a wrecking ball to the whole thing and do a complete website redesign.
By addressing the factors mentioned in this checklist, not only can you turn your website around but even increase your businesses bottom line.
1. Freshen up your website design
38 percent of visitors will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive
Your website design can influence how visitors respond to your website. A professional design can help your brand, build trust and engage users.
It’s time to take a good look at your website and see if there are minor changes that can be made that can improve your website design.
One small but impactful change can be to make your sure call-to-action buttons and phone number are easily found on your website.
If you’re website design hasn’t been updated in years and looks outdated then perhaps it might be time for a website redesign.
It helps to check your competitors websites to see how you stack up and also get some ideas that you can implement on your own website.
2. Update Your WordPress
Less than 1/3 of WorPress installations are running a recent version.
If your website is developed in WordPress then it’s important to keep up with periodic updates to the software, plugins and themes.
Since WordPress is open source this means that its code can be studied by hackers who look for vulnerabilities to exploit.
WordPress updates include: bug fixes, security patches, new features, optimized code and other factors.
If you haven’t updated your WordPress version, plugins and themes in while then its time to do some WordPress maintenance.
TIP: If an upgrade hasn’t been performed in a long time then I recommend making a full site back up first or replicating your website to another location to run the updates.
Be sure to also update your website copyright date in the footer to be current year.
4. Update your Blog
53% of marketers say blogging is their top content marketing priority.
Blogging is an effective way to boost traffic to your website, build credibility by showing your an expert in your industry and gain visibility for new keywords in the search results.
It’s a good time to audit you blog to see if any posts can be updated, improved or removed.
Google Analytics is a good place to check for any posts that are under performing such as having a high bounce rate.
You may want to update your “10 tips for 2016” article to make sure the date and information are relevant to the current year so it becomes “10 tips for 2020”.
This practice can not only impact your websites bounce rate but also search rankings.
If you plan on removing any posts entirely, be sure to setup a 301 redirect to point it to a relevant page where applicable.
5. Check your page speed
Increasing your website loading speed can prevent the loss of 7 percent of possible conversions
Does your site take more than 3 seconds to load? If you’re unsure you can test your page speed here.
Your websites loading time can affect search engine ranking, cause frustrated visitors to go to competitors websites and potentially affect your overall business.
Two of the biggest culprits are poor web hosting and using images that are too large in size.
If you’re website is developed in WordPress then implementing a caching plugin such as WP Rocket or WP SuperCache which can boost your site speed by 30%. These popular plugins can also compress JS/CSS scripts and optimize your database.
6. Check your site on mobile
Mobile traffic makes up 51.51% of all search traffic (excluding tablets).
Use the Google Mobile Checker to find out if your website is mobile friendly.
Google previously launched Mobilegeddon which provided preference to mobile responsive websites in the search results.
If your website isn’t mobile friendly then it can have a tremendous impact on how your website performs and your companies bottom line.
Most people depend on their smart phones to locate businesses in their area. If your website isn’t responsive then it’s likely you either won’t be found or visitors will be frustrated when they arrive on your website and leave.
If your website is developed in WordPress, installing a new theme can be an worthwhile solution to getting your website working on all major devices.
7. Check broken links and sitemap
88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience and a broken link may be the problem.
Broken links can frustrate users looking for information on your website and also impact search rankings which is why it’s important to identify and fix any within your website.
An XML sitemap let’s Google know which pages to index within your website but also allows you to get a list of all published pages.
You can usually locate it by following your domain name with “/sitemap.xml” at the end. IE this websites sitemap can be found by visiting https://nextoronto.com/sitemap.xml.
“After reviewing my own websites XML sitemap, I discovered and removed pages that were created from previously installing a payment plugin. These are certainly not pages I want Google to index from my website nor do I want visitors landing on these pages.”
8. Backup Your Website
There are several backup and restore plugins available for WordPress such as Duplicator.
If you’re with a reliable hosting company then your probably already setup with automatic backups, however these backups may not be as often as you’d prefer.
As an extra security precaution, make a backup of your website on your local machine or upload to Google Drive.
9. Review your analytics
Most websites have Google Analytics installed. A small percentage actually review the data and an even smaller percentage know what to do with it.
Understanding your Google Analytics can shed insight into how to improve your websites user experience, what pages are your top performers, where to spend your advertising dollars and other helpful information.
Making calculated decisions based on data from Google Analytics can result in improved user experience and higher conversions.
For example, you may learn from reviewing your analytics that a page on your website has a high bounce rate which can be caused by poor content, coding or design and want to fix the issue.
10. Test your website!
Whether you have a corporate website with a contact form or ecommerce website it’s important to test functionality on your website to avoid costly issues.
“There is nothing worse than finding out your contact form suddenly stopped working weeks ago.”
Issues with functionality may arise after website upgrades or caused plugin conflicts.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to test your website periodically to ensure everything is working correctly to avoid losing potential clients or sales.
If you’re not technically savvy then you may want to hire a web development expert to perform a website audit.
As the importance of having a website grows for businesses, you don’t want to start the year off by giving visitors a poor image of your company.
A experienced web designer should be able to spot and update any technical issues and make valuable recommendations that can improve user experience.