The new year is traditionally a time when everyone thinks about spring cleaning and doing up the house; for businesses, it’s also the best time to review your website so that it is primed for the year ahead. In this article, we’ll give you seven tips to help you give your website a thorough annual service.
1. Comprehensively review your content
Start your annual website review by scrutinising your content. This includes making sure that all details are up to date across the entire site, including the names and positions of staff, the range of products and services, prices, and terms and conditions.
You should also check that other content is still relevant, such as blog posts, news or any resources you offer your customers. Some of these can be amended immediately, others need to be prioritised and tackled over the short term. Anything that is likely to be problematic, such as conflicting content needs to be taken offline until addressed.
2. Check that your content is still aimed at your audience
Over time, you may find that your business starts selling to new audiences or that your audience’s needs change. If this is the case, you may need to tweak your content so that it still has relevance for them.
Carefully look at your current market and see how it has changed over the last 12 months, then make a note of the concerns and problems this new audience needs solving. Once you have done this, take a look at your existing content and analyse how effectively each page or post addresses those problems. Where it doesn’t, you will need to make changes.
If your content is no longer relevant for your audience, they will go elsewhere to purchase their solutions.
3. Consider updating your website’s design
It is not essential to update your theme or website design every year, in fact, changing it too often can be bad for SEO and be confusing for returning visitors. However, just like hairstyles, clothes and cars, at some point that once stylish website is going to look about as modern as an episode of Crossroads.
As first impressions count, you’d be surprised by how many people turn away from unattractive websites within seconds of arriving and even those that have excellent content can fail to achieve reasonable conversion rates. So, if tastes are changing and you think your website becoming outmoded, it might be time for an upgrade.
4. Check out the competition
You won’t be the only one engaged in a spot of website improvement, your competitors will be too. So, before you start, take a look at what the competition have been doing and make a detailed list of the developments you have seen on their websites.
This analysis needs to be wide-ranging: don’t simply focus on what the website looks like, make a note of the topics they cover and the resources they offer to visitors (how-to pdfs, videos, blogs, FAQs, etc.). You should also take a look at how they promote their business on site. Do they offer deals or voucher codes? Do they let users share or like things on social media? Are they trying to get users to sign up for newsletters?
Do remember that some of your competitors might have the resources to do much more than you can, however, by seeing what they do well, you can pick and choose their most appropriate innovations and develop them on your site.
5. Review your security
Hacking is on the increase and the effects on your business can be catastrophic. An essential part of your annual website service has to be a review of your security. This needs to include such things as password strengthening, making sure your site’s backups occur regularly enough, that your system is protected by from intrusion and malware, that email is filtered for spam and malware, and an assessment of whether you need to have encryption for secure transactions (SSL).
In addition, you need to make sure that all your website’s software is completely up to date so that older versions with known vulnerabilities are replaced.
6. Take the device and browser test
The fact that Google now uses mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor means everyone should have a responsive website by now. However, even responsive websites can have issues with specific devices or browsers. The only way to do this is to check.
You should look at how your website displays and make sure such things as checkouts, logins, menus, etc., work on all the major devices (laptops, phones, tablets) browsers (Edge, IE, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari,) and even on different operating systems.
The main reason for this is that a failure on one type of device or browser can cut off a section of your audience. If 10% of your audience use Firefox and your website doesn’t fully work on that browser, you could be losing 10% of sales. Find out and get it fixed.
7. Evaluate your hosting
Hosting is an important element of maintaining a good website and can affect security, uptime and website speed. Over time, you may find your hosting needs change, for example, increased traffic and the addition of new software on your site might mean you need to upgrade from shared to VPS hosting.
At the same time, web hosts continually upgrade their services, so you may find that you get a better service from a different web host. If you are considering this, don’t go for price alone, look at the quality of the package on offer. The services you need to think about are: technical support, intrusion protection, website backups, quality of server hardware, email, etc. For more information on hosting check out our article Different Web Hosting Types a Detailed Guide.
As you can see, there are lots of elements involved in a thorough website service, however, undertaking them now, at the beginning of the year, is a great time to make sure that your site is fit for purpose for the busy year ahead.
Of course, you may not be able to implement all the changes needed at once, but reviewing them now means you can make immediate changes where absolutely necessary and then prioritise and make plans for the other changes over the next few months.
If you run a business website and are looking for improved web hosting, check out the great packages we have to offer. Our business plans and VPS hosting packages may be of particular interest to smaller companies whilst those with larger needs may be interested in our dedicated server and cloud hosting packages.