Don’t let your website get stuck in last year.
Vacations are booked. Parties are planned. The small but sure signs of the holiday season and the end of the year have emerged around the office, but don’t get full of pumpkin pie and hot apple cider just yet. The end of the fourth quarter means a different kind of hustle and bustle for small business owners.
With just weeks left in 2015, the year’s end requires an extensive, and often exhaustive, parade of process reviews, sale closings and budget forecasting for the coming business year, but the one thing most businesses neglect to fix or update for the new year is their website.
This is the time for internet action, when competitors are slipping. So here are some very important things you should do in order to keep your website and internet presence in tip-top shape for the new year.
Friends with Benefits
Find a friend with a good eye that has never really explored your site in depth, and have him or her go through your website with you watching; but do not say anything, help or narrate their behavior in any way. This is a great exercise to see how someone else navigates your site. Then give them a task, like filling out a contact form, ordering something, or learning about one of your offerings.
Have that same friend, or a different one, read through every single word on your site, but they are not just checking for typos. The quality of your content is an important factor when it comes to your search rankings. No longer is content simply about the number of keywords, anchor text and links you have on your page. You also need to consider the quality, relevance, context and value of your website’s content. It’s not just about having something on a page – it’s about having content that is relevant, unique, and offers users valuable information. It should be understandable, clear, broken up by headings, with enough content to make a page feel substantive.
Review Google Analytics
If you don’t have Google Analytics, you should. Go right now and sign up for it. Seriously. Right now. Google Analytics is one of the top, most powerful tools out there for monitoring and analyzing traffic on your website. It gives you an enormous amount of information about who is visiting your site, what they are looking for, and how they are getting to your site. Any business that wants to expand and grow their business on the internet should start by understanding how their website is being used and this starts with Google Analytics.
Sign Up for a Site Monitor
No one can keep an eye of their website 24/7, 365 days a year. A site monitor shows you if and when your site ever goes down. It goes without saying that minimizing website downtime is important, not only to keep your customers happy and loyal and keep your brand intact, but is absolutely critical in ensuring that you keep the search engines happy as well. After all, if your search engine rankings suffer you’ll have even less visitors in the first place! Using a site monitor to diminish your website’s downtime so you’ll be alerted to any problems the moment they arise. Uptime Robot is a good one, and it is free.
Check Your Domain Registration
Especially for small business owners, your own real estate on the Internet can quickly become an afterthought. However, you should be aware if your domain name is expiring in the coming year, because that address can become fair game to anyone. Losing such a critical part of your company’s brand could be disastrous for business, so be sure to check to ensure your domain is safe for 2016, or even further. You can check your registration by using whois.net.
Also, in the same boat, make sure your copyright on the bottom of your site is current. It shouldn’t say ©2012!
Is your site isn’t mobile friendly? Responsive web design allows a site’s layout to change as the screen size being used to view that site changes. We live in a world where our sites our not only being visited by a variety of different devices and screen sizes, but the same customers are returning to our sites at different times using these different devices. This means that, to best support their experience, site design must work well regardless of which device they may be using at a given time. If a customer is visiting your site looking for information or using a specific feature, and they return later on a different device but cannot find that same information, then you run the very likely risk of that person taking their business elsewhere.
Mobile digital media time in the US is now significantly higher at 51% compared to desktop (42%).
Size Up Your Competition
As in any battle, it’s good to know what you’re up against. George Washington always tried to understand the size and strength of the army he was up against even though he couldn’t see them directly. Take the time to review the business landscape and competition in your industry. Make a list of your top five competitors and spend time browsing all of their websites. Take note of what they did well and what they did poorly. By identifying their strenghts and weaknesses, you will find new opportunities for your website and business.
Also, check out their Twitter and Facebook pages to see what kind of action they are getting with social media. Knowing your competition and doing everything in your power to emulate them, beg, borrow and steal from them is going to be a necessary part of your SEO campaign going forward.
After Halloween most of us go on end-of-the-year auto-pilot, but you know the cliché; businesses that fail to plan, plan to fail. We all know how important business planning is, but it’s easy to put off in the press of daily events, especially during the holidays. When your competitors are filling their faces with ham and fruitcake, you can take advantage. This is extremely important for new and/or small businesses. Don’t let your website get stuck in last year’s gravy.