How to Keep Your Website Healthy

Written by Jon on 7th April 2016

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Any website that has content added to it on a regular basis and lots of features and functionality added can, if not maintained correctly, get messy very quickly.

It is easy to get caught up in sales and customer service, and forget about some of the technical areas of the website that need to be managed; so think of it as an oil change every 10,000 miles 🙂

So, as we’re all about making things simpler, I thought it might be a good idea to create a list of monthly housekeeping activities to keep your website running efficiently.

Wherever possible I would recommend that these tasks are carried out on a monthly basis to ensure a clean and healthy website.

  1. Check Google Search Console

A great free tool, you should already have this setup on your website. If not, it is a simple process to verify that you own the website, and once verified data will start to flow in.

If there are any increases in 404’s or possible errors, then Google will notify you (be sure to stay on top of the notifications in the top right).

Search console will also allow you to submit your sitemap to Google which is strongly recommended.

  1. Purchase Something From Your Own Website

What? I hear you say, I look at my website everyday!!!  Yes, this might be true, but when is the last time you have gone through the whole purchase process? You might look at your website in segments; this is fine, but you will never get a full overview of what your customers are seeing.

So, armed with a coffee (or maybe a glass of wine if in the evening) start at the homepage, search for a couple of products using either your navigation or search and then go through the process of purchasing an item and make notes of areas which could be improved.

While you are in the retail therapy frame of mind, it might even be worth purchasing from your competitor websites and then comparing the experience with one you offer your customers.

  1. Carry Out Speed Test on Google Page Speed

Things change and your website will inevitably get more complicated which can sometimes have a detrimental effect on the speed of the website.

Speed is a ranking factor in organic search and an even more important factor for mobile viewing so regular monitoring is recommended. If there is a sudden drop in speed it’s an area to start investigating.

Google will also provide recommendations, depending on how your website is built. Not all of them will be possible (or financially viable) so don’t give your web guy too much of a hard time! 🙂

The most common recommendation is linked to your image sizes, high quality images are important but so is the size of the file and can, if not managed quickly, build up the size of webpage the user is required to download to view.

  1. Update Plugins/Extensions

If you are using a self hosted platform, then it is important to ensure that your platform is updated as and when required. If you are using a platform such as WordPress then it is important to ensure all of your plugins are updated; it is normally out of date plugins that cause the majority of security vulnerabilities. This is not really WordPress’s fault but can catch the flak for it.

When approaching plugins the question I recommend you always ask yourself is do I really need this extension?  With the ease and simplicity involved in installing extensions, it can be all too easy to get carried away!

  1. Backup System

So you heard from someone in the office that you have backups but never really looked into it any further ……. Sound familiar?

As a minimum you should have backups in place on a daily basis, however, as your website gets bigger or you start to take more orders you should ensure your backup process continually meets the requirements of the business. Even though you may have backups, in place have you also checked your recovery process?  Which might lead to the question, do your backups even work?

If you’re not sure of the answer, it might be worth checking!

  1. Check for Dead Links

It is easy to miss dead links when you are continually adding content to your website, however, if a user visits your website and starts to find broken links scattered around your website it will start to dent their confidence in your business.

If you were looking around a shop and all the doors led to nothing or were signposted incorrectly, how would you feel?

There are lots of free resources out there to check your website for broken links and it is a worthwhile job to add to your ever stressed website manager’s list of things to monitor :o)

An example of one of the free tools out there: http://www.deadlinkchecker.com/

  1. Review Your Content

So you spent more time than you care to remember adding content to your website, updating product descriptions and generally giving up your weekends to ensure that you had carefully optimised keywords and phrases within your text, but the question is, how long ago?

Carrying out an analysis of your content can be a very time consuming exercise depending on how big your website is and how long it has been online.  However, by breaking this down into manageable sections and making it a continuous process, you can rest assured that the content on your website is up to date and accurate for your customers.

To ensure this is done, you could create a plan that outlines which areas need to be optimized and who is responsible for each section.

  1. Monitor your Keyword Rankings/Search Visibility

Do you know what keywords you rank for, what drives your traffic and most importantly which ones convert?

Google Analytics does not make it easy (if at all) to measure which keywords send you traffic so it can be worthwhile investing in a tool such as Moz or Positionly to assist you in monitoring your search visibility. Any declines can be identified at the beginning and addressed accordingly before realising a month has gone and so has your traffic!

 

To attempt to go through all of the above points in one sitting could add up to a lot of work and depending on how much time you actually have to dedicate to your website could lead to some areas being missed.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, breaking these jobs up into manageable chunks and setting a small amount of time every week you can ensure that all areas of your website are fit and healthy!

Ps.  I should have included Google Analytics in the list above, but I think that is a post in itself!

Do you have any other regular tasks you carry out to keep your website ‘tip top’? Let us know in the comments below!