Building a web site is only the beginning of creating an online presence. Once it is built, the website requires maintenance in order to stay relevant with search engines and the competition. The aim of any website owner should be to keep the site comprehensive, up-to-date and user friendly. As with many things, having a checklist to work from is often the best way to simplify the task and cover all your bases. With that in mind, here’s a simple checklist for webmasters and site owners to refer to in order to adopt a structured approach to website management.
Check Internal Links
Maintaining a site’s links is probably the most important technical aspect of website maintenance. Fortunately, there are tools such as WebXM and Xenu’s LinkSleuth which can simplify the task of tracking, identifying and reporting on the links which are broken and need to be fixed.
Although resources, such as Google’s Webmaster Tools, can track the health of your website and identify issues which need to be reviewed, they’re not perfect. For this reason it’s important to include a periodic manual review of website content to find and fix grammatical, spelling and formatting glitches. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to get a second pair of eyes.
Posting regular updates to your blog should also be considered a part of your weekly maintenance activity. By adding new and interesting content regularly, you’re expanding your website and creating opportunities to generate more search engine traffic, thus engaging new users. This will also help provide content to share on social sites to bring in more viewers.
Perform Regular Updates
If your website or blog is built using a CMS (like WordPress), it’s important to keep it up to date. By doing so, you’re improving your security to prevent hacking attempts and ensuring efficient operation. This also applies to plugin updates which should be applied regularly to make sure that they’re compatible with your CMS and working efficiently.
Web Page Content
Take a look at your analytics data and take note of the pages which have the highest bounce rates, as those are most likely the pages which require some tweaking. Step into the shoes of your users when reviewing those pages, and try to make the page more useful by improving the imagery, messaging and content.
A quick way to update your website, and roll out a fresh look, is to update the images you’re using. Check webmaster tools, or use one of the link checker tools mentioned above to find and fix the broken images. Additionally, regularly check through the website and update any old or outdated product images you may be using.
From time to time you should be reviewing your analytics data to identify problems, especially with regards to finding pages with high bounce rates, or pages generating 404 errors. Add those to the bug list for resolution. When making changes and testing new designs, your server logs are the best place to see how users are reacting to your changes, allowing you to adjust accordingly.
Conduct Usability Testing
By conducting a usability test once or twice a year, you’re able to get genuine feedback from users and identify opportunities to improve the usability of your website. This can ultimately provide a better user experience for them based on their feedback.
As a website owner or webmaster, you’ve no doubt have a lot on your agenda. This simple checklist for handling website maintenance can help ensure that you are providing a good user experience, growing your digital footprint and creating new engagement opportunities for your business. Do you believe this list is all-inclusive or do you have more that you wish to add? Please let us know in the comments!