As 2019 draws to a close, small business owners and entrepreneurs are busy reviewing the year gone by and planning for 2020. What better time to health check your business, celebrate successes and identify areas for improvement and growth?
For many enterprises, the company website is the hub of all marketing activities and the digital “shop window” for products and services. Consumers often encounter a brand for the first time when conducting online research, so your website is key to creating that all-important first impression. It’s also a place to make sales and generate leads. Even if you don’t sell online, a website can increase brand awareness and drive warm leads to the business via telephone calls and shop visits.
Considering the potential power of your website for boosting business, do you monitor and nurture it as much as you should? When was the last time you conducted a thorough website review? Do you know how to review competitors’ websites? We’ve put together our ultimate checklist to show you how to review a website.
1. Check for Broken Links
Why? A good place to start is to check everything is running as it should be. Nobody likes seeing the perfect answer to their problem pop up on the search results page, only to click and receive a “404”, page not found message. User-experience is one factor employed by Google’s algorithm to rank web pages.
How? There are several free tools available to check for broken links on a website. One of the most popular is Google Analytics (GA). Head to the “Content” section and filter the page for results containing the title of your website’s 404 error page — this might be something like, “Oops, nothing to see here” or “Uh oh, this page doesn’t seem to be working”. GA will show how many visits the page has received in the time frame selected. Set up an email alert to receive this report regularly and keep on top of broken links.
Once you’ve identified broken links, review these pages and decide where to redirect them. You can do this in your CMS (Content Management System) and there is a handy list of error codes here.
2. Make Sure Your Content Is Awesome
Why? We all know that when it comes to digital marketing, content is king. Poor content leads to a bad user experience, which will not impress Google and is likely to damage the company’s reputation. Internet users who land on a site with unsatisfying content will “bounce” straight off your site and onto that of a competitor.
How? Check that content is up to date and the information provided is accurate. There’s no need to delete “old” material that is performing well. Simply revise any inaccuracies or outdated information. It’s good content marketing practice to regularly review content and correct details that inevitably change over time, such as contact details, opening hours and prices.
Make sure the content is well written, informative and relevant to the company’s products or services. Content should be formatted in a user-friendly manner and organized in a logical way that makes it easy to find. It should also be optimized following SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) best practices.
3. Review Website Design
Why? The design of a website is the first thing most people notice (consciously or subconsciously) when they land on a new site for the first time. The look and feel of a site can trigger positive or negative emotions. It’s also a key factor in the user’s experience. If a customer feels the site is shouty and over-salesy, they will quickly head off to pastures new. Likewise, if it’s difficult to navigate and find information or services, people will soon give up.
How? Consider your target audience and business objectives. These should drive web design. Whizzy designs and funky menus may be great if your customers are likely to be in their 20s, but they won’t appeal to older adults who may appreciate simplicity and ease of use. Make sure the homepage sets the right tone and keep this consistent throughout the site. Keep menus practical, messaging clear and CTAs (Call To Actions) simple. Think about what actions you want a visitor to take and make it easy for them to do so!
4. Check Page Speed
Why? The page speed — how long it takes to fully load the content on a page — is becoming an increasingly important factor in website design. Google uses site speed (the page speed for a sample of pages) as a ranking factor and with the increasing use of mobile, consumers expect immediate results. They will quickly leave a site that takes a long time to load.
How? There are a number of free tools you can use to check page speed, such as PageSpeed tool. These will return the speed and a list of actions to improve it. Moz provides a helpful guide to help you decode the technical jargon. Alternatively, try a plugin like Hummingbird that will make the changes for you.
5. Spring Clean Your CMS
Why? Most business websites use a CMS platform such as WordPress or Magento. These platforms can quickly become overloaded with reams of content, plugins and spam. A messy CMS is likely to lead to security vulnerabilities and poor website performance.
How? Schedule a monthly task to review the content in your CMS and remove any that is no longer useful or relevant. Check add-ons and plugins — do you use them all or were they trialled and abandoned but never deleted? Delete spam comments, remove email unsubscribers and make sure you are not storing any personal data that you shouldn’t be.
A company website should be a continually evolving work-in-progress that is regularly monitored, reviewed and amended. It sets out the brand message, drives leads and acts as the hub of all marketing activities. Once you learn the basics, reviewing the key elements of a website will become routine. If it all feels a little daunting or time consuming, a website review service can do the job for you — often for free. Whether you choose to go it alone or seek out a little help, regularly reviewing your website will reap the rewards in the short and long term.
If you are interested in even more technology-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.