Your website is the heart of your online strategy. It hosts your content, informs your new visitors, rewards your old ones, and ultimately generates the revenue you need to keep your business running. Since most of your online marketing and advertising strategies are designed to get users to your website, it’s vital that your site remain healthy and lean enough to support that functionality.
Every few years, you’ll need a design facelift to reimagine your brand and keep up with the times, and every day you should update your site with something new—whether that’s a product, a blog, or just an image—but there’s a middle ground of updates you’ll need to run to make sure your site is up to snuff. Once a month, you should conduct a “checkup” audit to see how your site is running, outside of any one particular strategy. For example, you might have monthly diagnostic reads on your social or SEO campaign, but they don’t dig deep into the functionality of your site.
If you want to keep your site as lean and efficient as possible, be sure to check these five vital signs every month:
Site speed is important for a number of reasons. If it’s too slow, your customers are going to leave, and you can probably back this up with personal experience. How many times have you gone to a site, waited for more than a minute for it to load, and then bailed because it took too long? Even if you did stick around to get the information you needed, you’d probably be frustrated by the experience. Keeping your site loading as quickly as possible is going to keep your customers on site for longer and leave them with a better impression of your brand.
Plus, remember that Google uses site loading speed as a ranking factor—it’s not nearly as important as the quality of your onsite content, but it is significant enough to mention. As a general rule, the faster your site is, the higher it’s going to rank in Google, so shaving those extra seconds can count.
This is also a necessary monthly checkup because it doesn’t take long to address. If you find your site is lagging for any reason, take a look at the backend of your system. Resize any unnecessarily large images, check your caching settings, and delete any unused blog drafts or similar clutter that you find in your CMS.
This is something that should be done occasionally because search engines use sitemaps as a virtual roadmap for your site. If you have a sitemap that features a page that isn’t on your site or a sitemap that doesn’t feature a new page on your site, it could cause a discrepancy in Google’s index and you could miss out on some ranking potential as a result—not to mention confusing the hell out of your visitors.
Too many people upload their sitemap once and forget about it. This is unwise; if you’re an average business, things change on your site regularly. People add new pages, delete old pages, and update others. It’s a frantic and unpredictable process, and you need to ground it by checking on your sitemap on a monthly basis.
Minor changes in your site can have a big impact on your mobile appearance. Be sure to check your site on multiple different mobile devices to see how it displays. For example, you might find that the addition of a new link in your navigation pushes another one off to the side, or you might find that the most recent image you uploaded is cut off by the responsive view. Modern mobile users are very demanding, so if even one inconsistency or glitch shows up on a user’s device, it might be enough to send them away for good. Don’t let it happen to your site.
This goes for your home page in particular, but every page of your site may be affected. Chances are you have a slider or similar carousel of images on your home page, showing off products, showing off the team, or otherwise showcasing the strength of your brand. You’ll want to swap these images out every once in a while or people will get bored—or worse, you’ll have images for things that no longer exist. Once a month, do a thorough review of your site, and swap in some updated images.
As a general rule, the less “stuff” you have on your site, the better (the exception, of course, being ongoing content in your blog or news area). Users crave a minimalistic experience, so the more fluff you can remove the better. During your once-a-month checkup, venture around your site like a wandering visitor, and see if there isn’t something you can remove. It could be a dead link, an unnecessary ad, or an image that does nothing but take up space.
If you remember to audit and fix these five potential problems every month, you should have no problem keeping your site, up, running, and functional. When your site runs faster, smoother, and more efficiently, your customers will be happier, and you’ll see higher conversion rates and revenue as a result.