- April 15, 2009
It’s that time of year again. Daffodils are sprouting, trees are budding, and crickets are chirping. Tax day is over. You did remember to pay your taxes, right?
Most people take advantage of the nicer weather to do some spring cleaning around the house. Your website is no different. Chances are after a hectic holiday season and the excitement of a new year, your site has developed a few cobwebs of its own. It’s time to air it out and get it ready for prime selling season.
Here are five simple ways to clean up your website to get it ready for spring.
Prune Dead Links
Scan your website for “dead links”. These are links to pages that no longer exist on your site and generally result in a visitor seeing an error page (a “404” in web-speak). This can cause momentary confusion and a poor user experience.
You can find dead links on your site by looking at the “URL Not Found” report in Google Webmaster Tools. If you haven’t signed up for this service yet, you should do so immediately. Additionally, you (or your webmaster) can check your server logs to see which pages and files on your site are returning 404’s. Eric Lander has a great tutorial on log file analysis. Start there.
Sweep Away Outdated Content
Review all of the content on your website and ask yourself this question on every page:
Does this page help my visitors accomplish their task?
Many websites have old or outdated content that no longer serves the intended purpose. Perhaps it was part of a seasonal promotion or a landing page for a marketing event. Maybe some content been replaced or made obsolete by new pages.
Whatever the reason, take this chance to redirect those old pages to more relevant or timely pages on your site. Use a 301 “permanent” redirect so that search engines transfer the link equity of Page A to Page B. Or, simply freshen up the older content by re-writing or updating the references.
Is your site analytics package configured to track and report on conversions? Check to make sure that your tracking code is properly installed on all of your pages and that your goals are configured correctly to provide the right information in the right format. If you are using Google Analytics, start with the Help Section. If you have a paid analytics provider, look through their documentation for conversion tracking and reporting. Lastly, if you are still relying on basic log file analyzers, consider upgrading to a reporting suite that can at least track conversions.
How about your conversion rates themselves? Is there room for improvement over last year? Are you getting the info you need to make informed decisions? Think through how you want to measure your success this year and in this economy. Do you have all the right pieces in place to get the information you need?
Evaluate Processes and Personnel
Do you have the right people on your SEO team? Is SEO represented during the appropriate touch points in your strategic, creative, development, and launch processes? Check to make sure that your website team is including your optimization plan during their work cycles.
It’s too easy to prioritize SEO out of the tactical implementation of website updates, so use this spring cleaning as an opportunity to re-incorporate the SEO strategy into your daily operations. If you are planning a site redesign or transition to a new domain, a little pre-planning will insure that your transition goes smoothly.