All websites should be given regular check-ups to make sure that they are fit for purpose and doing the work you want them to. This means reviewing everything from the content to the hosting service and making improvements and changes where they are needed. In this article, we’ll give you a list of six essential points you need to check when reviewing your website.
1. Review your content
The whole point of having a website is to publish content on the internet, so it makes sense to start your review by checking the live content. After all, it’s the content which sells your products and promotes your services.
The first thing you should check is that important information is up to date. If names, addresses, contact information, etc. have changed, these should be updated straight away. You should also check pricing, service offers, delivery costs, policies and terms and conditions.
In addition, you need to look at all other content to ensure that it is still relevant. For example, if you have FAQs, knowledge bases or blogs, make sure the information and advice provided is still accurate. You may find some information can be removed entirely and that other elements need rewriting. Do keep a lookout for pieces of advice which conflict with each other – you don’t want to be sending out mixed messages to visitors.
2. Check for broken links
Broken links can be a big problem. Internal broken links stop your customers accessing the pages they want to find, which can result in them abandoning your site and spending their money elsewhere. Always check internal links after you have made any changes to content. If you have removed pages, remember to remove the links to it or redirect users to a more relevant page. There are plugins you can use to check for broken links and these can save you hours of work. Remember to check menus as part of this process.
You should also check external links. Other websites may remove content you have linked to and this gives a bad impression to your visitors. It can also affect your ranking with search engines.
3. Make sure your theme is fit for purpose
There are a few reasons you may want to update your theme. The most important of these is that it does not meet the needs of users. Today, you must have a responsive theme that works on mobile phones, tablets and computers. If not, search engines are going to stop ranking your content, particularly on mobile searches. A theme that is designed for quick loading is also useful for SEO.
As the internet develops, there will be new requirements that may mean your current theme needs updating. Keep abreast with developments to make sure you don’t put yourself at a disadvantage.
You may also want to change your theme if it is starting to look dated. The look of your website can have a big impact on visitors. They tend to believe, rightly or wrongly, that the presentation of the site reflects the quality of the products and services it sells. It is not necessary to change themes regularly, indeed, doing so can be detrimental to your SEO but, at some point, a change will be required. Remember to check out the competition.
4. Review your security
If your website is hacked, the effects on your operations could be cataclysmic. An essential part of any review has to be your website’s security. You need to ensure that you have strong passwords, that your site is backed up as regularly as you need it to be, that there is intrusion protection in place and that emails are scanned for malware. In addition, you should make sure that all software is up to date. If possible, this should be automated, so that vulnerabilities are dealt with quickly.
SSL certificates, which provide encryption for the sending and receiving of personal data to and from your site, used to be a recommendation for websites. These days it is essential. Google will notify users that your site is not secure if you don’t have SSL, and antivirus teams have recently informed their customers not to visit websites that don’t have SSL (i.e. ones that begin with HTTP instead of https) because of the KRACK vulnerability in Wi-Fi networks.
If you don’t have an SSL certificate, you will need one. It won’t be long before search engines stop ranking sites without them.
5. Clean out the website’s backend
If you run one of the millions of websites that use a CMS platform (WordPress, Magento, etc.) it’s likely that you have a stack of cleaning to do. As part of your maintenance you should:
- Uninstall any unused plugins or add-ons
- Delete any unused posts, pages and images
- Trash any spam comments
- Clean up your database
- Delete any users who have unsubscribed from email lists
- Delete any personal information that, according to the ICO, it is no longer necessary to store.
Doing these things can help increase security, improve the performance of the website, save you disk space and help you stay compliant with data protection regulations.
6. Evaluate your hosting
Hosting underpins your entire online presence. A good web host will ensure your website stays online and that the server performs flawlessly and remains secure. They should also be there for you 24 hours a day with technical support, should things go wrong. If this doesn’t happen, you may need to change your host.
At the same time, your website and traffic may have grown and this may mean that your current hosting package is no longer adequate for your needs. If this is the case, you may need to upgrade to a different package or even to a more advanced type of hosting, e.g. from shared to VPS, or from VPS to a dedicated server.
If you think you need to upgrade, talk to your web host first, this way they can help you choose the right hosting for you.
As you can see, reviewing your website requires you to look at a whole host of things. Hopefully, the checklist we have provided here will enable you to give your website a comprehensive review that will keep it maintained for months to come. However, it is important that you review your site regularly to prevent small issues becoming big ones.
If your review indicates that you need to upgrade your hosting plan, check out our wide range of hosting packages – we have something to suit websites of all sizes.