7 Items You Need on Your Website Maintenance Checklist
Great design and awesome content may be essential elements of a successful website, but they’re not the end of the story. Few sites will be profitable if they’re riddled with errors and annoyances that turn users away. How stringent is your routine for keeping your online property running smoothly? Here are seven items which should be on every website operator’s maintenance checklist.
Every link on your site needs to be checked regularly to make sure it still works, and this is equally important for internal and external links. Broken internal links lead visitors to dead ends and confusing navigation, which reduce confidence in your site and disrupt the sales funnel. Broken external links are highly frustrating to your visitors, and can significantly reduce your authority and reputation with search engines.
Avoid these issues by using tools such as Xenu Link Sleuth or Screaming Frog SEO Spider to scan your site on a regular basis. It’s quick and easy, and fixing broken links is the low-hanging fruit of tidying up your site errors.
Deal With Time-Limited Content
Surfing the crests of memes and trends is an excellent way to drive lucrative traffic. However, time-limited content can be actively damaging once it begins to lose relevance – if users feel they’ve gone back in time, they won’t have the same level of trust in your site overall.
Even worse are offers, prices, and other concrete details which are no longer valid, and only cause confusion and frustration. Spend some time each month either removing old items or demoting non-evergreen content, so it’s archived rather than given undue prominence.
Test All Forms and Inputs
From newsletter subscriptions to shopping carts, you need to ensure all input forms are working correctly. These technical aspects of a site can be broken by all kinds of issues, from web host upgrades to unnoticed scripting errors.
Establish a system of test orders and dummy sign-ups to ensure you spot any problems before they catch too many customers out.
Test Your Backup Strategy
A solid backup strategy for your website is a non-negotiable issue, but it’s not a one-off task that you can set and forget. As your site grows, the locations and amount of data you need to protect change alongside it, and you can’t let your backups slide toward incompleteness. Also, don’t forget to back up vital local data, from email databases to analytics reports.
Check Technical Compatibility
Technology marches forward ever more quickly, and while the days of hugely different browser implementations are mostly over, it’s still important to check that your site works well across as many platforms as possible. Whenever a new class of smartphone or tablet is released, or a major browser goes through an upgrade, test that your site functions appropriately under these new environments. Ideally, use a physical device to test under realistic conditions, but there are also many online emulators available which are a good starting point.
Remember, it’s usually easier to implement small compatibility updates and fixes as you go along, rather than leaving it until a major overhaul is necessary.
It’s natural that websites will grow over time, gaining extra features, more pages, and more extensive databases. All of this can take its toll in speed terms – and a slow site is not only frustrating for users, but it will also start to lose ground in search engine visibility. Schedule regular checks on your website’s performance with one of the many online speed testing services, and fix any issues that are flagged up.
Lastly, you probably already check analytics for marketing data and user behavior, but it also pays to keep an eagle eye on the error reports. An error-free site isn’t a luxury or a vague aim – every little issue could be turning visitors away and costing you business.
In a competitive online business environment, any website needs to be firing on all cylinders to make the most of its potential. Attending to the basics and keeping a site running smoothly can be just as valuable for keeping users engaged as high-quality content and an attractive design.