Spring Clean Your Website
When the weather starts to get warmer, the first thing we tend to do in our homes is open up the windows and start to move furniture around to clean. It’s called “Spring Cleaning” and for me, it's done a few times a year. It recently occurred to me that I try to “clean” my website and it always ends up at the bottom of my list. That’s when, about a year ago, I started to tidy my site up every quarter! I made new goals for myself and my business and I immediately cleaned up my website to reflect it!
How do I know I need to tidy up my site?
If you go to your own website and don’t know where the ham “things” are (I’m talking your services, blog or other pages you want people to see most), there’s no way a potential reader or customer is going to know where to go! There was a trend (many) years ago that included putting as much as possible on your website and I’m here to tell you that trend is NO MORE.
Now that mobile views have exceeded desktop on websites, it’s crucial that your site is not stressful to navigate. No one wants a headache before they even start working with you!
And trust me, I’m no angel when it comes to this. When I first noticed that my website didn’t even properly showcase my Squarespace abilities on my own Squarespace site, I wanted to crawl into a hole and prioritize this tidy sesh ASAP.
Where do I start?
Just like with your home, deep cleaning your site can be overwhelming. And, just like your home, it’s helpful to start in one place, finish it and then move on to the next. Decide what your biggest priority is for this quarter. Is it growing blog readers? Getting customers? Updating your portfolio? Once you check out those goals you’ve written down and prioritize your site-tidying list to reflect those goals, you can get started! Here’s what I recommend based on potential goals you may have:
You want to get more blog readers:
Optimize your images: This means making sure that every time you put an image on your site, it has the proper alt tags, sizing and file type.
What’s an alt tag and why is it important? An alt tag is what will replace your image if (for some reason) the image doesn’t load. Look at it as explaining what the picture is. This also helps search engines scrape your site and ultimately serve you to people searching for content you’re creating!
How do I know what a “proper image size” is? Whatever CRM you are using will have a min image size you want to upload. Use that size, or make sure that it can be constrained to the proper dimensions (for example, if you want to appeal to a retina screen, you may want to create your images double the image dimensions, and then constrain them to 50% so it appeals to all screens). It’s a song and dance to figure out the right size that will show proper resolution but still load correctly on your site.
Why is a file name important? Certain file types are important to loading correctly on a website. They can retain the correct resolution but overall size will optimize better on the site.
Update old blog content: Especially if you’ve been creating content for a while, a lot of what you posted in 2013 may not be relevant anymore. As you’ve grown as a creator and business owner, so has your knowledge! Update your posts as often as you see fit—this is a win/win because you can increase blog readers without reinventing the wheel and instead, reuse content you’ve already created.
Check for broken links: When you update titles, change over CMS’s, domain names, etc, you may start to accrue broken links. Utilize your 404 forwards! People will get frustrated if they think they found what they’re looking for, and it’s not there anymore when they click! Here’s what I use to make this process less stressful!
Make sure your blog tags are nice and clean: Put yourself in the readers shoes. They go to your home page, see blog, think “GREAT! I love blogs!”, go to your blog and see hundreds of posts about everything under the sun. Tags allow you to organize your posts by subject and does two important things: identifies what your niche is and allows the reader to easily check out what they’re interested in. I recommend showing these tags on your navigation bar or blog home page. On the backend, organize those tags so the correct posts show up in the correct subjects.
You haven’t updated your portfolio (this includes testimonials) in at least 3 months:
Similar to your content updates, you want to make sure your portfolio and testimonials are updated. When you first started, you may have had zero testimonials and now you have a handful—update it! Create a page with these comments, even if it’s hidden from your customer-facing site. Having a page to easily link to potential customers will save you a lot of work in the long run. Then, update them every few months. Put the most important projects and best comments first!
You’ve made less than 2 updates to your site since you’ve launched it:
Is everything on brand? Even if there are pages you rarely use or link to, it’s important that potential customers know they’re on your site the entire time they’re there! Get into the tedious dirt—make sure all text is the correct font, colors are exactly as their hex code suggests and graphics have the look and feel you want to portray.
Make sure your site is mobile-responsive: Most CMS' will do this for you, but it’s important to recognize potential mobile issues you didn’t know you had! I use this source to check mine and my client’s sites consistently.
Utilize Google Analytics: The very first thing you need to do here is set up Google Analytics. Then, going forward, you can use the platform to check anything you need that’s specific to you. The biggest reason I’d recommend Google Analytics is this specific situation we’ve all been in: you go onto your site and notice you have a ton of new views for the timeframe you’re looking at. Well...what page were people looking at? How did they get there? What did you do differently this time than other times to spike the views? Google Analytics can show you all of that and more!
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, don’t worry, boo. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Cookies don’t just magically cook themselves, tea needs to steep before it can be enjoyed; this will take time! My first piece of advice is to take out that notebook with your goals for the year and find which of these categories best supports that goal. Go from there—don’t rush into things and before you know it you’ll have a super tidy site before summer!