12 Ways to Improve Your Website for the New Year

How to Improve Your Website for the New Year - Mariah Magazine

#1. First things first, your domain and hosting package.

Login to your domain and hosting package accounts and renew those bad boys. The last thing you want to happen in the new year is a “Website Not Found” message, especially when you’ve been working super hard to drive traffic to it.⠀ ⠀

If a potential customer or client comes across a message that looks like your website doesn’t exist, it could result in you losing authority and trust with them and they’ll be extremely unlikely to check out your website again in the future.

Both the hosting and domain companies typically send out warning emails when your accounts are coming up due for renewal but you’d be surprised with how many of my clients sign up for these accounts and don’t check the email that they sign up with.⠀

A good option is to set up your domain and hosting to auto renew. If your blog and business is in it for the long haul than sometimes you can save some cash when you chose the auto-renew option. Besides a few bucks, auto-renewing these things can save you some time and piece of mind knowing that your accounts won’t expire without you knowing!⠀

This first tip is a pretty simple one but it’s the foundation in which your website lives. It’s how your audience engages with you and interacts with you and your business on the world-wide web.

My personal favorite hosting provider is Siteground *affiliate link — Their WordPress servers are amazing and their customer service representatives are insanely helpful. I can’t brag about them enough!

#2. Evaluate your logo and branding.⠀

Maintaining a clear and consistent brand with a target audience in mind is one of the best ways to come across as professional and trustworthy, especially on the web. To help kick off the new year on the right foot, take a step back and really evaluate your logo and branding.⠀

+ Is your logo and branding updated or outdated?⠀
+ Does your logo, color scheme, and fonts work well together?⠀ ⠀
+ Do they correlate with you and the direction of your blog/business?⠀ ⠀
+ Is your logo memorable and visually appealing?⠀
+ Do your branding elements speak to your audience?⠀
+ Are the consistent across your website and social media platforms?⠀

After your evaluation, you should be proud of your brand. It should speak to your audience and tie your personality into your business.

Having trouble evaluating your own logo and branding?

Ask someone for their opinion. Send me an email! I’d love to give you my initial feedback on your logo and branding! Ask your newsletter subscribers, ask other professionals in a Facebook group or mastermind group.

(Try to refrain from asking someone super close to you. They might be a little biased on their opinion and the whole reason for the second pair of eyes it to get the cold hard truth. You want your website to be effective and you can’t progress in that direction if people are too close to tell you the truth, or aren’t familiar with industry standards.)⠀

Your website is your biggest asset for your business and should be the best showcase of who you are as a brand and business. Don’t let your personality and your brand blend in with the rest. Own it.⠀

#3. Is your website mobile responsive?

Back in 2015, Google made mobile-friendliness an SEO ranking factor. So basically, it’s pretty freakin’ important. Besides search engines straying away from non-mobile friendly websites, so do web users.

When you’re searching the internet on a mobile device and you come to a website that makes you pinch in and out to read content….don’t you want to basically pull your hair out? I do. It’s so frustrating.⠀

Mobile responsive design allows your website to respond to the device that it’s being viewed on, so that way, regardless of whether someone is using a phone, tablet, or desktop, they still get an amazingly functional experience.⠀

A lot of themes floating around have been created with mobile responsiveness in mind so you don’t have to worry about it, BUT it wouldn’t hurt to double-check.⠀

How do you know if your website is mobile friendly or not? Google created this super cool mobile responsive website checker that you just plug in your URL and it gives you the heads up on your mobile friendliness. Check it out!

#4. Narrow down your business and blogging goals.

Many bloggers and business owners want their website to target everyone. They think “If I target everyone, then I’ll see a higher number of sales and overall more growth in my business/blog.” Wrong.

Not everyone wants a piece of the same cake.

You could sell the best cake in the world but there are always people that don’t like cake.
(Who the hell doesn’t like cake???? I know, but stick with me here)

You can’t appeal to everyone.

Business, blogs, and websites that appeal to everyone, appeal to no one.

If you want to help your website stand out in the online world, you have to narrow down and focus on your audience and your goals.

Go look at your website.
Stare at it.

If there was ONE thing you wanted website visitors to do when they got to your site, what would it be? (Some examples: Sign up for your email list, purchase a product, inquire about services, enroll in a course, etc)

That ONE thing should be your overall website’s goal.

Once you have one goal in mind, you can start to figure out HOW to get your visitors from simply landing on your website to completing that goal.

Having a high amount of website traffic doesn’t mean anything if your visitors aren’t converting.
You want your visitors to take action.
The right action.
You want results.

If your website doesn’t push your visitors into reaching that ONE goal, you need to re-evaluate the process you got goin’ on.
Besides the overall goal of your website, what about “growth goals”?
Growth goals are metrics you look at and goals you set up to help you understand your website’s progress.

Taking a look at your Google Analytics is a great way to dive into and analyze your website. Take a look at where most of your traffic is coming from, who your appealing too (is it who you thought?), what device they’re using (are you mobile responsive?), how fast your website is, how long people are staying on your website?, what page their leaving after?, etc.

For this new year, focus on narrowing down some “growth goals” for your website.

Instead of saying “I want to get more Traffic” – be specific and say “I want to get 2,000 people on my website next month that come from Pinterest”.

Having a more specific goal for your website can help you strategize a plan to meet that goal.

The key to hitting your general website goal and smaller “growth goals” is narrowing down, getting specific, and getting focused.

#5. Refresh + rework your page content ⠀

A lot of people get stuck thinking the only place for new and unique content is on their blog. While a blog is a great way to give value to your readers and showcase your brand, you can use your ENTIRE website for compelling content. ⠀

How? Here’s a few examples:⠀
+ Swap out old pictures for new ones.⠀
+ Toss more helpful descriptions on your product pages. ⠀
+ Add client testimonials and brand stories to your landing pages. ⠀
+ Sprinkle unique information about you and your brand into your About Page.⠀

Updating your content and reworking it to showcase your brand and personality is a great way to build trust with your audience! ⠀

What’s the one thing that makes your website, your website? The content.

There is not ONE other business or blog in the entire world that runs like yours.

YOU are the powerful punch behind your website. You are the personality and brains behind your online masterpiece, so let your audience see it!⠀

#6. Check for broken links.

The world wide web is built on links. (It’s actually one way Google SEO bots find more pages to index, but more about that another day) Linking from one page to another is how we provide our website visitors with more information and value.

But, the web isn’t perfect.
Sometimes links go sour.

Sometimes the website, page, or image that you linked to becomes unavailable, deleted, or MIA. Regardless, that causes your website’s link to be broken.

Having broken links are bad for a number of reasons:

  • Can affect website conversions
  • Lose trust + authority from your audience
  • Frustrating for the user
  • Hurt your SEO and ranking
  • Give the impression that you don’t care about keeping your site current and updated

When you have blog posts and pages from like, years ago…..how are you supposed to check ALL of those links? That would take forever!

Not quite. If you’re using WordPress, download the “Broken Link Checker” plugin. This will let you know about any broken links on your website so you can fix them or nix them. (Remember to deactivate this plugin when you’re not using it because it can take up a lot of space and slow down your website!)

If you’re not using WordPress, go to BrokenLinkChecker.com and it will scan your website for broken links, fo’ free.

Finding broken links on your website isn’t as time-consuming as it seems. So, up and at em’ – fix those broken links before your visitors and Google bots see them! 

#7. Investigate Your Website’s Speed

55% of visitors spend LESS THAN 15 seconds on your website…..15 seconds.

Do you reallllllly want to waste those 15 seconds on your website loading? Hell no. That’s like someone trying to come into your business, and you blocking the door.

Your website’s loading time doesn’t only affect your readers potential customers, it also plays a role in your search engine rankings. Website speed is one of Google’s known ranking factors when it comes to SEO. (It’s very rare for Google to tell us an exact ranking factor like they did for this one, so you know they mean business about it).

How fast should your website be? As fast as possible.

The slower your website, the more users abandon it. People want their information they want it now.

What’s your website’s speed? Let’s test it.

Run your URL through GTMetrix.com – This free tool will scan your web page and give you a performance report that outlines what’s slowing down your website and how you can approve it.

Want more information on how to speed up your website? Check out my “How to Make Your Website Faster” post!

#8. Optimize Your Images and Visuals

One of the most common culprits of slow websites are oversized and non-optimized images.

Think about your website.

How many images do you have on there? Probably a lot.

You have images on your home page, about page, contact page, services/portfolio pages, PLUS all of your blog posts. That’s a TON of images. Now imagine that each of those images are 10x the size that they need to be.

No wonder your website is slowing down. The server can’t handle loading all of that in a decent amount of time.

What’s the best practice when it comes to optimizing your images?

  • Save your image for the actual size that you’re going to need it on your website. If you need a visual for your sidebar, most sidebars are less than 400px wide, so why upload a 1200px wide image? When you upload an image that’s too big, you force either WordPress or the browser to resize it for you. So basically, you’re making the browser do twice as much work for EACH image on that page.
  • Utilize the “Save for Web” option
  • Always save the image or visual in the correct format
  • Look into an image optimizing tool. You can use a WordPress plugin like WP Smush, or an online image optimizer like Kraken — what these do is compress the photo so the image file formats to the minimum possible size.

The bottom line is optimizing images and visuals may take some extra time to do, but it’s one of the most important things you can do on a continuous basis to keep your website working correctly!

#9. Improve Your Website’s Security

I’m sure starting off the new year with a hacked website isn’t something you’d like to deal with. It’s a big pain in the A, and that’s an understatement.

Here are a few things to implement to help improve the security of your website:

#1. Usernames + Passwords: Login information is usually the first spot that a hacker tries. Don’t leave your username as “admin” – especially on WordPress. That’s the first one hackers and bots usually try. Come up with something creative! As far as your password, try to use a mix of numbers, letters, and allowed characters.

#2. Change it Up: Every few months, change up your passwords. And try to use a different password for your important login credentials. If you use the same password for your website, banking, and email….a hacker only needs to figure out one password in order to gain access to a crapload of information. Don’t make it easy on them! (To help you remember your passwords, pick up a password book from your local office supply store or from Amazon. I have one. It saves my sanity)

#3. Security Plugins: If you have a WordPress website, look into the plugin WordFence or Sucuri. They’re both really well known in the industry and have awesome reviews on their performance and protection.

#4. Update Update Update: Okay, so let’s say that someone was able to break into your website.

Now what? Well, the first thing your web designer or website maintenance person is going to ask you is “Do you have a backup?” – If you don’t have a backup of your website, you may have to start from scratch. I use the free plugin BackWPup. Works like a dream.

Keeping up with your website’s security is a responsibility. The last thing you want to do is wish you did more. Stay ahead of the game! 

#10. Plan Out Blog Posts + Ideas

New year, new content.

Content planning is a huge piece of the content marketing puzzle.

Having a content plan for your blog will take a lot of stress off your shoulders going forward. Search Pinterest for editorial calendars or a content planner (there are always free ones floating around) and start planning.

When you’re planning out your content, think about your ideal audience.
Think about their pain points.
Think about solutions to their problems.
Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm.

Write down every idea you have, even if you think it’s lame.

Brainstorming helps you come up with new ideas based off of the other ones and helps you visualize a strategic solution.

Stuck when it comes to ideas?

Google search some people in your industry. Check out their blogs and read the comments. Scope out Facebook groups. Take a look at active Pinterest boards and the Pinterest suggested search bar. See where your target audience has problems and questions and come up with answers and solutions.

When it comes to blog content and creation please please please remember QUALITY OVER QUANTITY, ALWAYS.

Longer forms of blog content are 78% more likely to go viral because they’re usually jam packed with value.

The number of blog posts you have on your website are irrelevant if no one is getting value from them. I only post 1-2 new pieces of content a month, and the rest of the time is spent promoting them….and my website traffic has been increasing because of it.

Quality over quantity, quality over quantity.

2017 is the year that you can take your website’s blog and content to the next level. Are you ready?

#11. Brainstorm Keywords + Keyphrases 

If you could picture your ideal customer or client right now…..what would they type into Google in order to find you? Thinking about this question is a great way to start brainstorming keywords and keyphrases.

  • What products/services do you offer?
  • Why do customers and clients choose you?
  • Are you at a physical location? Keep that in mind too!
  • What is a problem that your ideal customer faces?
  • What kind of content does your website have?

Now build on them.

Go to Google and type them in OR go to Pinterest and type them in. Now, when you’re using Google, scroll down and take a look at the other “suggested” phrases that Google provides at the bottom.

THOSE are useful keywords and keyphrases you can use! If you’re in Pinterest, take a look at the suggestion bar.

Google and Pinterest suggest keywords and keyphrases that users search for in relation to the keywords you typed in.

So, you started with one keyword, and now you have like, 5. How awesome is that?

Do this a few more times and you’ll have a whole list of keywords and keyphrases to build on in the new year.

You can also log into Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools to see what search terms people are already using to find your website. Create blog posts around these keywords or dive into detail using subcategories of them.

Basically this information tells you what people are already finding you by, so why not magnify it?! 

#12. Give Yourself an SEO Audit

How optimized is your website? Let’s find out!

A regular SEO audit is crucial for tracking your website’s search engine performance. Use this quick checklist to make sure that your website is search engine and user-friendly.

  1. Does your website have a sitemap? Go to www.yourdomainname.com/sitemap_index.xml — This should be up to date.
  2. Does your website have a robots.txt file? Go towww.yourdomainname.com/robots.txt — Make sure you’re not “disallowing” any important pages.
  3. Does your website have any 404 errors? Download the “Broken Link Checker” plugin for WordPress If you’re not using WordPress, go to BrokenLinkChecker.com
  4. Are your URL’s SEO friendly? Do they look like a jumbled mess of numbers, words, and characters?
  5. How fast is your website? Run your website through a speed tool like GTMetrix or Google Page Insights
  6. Are you linking your pages and posts together? Internal links help search engine bots crawl and index your site.
  7. Is your website mobile responsive? Run your website through the mobile responsive website tool from Google that I mentioned above and double check that your website is good to go!
  8. Do you have social media sharing buttons? If your website visitors want to share your content, don’t make it difficult to do so!
  9. Get a website specific SEO audit, for free! Check out the two free tools: SEOptimer Zadro Web – They provide a quick analysis of your own website and give you suggestions on how you can take your SEO up another notch!

And BAM BABY! We just covered a lot.

How’s it feel to have your website up and ready for the new year?

Prob amazing, high-fives to you over there!

Have any questions?

Realize your website isn’t where you want it to be?

Need a professional website audit to narrow it all down for you?

I’m your girl.

A professional website audit can give you an inside look on your website’s:

  • First Impression
  • Overall Design Branding
  • Functionality Ease of Use
  • User Experience
  • Conversions + Audience
  • Menu Navigation
  • Visuals Images
  • Content Formatting
  • Website Speed
  • Element Specific Roadblocks

Shoot me an email and let’s talk about improving your website and enhancing your online presence!

 

 

 

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