Your website is the life of your business, so it makes sense to do a periodic checkup to ensure that it’s operating the way it needs to. The older your website is, the more important this checkup becomes. Keep your website fresh and efficient by doing an exam on the following four areas.
Every visitor sees your website slightly differently, depending on the type of browser they use. Make sure they’re seeing your site properly by doing the following maintenance.
Continue to test your site. You probably (hopefully) tested your website on as many different browsers as possible when you first designed it. Since that initial testing, however, new browsers such as Google Chrome and new versions of existing browsers have probably been introduced. Don’t assume that since you tested your site in Firefox 3 that it still behaves the same way in Firefox 3.6.3. New versions of browsers are released every few months, so perform a browser compatibility checkup at least twice a year.
Update your doctype and CSS. The doctype tag is the first tag at the top of an HTML page, and it’s what tells the browser how to apply the document structure. If you want your website to be compatible with multiple browsers, you must use a strict doctype across all your pages. This will require going through old pages and recoding or migrating them to match the new pages. If your site relies heavily on CSS (cascading style sheets), you may also want to reset/zero value your CSS. More information about doctype and resetting CSS can be found at W3Schools and the Yahoo! Developer Network.
No one wants to wait for a website to load. Improve your site’s speed by scrutinizing the following areas.
Reduce the number of DNS lookups and redirects. Every time a user types in your domain name, their browser has to wait for the Domain Name System (DNS) to look up your hostname and return that server’s IP address. The more unique hostnames you have, the longer this process takes. Another process that delays your load time is 301 and other redirects. You can speed up your website by reducing the number of redirects and having no more than four hostnames.
Search Ranking (SEO)
Search engines love fresh and descriptive content. Keep your website at the top of search results by improving the following areas.
Use descriptive title and ALT tags. Make your website search friendly by not only naming all your web pages and images, but also making them descriptive. When possible, use the page’s keyword phrase in all your tags. Finally, make sure all images have ALT tags; search engine crawlers don’t recognize text contained in images.
Pump up your keywords. The more keywords you have, the more visible you’ll become to search engine crawlers, so make sure each page is packed with relevant keywords. If you’re relying on single keywords, try using keyword phrases. To see how well your keywords are working, use the Google Toolbar to check your website’s popularity and keyword density.
Improve Your Web Presence
There are millions of websites out there. Make yours memorable by beefing up your presence on the web.
Make your social networks visible. You have a Facebook and Twitter account, but do your visitors know that? Make your social networking information easily accessible so that visitors can connect with you.
Provide bookmarking and sharing tools. Make it easy for visitors to bookmark and share your site with others by adding widgets to the bottom of your web pages. Try AddThis, which lets you add just about every website widget you could need.
Whether your website is a year old or five, it needs to be examined periodically. By performing a website checkup at least once a year, you can keep your site up to date and performing at its optimal level, which could mean more visitors and sales.