Transform Your Website for 2012


While you’re spring-cleaning your home, why not give your website an overhaul too? Even if you love the design, there’s probably technical things that can be improved. Does your site load quickly? Does it have any broken links? When was the last time you updated the CMS? It’s always a good idea to give your site a health check – broken links, insecure plugins, and slow loading times can cause all kinds of headaches for your business – damaging your reputation, reducing your search engine rankings, and putting your customer’s private data at risk.

Here’s a few tips to help you get your site in good shape:

  1. Check for broken links: This is one area where Google’s webmaster tools can be invaluable. If you find any broken links, fix them immediately. Also, if you don’t have a custom 404 page (that will be displayed when a user tries to visit a page that doesn’t exist), set one up. You’d be amazed how many visitors type the wrong URL, but will stay on your page if you present them with some interesting links on the 404 page.
  2. Check your loading times: The YSlow plugin for Firefox is useful for identifying problems that may be making your pages take a long time to load. People are impatient these days, so the quicker your site loads, the better.
  3. Update your CMS: If you use a standard CMS (rather than something custom written), then you should keep it up to date at all times. Patches don’t just add new features, they also fix bugs and include vital security improvements.
  4. Validate your code: Use the W3C validator to test your code and fix any errors that crop up.
  5. Check your Meta tags: Good Title and Meta Description tags will help your site to look more appealing to visitors coming via popular search engines. If you’re not sure what you should put in your Meta tags, or how to change them, ask an expert at a search engine optimisation agency for some tips.
  6. Proof-read your content: Spelling mistakes are a huge red flag to customers. Even if you had your content proof-read when it was first put up, look at it again to make sure no mistakes went un-noticed last time.
  7. Hire a search engine optimisation agency: Once you have a fast loading, error free site, you’ll have done the ground work that will help an online marketing company to improve your search engine rankings. Don’t just rush straight to this stage – make sure your site works well before you promote it.
  8. Add social features: Your online marketing company will probably do a lot of social work. If you add social networking buttons to your site it will be easier for your visitors to continue up-voting/sharing/talking about your site.
  9. Show, don’t tell: Start using more pictures in your content. Make sure you use accessibility tags so that your site will still work with screen readers, though.

10.Check your calls to action: If your pages aren’t converting well, make sure you’re telling your customers what you want them to do, and showing a compelling reason for them to do it. Don’t just say “we have a new mailing list” – ask them to “sign up today for advance notice of special offers!” You should see a huge improvement in conversions if you do this.

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