With the year coming to a close very shortly, now is a great time to roll up our sleeves and give our websites a review.
Your website may be optimised to perfection, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need regular maintenance. There are so many changing aspects to a website that there can often be a knock-on effect if a broken part is left alone for too long.
Simply put, there is no ‘end’ to SEO. It is constant and should always be put into practice, and the goals are always changing.
Some SEO tasks do only need to be carried out once – such as moving from HTTP to HTTPS. Others are regular tasks that should be done monthly or weekly, such as creating content. Some tasks may only need to be done on a quarterly or yearly basis.
Many online marketers will be using the final month of the year to plan out their SEO strategies for 2019. It’s important to also review that’s already in place to ensure all the cogs are working correctly so that you can start the New Year on the right foot.
Here are some of the SEO tasks you should be proactively assessing regularly to ensure your website is running smoothly from a search engine point of view.
Crawling for Broken Links
Pages get altered, moved, deleted and replaced quite often, as do images. The same goes for resources you may be linking out to.
It’s important to note how the URL is affected when these alterations are made, as more often than not, you will find broken internal links and 404s as a result of the URL changing. There are some very handy tools available that will crawl your website and notify you of any broken links, which can be far more effective than manually reviewing every page.
Page Speed Testing
Page speed, particularly for mobile experience, is becoming a vital factor in recent times. It is a huge part of user experience, and the best possible user experience should always be a goal.
Smaller websites (less than 1,000 pages) should have all of their pages tested regularly. For larger websites, you should take a sample of your highest traffic-inducing pages and any other critical pages. You should also identify the pages in the bottom 10 percent in terms of organic traffic, pick out any that are of use, and test them also.
Of course, the test isn’t manual. Google analytics offers the data you need, and you can also use 3rd party websites such as GTmetrics and Pingdom to test the speed and receive recommendations of how to improve the speed.
You want to aim for load speeds of less than 3 seconds, though ideally 1 second is the goal.
Audit your Plugins
This is valuable for page speed, security and user experience. Keeping your plugins up to date will ensure they run smoothly, quickly and don’t have any vulnerabilities.
WordPress sites in particular often rely on plugins for most of their main functionality. Therefore if a plugin goes out of date and no longer works correctly, your users could be left with broken pages, forms that don’t work or other broken functionality that effects user experience.
Whilst you are updating your plugins, you may also want to consider if some of them are no longer necessary or if you can consolidate them into one. This can improve your load speeds quite dramatically.
Again, this boils down to user experience. You may have changed a few things on a certain page and not realised how it has impacted the responsiveness (how the page appears on different sized screens and devices) or how it performs on browsers other than the one you use regularly.
Some CSS changes, for example, may look great in the latest version of Google Chrome, but don’t play nice in older versions of Firefox or (dare I say it) Internet Explorer. This can result in a poor user experience, and we don’t want that.
Unfortunately, it is a manual testing process, though there are some tools out there that allow you to view pages across multiple browsers and devices without having to physically have them available to you. Luckily it shouldn’t take very long per page to actually test, though.