10 Search & Website Usability New Year Resolutions for 2012
No matter where in the world you live, it’s likely you have rituals that you participate in at various times of the year. Website owners have a New Year ritual too.
The first item we need to address is updating the copyright year in the footer of our website. Not only does this show that somebody is home maintaining the site but it signals to search engines that life exists there and to keep visiting.
This, like a new determination to lose weight, could be the first and last resolution you set for yourself. Not quite a ritual is it? And who wants to wait until beach season to see the results? What other practices can you add to your annual website resolution ritual? Is there a goal you want to set for the New Year?
There are two important goals to work into your resolutions list. It’s a new season. If last year was a bust, can you make up for that and create a more prosperous website property in 2012? Sure you can.
Let’s target two goals:
- Increase website conversions. This can be sales, sign-ups, subscriptions, and new ads on your pages, a renewed PPC program, increased participation in forums and blogs, and much more. You have specific tasks on your website. This goal is focused on creating more interest and momentum so that your site visitors complete those vital tasks.
- Increase search engine exposure and searcher response. If you feel your search engine rank or inbound clicks are flat, you may wish to try fresh ideas to give your search engine listings a boost.
Website Resolutions Checklist
New Year’s resolutions are begun with the best of intentions but we can sometimes set the bar so high that we let the whole idea fizzle out.
This is especially true when we don’t see or feel any immediate results.
The following 10 items are chosen for their ease of implementation and known traceable results.
The list is short because this ritual is supposed to be doable and repeatable each year.
We also want to carry out our ritual resolutions once and when we see results, feel inspired to keep going or tweak if need be.
1. While you’re in the footer changing the year, be sure to add at minimum the town or city, state or province and country of origin for the website. A zip and postal code are helpful too. A full business address is perfect but not every web site needs one. Why do this? Much depends on the type of site you’re operating.
For a local site that wants to do business locally, the address is helpful for local searches, as well as potential customers wanting to do business locally. An address or place of origin helps communicate where sales are accepted.
If your website is based in the UK but you accept sales from outside your country, the footer is a good place to note that. It can be as simple as adding “International sales accepted.” An address also indicates credibility.
2. Go through the title tags for your homepage, landing pages, top level pages of importance, product pages, and PPC landing pages. In each title tag, add a value as an incentive to searchers who are reading SERPS (search engine results pages) to click into your page and not a competitor’s.
Examples: “free shipping”, “free membership”, “clearance”, etc. Avoid bland terms such as “best”, “greatest”, “leading”, etc. Don’t copy what your competitor puts in their title tag. Create your title tag to be more inspirational.
3. Review each landing page for PPC and banner ads to be sure that whatever the ad claims is supported on the landing page. Repeat the same incentive or promotion on the landing page. This tells the human brain it has been taken to the correct place. Absolutely no bait and switch!
4. Similar to item two, each product page needs its own Meta description that specifically addresses the product it pertains to. No cookie cutter descriptions. If you place the product name and manufacturer and your brand in the title tag, your Meta description should follow up the unique selling proposition and a brief product description. Again, ask yourself what would make someone want to go to your product page instead of the other company who is selling the exact same product?
5. Clean up your text. Are your pages jammed with endless paragraphs that repeat the same information? Is your text written well, with no grammatical errors or broken English? Is it compelling? Perhaps this year it is time to hire a marketing copywriter who can improve your conversions and search engine results with their skilled writing.
6. Run link checking software. This is often overlooked or a boring maintenance job. Let’s do it now and cleanup any issues.
7. Upgrade software, plug-ins, blog themes, forums software, and any back-end applications you rely on. Sometimes, as in the case of some forums software and blog themes, all kinds of new things are added such as new photo galleries, better spam defense, added social networking integration and improved user interface both for the front and back-end.
8. Review your website requirements or write new ones. The point of this exercise is re-evaluate why your web site exists and to inspect its performance. Perhaps you’ve never drawn up a written plan or you have added more employees or team mates who don’t understand your original goals and visions. It doesn’t hurt to document your goals for search engines, social marketing, usability, conversions and overall site performance.
Maybe you want to add a new goal such as improving the overall accessibility for the site. With technology and new user interface ideas coming out, it doesn’t hurt to pause. Maybe there are new things you can try and have been so busy you didn’t consider it. Now is the time to explore.
9. Start out the year with a fresh look at your logs and analytics. If you use SEO tools, take them for a spin or have your SEO do it. Get updated data and inspect it for areas where traffic is falling off, conversions have sunk or bounce rates have increased. Create new funnels and track your main tasks or revise existing ones. Research new possible keywords or question searches such as “how do I” and “where is” types that may lead directly into your site.
10. Get organized. There’s nothing like a fresh start and new beginnings. Perhaps you need to budget for help with usability and conversions or search engine results. Blog owners may want to create an editorial calendar so that your writers or you keep the blog alive and active.
This is also a good time to schedule any conferences you want to get to, or local events. Maybe you wish to teach. Look into your local chambers of commerce to see if you can provide workshops. Some schools offer adult education courses. Don’t forget local youth organizations. (I once taught a Girl Scout troop how to make a webpage and how to FTP the files to a server. They loved it!)
There are twelve months ahead of you. Some will be positive and some a real bummer. By adding an annual New Year routine for your website, you’re improving your chances for the positive times. Go forth and conquer! And Happy New Year.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.