12 Most Basic Things You Can Do For Your Web Site Without Modifying It
There is no shortage of lists telling you what you need to change on your Web site. What many forget is your Web site, being a living breathing personal / corporate asset, sometimes needs care and feeding outside of enhancing and optimizing what appears on the pages of the site. The following list is not sexy, though important to the vitality of your Web site. Some of these are things you can do yourself, or you may need your Web designer / developer to help you if they manage your Web site for you.
1. Collect and Securely Store Passwords
It’s 10 o’clock, do you know where your passwords are? From the FTP, CMS login, email admin, control panel, domain registrar, Google account to whatever third-party service or add-on you’re using on your site, chances are each has its own login and password for you to access it.
First and foremost, gather them together from wherever you have them now. Organize them and add any descriptions which may help someone new who is working on your Web site, or yourself is you forget who they are. At a minimum write them on paper and keep it in a locked file or safe deposit box. You can also list them in a password-protected spreadsheet or using secure password software such as Callpod Keeper – http://callpod.com/products/keeper. Whichever you choose, remember what you did with them, and update them as the passwords change.
2. Check Domain Names and Registrations
Though they are the key to your Web site and email working, many do not know when their domain names are due to be renewed, where they are registered nor have accurate contact information on them. A simple list of each domain name, their registration due date and which registrar they are at is the first step, and reminding yourself to renew the domain names is as easy as a calendar event. Or you can simply extend their registration up to 10 years so you won’t have to worry about it for a while! Keeping accurate contact information is not only good housekeeping but a requirement for domain name registrations.
3. Make a Backup Copy of Your Web Site
The files and database on the Web server which comprise your Web site should not be the one and only copy you have of it. From hardware failures to hacks or attacks, keeping a backup copy of your Web site in a secure place is important. This backup should include the physical files on the Web server – HTML and scripting pages, images, Flash, etc. – plus a copy of the database structure and data, and the instructions you need to setup the site on another server. Some hosting companies may make backups, but it is a good idea to keep this away from the server and within your reach. Depending on how often your site changes, a regular schedule of backups should be followed to ensure you don’t lose one bit of data or one blog post.
4. Run a Link Check
There’s nothing like a broken web site link to chase a Web visitor and potential customer away. Checking every link within your site – both internal and external links – will ensure the user experience you want for your customers. There are tools like Xenu – http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html – as well as Web-based services which will perform this task and report broken links, as well as missing images or files.
5. Proofread all Web Pages
Now that you have a list of all pages of your Web site from the link check in the previous step, make a list of them and read their copy. Is the information accurate? Is it grammatically correct? Is it even relevant today? Note the changes you need for each page as you review them, then at the end review them overall – you may need to craft some high-level messaging and then apply it to the pages identified. Or you may even need to add and/or remove some pages.
6. Test all Email Links and Forms
There’s nothing like asking people to contact you and when they do, you never get the message. Test every email link by clicking on it and sending yourself a message. Why every one? Many times they are manually created and if there’s a typo, then the message will never get delivered. So it may look right, but it may not be right. If you have any forms on your site, fill them out and submit them. The same applies here, if there’s an error somewhere, you won’t get the message.
7. Buy something (if an eCommerce Web Site)
If your Web site sells something, buy something from yourself to verify the process works, as well as to refresh your memory of the user experience your customer goes through to do so. Note any errors as well as issues or quirks you experience, as these may lead to changes you may want to make to improve buying from you. If your shopping cart is managed by a third-party (e.g. PayPal), you may not be aware of changes to those services which were out of your control.
8. Setup Google Alerts
Why just Google yourself when you can let Google Google you? Google Alerts – http://www.google.com/alerts – is a free service where you can get reports of new or changed Web content based on keywords or phrases you request. These reports can be sent by email or RSS feed as they happen or on a daily or weekly basis. You can also choose the type of site or media where you may be mentioned.
9. Review or Create Email Signature
The signature area at the bottom of your email messages is an excellent place to promote yourself and your Web site. There is certainly no cost in doing so, and if you frequently send links to your site it also can save on time typing or pasting the URL in over and over. You can do this in most installed or Web-based email clients as well as on mobile devices.
10. Integrate Web Site Into Your Offline Marketing
Is your Web site and all you are doing online integrated into what you do offline? Is it printed on your business cards or brochures? Do you have it displayed on the window of your business (providing you have a window)? Does it appear in the program book for the charity event you are sponsoring? Is it mentioned in your voicemail greeting? Do you see where I am coming from here? This is one of the most basic things you can do to leverage your own Web site by mentioning it wherever you mention yourself or your business.
11. Secure Social Media Logins
Even if you or your business are not active in social media (or someone else, as this is a blog post, which means you reading this probably are) you should secure accounts with social media services in yours or your company’s name. Then when you are ready, you will have these accounts for you or whomever you designate to use. And see step #1 as to what to do with the passwords!
12. Open Web Site on a Mobile Device
Whether you like it or not, your Web site is a mobile Web site. Well, it can be opened on a mobile device… or at least it can be attempted to be opened on one. Get a leg upon what your site looks like by opening it up within a browser on a mobile device or several.
Featured image courtesy of Divine Harvester licensed via creative commons.