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The Online Business Owner’s Periodical Website Sanity Checklist

by Sean Work

A common oversight of many online businesses is NOT using their own websites. Simply put, they don’t spend time in their visitors’ shoes.

Many site owners are busy with day-to-day, business-as-usual tasks, working on new features or promotional campaigns or whatever other millions of things there are sitting on their to-do lists. Very few spend time checking up on their own online properties to make sure everything is in working order.

For a business owner, whose time is valuable, this job can be handed off to an intern, virtual assistant, or entry-level employee. It’s a good idea to make a checklist of items to check and set up a monthly notification (or whatever recurring time frame makes sense for your business) to check them.

I like to remind myself of a quote by John Kurth of Syntactics Sales Scripting:

“If checklists are good enough for NASA, they should be good enough for us.”

Exactly. I actually recommend creating checklists for as many business processes as you currently have because they are a great way to make sure things get done correctly.

Today’s post will help you create a checklist so that your team can make sure you’re running a tight ship. Believe it or not, this may save you website conversions as well. Read on to find out why.

Go to Your Homepage and Click on … Everything 🙂

Sounds simple enough right?

Well, depending on how busy your homepage is, it can be. This is an important starting point for this task. You’d be surprised at all the strange, forgotten-about places on your website that your homepage directs visitors to.

Also, it’s a great time to start thinking about what you don’t need on your homepage any longer. Be sure to take some notes. Decluttering your homepage is a conversion rate optimization test in itself.

Obviously, check for broken links and other things that might not be working well – whether it’s carousels, on-site search, widgets, etc. But, most important, check out your homepage on a mobile phone and tablet! So many of us are on our laptops all day long, and we rarely ever look at our sites from a mobile perspective. Don’t be a victim of laptop blindness! For a lot of online businesses, over 50% of visitors come from a mobile device.

Check All Your Forms

This might be one of the easiest CRO hacks of all time :). If your forms aren’t working, your conversion rates are probably abysmal. This project can be tedious, but it must be done from time to time.

And when I say check your forms, that doesn’t mean just enter in some fake information, hit submit, and walk away. It means: create some new email addresses and go through your entire funnel to see if there are any hiccups during the process.

  • Make mistakes on purpose. How’s your error language? Is it confusing? Is it something that should be tested against other copy?
  • Check your forms on a phone and tablet. Is the user interface easy to use on mobile? Is that something that should be redesigned and tested?
  • What’s the confirmation email experience like? Was it an afterthought? Does the email copy need a more human touch?

Don’t just stop with account creation or service forms. Do these same checks for your email newsletter subscriptions too.

Check All Your URLs for Your Analytics Code

This is a really important check that a lot of companies and online businesses neglect. In order for analytics tracking to work properly, your analytics tracking snippet (or code) should be placed on every URL of your website. If it isn’t, then you’re missing out on incredibly valuable information. For instance, you may be unaware of which of your pages have the highest visitor or user traffic!

A common problem for websites maintained by developers who use GitHub and other source control systems (where they “deploy” changes in order to update the website) is the developers forget to “re-add” the analytics tracking code to all the pages. Or they update the header file and for some reason leave out tracking codes. Believe it or not, this happens all the time.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to check all your URLs to make sure your analytics code is on those pages. For Google Analytics, simply view the source code and do a search for “UA.”

Ask your web developers to create a check or process to make sure any web analytics tracking snippets (or any important snippets) always get included with site updates or redeploys. If you get any push-back, let higher-ups know how important these codes are to business intelligence, and urge them to make it a priority.

Check for Broken Links on Your Company Blog

In addition to checking for broken links on your main website, don’t forget to do this same check on your blog. Broken links on your blog can degrade the quality of your blog content, which may hurt your SEO. In some cases, broken links can provide great content ideas for future blog posts!

  • If you’re using WordPress for your blog content management system, then you can use the Broken Link Checker plugin.
  • Ahrefs is a popular SEO tool that offers a broken link checker with their service.
  • Write a quick blog post that asks the public to help with your broken links. This will attract eager SEO specialists, who will be more than happy to identify broken links on your blog and will suggest links to replace them. Just make sure they are suggesting quality replacements. Chances are they will go the extra mile to make sure the replacement content is up to snuff.

Check for Unattended Comments and Blog Spam

Depending on how your blog is set up, you may have a lot of unsightly comments lingering around. It’s a good idea to go through and delete spammy comments and comments that may be linking off to dangerous content. It’s your responsibility to protect your visitors and customers from harmful places on the internet. Some of those links might be pointing to scam sites or sites laced with malware and viruses.

This is also a good opportunity to reply to important questions, thoughts, and other gems that might be waiting for you. You might gain new customers. And you’ll also freshen up your blog content, which search engines tend to appreciate.

Check Error Logs

You can contact your web hosting company or ask your web developers for error logs. If you can decipher them, you might find scripts and plugins that are bogging down your site. These little buggers can cause site speed issues, which definitely hurt conversions and SEO performance.

Check Site Speed

While you’re doing a recurring website check, it’s a good idea to record your webpage loading time for your most important URLs. This can be tricky because if you only do one speed test per URL during your check, those loading times aren’t always the average. Sometimes, you’ll run 5 page-load tests in one day and have drastic variations in loading times from one test to the other. So, if you can, try to run your speed tests at different times throughout the day and determine what the average loading time was that day. And, yes, for each of your important URLs.

Ahrefs (mentioned above) includes website speed checking as does Google Search Console. I’m also a big fan of Pingdom’s free website speed tool.

pingdom website speed test

crazyegg speed results

Well, we are faster than 86% of the sites tested by Pingdom, but we’re only getting a C grade. There must be room for improvement!

Use an Uptime Checking Service

Your site might be going down throughout the day and you don’t even know it. This is bad for your brand and could be costing you money. Services like Uptime Robot offer free website monitoring. It’s probably a good idea to search for a few more services and use them all!

Blessed be Ye Old Webmasters!

This entire checklist used to be the responsibility of a forgotten-about trade: the webmaster. I’m not sure what happened, but about 15 years ago, the term “webmaster” began to disappear. The webmaster was responsible for keeping the website in tip-top shape. Perhaps it’s time to bring back this profession and consider hiring one for your organization!

Hopefully, this post will help you improve your online business and, most important, your customers’ experience. Please let us know about anything we missed, and we’ll happily add it to this list.

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DON’T MISS OUT

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Sean Work

Sean Work is the VP of Inbound Marketing here at Crazy Egg. You can follow him on Twitter @seanvwork. You can listen to his podcast "Worketing" on YouTube or SoundCloud.

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