::sniffs air::

Ah, spring cleaning. There’s something about the smell of Lysol cutting through the remnants of winter’s last gasp that just makes you feel alive! But hey, late March isn’t just a good time to clean up your house, it’s also the ideal season for reviewing your website. Is it still in top shape for your visitors? From looking for broken links (the equivalent of dust bunnies) to checking your sitemap, here are the top items to include on your spring website cleaning checklist.

Brush the dirt off your website to improve the experiences of your customers.

1. Check META tags.

While META tags won’t generally improve your search engine rankings, they are extremely important for improving search engine click-through rates. Think of these as the descriptions online users will read when encountering your website as a search engine result. Title tags should be structured with keywords that accurately describe what visitors can find within your website. Description tags for each website page should be snippets of copy that sum up what can be found on each page. A description tag should also be used for your website’s homepage that sums up the overall purpose of your entire website.

2. Check Google Webmaster Tools for errors.

Website errors spell trouble for your website’s search engine rankings and could be impacting the experiences of your visitors. Under the ‘dashboard’ section of Google Webmaster Tools, review any errors that have been detected and take the proper steps to correct those errors.

3. Check your Sitemap.

Your website’s Sitemap should be flawless. Easily determine if any Sitemap problems exist by using the Sitemap assessment tools offered by Google Webmaster Tools. You will find the Sitemap diagnostic section under the ‘optimization’ dropdown header on the left hand side of the Google Webmaster Tools page. If you haven’t yet registered a Sitemap, do so promptly so that Google can properly index your site.

4. Clean up broken links.

Few issues are more frustrating for online users than clicking a website link only to be redirected to an error page. Ensure this doesn’t happen to your website’s users by cleaning up any broken links with Google Webmaster Tools.

To a website, broken links look like this.

5. Clean up unnecessary pages and links.

Whether you want to sell an ebook or increase membership sales, your website should be designed to direct visitors in a specific direction. Ensure customers are easily led in that direction by removing extraneous links that don’t benefit your core business from your website’s header and footer. Additionally, get rid of any ‘fluff’ pages that don’t clearly benefit your business or your customers.

6. Check your “contact us” forms.

Your website’s contact us forms should be easy to find and use. Send a message to your company as a customer and see what the experience is like. If you are personally receiving the emails sent by customers, review how long it takes for the inquiry to reach your inbox. If inquiries are forwarded to an answering service or a virtual secretary, assess how quickly you get a response.

7. Check your contact phone number.

If you utilize a contract customer support service, make a phone call as a customer and see what the experience is like. Was your call answered promptly? On a scale of 1 to 10, how courteous and helpful was the customer support representative? If you aren’t completely satisfied with the calling experience, just think of the impressions the service is leaving with your customers.

8. Sign up as a customer.

Becoming a registered user on your website should be fast and easy. See what the current signup experience is like by registering as a customer. Is the process unnecessarily confusing, or frictionless? Are customers being asked to provide unnecessary information or not enough information? Set a timer to see how long it takes you to register from start to finish.

9. Order a product.

If you have an e-commerce site, place an order as a customer and see what the experience is like. Did you receive a prompt invoice after placing an order? Was the process straightforward or confusing? How long did it take to receive your order? Was the order correct? Online users have infinite options for placing orders online so your website’s process must be flawless if you hope to create loyal customers.

10. Imagine bigger.

The online world is constantly changing and, to keep pace, your website must regularly evolve and improve. In addition to improving customer ordering processes, look for opportunities to grow your content. What type of articles or information do your customers need? What questions are they always asking you? If you aren’t comfortable with handling the content changes alone or simply don’t have the time, Media Shower can handle the process for you.

At least they’ve got the Windex bottle out.

Over time, links on your website become broken and product ordering processes become outdated. If not regularly monitored and corrected, these minor problems can add up to create major frustrations for your website’s visitors. Set aside a day this spring to improve your website by completing this spring cleaning checklist. Additionally, improve your website’s content by utilizing Media Shower’s content writing services.

Photo credit: eyeliam