I know we haven’t officially finished all the winter holidays yet, but they’re quickly on their way out. Sorry. That means it’s time to get your site ready for the New Year. Below is a checklist of some of the things you should be looking at as we ring the New Years bell and head into 2010. You don’t want to start 2010 off already looking out of style, do you? Your competitors won’t be.
Remove the holiday images: I know, they’re cute and make you feel festive, but by Monday these should be gone. Keeping up your Christmas/Hanukkah/whatever logos makes it looks like your site is still on vacation and that customers should go elsewhere for timely service. That’s not the message you want to send. It’s time for Santa to go back into hibernation.
Fix your copyright dates: You have a bit more time on this one, but don’t forget to change your copyright dates to reflect the New Year and any changes that may have occurred since 2009. [Also don't forget to renew any licenses that may need renewing...] This is important site maintenance that makes sure your butt is covered for 2010 and is especially important for online retailers where an old date may work as a negative trust signal.
Revitalize your content: A new year is a good time to start things off fresh. Take some time to go through your site and evaluate your content. Does it still work? Are there areas that are vague and could be clarified? Are you still talking about new things to come in October of 2009? Get rid of typos, outdated information, user speed bumps, etc. When’s the last time you really read the content on your site? If you’re not sure, it’s probably time to spruce it up a little.
Check your links: While you’re going through your site checking content, also look at the links on your site. Are they all going where they’re supposed to or are there broken links sending customers to cold 404 pages? If there are, take this time to fix them! If you’ve registered your site with Google Webmaster Central, they’ll actually tell you if you have any broken links on your site. It’s a super handy feature. There are also plenty of tools like Link Checker and Xenu Link Sleuth (looks scary but isn’t) that will do the very same thing. While you’re doing some maintenance, you can also do some searches to look for sites that mention your company or Web site but don’t actually link back to you. To do this, go to Yahoo Site Explorer and type in the following query
It’s a very easy way to add some new links to your site in the New Year.
Update local listings if necessary: By now I’ve probably beaten into your head how important it is to be giving all the engines and third-party indexes consistent and correct local business information. If you haven’t checked your listings in a while, GetListed.org is an invaluable service that will show you where you’re registered and what each site knows about you. Now is a good time to double check to make sure it’s still correct.
Look at site statistics: Are you running analytics on your site? If not, meet Google Analytics. It’s free and feature-rich. If you are, go through and figure out what were your most successful content pieces this year. What did people want to hear about? What got them excited? Are there ways for you to expand or leverage that going into January? Or, on the flip side, what pages on your site see the highest bounce rate? Is there a way to edit the content or move things around to make them more user-friendly? Could you be targeting the wrong keywords? Don’t go into 2010 making the same mistakes.
Redesign: This isn’t likely something you can tackle before the New Year hits, but ask some fresh eyes to take a look at your site. Is it still professional looking and giving off the image you want? If not, this may be something you’ll want to start thinking about improving this year.
Things are probably pretty slow right now which makes it the perfect time to do some thorough site maintenance. The start of a new year is the perfect time to shake the dust off and give your site a fresh coat of paint. Make the changes now that will help you stay one step ahead of your competition all year. Or at least until February.