Your website is your business’s online home. During the holidays, your traffic is likely to go up as consumers complete their shopping and other end-of-year business. Unfortunately, errors in your site can make a negative impression on visitors. And many will simply leave and go to your competitors’ sites instead.
So fixing these issues should be your top priority this season. Here are some tips to optimize your site for all that holiday business.
Test Your Site
The first step in improving your site is figuring out what is needed. This starts out pretty simply… just visit your site and make sure everything works. Click various links, look at the photos, and try out various features.
SEO consultant Bill Hartzer said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “You can view the pages on your site, make sure that all of the images load, there aren’t any errors like (404 not found errors), and that your contact form works.”
Make Sure It Loads Quickly
Even if everything on your site technically works, if it takes forever to load, people will leave. When you visit each page, make sure everything pulls up within a few seconds. If it doesn’t, changes may be necessary.
Test the Contact Form
Another important element to focus on is the contact area. Hartzer says that sometimes updates or plugin changes can lead to errors. This means you may have people trying to contact you without success. Try to send messages regularly to make sure they go through.
Look for Technical Errors
In some cases, you may not notice every error just by visiting. But there are tools to help you weed out these technical issues.
Hartzer says, “You can use a web crawler such as the Screaming Frog SEO Spider, Siteliner, Sitebulb, or OnCrawl to crawl your website. Each of them will report technical errors, 404 not found pages, redirects, and other technical issues that should be fixed. You an even verify your website in Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools for free and they’ll tell you about any technical issues on your website.”
If your site loads slowly, the culprit may be your photos. There’s a good chance you uploaded large files to the site, which take a long time to pull up. Resize or compress the photos to the actual size you need so they don’t take up unnecessary time.
Add Google Analytics
Google Analytics can help you learn more about how people use your site. You can identify popular pages and search terms. And it may even call your attention to ongoing issues like a high bounce rate on certain pages. Installing it is easy. You simply sign up for free and upload a code to your site.
Back It Up
Hackers tend to be especially active during the holidays. They know that both businesses and consumers are really active online. So they may try to steal your data or take control of your site. Just in case you experience issues, making a backup of your site can help you get it back up and running quickly.
Update the Plugins
Updating your website software and plugins can also make your site more secure. These updates often include security patches to address areas where hackers might take advantage. It’s good practice to update these items whenever they’re available. But it’s especially important during vulnerable times like the holidays.
Check Your Domain
Some small businesses focus so much on the content of their website, but forget about the domain. Luckily, there are ways to ensure that your domain is set up to work on all browsers and even control emails.
Hartzer says, “I recommend running a free DNP Score on your domain name, which will alert you to any issues with how you have your domain name set up. For example, do you have DMARC, DKIM, and SPF records set up? Those will help you send/receive email and help make sure that your emails actually go to the recipients’ inboxes. That’s especially important if you have an email newsletter that you send out. And DNSSEC should be enabled on your domain name, as well. The busy season isn’t the time to lose your domain name (well, anytime isn’t a good time!). But if you lose your domain name, your website goes down.”
Don’t Make Dramatic Changes
If you’re eager to make big changes to your site, the holiday season is actually not the time for that. Big changes often come with complications. So it’s best to save these for a less busy time and instead focus on fixing small problems.
Hartzer explains, “Any major changes to the design or functionality could have more negative effects than positive ones. I recommend waiting until the holiday season is over to start thinking about any major changes.”