16 ways to Spring-Clean your WordPress Website
The weather is turning fractionally warmer here in the northern hemisphere- so what better time than to re-vamp a website!
So what is useful to look at? Here are the top 16 actions we’ve been implementing on our sites lately.
Check your sales
If you have an online store its useful to take a look at what is selling and what isn’t. We asked our VA (virtual assistant) to create a spreadsheet listing our full product range and how many sales we’ve made in the last 3, 6 and 12 months for each item. Products which aren’t selling well can be repurposed e.g. added as an extra bonus to a middle of the range selling product. Once you have this info you can use it in plenty of different ways e.g. tying it into what offers or sales you want to plan for the next few months.
Check who’s looking at what
If you have a good idea which pages, blogs or content gets the most attention you can use this to inform what content you want to write in future newsletters or blogs. Also you might find a few surprises which give you fresh ideas. When we noticed that a lot of our visitors to one page on our site came from well outside of our target audience we were able to create a product much more targeted to the needs of these visitors, which in turn led to the development of a whole new website for another market.
Always look for new plug-ins
There are so many time saving plug-ins which will add functionality to your site or simplify existing processes. Here are a couple of our favourites from the last 2 weeks:
A great plugin for showing customisable hierarchical page lists, including options of showing the page excerpt and featured image. This is perfect when you want to simplify navigation round your site.
Feature a Page widget (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/feature-a-page-widget/)
A simple plugin so that you can feature a page in any sidebar, including excerpt and featured image. That’s a great way to let your visitors know about key pages like products or offers.
Check your product links
As you add more content to your site it’s easy to forget to have your products/ services intuitively linked throughout your site. Take time to review this, making sure you have consistent pathways embedded within content which links back to a product. You can also add ‘recommended resources’ or ‘featured product’ boxes on relevant pages, which all lead your reader to the help they are looking for.
Check the speed of your site
Did you know that the speed of your site not only affects your Google ranking but can also lower your revenue stream? Amazon recently revealed that every 100 ms increase in load time of Amazon.com decreased sales by 1%.
So how can you speed up your site? Our top tip is to install the W3 Total Cache plugin (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/w3-total-cache/), on average this gives a 10x improvement in overall site performance and a 80% bandwidth saving (we had great results after installing it on our new luxury hotel site, it reduced the page load time from 4.24s to 1.17s!).
Check the security of your site
Nobody likes having your website hacked, especially when the result is being offline for days. The best advice we can give is to make sure your password is at least 10 digits long with numbers and letters, capitals and lowercase. Secondly try to keep up to date with all WordPress and plugin updates, these will fix common security holes and keep you protected.
Check compatibility with new devices
If you set up your website a while ago it may not function well/ look good on mobile devices. With so many people browsing on ipads and smart phones its worth checking out how well your content is presenting across formats. If it means a theme upgrade then make sure you get a ‘responsive’ one- this just means the styling will respond to the device it is being browsed on
Improve your interaction
Is it easy for your readers/ customers to interact with you? How straightforward is it for them to leave comments, reviews or ratings? Or even, is the visibility of your ‘contact us’ information good enough? Try to encourage others to check out your blog by using commentluv (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/commentluv/). It will automatically highlight your own latest blog with any external comment you post, making reciprocity very easy.
Is your content fresh?
If you haven’t added any new content for a while your site will quickly start to feel stale. Make sure your content is dynamic, and if it isn’t, plan out a schedule.
Tidy up your offer
If it’s been a while since you crafted your offer you might find its time for a refresh. Of course this depends on how well it’s doing (if it ain’t broke and all that). If you are aware your audience has changed, or even your understanding of what they are looking for has evolved it may be about time for an upgrade.
Refresh the look of your site
It’s crazy how quickly sites start to look dated. Don’t panic, you probably don’t need a total re-design, but even adding new images or a slightly different page layout might just give it more of an up-to-date look. Again a few carefully chosen plug-ins might help, plus don’t forget, images can say a thousand words (and save you an awful lot of writing!)
If you are anything like us you will be learning all the time and what you thought worked well back in the day can now look like a navigator’s nightmare. How easy is it to move through your site? Sketch out some pathways – routes should tend to lead to a helpful resource, product or service. Readers are there because they are looking for something. Make it easy for them to find it.
Are you neglecting spreading the word about your website? If so then how is anyone meant to find it! Our tip is to dedicate at least a half a day a week to guest blogging or writing articles and submitting them to relevant sites. Another way that has worked for us is to sponsor another site in exchange for advertisements/ links back to yours.
Social media links
How easy are you making it for your visitors to share your content? As there are so many social media plugins out there you really have no excuse not have the right ‘share’ buttons after each post!
Check for the very latest updates
Wordpress themes and plug-ins are constantly evolving. Make sure you have all the latest versions to keep your site operating to its maximum.
Back up, back up!
Not backing up your site daily has to be one of the easiest things to neglect. Luckily most hosting companies do this for you but sometimes it’s nice to know have a copy too! We use BackWPup (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/backwpup/) to do backups to our Dropbox account..simples!
Example of a featured product taken from our new site
Jarida is a great example of a responsive theme
What a difference!
What’s your top spring clean tip?
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