End Of Year Website Punch List

Hey, good morning, Internet fans. It is Ryan Perry with Simple Biz Support. Today is Thursday, therefore, it is Thursday… What is it? It’s Internet Marketing Thursday. That’s what it is. I’m sorry I’m distracted. You can’t see outside the window, but it is pouring. I haven’t seen any cats or dogs, but it is pouring cats and dogs out there right now. Much of Rohnert Park, where I’m at, is flooded. Virginie, we were talking before… By the way, we have Virginie Dorn with Business Website Center down in Petaluma on the other side, as always. Good morning.

Virginie Dorn: Well, good morning Ryan. It is pouring here, as well. But so far, so good. Just road closures. All the schools are closed, of course.

RP: Yeah. I know all the schools up here are closed. I think most… Last night they said all the Bay area schools were going to close down: Oakland, San Francisco. I’m not sure how far. And I know the storm just kind of hovered over us last night. It woke me up a couple of times, just the wind and the rain beating on the windows, so. It’s a good drenching. We need it. It’s a great way to clean the streets, after two years of drought. So… Happy to see the rain. And I’ll be happy to see it go, too. Although, there’s got to be good snow up in Sierras right now.

VD: Yes. And if you like the snow, Tahoe is just a few hours away for us. So, we’re lucky. So close to the sea, so close to the snow and the mountains. It’s good here.

RP: Yes. Today, though, we’re not just going to talk about the drought or the crazy rain that we’re getting here in Northern California. We’re going to talk about end of year what to do. So, basically a punch list for your website, to make sure that rolling into 2015, you are ready to rock n’ roll. You’ve got tasks or homework to do, to ensure that your website’s in the best condition possible, to capture as much business for you. And Virginie, where did you want to start on that punch list?

VD: Well, I’ve prepared 10 items which I like to share with my clients often at the end of the year, like in December. It’s always a good time to just review those 10 items for their website, so they have not missed something. The first thing, it’s about links on your website. It is a great time of the year to check if any of your links need to be updated, if maybe they are broken, maybe you have changed a page, maybe you are linking to a vendor and they have changed their URL, they’re no longer in business. So, in order to do that… You can do it manually. If it’s a small website, just click on the links, see if they work. Or you can go to a link checker, for instance I use a brokenlinkcheck.com, but there are hundreds of them on the web, and it’s free of charge, it’s easy to use. You put your URL there, and they’ll pinpoint which links on which page are broken. Now, those programs are great…

RP: One of the things I wanted to say real quickly, ’cause I had to deal with this with a couple of websites that I was managing was, if you’re using WordPress, there is a very popular plug-in for checking links. However, it has been banned by a number of servers. I believe GoDaddy’s banned it, and I forget who else, for being possible spyware and some other issues related to it. So, if you are using a plug-in for checking broken links, making sure you don’t have any 404 errors, double check, do a little history on that plug-in, just to make sure it’s not on that list, because it may be doing you more harm than good.

VD: Yes.

RP: And what you were recommending, was an actual website where you can type in your URL of your website, it’ll crawl it and check for any broken links.

VD: That is correct. And perhaps GoDaddy and other hosting companies are preventing those, because they offer those paid services, as well.

RP: Could very well be. You know the nice thing about paid services, if you’re willing to do a little bit of work, a lot of those paid services are free somewhere.

VD: Yes. Now, those programs are great, but they won’t tell you if you’re linking to the right page or perhaps you have missed something. You were thinking of linking to your privacy policy, but you click on it, and it goes to your terms of conditions instead. So, you still… A manual overview of your links would be a great idea. So, that’s number one item on your list. The second thing is to try your contact forms, and actually, it’s something you should do on a monthly basis. At the business for the websites we manage, we do this every first week of every month. We check every forms on every client’s website. We send a little test email, “Hey, this is us, making sure it’s still working.” ‘Cause things change on browsers, and sometimes it might break a form or something happened to your server.

VD: So very important. Check your forms. Fill them out. Fill every single field. Send it to yourself. See if you receive it. If you don’t, talk to your webmaster. So, that’s number two. Number three: Spell check. Not a bad idea, you know? Again, there a plenty of free programs out there that can you help spell check the content of your site. Typically, the programmers cannot spell check for you in their coding software, because it doesn’t work that way. So, it has to be done on the front end. It’s easy to do. If you don’t know how to use the web very much, just copy and paste your content in a Word document, and it will highlight those words for you. And that’s…

RP: Yeah. I am a notorious spell screw-up king, whatever you want to call it. I am like Mr. Typo. So, that’s always a big one for me. Any time I send something out publicly, I typically will have a couple of friends proofread it, just to make sure. Let’s put it in Word to make sure. But you know… And it’s embarrassing when stuff does go through the cracks and there is a typo in there, regardless of how small it is, it is a reflection on your brand.

VD: It happens to all of us.

RP: So I know for me, it’s a big one just, because of my own personal issues.

VD: Yes, but you know there’s spellcheck.net. It’s very easy. It’s free to use. They not only check the spelling, they also check the grammar, and some of them check the syntax, also.

RP: Okay. Now the spellcheck.net, will it actually… Can you just punch in your web address and will it actually go through your entire site?

VD: Not this one. This one you copy and paste each page, one at a time.

RP: Okay.

VD: Which I think is a little bit easier, just to be… I mean if you just put your whole website it’s going to be pages and pages of reviews.

RP: Alright. Okay, good.

VD: So we did one, two, three, now number four steps, it’s to check your website on the different browsers. Now I recommend the four top browser, which are Firefox, Mozilla, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari. It’s a good time to check again, ’cause those browsers release new versions every year. Sometimes you are not even aware the version has slightly changed and that might not be compatible with your code on your website. So again, checking it on the four different browsers is very important. Check every page, check your forms, check a standard page, your home page, your galleries, all of those things. Not a bad idea. If you see anything out of place, of course you have to go back to your web master and have him make adjustments.

RP: It’s important if you’re going to do that, make sure you have the latest version of Chrome, Safari, IE and Firefox.

VD: That is correct. So make sure you update all of those. And number five, is to also check your website on mobile devices, tablets and smartphones. Now, I mentioned this, ’cause throughout the year you tend to add items to your website. So perhaps you added a fax number to the header of your site, but you forgot to check how it looks on your smartphone. Perhaps that fax number that’s been added now is overlapping the text. So that’s a very common mistake. You add items, especially if you have CMS, but you forgot to check how it looks on a tablet or smartphone. So not a bad idea, and that’s the step five I tell clients.

VD: Number six is very quick. It’s the copyright. A lot of people just do it every year. Copyright for 2014, we’re almost in 2015. It’s time to change it, so be a very quick fix. But again, not a bad idea to keep it updated.

RP: Question. Is there… ‘Cause I see these, where they’re old all the time, and I think for most small business owners, “Eh, it’s the copyright, who cares.” Is there not a little piece of code we can put in there that says, “Check and see what date it is,” and if it’s 2014 put 2014 and if it’s 2015 put 2015?

VD: Yes. Yeah. You’re programmer can absolutely do that. It’s a little script. It’s very simple. Now again, with new browsers, it’s a labyrinth kind of script that maybe won’t work in a few years. So you just have to keep it. But if it’s in place just make sure it’s working and on January 1, it did switch to 2015.

VD: So I have three more items. Number seven is the actual copyrighting of your content, copyrighting of your website. Make sure the content is up to date and you have not had drastic changes and maybe you have a team of 12 but six of them have replaced, and Suzy Sue is still mentioned as the office manager, but she’s long gone. Not a bad time, December, to check those pages, update them. Something for pricing. So that actually goes with that step seven, is check then, if you have pricing for 2014 then it’s time for you to show what you’re going to be charging in 2015. There’s nothing worse if you say, “Oh, special deal for 2012.” Okay, it’s been two years, so it tells people not only you’re not paying much attention to your website, you’re not very professional, and what does it say about your pricing structure.

RP: Right. On the same thing that I see that’s not… It’s date related, not price related or special related is, speaking engagements or special events or you could even get into galleries, blog posts, the last time they ever put something up was two years ago. Okay, dead site, move on. Next. I’m not even going to waste my time, because if you don’t care enough about your brand to update it, then I don’t know what kind of business you run, so I’m going to move on. Anyhow.

VD: No.

RP: I’m going to step off of my little pylon there and what’s step number eight, ’cause we’re… We’ve got three minutes left.

VD: So eight was about pricing. Again, update your pricing, which is slightly different than copyrighting. Number nine is to check your social media icons on your website. So if you’re linking to platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, make sure the URL is still accurate. It’s not uncommon for people to change their Twitter account, for instance, to something more elaborate, but forget to change it on their website. If you have share-ability function for those social media accounts, make sure they’re still functioning. Again, it has to do with the new versions of browsers. So that’s number nine.

RP: You know where I can really see that is where people… You started out with LinkedIn or Twitter, you started out with a personal account and then, I don’t know how long ago now, it’s been a couple years, they add the business and so it created a business account. You may want to link to your business account, versus keeping that old link to your personal account.

VD: Yes. So that’s what type of change I’m referring to. People forget to update their websites. They remember their email, maybe their email signature, but not the site itself.

RP: Right.

VD: The last item, truly, it’s a good time of the year to see if it’s time for a new website. I mean, how is the design? Is it up to date? Has it been 10 years? Is it responsive to mobile devices?

RP: Responsive. Yeah.

VD: The whole thing… And just to remember for tax reasons, if you get a website done or paid for in December it’s tax deductible for this year, you don’t have to wait another 12 months to deduct it. So food for thought, we have a lot of larger companies signing up in December, but they’re not quite ready to start. So, we actually have three projects like this, right now, where we’ve got payment for sites, and we’re meeting with them next year.

RP: Oh, that’s awesome.

VD: So, it’s funny. It happened last year, as well. I see that as a trend. But, again, good time to review your website. Your website is your store-front when you’re sleeping. It’s 24/7, doesn’t get sick, but you do have to check it from time to time.

RP: Alright. Perfect. Big question for you, is this Top 10 list that you have… Can you put that on a PDF or something and host it on your site, and then we’ll share the link on this?

VD: Absolutely. I’ll do that today, and I’ll email you the URL.

RP: Okay. Perfect. When I get that, I’ll go ahead and post that on the YouTube channel, so people can upload it, and we’ll throw it in, I think, Google Plus, all those good places. We’ll make sure you have the link. So it’s the end of the year, typically this is the time people start spending more time thinking about their business, and so this Top 10 checklist that we just went through is a great idea. Fortunately, for me, I’m in the process of rebranding my website, so I’m going to be going through all 10 steps, simply because it’s part of the branding process of building a new website. So, Virginie, I hope you stay dry. I hope the kids stay out of trouble today, and, maybe, you can put them to work since they’re not in school.

VD: Yes. They actually… One of them is helping me with a website project, actually.

RP: Alright, very good. Very good. We got… You know, you’ve got to have somebody to pass the business on. That’s that whole legacy thing.

VD: Oh yeah, absolutely interested. They’re both geeks, so works out. It’s in the blood.

RP: Alright, very good. As always, Virginie, it’s a pleasure and I hope you stay dry today.

VD: You too. Bye-bye.

RP: Bye.


About the Author:

Ryan Perry is the founder and CEO of Simple Biz Support, Inc. Ryan started video blogging in 2009 as an alternative to written blogs to create visibility and credibility online. During the workweek, he enjoys helping small business owners harness the power of video to grow their companies. On the weekends, he enjoys hiking and searching out waterfalls throughout the state of California.

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