Year End Website Checklist – Get Ready For 2016

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Good morning internet fans. It’s Ryan Perry, Simple Biz Support. Today is Thursday, December 17th. 2015 is coming to an end. It is Internet Marketing Thursday, therefore, I do have Virginie Dorn with Business Website Center. Good morning, Virginie.

Virginie Dorn: Good morning. Yes, indeed, almost 2016. I love rounded numbers, so very good.

RP: Almost 2016, and this is going to be our final episode of the year. You’re off to Hawaii, I’m off to LA, going to spend some time with family, and so we’re going to take a last two weeks of this year off but we will start out strong the first week of January with a new episode in 2016. So, looking forward to that. Today, it makes sense, we’re coming up on the end of the year of 2015, and one of the things that a lot of people don’t think about when they build a website is that things happen, things get out of date, things break and it just needs to be checked on every now and then, and that’s essentially what we’re going to talk about today.

VD: Yes. My favorite subject, checklist. I have checklists for everything as my employees, as my clients. I always have checklists. So today we’re actually going to address three types of checklists. One is only three bullet points. It’s about online checklist, checking your reputation, your ranking. The other one is primarily about your website, which is crucial to do. You should do every three months but this is a year end checklist, and one about maybe your branding online, how you represent yourself, so…

RP: Okay, perfect. And just in case, because this is really an extensive checklist, in case we do not get all the way through it, there is a link (click here) down below the video for those that want to click and actually see the checklist.

VD: Yes.

RP: Let’s go ahead and kind of blow through this. Let’s start… Well, you’ve got your online list as number one.

VD: Yes, indeed. So three points. First and foremost, Google search your company name. At the very least you should be on page one of Google and major search engines for your company name. And when you do your search make sure you do it in what we call it a clean way. So I recommend to use Chrome but use the incognito mode of Chrome, and what it does, it gives you true clean results, you’re not influenced by the searches you’ve done in the past and it will show you if ABC company is on page one or not. If you’re not, mark your calendar to have a conversation with your online marketer in 2016. So again, it’s all about marking your calendars for any defects or things you’re going to find doing those checklists. So that’s number one. Your company name, you should be on page one, at the top.

RP: Yeah, and just to clarify we are talking about your company name so business website center, do a Google search for that. Simple Biz Support, do a Google search for that. I actually had a conversation with somebody like maybe two days ago, who is IT and his company shows up when he types in his company name, it’s some company in Arizona, he’s like, “Why is that happening?” And he’s local, he’s doing a local search locally and it’s some company in Arizona. It doesn’t happen often but the last thing you want to do is have people type in and cannot find you. That’s like worst, worst case scenario.

VD: Yes. Another worst case scenario is, if you Google your own name, your full first and last name and see what happens. Again, do a clean search, use Google incognito and if you see any bad reviews, things that actually are attached to your name but they’re not about you, you need to address them. Again, this is not the day to do it, it’s the day for you to realize there’s an issue, mark your calendar to, again, talk to your webmaster or an online marketer to address that issue. So that’s called online reputation. Crucial, crucial when perspective buyers are looking to your… Doing service or business with your company and they search your name and they find those type of things. So, search your first and last name together, by the way.

[chuckle] And finally, for the online checklist is check for the two top keywords of keyword combinations that work well for your business type and your type of target audience. And if you don’t rank well at all, again, mark your calendar to have that conversation the first week of January.

VD: So let me see. So, this is just very easy. This is more about online placement and reputation. Now, we’re going to move on to your website checklist, which is very important because as Ryan mentioned earlier it changes, links break, form stop working out so it’s very easy to understand checklist. You just have to do the work. So for all those checks, I say one to two hours, if you’ll do it all in one day, don’t just do a little bit everyday, otherwise you’ll never get finished. First and foremost, check all your links. Not just the internal links on your navigation bar at the top of your website, but check the internal links within the text of each page. Check the external links which are the links to maybe a vendor that goes outside of your website. Most likely, those are the ones that are going to be broken because you might link to a vendor ABC, to a specific page on their site, but maybe they renamed that page or you would need to edit your hyperlink accordingly, otherwise the link is going to be broken. Now, you get penalty from Google for having broken links so that’s important to address as soon as possible.

RP: Right. And I’m having an issue with echo. I’m going to type into the chat bar an online link checker, it’s called Broken Link Check and it’s a simple way, you just drop in your URL and it’ll actually go through and check your website for internal broken links and external broken links.

VD: That’s perfect.

RP: And just so people know, this is just one way of doing it. If you have WordPress, you might have a plugin that’s installed that automatically does it.

VD: So that’s great, it’s very quick. But if you link to all the vendors, just make sure even though the link might not be broken, the content of the page you direct to might have changed, and that’s no longer relevant to your linking to them. I love the automation, and I tell all my clients, I give them all the sources you have as well, but at the end of the day, a human being does a better work than a crawler. So if you have the time just spend the time. So now that you have tested the links, you have to test your forms. And I’m not just talking about your contact form making sure it’s working properly, the require fields are being required and it’s being sent to the right person within your company and it’s not being sent to someone who no longer works there, but also in your newsletter sign up, your membership sign up, your purchasing process, so payment processing for your shopping cart. Test all those forms, because again things change especially with different browsers, and now we have Edge from Microsoft. Check all of them and if you notice anything that is not quite right, again, go back to your webmaster after the first of the year and have them fix it.

RP: Yeah. And just with forms, the other thing that changes is software changes. So if you’re linked to constant contact or you can’t think of any other ones that are out there, their programming changes, and what you currently have installed may not work with what the new programming is, and so something could break. I had a client a couple weeks ago who out of the blue received a test e-mail from their newsletter sign up and he’s like, “I sent that six, seven, eight months ago,” it was a long time, [chuckle] forgot about it, and all of a sudden it popped up, literally months later. So those problems are out there and if people are out searching and want to do business with you and you’re not responding, not only are you losing out on business, but it creates a poor reputation on your end also.

VD: Absolutely. Now, the third item is do you want to open your website under the major browser types? So a browser would be Microsoft Edge, so forget about Internet Explorer. That’s no longer a viable option. We have Firefox Mozilla, Chrome and Safari. Open your website on those four top browsers. Don’t worry about the other ones. Make sure your website looks fine. It will look different because they render things differently, but it does have to look nice nonetheless. So if you see that it maybe looks a little funky on Safari, again, take a note, put it into your list of things to address in January.

RP: Alright. And then the other thing you can do is check your Google Analytics and see how many people are actually using those different browsers, also.

VD: Yes. Oh, I love Google Analytics. Anyway… Now, you checked on browsers, you want to check on mobile devices. Now you can’t just buy every smartphones out there and tablets, but check on the most popular one. If you have an iPad, iPhone, Samsung tablets, check your website on this. Even though your website is already responsive, it might meet all Google’s requirement, maybe there are some new items you have added through out the year that we’re not checked on a smartphone. So maybe you added a new slideshow. It looks great on a desktop, great on a tablet, but was never checked on a smaller object like a phone.

RP: Right. The other thing you’ll want to check while you’re going through is check your blog. I have a client, we’re trying to figure out what’s going on, but with the blog image is too large, it totally messes up the entire formatting of that page. The menu gets scrambled. It does a lot of weird things so I’m trying to work with their webmaster to get it fixed, and it was one of those things… I was in there doing some work and that’s when I noticed it. So, again, you just never really know when these different problems are going to pop up throughout your page.

VD: Oh yes. If you don’t check, you don’t know. [chuckle] So another thing to keep in mind is grammar. I know my English sounds a bit broken, but I love proper grammar and spelling on website, and again, there’s lots of free resources out there. You can put your website into special programs that will tell you if there is any spelling errors. It won’t quite tell you if there’s a grammatical error, because a word might be spelled right, it’s just not the right word for that sentence. So, in my business, whenever I hire a new employee, I make them read our website, [chuckle] so they get to really become familiar with our tone of voice, the way we present ourself, our services and products, but also a part of our deal is if you see any spelling or grammatical errors, you have to report it back to me. So that’s part of our requirement and I don’t understand why it should not be for every company out there. Have your employee read your website?


RP: There you go. Can you imagine getting a new job at Ford and they’re like, “Alright, go through every single page.”

VD: Well, every Ford dealership has their own websites. So…

RP: That is true. That is true.

VD: But it just helps, and we still find little things here and there that we have missed, and we have a lot of web pages. Now the final thing to check on your website has to do a bit with the forms, but primarily about functionality overall, and that is more for e-commerce website where they have search functionality for products or membership website where people become member and then they get access to services or online webinars. I know you have something going on as well, just to make sure all those type of weird, odd functionalities are working properly, and working properly on all browsers and on all mobile devices. Not just on your desktop in your office. It is a lot of work. But, again it is not brain surgery. It is not too complicated. It just require you to stop everything you’re doing for a couple of hours and go through all those checklists.

RP: Right. And if you’ve been thinking about hiring an intern, maybe, this is the best time to do it. So just have them check your website for you.

VD: Oh yeah, give them the list. Now, we can wrap it up with a couple of more items you can do that are digital related. One is to do your email signature which we discussed not so long ago. Make sure it looks right and again spelling is right, the contact information is right, and it’s in line with your newest branding and color scheme. Just take a moment, look at your email signatures. Send it to yourself. See how people look at it when they receive it, and the final thing is I think everybody should have a branding plan. So it’s similar to a business plan but it talks about your brand in general, and in this you should cover the type of font you use, your color scheme, your logo, the variations of logo that are allowed. Think of yourself as Starbucks. I don’t care if it’s just you and two employees, or you and 2,000 employees, you should having a branding plan.

VD: It should not be to complicated, and even we’ll talk about the tone of voice. So in our company, we’re more formal than none typically because we work with large corporations. So, everything is addressed. Make everybody read it so they ask me if they have any questions. There’s a way we communicate with people in email. So as, “Hello Sir… ” But again, think of it. I don’t care if you’re small mom and pop located in Cotati, California. Just have a branding plan even if it’s just one page. It will help you keep your eye on the ball and present yourself professionally each and every time.

RP: Right. That was one of the great things when the Internet came out was that it really leveled the playing field. So mentally you don’t want to think of yourself as a small company because you can position yourself much higher as far as the impression that you leave on people on the web.

VD: Yes, we have some clients that are just by themselves and making a few millions just with their website. That’s just them.

RP: Right. And that’s… If you’re going to be a solo entrepreneur that’s the way to do it as fas as I’m concerned. You don’t have the payroll over it, you don’t have the business office overhead. All the other headaches that come with it, and I believe that was the last one, correct?

VD: That is correct. A lot of points to cover. But again they are not too complicated. Just take the time to do them.

RP: Yeah. And that’s really what it boils down to is just go through. Ultimately, it’s about protecting your brand, your image. I love the fact. I can’t tell you the last time I Googled my name but I’ll definitely do that again. Fortunately, for me there’s a major league baseball player named Ryan Perry. So if you Google Ryan Perry, you get him and anything that I may have done is like pushed way down. So I’m okay.

RP: With that though, that closes out 2015 for our Internet Marketing Thursday episode. We’re looking forward to seeing everybody in 2016. Virginie, I really appreciate the time and energy and thought that you put into the show. It’s been over a year now, I can’t remember when exactly we started. But it was back in 2014, I believe.

VD: Yeah, I think a year and a half. It’s been a fantastic year, and thank you for the opportunity in organizing the webinar every week. It’s been great for my business and my clients because now when they have questions I just give them a direct link to that webinar and address that subject matter. So, it’s been very convenient for me.

RP: Alright. Very cool. Well, have fun with your family. Enjoy the time off in Hawaii and everybody out there, thank you much following us and checking out our episodes every week, and we’ll see you in 2016. Take care.


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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