6 Things Everybody Ought to Know About Maintaining and Optimising Websites
- 21 November 2011 by Dean 5 Comments
Increase traffic to your site, and keep those visitors happy by maintaing your website.
After you have built a website and gone through the process of launching the website, don’t let all that hard work go to waste by thinking you can simply set-and-forget. If you want your website to be successful and receive the traffic numbers it deserves then make sure you maintain your website.
Here are 6 tips to guide you in maintaining a website. The tips are organised in order of importance.
1. Regular backups
Anything can happen to your website once it’s alive. It could be your website hosting, your website visitors or it could be you, any way you look at it there is a risk of losing your website and its data.
The majority of website hosting packages will include a hosting control panel. I have Control Panel X. Using the hosting control panel, backup your website regularly.
I set a calendar reminder in iCal to do a monthly full website backup. The backup is created in a compressed file and stored on the server. When the backup is finished, an email is sent to me, I then jump on my FTP (or login to the hosting control panel to access the file manager) and download the backup file. The backup file can then be deleted from your server.
Backups can be restored from the hosting control panel, so if anything happens to your website you can easily recover anything you’ve lost.
2. Site maintenance
After testing your website, you probably have a list of things to fix or improve. Work through this list at a steady pace to a point where you are happy with your website and it is working well.
Revisit your website often and test out various parts. Keep an eye on technology and internet news for anything that could impact your website.
For example, when Google+ came along (shameless plug: check out my awesome Google+ Page for You Make The Website), so did a new button you can add to your site for users to recommend and share your site. Facebook has had a few different iterations of the “Like” button and it changes from time to time.
WordPress regularly updates its software, so make sure you keep your version up to date. This is automated from within the WordPress admin. Before updating versions, backup your website. With new versions of WordPress, new features are sometimes released, so read up on what these are and how they could benefit your site.
3. Ongoing link building
Building the number of quality links to your website is one of the most important things to do in order to increase traffic to your website.
As described in the launch a website article, you can easily get links from your own social profiles as well as website directories and local business directories. Beyond these, you need to get creative, but there are several popular options such as guest blogging and finding “dofollow” blogs.
To find out if the website you want to get a link from is quality or not, check the page rank. If your website is new it will have a page rank of 0. Page rank is one of Google’s key ranking features and helps you rank highly in search results. If you can get links from websites with a page rank of 3+, in time, you’ll improve your own page rank drastically.
Link building is a hot topic in SEO, so I won’t go too much into the details. My advice if you have a medium-to-long term (6 – 18 month) goal of big increases in your website traffic: set aside at least 2 hours every week to focus on link building. Spend some of that time educating yourself on the topic and the rest/most of the time putting your learning into action and building those links.
Google and other search engines value new, fresh, quality content. It also adds additional entry points for visitors. No matter who you are, you are an expert on something.
My advice if you want to blog: keep it regular, at least every month. If you’re short on time, restrict yourself to 1 hour and write a blog post every month.
If you want to get started or improve your blogging, here are some good articles:
- Tips for blogging success from an expert writer
- How to use WordPress tags
- How to use WordPress categories
- SEO and article writing tips
5. Ongoing onsite SEO improvements
There are many aspects to Search Engine Optimisation and the main part you have control over is your own website. While you should always be aware of appropriate keyword targeting, here are some slightly more technical things you can do to improve your website’s SEO:
- Page structure: well structured content using canonical URLs, title, description, heading and image ALT tags appropriately.
- Nofollow and noindex: careful consideration of what links to add nofollow to and what pages to noindex.
- Read up on SEO and SEO news: there are many great resources and as Google evolves, many changes to the search environment. A few good blogs to frequent are SEOmoz and Daily SEO Tips.
6. Optimising from analytics
Google Webmaster Tools is a crucial part of my ongoing site optimisation. It has many features which include finding errors with your site. Most frequently I use the search queries section to increase traffic to my site.
Here’s the tip: login to Google Webmaster tools and take a look at the search queries section. Look at the data to find keywords which are really relevant to your site, and for which your site is ranking highly (i.e. in the top 100). Find which page of your site this search query links to. Then list out some idea for optimising that page.
Things you can do to increase your ranking for certain pages involve everything under the Ongoing onsite improvements section above, as well as building links to that specific page. For each of my sites there are about 3 – 5 keywords I focus on, and over time I’m seeing traffic increase to those pages.
Make a website from start-to-finish
This is the final post in the make a website from start to finish series.