At this time of year, over-indulgence in the holiday season can often lead to a nagging feeling of needing to take things a little easier in January. People might start diets, new exercise regimes or do that largely debunked exercise of body detox.
Detox for the body often involves eating very simple food or fasting to allow time for the body to supposedly eliminate toxins. We won’t link to any examples because most of us with functioning livers and kidneys are already detoxing as we write. A bit of quality exercise, laying off the rich food and cutting down on alcohol would probably have the same effect and be much cheaper.
There is however a strong case for reviewing your digital presence and spending some time ‘detoxing’ your website, outbound communication and social media.
Detox for websites and digital presence
- Check your website’s speed
Website speed is a ranking signal for search engines and you should make your website downloads and display as quickly as possible. There are various free online tools you can use to check your website speed that also make useful suggestions for improvements.
Google PageSpeed Insights – this is quick and easy to use with excellent feedback and a score out of 100.
Pingdom website test – gives more technical feedback and a score.
GTmetrix – another excellent free service. Gives insight on how well your site loads and provides actionable recommendations on how to optimize it.
These tools not only give you an at a glance speed score, they also give detailed feedback on where your pages might be slowing your down.
Slow websites are caused by the some of the following issues:
- Poor quality web hosting – under powered servers, too many accounts on one server or issues with the setup or connection to the Internet.
- Badly written code – bloated, poorly written code slows down a web page. Minify your CSS and scripts to remove spaces and make them faster.
- Badly optimised images – reduce the file size and still maintain image quality where possible.
There are other potential causes such as old versions of programming languages and other technical issues.
- Test your website’s mobile friendliness in readiness for mobile first indexing
In December 2017, Google announced that it would be changing their algorithm to mobile first indexing which means they would soon prioritise and index the mobile version of a website in preference to the desktop.
…currently our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.
That means that you need to test your website for mobile friendliness. Start with Google’s own tool at https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
As with the page speed tools, you get feedback on how to improve your site.
If you want to test your site further you should try viewing on different makes and versions of iPhones and Android phones.
There’s also an online tool called Screenfly where you can select from different phone types and screen sizes http://quirktools.com/screenfly/
We’re not convinced it is a 100% accurate simulation of different devices but it has proved very useful for testing websites quickly. The best test is to check on different phones and devices. Ask colleagues, friends and family to check for you or borrow their phones.
- Check your website content for grammar, spelling, broken links and messaging
Google is very clear about its desire for better quality content on websites. The so-called Panda update in 2011 is still current and was introduced with the intention of boosting websites with good quality content. They have built into the algorithm a large set of questions that they use to assess ‘quality’ such as credibility, originality and issues like grammar and spelling.
See our previous blog post for the full list How to optimise a single web page to boost rankings
There are online spell checkers for individual pages such as Typosaur – https://typosaur.us/ and whole websites such as Checkdog – http://checkdog.com/ but nothing beats selecting your most important pages and carefully proof-reading the copy for various objectives:
- Grammar and spelling – get help from someone experienced in proof-reading if you don’t feel comfortable doing this.
- Ease of reading – is your content easy to read and does it communicate what you want?
- Can the layout be improved to make it easier to scan and more appealing?
You do need to check internal and external regularly as internal links as both can change. We use the Xenu Link Sleuth to test sites – Download link for Xenu link sleuth
Finally check that your site structure does what you want. Does your website menu have your pages in the best order and are there important pages missing or the links need renaming?
- Check your current search engine rankings for important keywords
Ranking your website for particular keywords is a long term project but do run some basic checks on your brand name and then some important keywords for current rankings.
Make sure your browser is in Incognito / private browsing mode as it will give a more accurate ranking. When you have a search history through a logged in account then Google will boost sites you visit regularly giving a misleading result.
There’s more that can be done but that covers your internal website detox.
Detox your social media and external links
Now that we have looked at your website, the next step is to detox your other public presence: social media and links.
Whichever sites you use, review your profile image, summary and header image. Do they need updating and is the information accurate? The header and profile images can potentially be used for promoting your brand, products or special offers.
Also think about your update strategy. Do you need to update more frequently or change the tone of your updates to better match what your audience wants. Recently we have tried to include at least one image with each Tweet so it stands out more.
After recent high profile gaffes by big companies we have been carefully checking hash tags before using them – bread maker Warburtons recently caused a few sniggers by running a social media campaign fronted by singer Tom Felton using the hash tag #crumpetcreations.
Unfortunately this was already being using by fetishists who take sexual pleasure in dressing up in furry costumes. See Warburton’s crumpet hashtag gaffe
The message is Check, Check, #Check!
Backlinks – quality and relevance
While harder to control, use Google Search Console or various premium and free SEO tools enable you to check what web pages link to your websites (try https://moz.com/researchtools/ose/ or SEO review tools – http://www.seoreviewtools.com/valuable-backlinks-checker/ )
There is an operator ‘link: your domain’ you can enter into Google but this is not recommended by various high profile Google personnel (Google recommends not using the link: operator ) as it only gives a small sample of links that may not be an accurate picture of your link profile.
Once you have a list of URLs, check them critically for whether they are good quality or relevant to your services. If not add the URL to your disavowal file and submit to Google to advise them not to consider that link when evaluating rankings.
We recommend this action is taken by a professional SEO consultant as getting it wrong will damage your rankings.
Email signatures and outbound communication
Check your email signatures for accuracy of information, current links and overall look and feel. Does it work in different devices? Are your social media sites and websites featured? Are the links up date and clickable. Also if you use leaflets, brochures, letters or direct mail, this should include up to date and simple URLs for your website and social media.
This website detox exercise should be repeated regularly but going through it at the start of the year is a good place to start.
We wish all our friends and clients a prosperous and happy 2018!