As with any business enterprise, evaluating the current state of affairs is necessary in order to improve. Your Web site is no exception.

Give your Web site a quick check-up with this list of the top ten items most often overlooked during Web site maintenance.

1. Bookmark your Web site – re-open your browser. Does an icon other than the Internet Explorer “E” show up in the bookmarks? Do you ever wonder how some of those other icons who up? It isn’t difficult to get your own custom icon that downloads when a user bookmarks your Web site. Stand out in the crowd and create a “favicon.ico” and upload it to the root level of your server.

2. Type in your Web site address without the www. If you get an error or server message, contact your hosting company. Many users will attempt to directly navigate to your Web site without the w’s. A small tweak to the servers will make it work correctly.

3. Have a relative or Web-challenged friend look at your Homepage. Do they know what you do in less than two seconds? The main focus of your Homepage should be to reinforce what you provide and how it benefits customers.

GotomyPC.com is a great example. Their tagline is “Access your PC from anywhere.” No question about it. In two seconds, visitors should know this is the site they need. Is your message as clear?

4. Ask that same relative (or that same Web-challenged friend) to purchase a product from your Web site. If you are a B2B site that relies on lead generation, ask them to find a page or information that matches the needs of your product. Watch how easily (or not) they can find the contact page or the contact form.

Called “the Mom test,” it can be an eye-opening method of determining how easy or how difficult users will find the conversion process on your site. Simple tests of “how does the Homepage look” will not suffice. Users are looking for specific information, and you need to make sure your testing reflects their purpose.

5. PDF’s. Do you use them on your site? If you do, be sure to evaluate three important factors;

  • Do you provide a link to download Acrobat Reader?
  • Do you denote your links as PDF’s and show the user the file size?
  • Do you provide links back to your Web site from the PDF?

Denoting your PDF links will help visitors, as nothing can infuriate a user more than clicking a link they assume will take them to another page, and having to wait while Adobe loads into the browser. Let your users know that the link is to a PDF and the file size of that document. They’ll appreciate it.

6. Search for your company name on the search engines. Google, Yahoo and MSN make up the majority of the search engine market. Type in your company name and see how you rank. If you are really daring, try a few of your competitive product names (not branded items) this will give you an indication of your online visibility to potential customers. If you can be found for your company and your customers can find you for what they need, then you are doing well. If you get to the seventh page of results and you are not found, then it is time to seriously consider search engine optimization.

7. Look at your menu links. Are they descriptive? By that, realize that no one searches for the word “products” or “services.” What are your products or services, and how do they benefit your user? Your menu links should be reflective of the actual selection or benefits you offer. This can also assist your search engine rankings by using descriptive keywords in your navigation.

A good example of this is CNet.com, a technology review web site. The links are very descriptive of the content and very well written as well. The navigation on the side is also broken out into descriptive review categories.

8. What is your measurement of success? The bottom line measurement is the conversion rate – the number of visitors that take the intended action (sales or leads). Your conversion rate is determined by the number of conversions divided by the number of unique visitors.

The average Web site conversion rate is 1.8 percent. That doesn’t mean that less than 2 percent is good, but only that it is an average rate. Two out of one hundred visitors will make a conversion on your Web site. Of course, increasing your conversion rate will significantly improve your sales.

9. Test your forms. If your site effectively persuades visitors to take action, but the contact forms or the shopping cart produce errors, visitors will make a quick exit. Frequently test your Web site’s forms and shopping cart to make sure you are proactive in finding any problems.

If you are feeling adventurous, try to break your shopping cart. Type in the wrong zip code in a shipping address, skip required fields, and generally make a lot of mistakes. How does your cart respond? Your customers see the same thing.

10. Type in “site:yoursite.com” into Google and “site:yoursite.com” into Yahoo. The results should be the pages indexed by the search engine from your Web site. There are a couple of things to do at this point.

  • Are your page titles descriptive of the content on that page? Avoid redundant or repetitive page titles.
  • How many (or how little) pages are in each search engine? If only two to three pages are shown and you have a large Web site, then it’s likely something is blocking the search engines.

These steps might provide as many questions as answers. Tuning up your site might help you to uncover little things that may be hindering your site’s performance. A Web site is most successful when site owners take the time to make constant improvements and respond to their visitors.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
April 7, 2005





Matt Bailey is the founder of SiteLogic, a web marketing consulting company. He leads seminars and teaches companies how to use their sites more effectively and to build a web business by applying common sense sales and marketing techniques. He is a specialist in interpreting web site statistics into practical usability.

Matt has been in the search marketing industry for ten years, and started leading classes in the late 1990's. One of his first opportunities was as a regular speaker for the Ohio Innkeeper's Association, teaching practical web site marketing techniques. Since that time he has worked with hundreds of companies, instructing them in web marketing principles.

Matt takes a very holistic view of website marketing, including accessibility, which has become a passion and a crusade. His goal with The Web Site Accessibility Blog is to teach companies that they can easy apply search marketing and accessibility techniques to their web sites.








Search Engine Guide > Matt Bailey > Web Site Check-Up in 10 Easy Steps