So, you’ve set up a website and various social media accounts to promote your business. You’ve spent time working on the perfect content for each page on your website. You’ve also been planning, curating, crafting and posting information frequently on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and wherever else your business is active. So you’ve got your business’s online presence sorted, right?
The good news is that the hard part is done. Setting up your website, writing the initial content and keeping consistent in your social media strategy is definitely time-consuming and difficult. But it’s also important to periodically go back and check your website and social media accounts to ensure that they are still being used to their best of their ability. Reviewing is a task that is often overlooked but essential to having a successful online presence.
This is why we recommend setting aside time at least once a year to conduct a “digital audit”. It gives you time to take stock and ask yourself the following questions:
- Where is my business actively listed online?
- What information is accessible to the public about my business? Is this information up to date and relevant?
- How has my business performed online over the past year?
- What do I want to achieve online over the next year?
At Bizboost, we love to do this in January as it means we start the year off on a good foot. We know that the first few weeks of the New Year can be busy (especially if your business has closed down for a well-deserved break), so we’ve broken down the digital audit into three bite-sized steps. They don’t have to be performed in one sitting but can be spread over a week or even a month.
Those steps are:
- Analyse and tweak your website
- Analyse and tweak your information pages and feature images on social media
- Measure and assess your success over the past year
Step 1: Check your Website
It’s always good to go through each page of your website periodically to check that all the information it contains is up to date and relevant.
Important things to check include:
- Online Calendars: If you have an online calendar on your website, have a quick check of it to make sure it’s up to date. Are there any past events that should be removed? Are there any upcoming events that you’ve forgotten to check? Are the details up to date of each event up to date?
- Annual Event Dates: Even if you don’t have an interactive calendar on your website, you might still have a page on your website with information relating to a sale or promotional event you hold once a year. Livestock farmers who attend an annual show or on-property sale are a prime example of this. Often you know several months (or even a year) in advance what day your sale will be held on, so update your website with this information as soon as possible.
- Latest News: When did you last update your latest news page? Is there any information on there that is no longer relevant? Do you have any other news that should be shared with your customers or clients?
- Footer: This is a section of a website that is often overlooked when updating your key business information (even we’ve done it!). Many people like to keep their contact details in the footer of the website to make it easy for visitors to get in touch. But quite often, updates are only made to the “Contact Us” page and not to the information in the footer.
- Broken Links: Have a quick check of your website to ensure that there aren’t any broken links. By this, I mean a link to another web page (whether on your own website or a third party) that no longer goes where it should. Don’t panic, there is a very quick way of doing this (see below).
A broken link can occur where the url you’ve linked to is incorrect. It may have even been incorrect when you first created the website. Or it may be that the page has been moved, changed or deleted. Instead of taking the visitor to where you intended, it will load an “error 404” page.
Rather than going through one page at a time and checking each link that appears, there are many free websites that will crawl each page for you. It then generates a report that lets you know whether any links are currently going to a 404 error page and where to find them on your website. An example of an online checker includes http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com/.
A Quick Word on SEO:
Did you know that Google notices when you update your website? A static website without any update of any kind can be viewed by search engines such as Google as being a ‘dead’ entity, with nothing new to offer searches. However, fresh updates tell Google that the website is being maintained and the information in it is likely to be relevant and up to date for the person that is searching.
There’s no point tweaking content every couple of days just for this reason. However, if you have any new photos or information to add to your website, do so as soon as possible.
Step 2: Check your Social Media and Google Business Page
Apart from your website, where else can your business be found online? This might include a Google Business Page, if you have one. It also includes your social media accounts such as Facebook, Google +, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope… the list goes on. Don’t neglect any social media accounts that you started on a whim years ago and haven’t posted to at all. If they’re still live, then there’s a chance they might be found by potential customers or clients.
Now is a good time to go over all these accounts to make sure they’re still relevant and up to date. Things to check include:
- Contact details: It’s common for businesses to make changes to their “Contact Us” page on their website, but forget about the contact detail on their social media accounts.
- Link from your website: Social media is a good way to engage with your current or potential clients. So it’s great to encourage those that visit your website to also visit your page on Facebook, Twitter or whatever it is you use. Check that all your social media accounts are accessible from your website. This could be as simple as linking to the pages in the text of your homepage. However, using recognisable icons in your header or even a Facebook fed can be eye-catching way of drawing people’s attention.
- Branding: Your branding should be easily recognisable and consistent across all your social media platforms and Google Business Page. Do you have the same profile picture of each (or at least very similar)? Can a new visitor easily recognise that it’s you from your profile or cover picture? Do the background, header and profile pictures convey the right message to visitors to the site?
Step 3: Assess Your Performance and Set Goals
It’s a good idea to measure and record some basic statistics about how your website and social media accounts have performed over a certain time period so you can compare it to future performance. If you’ve done this in the past, this is where you would whip out these facts and figures to compare to current performance.
If you haven’t recorded any data in the past, now is a great time to start! Jotting down some key figures will help you set goals for the next year and compare your results when you do your next digital audit.
How you go about analysing the performance of your business online will depend on what type of website and social media you use.
Depending on when your website was built, Bizboost clients will likely be using either Webalizer or Google Analytics to check their performance online. If you’re not yet sure how to access and read these statistics, contact us for more information.
Key things to check include:
- How many people are coming to your website?
- Which of your pages/blog posts have been most popular?
- What brings them to your website? It might be social media, organic search (such as Facebook), a referral from another website or direct visitors (who type your URL into their browser).
- What pages have a high exit rate? In this context, “exit” refers to the page where they leave your website. Some pages will have a naturally high rate (such as your contact page or an order receipt page).
Different social media platforms provide different ways of tracking the success of a business page.
For example, if you have a Facebook account for your business, you can use Facebook insights to track what posts have been most popular and how many people have engaged with your business recently. If you have a Twitter account for your business, then you can use Twitter Analytics to see how your tweets have been performing.
Key things to check and record here include:
- How many people have ‘liked’ or are following your page?
- How frequently do people view your page?
- What have been your most popular posts/tweets over the past year? What has gotten the most engagement from your followers?
- What are the demographics of your followers (gender, location and language spoken)
For more information on how to access your Facebook Insights and what to look for, see our article.
This section is for anyone who uses an email marketing service (such as Mailchimp, Vertical Response and AWeber) to keep in touch with their clients. Many of these services provide data about how many people open, read and click through.
Once you have a basic idea of how you’re business has performed over the past year, you can start to think about how you would like these statistics to look in 12 months. The New Year is a great time to start setting some goals and making a plan on how you’re going to achieve them.
Just make sure that the goals you set are in line with the overall goals for your business. For example, there is no point aiming to achieve more visitors to your website, if those visitors are not going to translate into sales. Perhaps instead, aim to increase the number of visitors to a particular page (for example, a sales page or contact us page) on your website.
So, that’s a few key things we recommend doing when checking over your online presence. If you have anything else that you would add to your digital audit checklist, leave us a comment below to let us know!