The holidays are over, the New Year is here and website traffic is inevitably down; sound familiar? In both personal life and professional, we are all guilty of making massive plans and resolutions for the New Year…and let’s be honest, most end by 15th January. (Although I’m really hoping that paying for a gym membership is just as productive as actually going!) So maybe we need to take a different approach and take it one step at a time.
1) Audit Your Site (Functionality)
Rather than diving straight into your awesome New Year idea that you’re sure will catapult your site to the top of Google; first take a step back and take the time to review each page of your site. Take time to click through your site as a user and see what you really think. Some quick things to check:
- Are your forms working?
- Are your Meta tags showing up properly on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and are they up to date?
- Is your internal linking working & is it updated post-panda/penguin?
- Are all of your header tags in place?
- Do you have any holiday links that need to be 301 re-directed or deleted all together?
2) Audit Your Content
Often content gets written when a site is launched and is never revisited again. Google (and those other search engines) want to see fresh content on your site. They want to see that you didn’t just throw up some pages and then leave them and hope for the best.
- Do you have anything left over on your site regarding the holidays?
- Are there any pages on your site that could be elaborated on or separated into sub-pages?
- Is your content easy to read and understand from a user perspective?
3) Audit Your Images & Graphics
Images can quite literally make or break the performance of your website. While I know that you may have some images on there that are near and dear to your heart, ask for an outsiders opinion. Often I have to wrestle a favourite image from a client but it’s for their own good…I promise!
- When was your site built? If the image is more than 5 or 6 years old, it’s probably time to let it go.
- When was the last time you gave your graphics a face-lift?
- Do you have keyword enriched image-alt tags in place?
4) Update That Blog & Keep It Coming!
I can hear you mumbling from way over here but it’s a necessary evil for every successful website these days. Not only does it keep the content on your site fresh, but it is establishing you as an industry expert in your field. It doesn’t have to be a press release-worthy article but it needs to be relevant, informative and useful. To come up with a blog subject, it’s probably easier than you realise. While some things may seem common sense to you, they aren’t to other people and that’s why they’re coming to you. That or you have a product that people want, so show them why yours is the best. Below are a few easy questions to ask yourself to get the blog ideas rolling:
- What are common questions that your customers ask?
- What’s a hot button topic in your industry that people are talking about?
- What’s going on in your community and what does that have to do with you?
- Is there anything fresh and exciting happening in your company?
- Any new products, locations, or expansions?
- Have you reviewed your Google Analytics to see what keywords are driving traffic to your site?
5) Guest Blogging, Reach Out!
I won’t beat a dead horse by telling you the importance of guest blogging, besides that’s a whole other article by itself. 2013 is undoubtedly the year for guest blogging and you won’t be alone in trying to acquire a coveted guest blogging spot. Kissmetrics writes a brilliant article called The Ultimate Guide For Guest Blogging, I’d recommend starting there.
6) Get Social
In case you haven’t heard…social media is where it’s at! If you’re still dragging your feet or have no idea what to do with it; find out and start doing it. In 2011 we saw how much influence Google put on having on-site relevant content. In 2012, the now infamous, Penguin showed us the necessity for relevant content bringing inbound links. And now in 2013 we have to be relevant and informative everywhere…and yes that includes social media. It’s not only about being relevant…it’s about other people thinking you’re relevant.
7) Get Active In Your Community
I recently watched a great webinar by SEOmoz and in it, Rand Fishkin makes an interesting point: We are all so busy focusing obsessively on our on-line presence, are we remembering to focus on our off-line customer experience as well? Here are some of the suggestions from the SEO Webinar:
- Can you get involved with a local charity?
- Can you help sponsor a local event?
- Can you have a customer appreciation day?
- Don’t forget to ask your off-line customers to visit you online. (Use common sense here and don’t pester people!)
8) Contest For Your Customers or Employees
Who doesn’t love a good contest where you can win something free? This is one of the best ways to kick-start your social media and its fun. You can easily use apps like Wildfire to run your contest and be confident in its success. Not only does it bring in new customers, but it can be a fresh way to encourage your employees to get involved.
9) Realistically Understand Your Traffic Flow
While we are all tempted to panic when traffic-flow changes, there are often realistic explanations to keep in mind when analysing your Google Analytics. These things are often explanations for both a spike in traffic, as well as a decline. Some mean that you should adjust your tactic and others are simply…explanations, nothing more.
- Are you an e-commerce company or a vacation spot where it’s normal to see a spike in traffic & conversions for certain months?
- Have recent changes been made to the site that would affect traffic?
- Have you changed your link building technique?
- If traffic is down, how is the quality of conversions? Often when a new SEO approach is implemented; traffic may go down but you are now seeing quality traffic over sheer quantity.
- Is this a seasonal trend? Make sure to compare year to year, rather than just month to month.
10) Fresh Link Building Ideas
This one may seem obvious but I had to add it in here. Often we are all guilty of hammering away with the same plan and eventually it’s going to stop working. Link building is still the backbone of SEO but the way we acquire inbound links changes all the time. Maybe it’s time to bring in a fresh pair of eyes and a fresh take on your 2013 link building strategy. With all the algorithm changes in 2012, it is more important than ever to ensure that your inbound links are quality.
11) Make Goal Markers For The Year
Rather than trying all these new ideas at once and expecting a massive increase within 30 days, maybe sit down and make realistic goals month by month. Make goals, not only for sales and traffic increases, but goals for completing each of these new/fresh tasks.
12) Be Active For 2014 Starting Now!
Don’t wait for January 2014 to come around before making new goals and resolutions, start your plan now. While there is a fresh and energetic feeling that takes over all of us at the start of a New Year, it is usually short lived and by February…it’s just another month. So start now and decide where you want to be for this Holiday season and see the kind of difference January 2013 and January 2014 will have.
(Oh and also don’t buy a gym membership until the first day you actually go to the Gym!)
Happy blogging everyone!