Table of Contents:

Your business needs to depend on the company websites during times of change. Due to economic circumstances, many companies had to make a lot of changes fast this year. The company website became the primary vehicle to communicate change. Who knows how this year will finish? A few small projects will help your website be ready for quick changes. Will your office be quiet for the next couple of weeks? Take advantage of the quiet and clean-up your website to get ready for the new year.

Part 1: Website Clean-up Behind the Scenes – Files and Software Updates

  1. File Clean-Up
    Take a look at your site files on your web hosting account. Are there files hanging out to clean up? Look for html files from your old site, or old download files like pdfs. Old presentations, images or videos can take up a lot of room. If you are not sure you will need the files, download them to a local backup folder. You can always re-push the files back to your site if you need to. Before you start deleting anything, make sure its not necessary to run your site. To be safe, take a backup of your site before you start.
  2. Backup Setup
    Now is a good time to check on your website backups. Make sure they are running. Make sure they are saving successfully. If you have a large archive of backups, you can get rid of the ones you don’t need. You can download the backups to a local drive to clean them off your server if you want to keep them. Keep one from every major update of your site. Backups are your number defense against website issues.Don’t know where your backups are? Restoring to a backup is a major part of a disaster recovery strategy. Give yourself the task to find out where the backups are running and where the files are saved. Your hosting account should be doing some level of backups. If that is not enough, add more. Most CMS platforms (like WordPress) offer plugins or extensions that help create backups.
  3. Software Updates

    If you have been putting off the software updates on your website, now is a great time to catch up. Skipping backups is a security issue. Make sure you have a good backup and know how to restore to the previous version. Pick a time when you don’t have a promotion running or marketing promotions driving a lot of people to your site. Be aware if you are really far behind, backups can break things on your site. But once you are up-to-date, future backups will run smoothly.

  4. Check Your Renewals and Licenses

    Check your website accounts for renewals. Document your renewal dates. This includes domain registration, website hosting and any plugin licenses. Make sure the credit card info is current so renewals will be successful when they come up.

    For WordPress Owners: Theme licenses are usually purchased when the website is built. Typically, theme licenses are a one-time fee and updates to the theme software are free. We are seeing Themes switching to an annual fee or bi-annual theme. You may have gotten an email if your contact info is on the license. For many, this notice went to the person who built your website. The problem is the theme stopped pushing updates when it notified the owner that they need to renew. You won’t see an update notification in WordPress because you don’t have an active license. When the next WordPress Core update happens, your themes could break. Verify that your Theme is at the current version. Your Theme will show you what version it is on in your Dashboard. Check that against the Theme Developer’s website.

  5. Update your logins

    If you haven’t reset website passwords in awhile, now is a good time. Especially if you have had employee turnover, its a good idea to update the logins. For CMS based sites, review your lists of website users. Make sure they are all people you recognize and delete everyone you don’t.

Part 2: Website Clean-up – Focus on Content

  1. New Content You Will Add in 2024.

    If you are blogging, posting events, launching products or offering downloads, you have this covered. But if you are not in the habit of adding new pages to your website, start. Once per quarter would be fine. Since COVID, many of your customers expect to find more information on your website. What would help business run smoother? Use that as your guide. If the content is useful, Google will reward you.

  2. Updates to Existing Content in 2024.

    What is interesting about what I am seeing is that its not the age of the content that is the problem. But the duration between updates and the timeliness of the subject matter. For example, on our Cybervise site, I have updated many old blog posts. The year was part of the page title and the permalink or URL. The rest of the content was still good. I just needed to make it more “evergreen” and not specific to a time. A good place to start is a Content Inventory. Check out one of our classic blog posts that explain the process.

    One project we did on the Cybervise site this year was to review all the blog posts for grammar and type-os. Since I was the one who wrote them all, I had another pair of eyes do the review. We did find stuff and that helped update content.

    Another easy update is to look at is the Word Count of your existing pages. I am seeing very few pages drop out of Google’s index that are above 800 words. Add more info to your existing pages is an easy SEO fix.

  3. Plan to clean-up and/or remove Content causing problems.

    We have put a lot of emphasis this year on “Content Pruning“. Taking down website content that is low performing and contained outdated content. We used Google Search Console to help guide us through this process. If you have a large site, with a lot of old content, put this on the schedule for next year. There have been many studies proving SEO improvement after Content Pruning takes place.

    A couple of other places to look for pages to clean-up:

    • Old Forms – check out your form plugins and see if you have old forms not currently in use. Backup the old submissions and clean that up. Don’t forget to take down old thank you pages associated with each form.
    • Plugin pages – for example, we changed our webinar registration. Our old event plugin required certain pages live on our site. If the plugin is gone, you don’t need the pages.
    • Blog Categories – Google has been dropping WordPress Blog category pages. They no longer hold any SEO value. I was seeing crawl data showing these creating lots of errors. On our Cybervise site, I discontinued the use of most categories. And kept only the ones that we use to filter displays.

Part 3: Website Clean-up for Quick Changes – Ready for changing business?

  1. Get in and Update.

    When was the last time you logged into your website to make a change? If it has been awhile, now would be a good time to track down those logins and refresh your memory on how to update text. Especially practice how to post an emergency notice in case you need it in the future.

  2. Test those forms.

    Do you have forms collecting leads on your website? Who gets the leads off your website? Does someone login and collect them? Do they end up in someone’s email? If you have not gotten a lead from your website in awhile, don’t assume there are none. Make sure the forms are working and the leads are going to a current team member. While you are at it, add a backup person. If that one team member is out for an extended period, make sure someone can follow-up on the leads.

  3. Hosting Upgrade.

    Have you been complaining that your website is slow? With more people relying on your website, you need more power, more reliability. An upgrade to your hosting environment may solve the issue. If you have access to a control panel, you can look at your server performance. See if numbers are operating in the red or you are maxing out your server budgets. This could be solved easily with a call to your hosting company to add more power to your existing account. Or consider switching to a new vendor.

  4. Contact Info and Call-To-Action.

    Do a quick review of your webpages and make sure all contact information is up to date. Especially email addresses and lists of team members to contact. Now may be a good time to think about your Call-To-Action. What do you want visitors to do on your website? Is your current CTA dependent on one person to check for responses? Do you know how to access the responses on your website to check them if needed?

What about a big project right now?

Feeling a little more ambitious? End of the year is always a good time to tackle a website project that you have not gotten to yet. Need an idea?

Technical SEO clears the way for anyone to access your site. If your content is good, Technical SEO creates opportunities. Start with an Audit. Then work through the list of problems found during the audit.

More Help Planning your Website Clean-up Projects for Next Year?

The 2024 Website Strategic Plan . – Free Download to give you a head start for the new year.