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The holidays are over, the decorations are packed up, and it’s the perfect time to make sure your website is up-to-speed as you kick off the New Year. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure your site is ready to go.

1. Is your content up-to-date?

Take a quick look at your website’s content and make sure everything is up-to-date. Here are a couple of areas folks forget to update:

  • Are your Case Studies / Portfolio current?
  • Have you added or changed any services that need to be updated on the website?
  • Do you need to add or remove team members from the site?
  • Have you opened a new location?
  • When’s the last time you added a new blog or news post to your site?
  • Have you checked your website’s ranking in search engines lately?

I had a meeting recently with a client who shared that they had case studies on their website going back over 10 years. And hardly a week goes by without talking to someone who has products or services that are out-of-date.

2. Is your site secured with an SSL?

2017 was the Year of the SSL, so if your website doesn’t have one now, get it. Now.

Even if you don’t sell items or collect sensitive information on your site, you need to set up an SSL. Google now sees an SSL as a ranking factor and penalizes sites that don’t have an SSL. In fact, visitors to your website may see a “Not Secure” message when visiting your site. And the SSL validation process helps to authenticate your website and protects you against information theft by encrypting information submitted from your website to third parties.

3. Is your website mobile friendly?

By now, most folks understand that a website should render beautifully on multiple devices – whether an iPad, smartphone, or laptop. With the huge variety of screen sizes and orientations, it’s important that your website scale and render in such a way to ensure your user has an intuitive, easy time navigating your website and site features.

And more than that, Google significantly penalizes websites that are not mobile-friendly. If you have a static, fix-width site that must be pinched and squeezed to see content, then more than likely you’re not showing up in mobile search results which can account for a significant percentage of your overall traffic.

And being mobile friendly means more than simply “mobile responsive.” Not every feature, content block or image needs to render on a phone, for example. It’s important to optimize the browsing experience to enhance load times and user experience for smaller screens.

4. How are you performing in search engines?

Search engine optimization has changed over the years, but it should still be a significant element in your overall marketing plan and budget for 2018. Whether it’s mobile / voice search or the trend toward hyper-local search (delivering proximately results based on your physical location), search isn’t going away. And Google still dominates search with nearly 80% of searches performed on Google.

Atlanta WordPress Design Search Results

One of the key elements in a strong search engine optimization strategy is creating topical authority with unique, valuable, “authority content” across a broad, semantically related group of terms. You must create “real content for real users that provides real value.” All the other ranking factors aside, most sites will not rank well without user-focused, valuable content.

If you’re not sure how your site is performing or what you must do to improve your overall footprint in Google, we can help.

5. Does your site have a strong visual and verbal identity?

That’s a fancy way of asking if your site looks good and whether the content connects with your visitors. Do you clearly communicate your value proposition? Do you speak to the needs of your audience and anticipate their questions about your organization, products or services.

Is the overall design of your site outdated or boring? Is your site designed for the way your visitors skim websites with short, clear messaging, intuitive iconography, bite-sized elements, statistics, graphs, and relevant photography?

Remember, when it comes to your website, first impressions are everything. And studies show that users make trust decisions about your company within a fraction of second based primarily on the visual appeal of your site.