Spring Cleaning Time: Get Your Website In Tip-Top Shape

The title of this post could have also been, “No Better Time Than The Present” because it’s true, but since it’s spring, I went with spring cleaning theme.

Let’s be honest: you’ll never have enough time to give your website(s) a thorough check up unless you make the time. So, why not now? There is no better time than right this second to review your website’s analytics setup, targeting strategy, error logs, etc.

I’ve tried to highlight some areas that will provide the most value compared to the time it takes to review them, but every site is different, so use this as a jumping off point for ideas on what you can do a spring check up on.

Auditing Your Analytics

Filters

Remember when you set up all those brilliant filters hoping to clean up your reporting and cut down on all the junk that might be making its way into your analytics accounts? Well, it’s time to revisit those filters and see if they’re still valid going forward.

Start with your IP filters. IP filters are commonly used to remove traffic from in-house employees, vendors, contractors, or any remote workers you may have. So, have you added anyone to the team since your filters were first setup? If so, get those IP filters updated so that you’re still keeping out unwanted traffic.

This is also a good chance to review your other filters to ensure they’re accomplishing what you intended. Websites change, so a filter that worked at one time might not be as useful as it was. GA Filters

Hopefully, you won’t need to make any changes, but now is the time to make sure.

Key Takeaway: Is your current filter setup providing you value? Is the data that you want getting through while the data you don’t want being kept out?

Goals

Business goals can change, which means you should be updating your goal tracking on your website in accordance with your changing goals.

Let’s start here: do you have goals or conversions set up in your analytics platform of choice? If not, this is a good time to start thinking about it. If you already have goals that you’re tracking, take some time to reevaluate whether they’re still a valid representation of your business goals. Are all those Goal URL goals you set up providing valuable insights into your visitor’s actions on your site? If not, it’s time to realign your site goals with your business goals. Remember, goals are mostly worthless unless you’re able to glean useful insights from them that can help you in the future.

If you have goal URLs that are no longer active, stop tracking them and remove the goal. Remember, you only get to track 20 goals per view in Google Analytics, so don’t waste valuable real estate tracking things that are not useful.

GA Goals

This is also a good time to consider adding different types of goals that you might not have had a reason to use in the past, like goal funnels. Maybe your conversion process is more established, and you now have a funnel that users follow when converting. Let’s track that!

Key Takeaway: Are you tracking goals on your site? Is your current goal tracking plan still valid? Is it accurately tracking the goals you have for your website and business?

Events

Just like with goals, are there new buttons on your site or new elements that users are interacting with that would give you some insight into their behavior? Take some time to review what kind of interaction events you’re currently tracking and evaluate if they are still valid. Maybe you can stop tracking certain events if they’re no longer useful, or more likely, add additional tracking for new elements that have not been tracked before.

Key Takeaway: Make sure you’re still tracking valuable interactions on your site.

Analytics Access

It’s always a good idea to regularly review who has access to your analytics accounts. There is a good chance that you gave some level of access to a vendor, consultant, or former employee who might no longer need that access. It’s unlikely they would harm your account, but why risk it? Go through your various analytics accounts and audit who has access and make the necessary updates.

Key Takeaway: Who has access to your analytics accounts? Is that access still needed? Adjust as necessary.

Google Tag Manager

Now might be a good time to consider moving your analytics setup to Google Tag Manager. Sure, there are some pain points to overcome, and it’ll take time, but if you get it on your schedule now, you can make your entire analytics setup far easier to manage in the future.

Key Takeaway: Is it time to make the move to Google Tag Manager?

Analytics Naming Conventions

This is mainly directed at users of Google Analytics, but if your analytics tool of choice allows you to edit the names of your account and properties, read on.

Having a logical and uniform naming structure throughout your Google Analytics accounts, profiles, and views can make navigating your accounts easier and leave less chance you’re going to look in the wrong account for some piece of information. This is especially true for large companies with many websites or consulting agencies where you are dealing with multiple clients.

At UpBuild, we like to use the following naming convention when structuring analytics accounts:

Account – {{Company Name}}
Property – {{Website name or address}}
View – {{Website or Section Name}}[Primary, filtered]
View – {{Website or Section Name}}[Raw data, unfiltered]
View – {{Website or Section Name}}[Test view, unfiltered]

GA Account NamingUsing a structure like this makes navigating analytics accounts with multiple properties and views a breeze. You’re always aware of where you are in your account and which data set you’re viewing.

Key Takeaway: If you’re not happy with how your analytics accounts, properties, and views are named, this is a great time to create a format that will clean them up.

Evaluating Your Metadata Strategy

Title tags

I like to evaluate title tags for the sites I’m working on once at least once a quarter to make sure our targeting strategy is still valid. Things change that could make your once well-optimized title tag now leave something to be desired.

It’s always good to see how your titles are being displayed in the SERPs and then adjust from there. Maybe your once-nicely-displayed title tags are now being cut off because they are too long. Or maybe you were too conservative with your length when you first set them up, and now you have more room to play with.

This is also a good time to check in on whether those title tags are working. Are you ranking for the keyword phrases you initially planned to? If not, why? We’re not only looking at rankings here as a success signal, though; we should also look at organic CTR for our pages. This can give us some insight into whether users are finding our titles convincing enough to get them to click.

With those questions in mind, what can we do to boost the performance of that page through the title tag? Maybe the SERP for that keyword has changed from predominantly serviced based results, which worked for you, to now being mostly informational results that don’t lend to converting visitors.

Key Takeaway: Evaluate the effectiveness of your title tag strategy. Are your titles displaying correctly in the results page? Are you ranking for your intended keywords, and if not, could the title tag be the reason? These are just some of the questions you can ask yourself.

Description Tags

Description tags can sometimes get overlooked since they don’t affect rankings, but we all know that having a really strong description can improve CTR from search engines, so they’re worth revisiting occasionally to make sure they’re working.

A great way to measure the effectiveness of a description tag is to check out the click through rates you’re getting in Google Search Console.

GSC CTR

Are you ranking well, but people aren’t clicking on your result? It might be time to readjust that description tag.

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to rewrite your description tags, here’s a simple structure to use: include a unique value proposition (UVP) that tells the reader what is special about your page, or why they should click on it. Then follow that up with a call to action (CTA) urging the user to click on your result.

Key Takeaway: Are your description tags getting users to click through from the search results? First, figure out if they are. If not, why? Are they not displayed correctly (for example, being truncated in the SERPs?)? Maybe you’re not providing enough of a reason to click. Really sell your page, this is your chance.

Targeting

Like we discussed with our website goals, has your business changed course recently, or set its sights on a new market? It’s not uncommon for a business to add a new product that targets an entirely new section of customers, or to completely pivot their entire business.

When this happens it’s vital that you reevaluate your targeting strategy, or in this case, keyword targeting strategy. Because keyword research is one of the foundations that so much of our other work relies on (metadata, content creation, etc.) it’s important that we’re working with the most current data we can get.

The easiest way to make sure you’re still targeting the right keywords is to take stock of what you’re currently targeting and look at the updated data. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are people still searching for your keywords?
  • Does your page content match the keywords you’re targeting?
  • Are the search results for that phrase still relevant?

I’d start by updating our keyword metrics like search volume, competition, etc. and make adjustments as needed. Maybe you’ll find that search volume has drastically decreased for a keyword you were aggressively targeting before, rendering it less valuable to you now. Or maybe you’ll find a new keyword whose volume has increased that you’d like to target instead.

In addition to doing traditional keyword research, it’s always a good idea to see what the industry trends are and where they’re going. Google Trends can be a helpful tool in this process. You can make it as easy as taking a handful of your most valuable keywords, dropping them into Google Trends, and taking a look at the trend line. Is interest in those keywords trending up or down? This can be a good indicator of whether you’re targeting the right audience, or if you need to reevaluate your targeting strategy.

Key Takeaway: Keep your keyword and targeting data fresh by reevaluating your metrics on a regular basis. Use Google Trends to see if your targeting strategy is trending up or down and make adjustments as needed.

Wrangling Site Errors

If there is one constant when running a website, it’s that your site will generate errors or things will break without fail.

If you’re not already consistently reviewing the errors that Google Search Console is reporting, now is a good time to check in. You might find a bunch of new crawl errors that can be resolved at the very least. But more likely, you’ll find issues that have been created by changes you’ve made to the site since the last time you checked in. Maybe you were overly aggressive with your robots.txt file rules, or your sitemap has some errors now. There are way too many potential issues that Google Search Console can reveal to list here, but definitely, take a look at the following sections when reviewing it:

Messages – Make sure there aren’t any urgent messages alerting you to issues that you need to address.

Manual Actions – Make sure there are no manual penalties.

Index status – Make sure your index status looks accurate, meaning that the number of pages on your site matches the number that is indexed.

Sitemap Index

Blocked Resources – Are any resources being blocked that shouldn’t be? Evaluate whether the resources that are being blocked should still be blocked.

Crawl Errors – There will always be some crawl errors reported, but it’s best if you can resolve as many as possible. Take some time to see if you can identify why certain crawl errors are occurring and if you can systematically resolve them, so they don’t happen in the future.

Crawl Stats – Is Google consistently crawling your site? If not, why? There might be some accessibility issues that need to be addressed.

Fetch As Google – If you’ve made changes to your site’s design or structure it’s a good idea to run those pages through this feature to see how GoogleBot is rendering those pages.

Robots.txt – Evaluate whether these rules are still valid and accomplishing their intended goal.

Sitemaps – Is your XML sitemap current and valid? Are there any errors that you can resolve?

There are no specific rules for spring cleaning your websites. You can check as little or as much as you like, but the main takeaway from this post should be that you need to do it at some point. Above are just some examples of things you can check on, but there are many more. It’s really up to you how much time and effort you want to spend, but I can say that your effort will pay off once you start finding and fixing issues with your site.

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