As 2007 draws to a close, here are some tips for end of the year “clean up” web site duties.
1) Check your error logs. Your error logs will show you what files have been requested and not found. This provides a “short cut” for you to find pages that have been deleted or renamed in your web site that people are seeking.
2) Make certain your web site has an XML sitemap, a.k.a.Google site maps. They’re known as Google Sitemaps because Google was the first to require this map of your web site in the XML format. Now MSN, Yahoo and other search engines use them to navigate your site as well. If you already have a site map, be sure it’s current. If you created your site map manually then you’ll need to do so with every page you add to your site. The end of the year is a great time to make sure your site map is up to date. (Reason #532 why I ADORE self hosted Word Press blogs…. the google sitemap plug in does this type of “web clean up” automatically!)
3) While you’re rooting around in your root file, make sure your robots.txt file is up to date as well. The robots.txt file is a set of instructions for visiting robots (spiders) that index the content of your web site pages. While your XML Sitemap provides a road map so the search engines can find the pages within your site, the robots.txt file provides a map for what the search engine bots can, and cannot index. (It’s important to note that not ALL robots “obey” the instructions in this file.)
4) What are your web site goals for 2008? Set up a plan for your web site for the coming year. Want to increase visitors? Increase sales? Both? Now is the time to lay out a plan for the upcoming year.
5) Once you have your goals laid out for 2008, take a look at your current web site. Does is have all the tools needed for web success? Do you have a newsletter that you send out at least monthly? Do you have a “legal bribe” to encourage people to sign up for your newsletter?
If your goals include more traffic and more articles to promote your business, you might want to consider launching a blog either in addition to or in place of your current HTML web site. Blogs are basically content management systems making it easy to update your web site without having to learn HTML, FTP or other “web master” tools.