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What comes to mind when you hear "spring cleaning"? I bet, not your website. You think of closets, windows, furniture and what you will have to move. You anticipate trash, donations, and stuff you will keep.

Websites are no different, however. Yet, it is not often that people think about spring cleaning a website. And they should. Evaluating your online performance once a year helps ensure that you maintain focus, your online presence is connected to your business goals, and all programs are current.

In a series of 4 posts I will share my recipe for website spring cleaning - what to check up on yearly. There is no need to do the cleanup all at once. Split the project in 4 parts and do one section each quarter.

These guidelines are by no means comprehensive. I covered the most important aspects of audits. If you have time for deeper inspections, I highly recommend you go for it.

The purpose of yearly evaluation is to step back and look at your marketing efforts with your business hat on. Is everything in your PPC, SEO, and website world in line with your business goals? When business changes happened, did they propagate to your website and your marketing strategies? Review your priorities and communicate them to your organization.

Website Cleanup - First Quarter PPC audit and SEO audit.

PPC Audit

Why do it? I usually start with a PPC audit. Everyday maintenance allows us to take care of everyday tasks. An audit gives us perspective, a chance to step back and make sure that we are true to our overall goals. Compare your PPC goals with your business goals and make necessary adjustments.

What to do.

  1. Clean up left-over campaigns. Make sure there are no left over campaigns from the holiday season, temporary promotions, contests, etc.
  2. Active campaigns. Confirm that all your regular campaigns that, perhaps, were paused for the holidays, are enabled and running smoothly. Check the settings just in case you did not adjust to AdWords or AdCenter application changes.
  3. Landing pages. Check all your landing pages for page does not exist errors (404).
  4. Performance. Recheck your negative keywords, campaign structure, impression share.
  5. Formulas. Recalculate your value per customer, cost per acquisition. Check your Excel spreadsheets for any over-written formulas and incorrect values. Do the formulas you are using still apply?
  6. Trends. Do some trend investigation, social buzz research, etc. The goal is to ensure you have incorporated all new trends and products in your PPC efforts.

Learn more about an annual PPC audit from Brad Geddes.

When to do it. The best time to do a PPC audit is during the first quarter of a new year. I aim to complete it in February.

SEO Audit

Why do it? Search engines change, their algorithms change, searchers evolve, topics shift, words get invented, priorities change, new products come to light, etc. Need I say more?

What to do.

  1. Keyword research. Are you still relevant? Did the queries change? Did more relevant topics emerge?
  2. Competition research. Who are you competing against on line? Did new players emerge? Did any of the old companies woke up to the importance of SEO? What do they do in Social Marketing? How do you compare to them? What are the most important niche keywords for which you are competing? Who is your most significant threat? How are you weak against them? Are there any opportunities for you? How can you leverage your strengths?
  3. On-Page Optimization. Can search engines see your site? How often do they crawl it? How many pages are indexed compared to the number of existing pages? What are your most important pages and what keywords do you highlight? Do you link to those pages internally? What does the linking profile look like for those pages? Mostly, figure out if there are any serious problems with your website and acess its visibility to search engine bots.
  4. Off-Page Optimization. Evaluate your linkbuilding strategies. Look at your traffic, most profitable referral sites. Can you leverage those even more? Is there any social sharing?
  5. Social Strategies. How is your social visibility? Scrutinize your online reputation and identify strengths and problems. Expand your social strategies. Study your social profiles and determine which activities are the most beneficial to your business.

Learn more about SEO Audits from Jessica Bowman.

When to do it. I prefer to do it after a PPC audit, in the second quarter of the year. I integrate what I learn from PPC evaluation into SEO strategies. Another reason for this timing is that I attend conferences in spring, summer and fall. SEO audit before those conferences gives me a good SEO baseline and general direction I want to go. Confernces supply ideas for tactics and additional strategies that will help me achieve my goals.

Looking back

After you have attended to traffic needs, time to look at measuring your success. If you want a promotion, you need to show how useful you are to the company. Get your numbers in order next with analytics audit and usability audit.