The holidays are usually a time of reflection. For Atilus, it’s often also a time to button things up for the New Year; making sure all big projects are finished, getting our own marketing in line, and overall, getting things ready to ensure we’re as successful as we can be for 2019.
We’re currently working on wrapping up some big website updates (stay tuned for those in January!) and it got me to thinking about all the website updates we need to implement. I don’t think these updates are unique to Atilus and I thought it might be helpful to create a list of website maintenance tips to help you prepare your own website for 2019.
Tip #1: Get Ready for WordPress 5.0
We’re big fans of WordPress and most of our websites are built in WordPress. It’s one of the world’s most popular content management systems and they’re about to release on of their biggest software updates in years.
WordPress 5.0 has been released already and offers a “streamlined editing experience” for its users. With the new update also comes the new Gutenberg editor, which puts each piece of content into its own distinct block.
Most of our clients won’t be affected by this, but it’s still important to check into your website for any major software updates. Throughout this month, we’re running through our clients’ websites to ensure that the new update won’t affect any of their plugins in a disastrous way. Overall, if you are using WordPress to support your website, you will want to ensure that your plugins and overarching back-end won’t be affected negatively by this new update.
Tip #2: Get Ready for the end of PHP 7.0 and Below
This one will require some assistance from your webmaster or web development company. PHP is a programming language and different versions have been released through the years. Coming soon, PHP 7.0 and below versions will no longer be supported. Per php.net:
Each release branch of PHP is fully supported for two years from its initial stable release. During this period, bugs and security issues that have been reported are fixed and are released in regular point releases. – PHP.net
According to the table on the php.net website, active support for PHP 5.6 will end on December 31, 2018. So, what does this mean for you? I consulted with our Lead Web Developer, Sammi Merritt, and here is what she had to say.
For most sites, it means testing and updating your PHP version as soon as possible. Although not every hosting environment will force you to update your PHP version, it’s always a good idea to stay on top of big software updates both for security reasons (to make sure you’re getting all the security updates) and to ensure the longevity of your site. While many theme and plugin developers have been preparing for this and sending updates to ensure that their products still work on this new version of PHP, if you’re using anything that’s been infrequently supported or hasn’t been updated in a while, you may have some errors to fix before updating your PHP version. – Sammi Merritt, Our Lead Web Developer
Tip #3: Proofread your Content
Now that a year has gone by, there is a good chance your content could use a refresh. Have any of your team members changed? Do you still offer the same set of core services? Even if your organization hasn’t gone through any major changes, the end of the year is a good time to ensure your website content is in tip-top condition.
I would also recommend reviewing your meta information and ensuring that your website is properly connected to Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Check for any major errors and get them fixed before the end of the year to give your website a fresh start in 2019.
Tip #4: Create a Content Calendar
This one is a little bit tricky as creating a content calendar is quite the undertaking. As you manage your digital marketing (if you’re doing this in-house), having a calendar helps to keep your team on track. Add things like major events (such as trade shows or annual meetings) and come up with related content around those events.
Content can include blog posts, infographics, email newsletters, and social media posts. You don’t need to drill down into the date/time of a post or just what that content might look like but having a general guideline will certainly help.
Tip #5: Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly (and Fast)
Okay, folks – we’re getting into 2019 and if your website isn’t mobile-friendly by now, that should be at the top of your list. Gone are the days of responsive websites being “nice-to-have.” More people than ever are using their mobile devices and tablets to browse the web and if your website is not mobile-friendly, Google and Bing won’t be very kind in 2019.
Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for. – Google
Having a responsive website has been a ranking factor for a few years now and Google also recently changed their algorithm this year to prioritize FAST mobile-friendly websites over slower websites. Basically, if your website isn’t quick to load on mobile, then you’re looking at being demoted in the search results.
Tip #6: Clean Up Your Website Comments
I’ll admittedly say we’re not the best at cleaning up our own website comments, but it’s very important to keep up and clear out any spam. The first reason you’d want to do this is that it can slow down your server/website if you have too many comments clogging it up. This won’t happen for a few hundred comments, but if you haven’t cleaned up your website comments this entire year and have thousands, you’ll want to clean them up before 2019.
To summarize, the end of the year is a great time to review your website and make changes to help you be more successful in the New Year. If a website redesign is on your list for 2019, the Atilus team is here to help. We’ve been in business for over 13 years and have built and worked on thousands of websites. Contact us today to get started.