Is your website in optimal condition, or do you notice small errors and issues that are causing difficulties in usability? Performing simple diagnostic tests on your website can help ensure that you are providing the best possible experience for your visitors and customers.
Websites Are Machines
Your website is like a machine: many different parts must work together flawlessly in order for the machine to properly function. Any machine can experience a major malfunction and those issues are often solved quickly. However, many of us ignore minor malfunctions for a variety of reasons – we may not have room in our budgets or free time available within a busy schedule for a non-essential repair, or we may simply choose to ignore the problem entirely.
If your website experiences a major malfunction, most companies are forced to take immediate steps to fix the problem. Sometimes it may be due to downtime from the web host, or a major component of the site, such as its database, may be broken. It is an unfortunate reality that many major website malfunctions are also due to intrusions by malicious individuals and organizations.
Minor Malfunctions can include broken or missing website components – like pictures, links and buttons – or slow-loading pages. Owners and managers of small businesses often do not have an IT professional or webmaster actively employed, and because other concerns can take priority, these minor malfunctions can often be ignored. However, these supposedly “minor” problems could be causing major problems for your users, your online presence and your business as a whole.
Side Effects Of Under-Maintained Sites
If a customer becomes frustrated with a broken website component and feels that the problem may never get fixed, that small issue may propel them to seek out one of your competitors. If a page or element is broken or missing, it could cause a major issue for website crawlers – programs that search engines use to scan and register website contents – and your website’s Search Engine Optimization could be seriously harmed as a result. Finally, a malfunction that could first appear to be minor, such as slow-loading webpages, could be masking a much more serious issue that could be exposing you and your visitors to harmful malware.
The easiest way to consistently check your website for problems is through the use of Google Webmaster Tools. This free tool can scan your website automatically and report problems that need to be fixed. Signing up for Google Webmaster Tools requires website verification, which means you must prove to Google that you own or manage the website in question.
Improvement Through Maintenance
Another simple way to check your website is by performing simple tests with your own computer, such as navigating through your own website and checking each component manually to ensure everything is working properly. It is also important to search for your own site through search engines like Google and Bing, which can help confirm that your content is being indexed properly.
In our next post, we will discuss Google Webmaster Tools in-depth.