With the holiday season officially a month away, it’s “crunch time” for many small businesses, especially retailers. If you haven’t done so already, you may be considering some last minute changes to your website. Unless you have a full-time web developer working around the clock, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the time left to completely redesign or revamp your digital branding and website before the holiday season is in full swing.

Start With Small Updates

Even if you could rush through a complete website redesign at this point, would it be a wise decision to do so if you couldn’t take the time to carefully consider whether or not you’re making the right decisions each step of the way? Instead of trying to do too much with the month you have left, consider making small changes to your website that will not only give your featured products and services a quick boost, but will also ensure that the rest of your website remains well-situated in search engine results.

Don’t Break What’s Already Working

It’s important to remember when you’re considering making quick changes or additions to your website that you shouldn’t break or disable what’s already working with your site. Throwing together a website is trivially easy, as there are many services that advertise a “custom website in thirty minutes”. Yet simply throwing together a website or new website content doesn’t mean that Google will be interested in promoting it in search results or that your customers will have a pleasant experience using it. A great website takes a lot of time to both optimize the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and to ensure that it is functional and usable. If you make drastic, ill-advised changes to your website, you can damage your SEO and the site itself. Carefully consider any changes you make beforehand and consult a web development professional if you’re unsure how these changes will affect your site.

Not All Positive Changes Are Visible To Visitors

When considering what changes you want to make to improve and optimize your website, don’t just focus on the elements of the site that are visible to you and your visitors. If you are reviewing and testing the websites of other companies or organizations in your industry, don’t just focus on the way their websites look or the content they are presenting to visitors. Instead, you should also measure how fast the site loads, or the ease and convenience of using certain features of the website. If you haven’t updated your site in quite some time, especially the Content Management System (CMS), then you may be able to make positive and effective changes to your site without actually changing any of the content. Simply by updating your CMS or replacing certain plugins or extensions to the CMS, you may be able to make your website faster, more fluid, and create a more pleasant experience for your visitors.

Don’t Just Immediately Push Through Changes To A Live Website

A common mistake that many amateur web developers make is pushing out changes to a live website, instead of creating a testing or development site. It is almost never a good idea to do this, as even the small, basic changes can cause errors and unforeseen conflicts with other website elements and your customers may experience site downtime and errors. In addition to your customers, web crawlers may detect the changes you’ve made and the errors or problems they’ve caused, which in turn can cause damage to your search ranking. Always thoroughly test any changes you’ve made with your development site. Also, consider adding a “noindex” tag to your site for a short period during and after any changes are made, as this tag will tell search engine crawlers not to index your site.