On 5 October, much of Australia (and New Zealand) enters daylight savings time, and a global campaign urges you to check the batteries in your smoke alarms as you change out the backup batteries in your clocks, in conjunction with time’s leap forward. Even if you’re not in one of the regions that does adopt daylight savings, officially, the campaign still urges you to take action around this time of year – and so do we!
Household safety should, of course, be your chief concern. But we’re going to add a few tasks to your to-do list each time you set your clocks forward an hour. So refresh the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, then move on to our list, presented here.
Daylight savings time is also the ideal time to take care of some of the often overlooked aspects of your online business.We thought we’d help you take things one step further and start our own little campaign around checking your website alarms.
Here are five ways you can use daylight savings time to your advantage, by using it as a time to give your website an annual checkup. Here’s your checklist with Action Items noted for each step.
1. Check Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is a valuable resource that, frankly, tells you more about your website than even your third-party website analytics tool can tell you.
The first thing to do is simple: just sign up for Google Webmaster Analytics, over here.
Once inside, you can tell a lot of specific things about your website, right away. For one thing, you can see if Google’s Web-crawling robot has even scanned your website. In the event that Googlebot cannot access your site, further action is necessary. Online marketer, Marlon Sanders, has a great blog post that tells you how to use Google Webmaster Tools to make sure everything is on the up-and-up with Google scanning your site.
One of the most important details Marlon discusses in his post is how to give access to Googlebot with your site’s robots.txt file.
Bing has a similar service to that of Google, which can is right here.
Action Item: Check webmaster tools and review your site’s robot.txt.
2. Check Your Site Analytics for ‘Big Wins’ (and Trouble Spots!)
Does your site have a highly popular, keyword-rich traffic driver? How are you going to know unless you check the success of you site’s content from time to time. The day of the change to daylight savings is a great chance to see what content is performing, so that you can either audit and fix other content to help it get better results from search engines, or create new content that emulates the ‘big wins.’
In your analytics dashboard, look for the following:
- What are the top keywords drawing visitors to your site?
- What types of visitors are converting the most?
- What content is suffering from a high bounce rate? (That qualifies as a ‘trouble spot’)
This kind of thing may seem obvious to some, but it’s not always a lot of fun to dig around in your analytics dashboard to look for ‘big wins.’ Still, even if you’re overdue for a proper site audit, daylight savings is the perfect time to at least poke around under the bonnet.
While we’re talking search engine optimization (SEO), it’s a good time to mention Screaming Frog, which is a handy app that analyzes your webpages from an SEO perspective and generates a report detailing the issues it finds. This app is particularly handy if you have a massive site that would be too time consuming to manually audit.
Action Item: Look at your site’s analytics and find the content that draws the most visitors. Manage your content by looking for opportunities to improve new and existing content based on what you discover. Are you sitting on an SEO goldmine?
3. Check Merchant Feeds
If you sell products online, merchant feeds are a great way to earn conversions. If your eCommerce business uses Google Shopping to show your products to comparison shoppers who search for your goods, it’s a good idea to check and make sure everything is working as it should. Product feed maintenance is somewhat technical, but the short version of what you’ll want to do to check on the overall effectiveness of your Google Shopping feed.
Some of the most common problems:
- Feed creation issues
- Feed registration issues
- Formatting issues
- Uploading issues
Conveniently, Google offers a helpful troubleshooting guide designed to help you keep your Google Shopping feed up and running. If you’re using another merchant feed, you’ll want to check the merchant center dashboard for the provider. Bing is another popular merchant feed provider, so if you’re using it, be sure to checkup on your Microsoft AdCenter (when you control your Bing feed) when you set your clock back.
Action Item: See your merchant feed control panel to make sure everything’s still working.
4. Check Your Checkout
Your eCommerce site needs to get one key thing right: the shopping cart/checkout process. Nothing will throw a wrench in your efforts to double your profitability, as described in The 7 Levers of Business framework, like a checkout system that doesn’t work or works so poorly that it almost invariably leads to cart abandonment.
One way to check your checkout routine thoroughly is to go through it from start to finish (hey, even if you process a payment, it’s your money anyway!). This way, you’ll know what your customers are seeing when they go to checkout from your site. You’ll also know if anything has checked from the way it functioned when the site first went online. Since your eCommerce workflow is probably using a variety of integrated cloud apps, which are updated automatically, things can go awry, or simply change in a way that you or your customers don’t like.
The only way to know is to try it out.
Action Item: Test out your shopping cart and checkout process. If you find any bugs or changes that you weren’t expecting, get them hammered out.
5. Check For Broken Links and Missing Content
No matter what type of content you have on your site, it’s a good idea to give it a thorough once-over at least once a year. As a website grows and develops, things that worked when you posted them have a way of just stopping working.
Broken links are very common. You might post a link to an external source that disappears and redirects your visitors to a 404 error. You might add a YouTube video to a page, only for the uploader to delete the video or make it private. If you link to photos hosted on other sites, those frequently disappear.
If you’d like to save some time by outsourcing the auditing of your website’s links and content, Fiverr.com has plenty of gigs from people willing to do the work for you, for the low price of $5, of course.
Action Item: Check your site for broken stuff! Consider hiring a freelancer to help you get get it done.
Have You Been Overlooking Site Alarms for Far Too Long?
Are chaos monkeys running loose on your website? Use daylight savings to remind you to check each item on our list and take back the reigns of your eCommerce website.
Website malfunctions can be a hazard to your business. Don’t lose TRAFFIC, OPT-INS, or CONVERSIONS to competitors because you let issues go on for too long. When it’s time to change your clock, it’s time to check your site. Make it a habit!
PS – Speaking of Chaos Monkeys, yes, they are a thing! Netflix famously unleashes its ‘Simian Army‘ to deliberately try and break its services. Now, for those of you running Amazon Web Services on the back end of your sites, you can now employee the Chaos Monkeys, which Netflix kindly opened up to the community. Everyone else will just have to unleash their kid nephew to reek some havoc on their site in the name of eCommerce!