Sweep that website for maximum benefits to writing business
Published: December 21, 2010
Did you know sweeping your website can bring maximum benefits to your writing business? Regardless of your field of specialty, website maintenance, just like home maintenance, protects one of your most valuable resources.
Kay B. Day
I routinely set aside 3-4 hours every week to look at different aspects of my sites because the frequent updating of content can also lead to errors if maintenance is ignored. Admittedly some websites, such as a site that is biographical in nature, may not need frequent updating and checks. I tend to lapse on my own bio site. But if you’re maintaining a site to promote a book or product, pitch queries or blog, you will definitely need to sweep the crannies and nooks.
Here are a few chores I routinely perform:
• Check for broken links. There are programs that can help with this, such as Google Analytics. If you don’t want to go that route, you can easily do it manually although it is more time-consuming. If you embed a lot of links, try a front- and back-end approach. Test links in your recent columns and test links in your oldest columns. Work your way backwards from the front end and forward at the back end, keeping track of the content you checked. Eventually you will meet in the middle and begin all over again. Alternatively, you can check links from your statistics. I use Stat Counter and I spot-check links listed in the referral section. You can opt for stat trackers that are free, but I pay for an upgraded version because I want more specific data.
• Check for spam comments. Blog platforms like SquareSpace and Blogger make this easy via a section where comments can be held for approval. Spam comments may be more than outright attempts to grab free advertising—some may contain malicious links to sites that can compromise your readers’ security. I routinely delete all spam comments as well as those that don’t directly address the article content. I also routinely delete any hate speech or other speech that is offensive. I’m pretty liberal when it comes to comments, but I do draw a line in the interest of my brand integrity.
• Check high-profile articles in case there are updates you can provide. This is very useful if you have an article that has drawn high traffic. You can re-capitalize on that traffic by posting an update or follow-up and linking to your original column(s) on the topic. When I have a popular article, that tells me the topic is worthy of multiple articles because of my readers’ interest and my own interest in maximizing traffic.
• If you have sidebar content on your blog, update it often too. Switching photographs, recommended links or posting a short news blurb offers your reader that little extra that may keep her on your site for a longer period of time. If there’s a new development on an old article, in addition to the update mentioned above, you can blurb it and link to it in your sidebar.
• Test your website load time in different browsers. That dark background may look artsy, but make sure your visitor isn’t sitting there waiting for your website to load.
• Do a search on yourself and your website. This not only tells you if the blogosphere has something nice to say about you, it tells you the opposite. You’d be surprised at what can happen on the Web. I once noticed comments about a poet whose name is similar to mine. Her work and my work are quite different—so different I felt it necessary to post a statement explaining we were two different writers. I did this diplomatically, stating I wouldn’t want to take credit for work that wasn’t mine. In that case I really did not want to take credit.
There are numerous ways to keep your website nice and tidy—these are but a few. The longer you populate a website with content, the more you see that will need to be addressed. You’ll eventually customize your own methods for sweeping. What’s important is that you sweep often and carefully to get those maximum benefits you deserve for all that hard work you put into your content.
Florida journalist Kay B. Day has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. The author of two books, she has written for
The Christian Science Monitor, United Press International,
The Florida Times-Union and Sky News. To learn more about Kay Day, see www.kayday.com. To read Kay's other Web Savvy columns about writing for the Web, click here.