We are well into the new year, and it’s a great time to make sure your website is set up for success. Whether you’re a business owner, a blogger, or just someone with a personal website, these ten tips will help you get things on the right track. Let’s dive in!
Why it’s important: Your website should always show the most recent copyright date. It tells visitors (and search engines) that your content is up to date and that you care about your site.
How to check it: Look at the bottom of your website. Is the copyright date current? If not, update it to the new year. If you are using a template, in many cases this copyright date can be automated so you do not have to worry about it from year to year.
Why it’s important: Privacy policies and disclaimers protect both you and your visitors. They should be kept current to reflect any changes in your website’s policies.
SSL Expiration Date
Why it’s important: SSL certificates ensure that data transmitted between your website and visitors is secure. An expired SSL certificate can scare away potential users. You can see this visually by looking in the address bar of your website and looking for the padlock. If your website is secure the padlock will appear closed/locked if not it will appear open/unlocked.
How to check it: You can check this easily yourself with an online tool called SSL Checker from SSL Shopper.com. You can also contact your web hosting provider to find out when your SSL certificate expires. Renew it promptly if it’s close to expiration. If you pay for an SSL Certificate they usually last for a year or more depending on the amount of time you’ve purchased. If you’re hosting company is using a free SSL it generally auto renews every 90 days. Many hosting companies will provide a free SSL certificate for you.
Check Any Website Forms
Why it’s important: Forms on your website need to work correctly for visitors to contact you or submit information. Check them for any issues such as the form doesn’t work, or it doesn’t go to the page you thought it did after form submission.
How to check it: Go through each form on your website. Test them to make sure submissions and deliveries are working smoothly. Fix any problems you find. It’s not a bad idea to do this on multiple devices.
Website Backup / Backup Check
Why it’s important: Regular website backups ensure you can recover your site if something goes wrong, such as a crash or a cyberattack. There are plenty of services or plugins that can automate this process for you. In a previous Frank Reviews, I did a review on UpDraft Plus. I suggest checking it out if you don’t have a process in place.
How to check it: Confirm that your website has a backup system in place. Test it by restoring your site from a recent backup to make sure it’s working correctly.
Why it’s important: Malware can harm your website and infect your visitors’ devices. Regular scans can help you catch and remove any threats. Many times, you will have no idea this has happened until it’s too late. Your site can be used for phishing purposes without you even knowing about it.
How to check it: Use a trusted malware scanner or antivirus software to scan your website. If it finds any issues, follow the recommended steps to clean your site. For this, I usually recommend Wordfence if your site is built on WordPress. (See Frank Reviews: Wordfence in this edition of Traces.)
Why it’s important: A firewall protects your website from cyberattacks. These can come in the form of people or bots attempting to guess your login or scanning areas of weakness in your website. Regular scans ensure your firewall is doing its job correctly.
How to check it: Check your website’s firewall settings and logs to ensure that it’s actively blocking malicious traffic and keeping your site safe. The aforementioned Wordfence also handles this scan well.
Why it’s important: Strong and unique passwords prevent unauthorized access to your website. Regularly changing them is a simple thing to do and adds an extra layer of security.
How to check it: Review your website’s passwords. Make sure they are strong and not easily guessable. I highly recommend changing them if they are too simple. If you utilize a password software like 1Password, Roboform or others, they will usually alert you if your password is too weak or has been compromised. Also, one other area to check if you are using WordPress for your website is to check the admin area and look at users for any illegal admin user accounts. It is possible for a hacker to find a security hole in your site and inject an illegal log in.
Why it’s important: Search engines and security tools can blacklist websites with harmful content. Being on a blacklist can severely impact your site’s visibility.
How to check it: Use online tools to check if your website is on any blacklists. One such tool I recommend is from Sucuri at https:// sitecheck.sucuri.net. If it is, take immediate steps to remove harmful content and request removal from the blacklist. If you don’t want to do this yourself, you can hire a web person to handle this for you.
Why it’s important: If your website uses email for communication, it’s essential to ensure that your email system is working correctly. You may find that your email domain may not make it to the inboxes you thought that it was. This is something that I test/check many times throughout the year just to make sure I’ve not been blocked anywhere. Missing emails will have a huge impact on your bottom line and will leave a bad impression on the person whose email didn’t get answered.
How to check it: Test your email system by sending and receiving emails through your website’s contact forms or other communication channels. Fix any email-related issues promptly. I also recommend using a service called https://mxtoolbox.com. Here you can check to make sure you have the right SPF, Dmarc, and DKIM records in place. I also suggest using the blacklist checker on the site, as well. This checks to see if your email domain has been blacklisted anywhere.
By checking these ten essential website items, you’ll be well on your way to starting the new year right and setting your website up for success this year. Remember, a secure and up-to-date website not only protects your visitors but also helps you achieve your online goals. And if any of these tests seem daunting or outside your comfort zone or knowledge base, it’s okay. Look for a web guy that can easily handle these tasks for you. I happen to know one…