In a year’s time, your website picks up lots of “dust and clutter” that can really hinder your SEO performance. With each new year comes new opportunities and aspirations for site owners worldwide. It is a great (and sometimes essential) time to roll up your sleeves, grab your digital marketing tools, and ensure your website is “spick and span” for the new year.
Website Cleanup Tasks for the New Year
Just like a brick-and-mortar shop, your website is one of the faces of your company. It is also a living, breathing, constantly changing digital resource that has to be cleaned and maintained often. Each new year offers a new wave of possibilities and opportunities to improve. So limber up those fingers and let’s get off to a fresh start!
1. Remove Holiday Promotions and Images
No matter how long you’d like to keep your Christmas tree up in your home after Christmas, the same rule should not be applied to holiday branding and promotions on your website. With Black Friday, Christmas, and New Year back-to-back, keeping up with holiday offers and orders can be overwhelming, especially for small businesses. Because of all of this commotion, it’s not uncommon to see holiday deal banners and content featured on sites well into January.
After your deals are over, make sure to archive all holiday images, icons, banners, deals, and promos. Any holiday “buying guides” or season-specific content should also be removed from any “featured” spots.
2. Update Copyright Dates
3. Update Date-Specific Content
Go through all of your content and search for any year-specific content such as “Top Design Trends in 2023” or “How to Find a Remote Job 2023.” When deciding on an action to take, ask yourself whether the content is still relevant and helpful in the new year.
Then, you have a couple of options:
- If the content is no longer relevant but can be updated, take time to repurpose the content to what’s relevant in the new year. Make sure to update the URL, Title, and Meta Description as well. When updating URLs, make sure to redirect the old URL to the new one properly.
- If the content has no changes from year to year, Google’s John Mueller recommends “make no changes” to evergreen content. Whereas, many digital marketers still claim to see an increase in clickthrough rate (CTR) after updating the dates in the content and metadata.
4. Revitalize and Repurpose Content
Using Google Analytics, you can get insights into your top-performing pages in the previous year. Take a look at what content on the site is performing well and which are underperforming. Rather than starting the year with only new content, take some time to analyze underperforming content and look for opportunities to give them a revitalized, optimized makeover.
Content marketing technologies like seoClarity’s Content Fusion are fantastic at analyzing your content compared to your competitors. It can also generate detailed content briefs that provide content writers with the SEO optimization insights and data to rise in Google rankings.
seoClarity Content Fusion score and usage statistics
5. Revamp Images
With search engines like Google putting more and more emphasis on visual and video search, marketers should be constantly optimizing and updating their images and videos. As one of those things businesses often put off for another time, the new year provides a great opportunity to throw out those generic stock images and set up a photo shoot to take custom images that really show off your latest products, services, and team. Images taken from a photo shoot can be repurposed in many ways such as social media and greeting cards, and can also be extremely beneficial to your website’s SEO.
A fast-emerging trend worth considering for digital asset creation is AI-generated images for business use. Tools like DALL-E, DreamStudio, Midjourney, Adobe Firefly, starryai, and VanceAI are AI image generators that allow users to create images by simply entering text prompts about products and services. This could definitely be worth exploring to replace stock images on your site. Check out these example illustrations for “Donuts” made using starryai.
6. Update Your About Page
A commonly overlooked part of a website is your About and Meet the Team pages. At a high level, are there updated team photos to upload, new staff that still don’t have bios or old employees who haven’t been taken down? At a finer level, do you have staff that mentions their “15 years of experience”? Now they should have “over 15 years” and may have other updates, such as new certifications or recognition. The new year is a great time to have staff update their profiles.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even brainstorm ideas on how to update pages to show off your company culture. For example, Cloud Horizon’s Meet the Team page displays the team member’s photo/name/title and on hover changes to a photo of them as a kid, and the title is replaced with what they wanted to be when they grew up. Often, it’s helpful to mention personal interests, schools attended, or groups volunteered with as a way to connect on a personal level with customers.
7. Check Your Online Business Listings
For local businesses with an address listed on the web, January is a great time to check that all of your business information is accurate and up-to-date on social media and in online directories, apps, and sites like Yelp and AroundMe.
To check the health of your listings, you can use our Free Listings Scanner.
8. Update Links
With all of the URL additions and removals over the years, some links on your site almost always become outdated. Examples include linking to pages on your own site or other sites that no longer exist or linking to URLs that redirect to other URLs. Every time you link to a nonexistent or low-quality page, it sends low-quality signals to Search Engines that may hurt your search performance.
To analyze this at scale, you’ll want to use a website crawler like Screaming Frog. Tools like this show you all the links on your site and their details, allowing you to easily make these updates.
9. Clean Up Your CMS (WordPress/Wix/Joomla)
Most websites, especially for local businesses, use a CMS (Content Management System) that acts as a website builder without needing extensive coding knowledge. Some of the most popular among these are WordPress, Joomla, and Wix.
Each of these CMS systems has a different set of cleanup steps involved. For sites with extensions and plugins like WordPress and Joomla, you’ll want to be sure to update all your themes and plugins and uninstall any that haven’t been used in some time. For sites like Wix with elaborate dashboards, the new year is a great time to customize dashboards.
10. Improve Your Site Speed
One of the most frustrating aspects of SEO is Site Speed and Core Web Vitals, which Google announced a few years ago was officially a ranking factor. Website owners can get Core Web Vitals scores with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool where the report even shows actions you can take to improve your site speed. The challenge is many of these recommendations are extremely technical.
Whether you are an SEO professional or a site owner, I suggest focusing on the largest opportunities and trying whatever you can to improve speed even if it’s just by a second or two. Although Site Speed (part of Core Web Vitals) isn’t among the most important ranking factors at the moment, it very well could become more important in the future.