Can you smell the Christmas trees already? Are you hearing Christmas carols? Are your neighbors chatting you up about Hanukkah yet? You know what that means: it’s time to prepare your website for the holidays.
It’s already December, but there’s a lot you can do in a little amount of time to get your site in shape to welcome your prospects and clients while you’re away sippin’ eggnog (or Cabernet) and hugging family (or, y’know, catchin’ up on Netflix. I won’t judge, be free to be you!).
Let’s go over some basics — and a few more advanced concepts — to cover both website maintenance and marketing in the next couple of weeks so you can be relaxed and happy by the time late December comes around.
Get these tips to prepare your website for the holidays under your belt and stress of the season will barely touch you, if at all ;)
How to prepare your website for the holidays
Make sure your website is responsive
Most people these days are visiting your website on their mobile device — and you need to care about giving them a good user experience on your website to get them to stay and convert into subscribers and customers.
I’ve written about this topic plenty of times already, including when Google started penalizing websites that aren’t responsive a.k.a. mobile-friendly back in early 2015.
Pssst… Not sure if your website is responsive? Here’s how to tell.
If your website isn’t responsive yet, get on it, sister! Holler at me and we’ll get you sorted.
Speed up your website for faster loading time
User experience is everything, and that largely means a need for speed, son. If your website’s taking ages to load, people are gonna get bored and clickity clack on outta there and on to your competitor’s website. Rough and true.
It doesn’t have to be hard. Best practices like keeping your blog post images appropriately sized help a lot over time.
Here are 3 tips to speed up your website ASAP and get you going on the right track as you prepare your website for the holidays.
Lock hackers out
Whether you’re out on vacation or eating delicious pie with your family (and downing hot chocolate like there’s no tomorrow, amirite?) or not, you don’t wanna be alerted by a friend or client that your website’s been taken down and replaced with the white screen of death or worse, a taunting message from an insolent hacker (can you imagine how RED your face would turn?). It sucks but it’s true: hackers are targeting your website.
So here are some basic website security steps you can take right now to protect your website and screw those bastards.
Done with those? Step it up and lock it down tight with the DIY Website Maintenance Course.
Make sure you have backups running
I kinda sound like a broken record when it comes to this — and for dope reason, y’all! Backups are your plan B, C, D, ad infinitum. Whether we’re talkin’ how to prepare your website for the holidays or just how to keep from going crazy at any time of year in case an unforeseen website calamity hits, you need backups.
Don’t know where to start? Here’s a review of one of my favorite backup + migration tools: Backup Buddy.
And if you’re still not convinced you need backups? Read this post on what happens when you don’t back up your website.
Totally lost when it comes to backups and how to set them up, let alone how to bring your website back to life from a backup if your website crashes or you break it? I’ve got you! The DIY Website Maintenance Course will answer all your questions — and more.
Going on vacation? Prepare your website for the holidays!
(Hell yes vacation! Send me a picture.) Let people know when you’ll be unavailable. Setting up a notice on your website and (pro tip!) an email autoresponder with your away dates will allow both you and your prospects/favorite clients to breathe a sigh of holiday relief.
Consider things such as:
- How long they’ll have to wait for your response
- Is there someone they can contact if they run into an emergency? Make it easy for your client to reach them (and prep your emergency person!)
Test your contact form
Especially if you’ll be traveling, this is key. Just send a test message with your email and check if you get it. If you don’t, time to troubleshoot!
And while you’re at it, it’s always a fantabulous idea to optimize your Contact page for conversions. It’s easy and fast, don’t worry!
Remember Holiday Shipping Deadlines
Run an ecommerce site where you sell physical products? Many of your peeps may want the awesome stuff you make before the holiday hits so they can put it under the Christmas tree/by the Hanukkah decorations/etcetera.
Here’s where a few details on your end will prepare your website for the holidays and show your customers a little extra love.
Remember that at this time of year, most people leave their shopping for the last minute. So make it 9,830% clear that there’s a cut-off date for ordering your product if they want to receive it before the big day.
Do your best to be uber-clear about it (bold/highlight/CAP it everywherrrre) because unhappy customers who didn’t receive their items in time can cause a lot of damage to your online reputation in the long-term (Google remembers and future prospective customers will see it!) even if it’s fully their fault for ordering too late.
This date should be front and center on your website and in your marketing emails. Don’t be afraid to steadily make it more prominent as the deadline draws nearer. This goes for your marketing emails too.
Speaking of cut-off dates for shipping — sell small digital products or physical goods? Take advantage of holiday sales to run deals!
(Ahem… Get the DIY Website Maintenance Course for 40% OFF until XMAS! Already have a website and just need to learn how the hell to keep WordPress from killing your dreams? I’ll teach you how to make WordPress your bitch — or pick your favorite non-sexist term!)
Start your emails before the big sale to get people ready and excited, and remind them the day(s) of and when they have just a few hours left to commit to the purchase. If you have an advanced system set up for this (for instance, one that emails people who abandoned their cart with images of the products they left behind + reminders to go back and complete their purchase) you’ll be waaaay ahead of the game.
MailChimp, Klaviyo, Springbot, and other email marketing tools (in addition to ecommerce systems like Shopify) offer this functionality either out of the box or via advanced features.
Beyond the holidays: Analyze for the coming year
Go over your content calendar and your analytics — where were the traffic spikes and valleys? What about subscriber spikes? Were your SEO efforts fruitful?
Analyze what worked and what didn’t so you can create more of the content your peeps have shown you they love and crave, and spend less time on what proved useless.
Are you a total newb when it comes to Google Analytics? Check out DigiMorphs’s economical and quick service to set up your Google Analytics. She also has a cool blog post on using your Google Analytics data to brainstorm new content and services based on what your audience has been enjoying on your website.