So it’s the New Year and everywhere you look there is another article, blog post, tweet or status update about resolutions. Resolutions make people do crazy things. Gyms have their best month of the year. Sales of time management products go through the roof. People run out and lay down hundreds of dollars for microdermabrasion. It’s nuts.

Not to be left out of the mix, however much I despise resolutions, there is really no better time for to highlight a few things you should be doing with your website than at the beginning of the year when everything feels fresh. This means that below you will find the five things I recommend to my clients most often, and that you should make a practice no matter what time of year you start them. (But you should really start them now. Just sayin’.)

Make your website and social media play nicely together

How much time to do you spend doing the nuts and bolts of social media? This includes links to posted updates like blog posts, other content on your website, promoting your product, trailer, DVD, album or single, or services in general. Chances are it’s too much. This year, resolve to make your website and social media play better together.

Using services like HootSuite, you can add Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and even Foursquare profiles and schedule updates (so it looks like you’re there, even when you’re not.)

HootSuite can also feed new posts from your website directly to your selected profiles, so when you click publish on your website, it will automatically publish to social media. There are also a variety of plugins available which do this, such as JetPack (free) and Network Publisher (paid.)

Making services and plugins like these do the heavy lifting frees you up to actually connect with the followers you worked so hard to earn.

 

Focus on the mobile version of your site

There was a time when having a website that looked fine and functioned on a phone was good enough. Not anymore. The ubiquity of smartphones and tablets means that almost a full 20% of all traffic is coming from mobile devices – and that’s not a number you can afford to ignore.

If your theme isn’t already mobile friendly, you should speak to your designer to get a quote to make it compatible. If you don’t have cash in the hopper for that right now, that’s alright. Plugins like WPTouch and MobilePress are excellent plugins that can get you looking like mobile is something you actually thought about in no time.

 

Set up a maintenance calendar

This is something most website owners are terrible at. Quick reality check for the New Year: your work isn’t finished when your website launches. Just like a car, it needs to be regularly maintained in order to keep running smoothly. You need to update plugins and WordPress core. You need to refresh your static content and review how you update your dynamic content. You need to look at your site in multiple browsers to make sure recent updates didn’t obliterate that beautiful gallery you have. You need to update some of your SEO terms and check on your website traffic.

It’s not that hard (even though I know from personal experience that making time for it really is.) If you set aside time every month to reconcile your finances, then you can set aside some time to also peek at your website. Make a list of things that will need looking at (or as your designer to help you) and then just do it.

 

Focus on your content strategy

The words “if you build it, they will come,” were the worst crime perpetrated on humanity. Sure, Field of Dreams is an amazing movie that makes you weepy every time (and miss Kevin Costner just a little bit), but on the web this statement is categorically untrue. Simply because your website exists on the internet doesn’t mean anyone is going to find it.

The best way to get people to your website is to have fresh content on a regular basis. It makes Google like you, but it also means you have fresh things to present to your followers, thus keeping you top of mind.

If you are a musician or filmmaker, this is how you engage you fans and make people want to invest in your film or album by watching it or buying it. If you are a service provider, this is how you get people to book with you. If you make amazing pottery, this is how you get people interested in purchasing.

Content takes time, however. You need to plan out what you’re going to write about and when. Then you need to make time to do it. Not making time for content is perhaps the biggest mistake website owners make across the board. So change that – this year!

 

Consider a home page revamp

Your home page is the most important page on your website (other than the one that says “buy this awesome thing from me!”) It immediately tells the visitor whether or not you are what they are looking for, and if they want to stay. Or at least, that’s what it’s supposed to do.

You have between 3 and 8 seconds to keep a visitor on your website. If they land and either don’t like what they see, or can’t figure it out, they’re gone… and they will never come back.

Good home pages orient visitors, invite them deeper into the site and guide them along to the place you want them to be. Even if you don’t have the money for a website overhaul, you should think about having a designer look at your home page and give you a quote for what it would take to make it work better for you.

Really, changing your home page can change your business. Get it sorted out this year.