MOT your charity website: Part 3
The latest instalment in our MOT your website series covers four more important areas of website maintenance – content, sitemaps, metadata and backups
Is your website performing at its best? We’re sharing Pedalo Web Design‘s ‘MOT your website’ tips to help ensure your site is delivering the best possible results for your charity. Following on from parts one and two, this part covers four more important areas of website maintenance – content, sitemaps, metadata and backups.
Web content is any material on your website that a user can see and/or engage with. It includes web pages, articles, blogs, videos, infographics, testimonials and webinars. Producing regular new/updated content is a vital component of site success as it shows that your website is current and relevant, helps search engines find and index your content, and enables you to connect with new and existing audiences.
For great web content, think about what your supporters/audiences would like to engage with and create that, rather than just thinking about what you’d like to produce. Try to use different formats to appeal to different people – Canva is a great free resource for creating images and graphics. For written content, make sure you use plain English so it’s easy to read and enjoy. You should also publish content as regularly as possible and share it widely – via your website, in emails/newsletters and on social media.
A sitemap is a list of website pages. It can be either a HTML sitemap, which helps users navigate around your site and reach the most relevant information, or an XML sitemap, which is used by search engines to crawl and index your webpages. The latter increases the chances that your content appears in search results and is particularly important if your website is new, has a lot of rich media (such as audio, graphics or video), or is large and difficult to navigate, as all of these factors will make it more difficult for search engines to find and index your content.
Sitemaps can be created using free online tools such as XML-sitemaps and Screaming Frog. Once you have your XML sitemap, you’ll need to upload this to the Google Search Console (in: crawl > ‘sitemaps > add/test sitemap) to help Google find it. You’ll also need to add the HTML sitemap to the front-end of your site for users to access. It may be helpful to alter the HTML version and arrange links alphabetically or by topic to aid in navigation.
Metadata is a summary of what’s on a webpage. It’s used by search engines – both to decide if your webpage is relevant in a search and to display to users in their search results. The quality of the metadata therefore influences whether users find your webpage and whether they choose to click through. Metadata is also often displayed on social media when sharing links to your site.
The most important website metadata is the title tag and meta description. You can update this in the back-end of your site using a plugin or metadata module. Great metadata is brief, relevant and persuasive. It should encourage a user to click onto your content, contain the keywords that users will be searching for, and be concise – around 60 characters for the title tag and 300 characters for the meta description.
A website backup is a copy of all of your site’s files and information. It’s like an insurance plan or safety net, as it can be used to reinstate your website in case of a problem. Whether your site becomes infected with a virus, a software update goes wrong, or an integral file is accidentally deleted, you’ll be able to get your website online again rapidly with a backup.
Websites are usually backed up by website hosting providers. Some do this automatically as part of their services whereas some require additional fees. It’s advisable to check what’s included in your hosting package and ensure that backups are regular enough to prevent you losing too much data if the worst happens. You should also check your backups regularly, and use different locations (one backup on your computer/hard drive and another offsite or in the cloud) so that even if one fails, you still have another one available.
Pedalo will be back with part four of its charity website maintenance tips soon.