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Protecting Yourself from Changes that Hurt a Website

Tony Simpson

Adding new website services or functionality can often cause a knock-on-effect on something else so we show how to protect your website from the changes that hurt.

Frequently the issues that some changes cause go unnoticed because the change wasn’t thoroughly tested before going live.

And then there are the website changes you don’t even make but your web host or a hacker does.


How to protect a website from changes that hurt

It is all too easy to assume a minor change doesn’t need testing. In my experience that’s exactly when things go wrong, because it wasn’t tested again, when it should have been.

Sometimes things work OK when tested locally on your PC but fail to work when uploaded to the web host.

Sometimes changes cause other things to go wrong due to an oversight, but it also happens because of a lack of knowledge or experience by the webmaster.

Over time as more changes to a website are made, the problems tend to accumulate usually because they go unnoticed or unreported.

But does it matter whether a site has broken links, pages not found and missing images ?

Does it matter if the site is not search engine friendly ?

Does it matter if the site is not visitor friendly ?

Well, I hope you would say yes it does !


Why fixing problems with your website matters

  1. Too many broken links and missing images scream of a broken and un-maintained site to both visitors and search engines.
  2. If a site looks un-maintained and neglected visitors are less likely to do business with it.
  3. Search engines don’t like sites with broken links because their spiders (bots) get trapped in link loops trying to find things that don’t exist.
  4. If your site is slow to crawl because of broken links, poor page coding and slow page load times, this will eventually affect your site’s ranking with the major search engines.

Google in particular has stated site speed is becoming a more important factor. Slow pages and slow sites take up more of Google’s resource time so they tend to get crawled less often and less deeply and that will affect a site’s ranking.

So, I hope you can see why you should be careful when making changes to your site that you don’t create other problems which add up over time and can hurt the site both with your visitors and search engines.


The changes you don’t make

Then there are the problems caused by changes you don’t make, but you web host does. These generally happen when your web host does updates to their servers that cause one or more of your hosted site scripts to stop working correctly.

Then there are the hackers who install scripts on your site, hack your contact forms, guestbook and exploit known security weaknesses in common platforms like drupal, joomla, wordpress and many well known shopping carts.

You're probably not aware of it but hackers are probing your website every day for weaknesses they can exploit. And if you think it’s up to your web host to protect your site, you'd be wrong.

Let me give you an example of what happened to a real-estate agents website. The client maintained a property database on a well known platform which was hacked and also infected with a Trojan virus. This was discovered during an audit of the site.

The web host rather than help, shut down the site until the client had the database removed. The loss of the site's property database was a major economic blow to this real-estate business.

To see if your site is being probed by hackers check the 404 error logs on your web hosting account. If there are lots of listings for files and locations on your site that don’t exist your website is being probed by hackers for weaknesses.


Carry out a website audit

A website audit much like a financial audit can uncover wrong doings and bad practices that if uncorrected, can over time lead to significant losses of search engine traffic and lost sales.

The best time for a website audit is within 6 months of a site first going live and ideally no later than 12 months after launch.

An early website audit benefits a new site the most because it can reveal and correct shortcomings in the design that will put the site on the right path with the search engines and site visitors.

To your Success
Website Auditor
Tony Simpson
Website Audit Expert


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Tony Simpson provides website optimization and conversion improvement advice through website audits to help site owners make their websites more people and search engine friendly, resulting in increased traffic and sales.

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