This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Web Development” and “The Ultimate Guide to SEO” blog series.
You haven’t updated your website in years. You’d like a new one but, frankly, building the last one was a major headache–time consuming and disruptive to business. Also, you’re not really sure what you want in a website anyway. So it lingers.
This happens a lot. Many businesses don’t update a website until customers or partners start to complain about outdated design, a performance problem, missing features, or inaccurate information.
Is your website too old? It’s not so much a matter of age, but whether if it is doing all it can for you. If your website is a simple billboard with contact information so customers can find you, you may opt to leave it alone. If you want your website to bring you new business and help you qualify and close sales leads, then there are some ways to tell if it needs attention–either a refresh or a complete overhaul.
The fact is that with changes to search engine ranking criteria, older websites can be hurting businesses more than they are helping them. Here are six ways your website might be hurting your business, six tests you can run to see if yours is one of them.
1) Page Speed
Google now measures user experience in its ranking criteria–meaning if people don’t like what they find (stay awhile and/or access multiple pages), your rankings will go down–a lot. One of the issues it measures is page speed. Go to Google’s PageSpeed Insights and run a speed test. It will measure and rank your page speed and give you some suggestions for how to improve it.
2) Mobile Friendliness
More searches happen on mobile devices than on personal computers–even when people are at their homes and offices. This means that your site has to display well on mobile devices, or you will be punished by Google and, more importantly, by your potential customers. What makes a site mobile friendly? Responsiveness (changes shape to fit different devices), ease of use with fingers (scrolling is better than clicks, phone numbers and email address should launch calls or email windows when tapped), and usability on the move (big, easy to read text and big, easy to tap buttons when mobile). How do you know where your site stands? Google has a test for that too–the Mobile-Friendly Test.
3) Broken Links
Nothing says “old” like broken links. Google hates them, and so do your visitors. If your site is old, it is likely that some of the content it links to has been moved or removed from the web. There are a lot of free link checkers out there. Dead Link Checker is a good one–you can evaluate your site one time or set it up for regular checkups.
4) Page Layout
This is something you can test all by yourself. Google has been rolling out its “Top Heavy” algorithm since 2012. It now penalizes pages with too many ads or too many graphics at the top of a page, forcing users to scroll to get the content that you promised them. If the content people are looking for is “below the fold”–out of view when the page opens, you’ll be penalized.
5) Traffic Check
Hopefully, you have some kind of analytics installed on your website that allows you to measure traffic. Google Analytics is probably the most common one. Look at your traffic over a year or two–or even longer. If it is going down, it is likely due to some of these issues and is a sign that your site is in need of assistance.
6) Brand Alignment
This is another self-test. Look in a mirror, then look at your website. If your website doesn’t reflect who you are as a business, then it may be turning people away. If you sell high-end products, for example, and your website is old and outdated, it will be out of sync with the image you want to present.
Understand the Business Value
Ultimately, your investment in your website will depend on its value to your business. If it can be a driver of leads and sales, it is important to make sure it has the features and design elements to perform. If your site is a brand building or enhancing vehicle, it should reflect the brand experience you deliver. If it is a kind of modern day Yellow Pages ad–just a reminder to people that you are there–an older site may be fine. Bear in mind if your site falls into the Yellow Pages category, then it will probably only be found by people who are looking specifically for your business address or phone number.
People Are Looking For You
Research shows that some 92 percent of people research online to get comfortable with a product or company before contacting it. For most businesses, this means they need an effective online presence that helps them get found and draws people to take the next step of engagement. If you have a solid business that solves a real problem, people are looking for you online. Will they find you? The age of a website can definitely impact that process. Take these tests and see where you stand.
The good news is that if you do need help updating your website, the experience is likely going to be a whole lot faster and less disruptive than you may have experienced in the past. Web design has come a long way in terms of efficiency, with templates and plugins that require far less custom programming. Not only are sites easier to build, they are easier to update and to integrate with marketing and lead generation systems that make them more effective at capturing leads and converting leads to sales.
This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Web Development” blog series.