If your website is more than 2 or 3 years old and hasn’t been looked at for a while, there’s a good chance it needs updating. It could have problems – that aren’t even visible to you or your audience – which requires more urgent attention.
Even if it’s only ensuring core features are up to date, the web moves so quickly these days, that it’s easy to get left behind. Fail to keep things in check now and you could have more serious problems down the line.
Technical demands, people’s viewing habits, and even the way Google ranks your website change constantly. Ensuring users can find your site, navigate comfortably through it and fulfill your business objectives before leaving, requires regular attention,
1. Slow loading pages
Google pays a lot of attention to the time web pages take to load. Frequently, they rank quicker pages above those with slow loading times. This is backed up by research showing visitors increasingly expect sites to appear at lightning speed.
Use a tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to test your own site. If the homepage takes longer than 3 seconds to load – over a good broadband connection – there’s a chance you have a problem. Don’t panic, this does not mean your entire website needs redesigning. There are usually small edits that can make a big difference to page load speeds.
2. Low ranking for your most important keywords
If you’re not generating traffic from your most important keywords you should definitely consider refreshing your text, re-writing important pages, and presenting them in a way that’s more search-engine friendly.
Optimization may sound like hard work, but it can’t be ignored. Always use well-written text, rich in the keywords that apply to your business, and apply meta-tags, headings, and clearly-labeled images to every page.
3. Your website doesn’t look good on mobile phones or tablets
Depending on what business you’re in, 40%-60% of your web traffic will be using a phone or tablet to visit your website. If it doesn’t look impressive across all devices there’s a very good chance that human beings – and search engines – will pass you by, in favor of those that do.
Websites that adapt to different screen sizes are known as ‘responsive’. Any site that struggles to load on a smartphone, or where text, calls-to-action, and images are out of sequence, enlarged, or shrunk is not responsive and in need of updating.
Google now places such importance on mobile, they provide this free tool for owners to check the ‘responsiveness’ of their sites.
4. You’re not generating new leads online
A website should be your best marketing tool, generating sales, new leads, and growing your business daily. The most successful sites include well-designed landing pages, short and precise contact forms, prominently placed calls-to-action, and helpful links to the most important pages.
If your website isn’t generating sales, leads, or conversions it’s not doing its job and it’s time for a change. Check out your most successful competitors and note what they do better than you. Make it a goal to reproduce those same elements on your own website.
5. You don’t have a Content Management System (CMS)
Using a CMS to manage your website makes it easy for you and your team to control its content without having to use code, or require any programming skills. A Content Management System – like WordPress for example – allows you to edit pages easily, write a blog, and give multiple users different permission levels and roles.
6. Flash and Java are a big no-no
If your website is still using Flash or Java elements stop reading this article and start redesigning it now. Most mobile devices can’t handle either software and Chrome no longer even supports Flash.
This is a classic case of what I mentioned earlier – the evolution of the web. While add-ons such as Adobe Flash used to be the best way to display multimedia elements, it’s been surpassed by quicker, smarter technology.
7. Your Analytics are crying out for help.
Analytics can tell you a lot about your website’s health. High bounce rates or very low levels of time spent on your site should be taken as warning signs. Likewise, if visitors only view a page or two before leaving your site there’s definitely room for improvement.
(By the way, if you’re not already using Google Analytics to measure your website’s performance you really should be.)
8. You’re receiving large amounts of spam email or warnings of an attack
This one’s self-explanatory. Cyber attacks are on the increase as is the number of people trying to spam your website with dodgy links. Online security has never been more of a threat to business owners than it is now and your website must be resistant to hackers.
Warning messages or large amounts of email from unfamiliar addresses are clear warning signs, that should be acted on promptly.
9. Your website looks old fashioned and out of date
Be honest, take a look at the competition and ask yourself the question; ‘does my website look as good as theirs’. Then ask colleagues, friends, and even clients what they think. Good design may be timeless, but taste and progress often define our view of what looks attractive – especially online.
First impressions are everything and – as the old saying goes – you only have a few seconds to seduce your audience. After that, you’ve lost them forever. If your website is out of date and doesn’t match their expectations visitors will simply move on.
10. It offers a poor user experience or has technical errors
Nothing gets visitors hitting the back button faster than hard to find content, links that don’t work, or difficulty navigating a website. Explore your site on different browsers and devices. Take the same passage you’d like new customers to travel – through to conversion. Then ask the question ‘could this be easier?’
The purpose of your website is to provide visitors with everything they need to make an informed buying decision. People are searching for answers. If it’s a struggle to find them they’ll look elsewhere.