A company’s website is likely one of the most visible marketing pieces that is produced. Just like many other marketing pieces, a website requires regular updates in order to remain current and relevant. The way visitors view your website often reflects the way they view your company. Does your current site say “old and outdated” or “fresh and modern”?
When to Update and What to Evaluate
There are several questions that you can ask to help determine whether it’s time for a refresh or overhaul. These questions include:
- Does the look and feel of the website complement your company’s other marketing components, such as marketing collateral, email templates, direct mail pieces, tradeshow booths, or advertisements?
- Does your website’s content match the marketing messages in your company’s collateral, emails, and direct mail pieces?
- Does your company’s website appear in the top 10 organic Google search results when searching for your company’s name or other keywords that are important to your business?
- Is the copyright date more than two years old?
Depending on the answers to these questions, you may need to make either a few small changes or consider a full-scale redesign. No matter the scope, there are a few components that you should be sure to pay attention to:
Content: Look at your site and imagine yourself as a first-time visitor. Can you quickly grasp a high-level feel for what your company does? If not, you probably need to update your homepage content. Likewise, examine the content on each page of your site with the mindset of a first-time visitor, updating content when necessary. Remember that visitors will only skim content so be sure to grab their attention quickly and do not rely on large blocks of text that will not likely be read.
SEO: Since SEO best practices frequently change due to algorithm changes on the part of search engines, it is a good idea to reevaluate your SEO strategy when updating your website. Are you still trying to cram your content with keywords in hope of reaching the top position on Google? If so, you will want to revamp your content to better reflect natural language and flow in order to avoid negative penalties from search engines. Additionally, here are a few SEO-focused suggestions to take into consideration when updating your website:
- Ensure your meta data is up to date and that the page content correlates with the meta data for a given page. (A great tool for WordPress users is the WordPress SEO Plugin.)
- Provide links within your site to other areas of the site with relevant content. This not only makes it easier for visitors to navigate the site but ensures search engines can easily find the most relevant pages for a given topic or keyword.
- Write articles and other content pieces on topics of interest that are aligned with the keywords most relevant to your business.
Design: Does your website’s design look current? If it looks dated, you may want to conduct a redesign. Many innovative formats have emerged recently that you may want to consider. No matter which format or style you choose, you should remain focused on the long-term view in order to ensure that your design remains relevant for as long as possible.
Navigation: Are there areas of your site that are hard to navigate or is it hard for visitors to find the content that they are looking for? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you will probably want to reconsider the navigation structure of your website. Also, looking at your analytics data can help you uncover areas with large drop-offs that you may want to investigate and work to fix via updated navigation methods. If you end up changing your navigation structure, don’t forget to set up redirects to the old URL. This ensures that visitors and search engines can find the content they are looking for.
Don’t Be Intimidated
A website redesign can be overwhelming once you realize the number of pages you have, the amount of content on each page, and the graphic or development skills needed to produce a stellar product. Outsourcing parts of or the entire redesign project can prevent the inevitable headaches that come with a project of this size.