It’s not enough to JUST have a website. It needs to look good and present information in a clear, accessible way. It also needs to create a strong first impression of your business. Most importantly, it needs to attract customers.
So when was the last time you updated your website? Two years ago? Five years ago?
If you can’t even remember, join the club of business owners who know they should do it, but haven’t gotten around to it. Let’s discuss why this is a fatal flaw in your marketing strategy.
Competition is everywhere. The flood of information from social media and news channels is enough to stretch the patience of many small business owners. So how do you get your message to your audience amongst all the clutter? Since your website is probably the hub of your marketing efforts, it makes sense to start there.
Here are 7 guidelines to help you determine when your small business website needs an update:
Content is old and/or outdated – Outdated Theme & Technologies
Large, slow loading background images
It’s not mobile-friendly or responsive
“Not Secure” Notification On Your Web Browser
No tracking of key metrics – Page Speed and Bounce Rate
When designing a website, a best practice is to follow the old saying of “less is more”. This is evident today in the clean, modern styles used by designers. Making use of “whitespace” for clarity and simplicity is a common design trend with sites in the 2020’s.
It is better to say less clearly and understandably then crush as much information on a page that your visitor most likely will not read. This was a flaw in the design of many sites in the 1990’s and should not be repeated. Users are flooded with information all around them and you want visitors to your site to have an enjoyable experience with simple, logical navigation and a clear message.
Visitors to your site want to see the latest information about your business. Is that blog post from 2015 still relevant? If not, update it with fresh content or remove it. The same goes for the stock photos so many sites employ. Does your imagery reflect the personality and character of your business? If not, it might be time to add fresh, new images or better yet, relevant videos or testimonials.
When driving a car, we want the GPS to give us the most direct and easy to follow route to our destination. It’s the same concept for website navigation – provide a clear, easy, user-friendly way for visitors to find the information they are seeking. This is done through straightforward and simple navigation menus or a sitewide search function.
Outside of e-commerce sites, you should try to limit the number of sub-menus if at all possible. Structure your site so that it makes sense to the user, which is not always the way you may categorize your products or services.
Large, slow loading background images
While videos and large images are attractive and engaging, they can also cause your web pages to load slowly, causing visitors to leave your website in search of faster sites with similar products or information.
Your web designer should be very familiar with the techniques and tools to optimize image and video loading to minimize load times and enhance the experience of users.
Not sure how your site ranks in terms of speed? Try Google Pagespeed Insights to get an idea of the speed and integrity of your website.
Most people access the web these days from mobile devices, such as phones and tablets, as opposed to personal computers. Web designers need to design sites for mobile viewing or risk being penalized by search engines such as Google and Bing. This means designing sites that automatically adjust the pages to account for the type of device so that the information displays properly.
If you are not sure if your website is mobile responsive, enter your URL into this Google Site to find out.
“Not Secure” Notification
If you have ever seen the warning in the above image when you go to a particular website, the web page is not providing a secure connection to visitors. When your browser connects to a website, it can either use the secure “HTTPS” or the insecure “HTTP” protocol.
If you website is displaying as not secure, contact your web hosting company to get a “SSL Certificate” which establishes a secure connection for visitors and changes your URL to begin with HTTPS, indicating your site is trustworthy.
Tracking of key metrics
Just as with any other business strategy, your marketing strategy needs to be tracked and measured.
Earlier we discussed page speed and how to determine where your site ranks. Another key metric that needs to be tracked is “bounce rate”. If you’ve been pouring your heart and time into blogging, and spending your budget on SEO and marketing to bring a lot of traffic to your website – and then they immediately leave your homepage (or any other page) moments after arriving, you have a real problem. In other words, they are “bouncing right off the page” and you are losing leads and potential clients.
A high bounce rate indicates that you’re doing something wrong, either with content, with the navigation of your website, or overall look and feel on your site. On average, a bounce rate between 40-60% is considered to be OK (this varies depending on your industry). Your website designer has the tools to check your bounce rate to ensure you are within a normal range.
In summary, work with an experienced web designer /digital marketing professional to ensure your business website follows the above techniques and principles and avoids these common mistakes. This is easily done by reviewing and updating your website design, content and metrics on a more regular basis than you are probably doing right now.
Website maintenance is similar to car maintenance. Periodic updates are a more cost-effective way to manage your investment rather than a major overhaul over the longer term. It will also make for a better, more beneficial experience for anyone looking to do business with your small business.