A website is a bit like a classic car – with regular maintenance it will perform well and with some care and attention, it can stay looking good and be reliable for years to come. Let the maintenance slide a little though and that same classic car soon becomes just an ‘old’ car. So too your once modern website becomes just another old-fashioned and outdated site.

Things move quickly online and it’s easy for your website to fall behind the competition while you concentrate on your day to day business tasks.

Here at #TheLab we frequently look at websites that are no longer performing as well as they should. A good percentage of these are ‘brochure sites’ – sites that don’t sell anything directly but are intended to advertise your services, attract new customers and allow them to contact you easily.

Here’s something we get asked quite a bit:

My website works OK, why do I need to update it?

Imagine a shop window where the display never changes. All the other stores in the street change their window displays to reflect the changing seasons. Their displays entice shoppers through the door and inform them of current offers, events and promotions they might not otherwise have known about.

It’s the same with your website. It’s a perfect place to inform and entice new customers, so why aren’t you making the most of it?  You don’t need to spend the earth and some simple regular checks and updates can make a big difference to how your potential customers perceive your business.

Regularly update front page

Your website’s front page is just like a shop window, except it’s visible from anywhere in the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so it makes sense to keep it fresh. This can be as easy as adding changing sliders to reflect what’s new in your business such as new services you offer, new products, sales and special offers or industry hot topics (linking to an article on your blog).

The goal here is to keep your front page current, relevant to your potential customers and to establish your credibility and trustworthiness with them.

Checks

Every 3 months review your ‘static’ pages (the ones that don’t change very often). Make sure any contact details, dates, store locations, numbers of employees and other important information is still correct. Take the opportunity to rewrite anything that’s in danger of going stale.

Mobile

1bA recent report by comScore showed that more than half of all internet traffic now comes from mobile devices and people expect websites to work on whatever device they’re using. If your site is slow to load and difficult to navigate on small screens, you will lose business. In the online space, your competitors are only a click away so you need to do everything you can to make sure visitors to your site can find what they came for with the minimum of fuss. If it doesn’t already, making your site work on mobile devices should be high on your priority list. Google have got this handy tool for you to use to check how friendly it is.

Regular Blog

Blogs are often seen as an add-on to a website, sometimes even an afterthought. Lots of blogs are started with enthusiasm, but once that enthusiasm wanes they can become a chore to keep updated and they can get abandoned.

In fact, blogs are an incredibly powerful tool that helps you to engage with and inform your existing and potential customers. Blogs can also help you build your authority as an expert in your sector, encourage brand loyalty and increase your search rankings by keeping fresh, original and genuinely useful content flowing onto your website.

Think of your favourite brand and go take a look at their website – chances are they’ve got a blog, and chances are it was updated this week.

Technicalities

We’ve covered why your website should definitely, definitely work on mobile devices (no excuses!) but now let’s take a look at some of the technical things you can do to tune up your website and make it run more smoothly.

Speed

Remember, people in the online space are impatient. Your site may look great, but if it takes a long time to load it puts people off and they’ll soon go elsewhere. Making your site load faster, therefore, makes good sense.  Google’s Page Speed Insights tool lets you test your website speed and makes recommendations that your technical chaps can work through to make sure your pages load quickly.

Update plugins, extensions and add-ons

Keeping abreast of updates to add-ons, plugins and extensions used on your site is good practice. Plugin makers often use updates to introduce new features and security updates, so it’s a good idea to update to the most recent version.

While you’re thinking about plugins use the opportunity to review whether you still need that particular functionality on your site – perhaps you can remove it now? Maybe someone else has done it better and it’s time to get a different option.

Remove unnecessary weight

A few years ago there was a trend for websites to have ‘snow’ falling down the screen in the run up to Christmas (which now seems to start in September here in the UK!). While this may be an amazing effect the first time you see it, the novelty soon wears thin and becomes annoying.

Everything on your website should add value – it must be relevant and of worth to the visitor Trust us, they can manage without the snow effects, so lose anything that isn’t genuinely of use to your customers.

That goes for content too, take some time to look through all your website’s pages and trim down or break up any long passages of text. Is that image gallery from 3 years ago really still necessary?

Lose anything that’s no longer relevant. Ditch the dead wood.

The aim here is to help visitors get to what they want without having to work for it or get distracted.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Making sure your site ranks well in search engine results is a major factor in getting new customers, but this should always be seen as a longer term goal. Take it from us, there is no ‘quick fix’ for getting your site on page one of Google – it takes time, hard work and technical expertise to get your site as good as it can be – and even then there are no guarantees.

Don’t be tempted by companies offering to get your site to the top of Google’s rankings by next week.  It’s possible that they will get you onto page one, but you’ll find that your site will just as quickly fall down the rankings again and you may well incur a penalty from Google that affects your site’s future rankings too. If you want to know about SEO and how it can work for your site, come and talk to us. We’re a Google Partner and we do this stuff every day – so we’ll give you honest, professional and accurate advice.

Check your stats

Google Analytics does much more than give you the number of visitors to your website. It can also identify problems and pain points on your website, landing and exit pages, what your customers were looking for, how long they spent on your site, where they came from, what device they were using and a whole host of other measurements.

Keeping up with your site stats can help you see which pages are working for you and which need attention. They can also help you decide where to spend marketing budgets and assign resources for best results.

We can help

We know you’re busy. We know you’ve got your hands full running your business and website maintenance isn’t always on top of your priority list.

Here at #TheLab websites are what we do and we’re always happy to have a chat and see how we can help you get your website working harder for your business. We offer a full range of services, from ad hoc technical support and search engine optimisation to a full website rebuild, online marketing, social media management and more.

It all starts with a free consultation. Book yours now and take the first step to a harder working website.