2016 is here! You know that work in your department has began ramping up. Plans and budgets for 2016 are being discussed and finalized. Your plans might not initially include a redesigned website, but if your site falls into any of the following categories you will want to rethink adding web development to your budget for the year.
In 2015, the biggest news story in digital marketing was Google’s new mobile algorithm, which promoted websites with responsive frameworks in the search engine’s results on mobile devices, and left non-responsive sites in the dust. Google’s decision for implementing this algorithm was not made on a whim. Reports published this past year concluded that most online searches were performed from mobile devices than from desktop computers.
Now, if you are a B2B business, or just a skeptic, you might think that this influx of mobile traffic does not apply to your website. If this is the case, take this simple challenge: Ask your Google Analytics admin to pull a report comparing mobile and desktop visitors and their respective bounce rates for the past year. The results just might surprise you. While you might have a decent percentage of mobile users visiting your site, these will likely have a higher bounce rate than desktop users. Simply put, if your site is not responsive, you could be driving away potential leads.
The simplest way to determine if your site is mobile-friendly is to visit it on your own smartphone or mobile device.
If you find that you need to zoom in to read important content, or if you are unable to navigate easily, your site is not mobile-friendly. To check if your site officially passes the Google test, you can use Google’s testing tool.
While it is possible to add a responsive framework to an existing site, if the layout of your site was not built with mobile in mind, the resizing of the page can make the page appear cluttered on a smaller screen. In most cases, it is better to redesign the site, ensuring that it looks as impressive on a smartphone as it does on a desktop.
No Longer Reflects Your Brand or Goals
Why do you have a website? If your answer is “because everyone has one” or something similar, your site probably does not reflect your overall business goals.
If, on the other hand, your answer is “to increase sales by delivering relevant content, establish us as experts in the field and showcase our brand,” then your site should reflect that.
Too often, B2B businesses and businesses that rely on foot traffic, neglect their website design and wind up with templated, cookie-cutter websites developed by one-size-fits-all digital agencies. Not only do these sites end up looking exactly like the competition’s, they also look outdated, cheap and unattractive. Is that the message you want to send to your target audience?
Even custom-designed websites can become outdated. If your site was built during your startup phase, your site might have only focused on brand awareness. But as your brand gains recognition, other business goals might take priority over brand awareness. If your site only supports one step in the funnel, it is alienating those who are not yet at that stage or are further along.
Another sure sign that your site is outdated is if you are embarrassed to send potential clients to your homepage.
If you wince at the thought of your site address on your business card, then it is time for a website refresh.
Hard to Update
One reason your site might not reflect your brand or your goals is accessibility. If no one within your organization can make simple changes, such as adding a product or changing imagery on your site, then you are relying on a third party for important and timely updates. This can cause clogs in your pipeline.
Updating your site on a regular basis also gives search engines like Google a reason to return to your site to index new pages. It also gives users a reason to frequent the site more often.
While some businesses might have the budget to hire an employee who is solely responsible for these updates, others find it is more cost-effective to build a new site on a user-friendly content management system or CMS. One of the most popular CMSs is WordPress, which allows even the most novice Internet users to easily change and update information. With the right web development company, you can still have a custom-designed site on WordPress that can be updated easily. When interviewing potential developers, ask if they provide website training so you can be in control of your site’s content.
High Bounce Rate, No Return
Unless you’re a publisher, high traffic means nothing if it doesn’t produce leads or sales. A look at a basic Google Analytics report will allow you to see the traffic to your site and what percentage of visitors immediately left, known as the bounce rate. While there is no magic number as the standard for bounce rates, as it varies from industry and intent, if the number is greater than the average for your industry, then it is time to rethink how the content on your site is structured.
High bounce rates can occur for a number of reasons.
Your campaigns to drive traffic might be attracting the wrong audience, or your site is not providing the answers to the specific questions users need. Not only does this means users are not engaging with your site, but a high bounce rate reflects poorly in the eyes of search engines and can lead to a lower ranking on results. It is best to analyze the data and design a new site with an actionable solution in mind.
If your site does not offer a clear path for users to find the contact forms or sign-ups that are important to your business goals, then it is not built for conversion.
To eliminate roadblocks, ensure that your new site has clear calls-to-action that drive users to complete the tasks that are in line with your business goals.
Black Hat or Non-existent SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important part of a digital marketing strategy. However, the fight to get on the front page of search engine results can be dirty. Using deceptive tactics to get results, called “black hat SEO,” will eventually catch up to you, resulting in manual actions by Google. Black hat SEO includes building spammy links and keyword stuffing.
Let’s tackle how to detect keyword stuffing first.
Review written content on your site. If it becomes obvious that the same phrase is repeated – often awkwardly – over and over again, your SEO specialist indulged in keyword stuffing. Double-check yourself by searching within the page for that particular phrase. Depending on the length of the article, the phrase should only appear between 3-5 times on the page.
There are several tools that allow you to check for spammy link building. Google’s Webmaster Tools, now called Search Console, includes a report to see where you’ve established links. To navigate to this information, click on “Search Traffic” in the left-hand navigation, then “Links to Your Site.” On this screen you can find out who links the most to your site, what pages of your site are linked to the most, and even what words have been used as anchor text for links.
Another tool for monitoring back links is Moz’s Open Site Explorer. While a paid subscription to Moz is required to use the tool, it is extremely helpful for identifying back links for your site as well as competitor sites. It also gives each link a spam score to help identify potentially harmful links.
If you notice sites unrelated to your business or industry, then you have spammy backlinks.
Now, to be fair, a website refresh will not fix this problem alone. The best way to correct a bad back link is to contact the administrator of the offending site. After contacting the administrator, you can then disavow the link through Search Console.
However, when one black hat tactic is discovered, you can guarantee another is lurking somewhere else on your site. If your site appears to be harboring a coven of black hats, it might be time to burn it and rebuild.
On the flipside, your site might have been designed without any SEO strategy in mind.
If your URL structure is unreadable, your content on main pages is thin, or you do not have a keyword list, your site has not been optimized. To ensure that your SEO strategy is effective, it is best to implement it from the very beginning of the design and development stages. A website refresh will provide the opportunity for SEO success. When redesigning your site, be sure that every element has been built with best practices for SEO and user experience in mind, from content to URL structure to meta-data.
Outdated, Unsupported Code
Remember when Flash was cool? (Keyword being “was” in that sentence.)
Technology changes at an exponential rate. If your site was built with code that is no longer supported by browsers or devices, you have a major problem. This means that most users are not able to access your site. Use a validator to see if there is any outdated code on your homepage. If your homepage does not pass the test, then it is a good indication that the rest of the site is also needing of some upkeep.
To ensure that your entire site is up-to-code (pun intended), make sure that the latest version of your CMS and relevant plugins are installed.
However, after re-evaluating your goals and the functionality of your site, you might decide to add new features to your site. It might be more cost effective and in alignment with your business goals to wipe the slate clean and build a new website from the ground up.
Chunky. Bulky. Oversized.
Do you know the full size of your website? Does every page work to further your business goals?
Bigger is not always better. If you have a bloated, unorganized website, it will be more difficult to monitor your site for security threats, page errors, outdated content and broken links. To check the full size of your website, you will need to use a crawling tool such as Screaming Frog. You might be surprised at the amount of pages that will appear in the results. Screaming Frog will also allow you to see if any of your pages are returning 404 Not Found errors, which damage your credibility with users and search engines.
When reviewing your pages, try to identify which pages are absolutely necessary, which support your goals and which can be eliminated. Pages that serve no use to your business or your audience is deadweight. If there is an imbalance of the good, the bad and the ugly, it is time to redesign your website.
When planning your redesign, use the data from your Google Analytics and other programs to make key decisions on what content and features should be included on your site.
Invest in navigational testing, as that can gain further insight into how users interact with your site and if can easily find key information.
Ready for Your Refresh?
When you have decided that it is time to push the reset button on your site, be sure to choose the right web development company that can guide you through the process and has a proven track record for building sites that drive action.