When Is the Right Time to Update Your Website?
It’s a situation common to businesses of any size, in any sector: you’ve had a website for quite some time, and it’s served its purpose well as the pillar of your online brand-building efforts. Customers and suppliers use it to connect with you, and it’s become as comfortable as an old shoe.
But that comfort may be quietly costing you business. Years of static design and content have more than likely made it almost invisible to search engines and mobile apps – which makes you invisible to new customers and opportunities. After years of your site quietly doing its job, it may be time for a refresh. But how do you know when it’s time to spruce things up? What are the signs that it’s beginning to lose its punch as a key component of your marketing strategy?
Analytics can provide a starting point. In its simplest form, analytics is the process of tracking your website’s performance, crunching the numbers and using the resulting insight to help you decide what you need to do next. Analytics replaces guesswork with fact-based guidance and makes it a lot easier to identify your key points of pain and focus your anything-but-limitless resources to resolve them.
Analytics can also help sell the initiative internally by making quantifiable performance metrics easy for your decision makers to see. And if you can illustrate the payback in a spreadsheet or presentation, you can more easily get the green light.
Analytics can highlight the key signs of a website in need of attention, which include:
Content that hasn’t been refreshed in a while. Stale content is deadly to site performance. It devalues the site’s rankings in search engines – making it harder to find – and also serves as a beacon to visitors that no one is minding the shop. Great content is the backbone of a great website, which in turn makes for great engagement with your potential and existing customers.
Pages that have lower-than-expected traffic. Dead zones are red flags that something needs to be done, and help site administrators prioritize which areas get fixed first.
Pages or resources with high bounce rates. When visitors click on a link only to quickly click elsewhere once the page loads, there’s a good chance it’s due to content or usability issues.
Ineffective use of search. By understanding the search terms that visitors use to find your site, you can fine tune the content and layout to more effectively target preferred prospects and customers. Analytics can quickly pinpoint when this process isn’t working – or isn’t being leveraged at all.
Low conversion rates. If you’re using your site to sell products and services, high abandonment rates could pinpoint choke points in the site’s checkout or e-marketing components. Similarly, conversion resources that drive high site performance can be replicated elsewhere.
A solid perspective on website performance makes obtaining executive support significantly easier. But don’t look at it as a one-time initiative. Instead, use of analytics to measure website performance should be an ongoing competency within the organization. Just as the website itself needs regular investment to remain current, analytics must be a core part of regular maintenance and upgrade activities. Otherwise, the website risks falling behind again as the market around it continues to evolve.
Which brings us back to the question posed in the headline: when is the right time to update your website? The answer is simple. Either right now, always, or both.
The bottom line
It’s no longer enough to build a website for your business. You’ve got to keep it fresh, because what was once so new and forward-looking when it was first posted may no longer be attracting the kind of attention – and business – that’s so vital to your company’s future. If you aren’t sure where to start, look at analytics to help you paint a critical picture of your website’s performance. Understanding where your pain points are is the first step toward identifying priorities and building internal support for budget and resources.