Website upgrades and website updates

There are many reasons to update or upgrade your website. Check the list below to see if you need to consider a website upgrade or website update.

Reasons to consider upgrading or updating your website

For most businesses, getting more new business is the key reason for having a website. Making sure your website remains competitive is the key reason you should consider whether it’s time for a website update.

Your website looks dated

Visitors will not decide to buy your product or service purely because of how your website looks. But they will make judgements about your business from the look of your website.

If your website does not have a professional feel or is hard to navigate and understand, visitors will make the same judgement about your business.

Website technology is continually changing. Graphics such as graded colours, smooth rounded corners and stylish fonts are much easier and cheaper with modern technology. A few simple enhancements can improve the overall feel of a website and give it a more professional feel.

Most importantly, if you compare your website to your competitors and find theirs looks better, conveys their marketing messages better and generally feels better than yours – then you can guarantee your potential customers will feel the same.

Your competitors site is only a click away – so carefully consider the cost of lost business against that of a site upgrade.

If your site is badly organised or poorly laid out, or just looks dated it is time to make changes.

Your website has had no recent content

Getting found by Google and other search engines is necessary if you want to get visitors to your site. Only a few years ago simple techniques such as keyword stuffing, link building schemes, meta tags and so on could dramatically improve your ranking in search engines.

Google has made major progress in making search results more relevant. Times have changed. Sites that do not have regularly updated content, or have “thin” content, are now actively demoted in search results.

If you are able to update and add to your own content, such as a blog,  that’s a good way to keep your site current in the eyes of Google.

If you cannot update the site content yourself, now is a good time to consider updating to a system that allows you to do your own updates for free. This will likely be more cost effective in the long run.

Your website uses outdated techniques

It is important to keep up with changes in the world of web design. Once popular techniques such as the use of Flash video, or fads such as sliding image banners can be detrimental to the performance of your site. If your site uses these, make sure you understand the downsides.

It’s a good time to consider a website update to remove outdated techniques that hinder your site’s performance.

Your content is poorly written or your website does not convert visitors to customers

Even if you have content and it’s regularly updated you could still be wasting your time.

Content needs to be easily read and understood by your prospective clients. It needs to understand their needs and the reasons they have not decided to become a customer. It needs to market your product or service.

People on the internet almost universally skip read. Your content is unlikely to be read if it:

  • is short (500 words minimum is a good guide)
  • uses long sentences or paragraphs
  • uses industry-specific terminology
  • uses unnecessary words
  • uses the same words as your competitors, or words conveying little meaning (eg “best”, “passion for”)
  • does not guide a visitor through their reservations to becoming a customer
  • has no clear and strategically placed calls to action
  • has not been researched to see how people are searching for your product or service
  • is targeting a highly competitive term that you are unlikely to be able to compete for
  • is considered by Google to be too short, not relevant, or even repetitive
  • and more ….

Google is also starting to understand good copywriting. While once effective, simply writing short blocks of poor quality text is now ineffective in promoting your search rankings.

Writing for the web is a unique skill. It’s completely different from writing a book, newspaper article, email or blog.

One of the best investments you can make is to have your key pages professionally copywritten. After all, a website is a marketing tool for your business and little else. Investing in good marketing can bring you good returns.

Your website is not mobile friendly

In the past you could decide if mobile users were worth investing in. But today Google will actively demote your website if it isn’t mobile friendly.

A website update to a mobile friendly version can be tricky to do well. It can also be costly, depending on how your site is implemented and on what platform.

Needing to update to a mobile friendly website is a good time to evaluate both your current website, and the platform and technology it runs on. It can sometimes be more cost effective to upgrade the entire site and take care of several issues at once.

You are not using social media to generate leads

Although many businesses resist social media, the fact is it can be an important part of your marketing efforts. Opinions about your website and your business can spread quickly through social media.

This in turn drives traffic to your site, and gives you more opportunity to market your products to potential customers.

If your site is not using social media, it’s a good time to consider getting on the band wagon and updating your site.

Your website is slow or has other performance issues

Search engines are getting better at deciding what websites are preferred by humans. Google uses complex methods to work how relevant a site is to a search query. While Google does not detail how it makes these decisions, many key elements are known.

The speed at which your website loads is one.

If your website loads slowly humans will find it annoying, and often do not wait for it to load. They click elsewhere. Google now understands this too.

Even if your site loads in what you feel is a reasonable time, if it’s slow compared to a competitor’s, you can assume Google realises this will drive people away from your site.

While speed is now an important factor, there are other factors equally important. A large number of sites still exist today which have basic, behind the scenes, technical issues that degrade the site’s performance in Google’s eyes. Basic issues such as:

  • incorrect HTML tags
  • poor url naming
  • missing internal links
  • missing image and meta tags
  • small font sizes
  • misspelled keywords
  • etc

are all factored in by Google in deciding how to rank your site for the search being performed.

Many of them are easy to fix, and can offer a very cost effective way of upgrading your site in the absence of other issues.

Making the right upgrade decision

Identifying the above issues is straightforward for an experienced web designer.

Identifying the most cost effective solution takes an understanding of a business, and needs to consider the return on investment.

Sometimes getting a completely new website makes more sense. This is particularly true if it allows the owner to do some future updates themselves. Other times addressing key issues such as poor content through a website update may be all that is needed.

Often clients are led into investing in the areas that are the easiest for a web designer. But that’s not necessarily the best investment for your business.

At backbone web designs we believe in getting the best return on investment for our clients. We also want our clients to understand what is being proposed and why, without hiding behind jargon or other deceptive practises.

If you need help in considering upgrading your website, please get in touch.