By Tim Russell
As I discussed in my recent post on growth-driven web design, building a website is not a case of launching it and then forgetting about it. It’s an ongoing, reiterative process of constant optimization and tweaking. Even the best website can benefit from the occasional spring clean.
It’s quite simple to refresh your website and it can improve its performance, boost its SEO ranking and keep visitors on the site longer. But where do you start? Here are our 10 tips to refresh your website and keep it up to date.
Speed It Up
Page speed is becoming an increasingly important Google ranking signal (see my recent blog post on Google’s new ranking signals), so now is the time to check your site’s loading speed and make some fixes where necessary. There are lots of website speed test sites out there, but make sure you pick one that also offers clear explanations of what elements are slowing your site down and how to refresh your website by fixing them. A lot of these can be a bit on the technical side, which is fine if you have a developer friend who can help you or a team like Booming Businesses supporting your small business. But they’re not so useful if you’re doing it all yourself! So if that is the case, I recommend Hubspot’s free website grader.
The tool rates your site in various areas, then shows you exactly what’s causing any delays and explains how to fix them:
It’ll also give you an idea of how you’re doing in terms of SEO, mobile-friendliness and site security.
If you’ve run a speed test but still aren’t sure how to fix the problems you’ve uncovered, please get in touch and we can help!
Check Your Tech
You should also have a quick look ‘under the hood’ & check everything is up to date. Start with your hosting account – are you getting the best performance you can? Whilst cheap personal hosting accounts are good for small businesses, they’re not so great if you’re getting a lot of traffic or you’re running an e-commerce site. If you are, you’ll need a proper business hosting account so maybe it’s time to think about an upgrade to help refresh your website speed.
Also check your website software. Are you using the latest version of WordPress, for example? Is your PHP version up to date? How about your plugins? Out of date or obsolete plugins can have a serious effect on site speed and security. So make sure you’re using the latest versions, & that you’ve deleted any plugins you don’t need any more.
Over time, your website’s links can break or become outdated, so this is another area you should check. Are your website forms and CTAs still working properly, and linking to the right databases and emails? Is your RSS feed still live? Are outbound and inbound links all still pointing at the right pages? And are your internal links all still correct? Sometimes you might delete or move a page, which means any links to that page will be broken. It may seem like a big job, but help is at hand in the form of tools such as Broken Link Checker, which will scan your site and alert you to any broken links.
Absolutely nothing is more important to a successful site than clear navigation. Here’s why:
Whilst customers like sexy designs and interactive experiences, they’re no good if visitors can’t easily and quickly find what it is they’re looking for. Which is ideally just a click from your homepage.
So check your website navigation still works, that your menu links are all pointing in the right place, and that your key pages are all easily accessed from the home page. Visitors shouldn’t need more than one click to find your products or services, or contact you.
Be More Social
Firstly, if you’re linking to your social media accounts (eg Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) from your website, check those links are still working. And that your social accounts are still up to date! Linking to a Facebook page or Twitter feed that hasn’t been updated for several months is a big turnoff to prospective customers. And are there any new social channels – TikTok or Snapchat for example – that you should be using?
Also make sure you’re displaying Share buttons (see below) on all your content to make it easy for site visitors to share blog posts and pages with their own networks. If you’re using WordPress, it’s easy to add these using a plugin, and some WordPress themes include them as standard.
Get Up to Date
If you’ve got a company news page, make sure it’s up to date and has some recent content. As with social media, any customer clicking on your News page & seeing it hasn’t been updated for a few months is going to be put off. And if you run events, make sure your events list is up to date and that you’re also linking to previous events – showing video recordings of webinars or image galleries from conferences, parties etc. To refresh your website means to keep it up to date, so this is absolutely necessary.
What About Us?
One page that can get out of date very quickly if you’re not careful is the About Us page. Especially if you’re a medium to large business with lots of staff. Make sure departed staff are removed and new employees added, that everyone’s job titles and contact details are correct, and that all your company contact info is still accurate.
Clear Content Clutter
If you’ve been doing content marketing for a while, you’ve probably got content all over the place. On your PC, on your laptop, on your hard drive, on Dropbox or Google Drive etc. I know I have, and I’m preaching what I don’t practice here when I tell you to do a full content audit and get all your content organised in one place! You can organise it by type, by buyer persona, by date, by topic etc – whatever makes sense to you and your team.
Also make sure your website content is consistent in its formatting, in its page layout, in its title structure and so on, so it’s clear to anyone contributing your site how they should deliver content.
Boost Your Content
Did you know that it’s often more effective in SEO terms to go back and optimise old content than it is to create new material? Optimising or repurposing old content is a great way to refresh your website, giving it a new lease of life and get more SEO juice out of it.
Firstly, go back over your old posts and check they all have title tags and meta descriptions, as these are sometimes forgotten, and it may be that you’ve changed your approach to SEO since you originally uploaded them. Also check your images have metatags and descriptions, and that posts have H1 & H2 tags. And if you’re using stats or infographics in your posts, check they’re up to date. Just a simple exercise like this can give your site a huge SEO lift.
Secondly, go into whichever analytics solution you’re using and see which content is performing best in terms of visits and engagement. Once you’ve found a couple of star performers, think about repurposing them – so your most popular blog post might be turned into a podcast, or a webinar, or a white paper for example. Remember, not everyone likes to get their information via a blog post – some prefer videos, or infographics, or e-books, and repurposing a popular post can attract a whole new audience. Think about your buyer personas and which type of content makes sense to them at each stage of the buyer journey, and repurpose posts accordingly. As you can see in the image below, one single piece of content can be repurposed into multiple formats to appeal to different buyer personas at different stages of their journey.
Finally, aesthetics are very important in the world of web design, and tastes and design trends come and go. An ugly or out-of-date looking website is another big turn-off for visitors, so it’s time to take a good honest look at your site and see if it still looks as good as it did when you first launched it. Is the magic still there, or has the attraction gone out of your relationship? If the latter, then it’s time for a quick makeover.
I’m not suggesting you do a full redesign here – often a few small tweaks are all that’s required. So maybe think about changing your fonts (Google ‘2020 font pairings’ to see what’s currently hip & happening in the world of fonts); think about changing your colour scheme; and maybe update your images, particularly your hero images. Just a few simple changes like this can put the spark back into your site and make it look a lot sexier.
If you need some inspiration, just search for articles like this:
So as you can see, it needn’t be a huge chore to refresh your website. Get into the habit of going through the above steps once every quarter or so and it’ll soon become second nature, and your business will soon feel the benefit of a website that’s fast, SEO-friendly, and up to date. And of course, if you need help, please contact us!