Change Now and Change Often: Your Website Should Be in Constant Flux
Websites should never be static. Your site should offer new content, new opportunities and new information all the time. Keeping your website fresh and up-to-date requires more than simply posting new blog content every few weeks. Websites don’t last forever– and for good reason. With Google continually updating its algorithm every few months, everything from your website’s structural architecture to its content can benefit from an overhaul, too. The good news: this doesn’t mean that you need to launch a massive site re-design every few months. However, it does mean that your website can always benefit from a quick refresh, whether that’s updating your current theme or re-structuring site orientation to better serve user traffic.
In short: think digital innovation!
How do you know when it’s time to polish up your website? Keep the following indicators in mind:
#1: Increased bounce rate. Is your landing page receiving steady traffic but your other pages are not? While there are many factors involved in a high bounce rate, one of the most common is an issue with your site’s layout. Poor site architecture and design can make it confusing for visitors to find needed content. A landing page that’s crowded with graphics, call-to-action slogans and buttons may confuse visitors, leading to a higher-than-expected bounce rate. Another metric to watch out for is a drop in repeat visitors, which may be do to stale content or content that fails to meet visitors’ needs.
#2: Outdated flash or homepage sliders. When you think digital design today, you’re likely to think about a clean, easy-to-use interface. Remember how flash-driven splash pages were all the rage five years ago? Now, thanks to the proliferation of flash-free smartphones (we’re looking at you, Apple iOS), flash has pretty much died out. According to the Next Web’s blog, today’s most popular web design styles include large “hero areas”, which are essential large intro images with a little amount of text that are replacing homepage sliders.
#3: Lack of mobile optimization. Is your website optimized for mobile viewing? If not, you could be missing out on some serious traffic and revenue! Increasingly, mobile is the preferred device for U.S. customers who are researching potential purchases. According to 2013 Telemetrics data reported by Search Engine Watch, one out of every three customers used mobile devices exclusively throughout the entire purchase process, 50% of customers used mobile to start the purchase process, and 46% use mobile exclusively for purchased research. Responsive design is key for successful mobile optimization. This means that your website will automatically adjust to fit the screen size for the device on which it is currently being viewed, be that a smartphone screen, a tablet screen or a computer. If your website does not currently utilize a responsive design platform, it is definitely time for an update!
#4: Drop in search rankings. Google and other search engines want to provide users with the freshest, most relevant content. Over time, however, even the best-written content can go stale. Google takes publication date into account when ranking websites in search results. Yes, it goes without saying that different searches have different freshness needs. The following types of searches require the freshest content: (1) recent events or hot topics (e.g., Napa CA earthquake); regularly occurring events (e.g., NFL scores); and frequent updates (e.g., Best SLR cameras). All factors being equal, content freshness degrades over time, causing it to perform less successfully in search queries.
A document whose content is edited often, however, will score more highly on the freshness scale, according to Moz. Links from popular, industry-leading sites can also pass along “freshness” to your content, helping to boost search rankings. However, given the constant changes to Google’s search algorithm, it’s not a good idea to rely on links alone to give your content a boost; keep it fresh by updating your most popular white papers and blog posts to reflect the latest industry news and trends.
Keeping your website fresh is about more than just posting new content. When you think digital design success for your website, you also need to consider your site’s architecture and whether it is mobile-friendly. Tweaking a few design elements can make a big difference not only for your site’s overall appearance, but also for site rank and conversion rate optimization.