Regularly updating your website can seem like a momentous and arduous task, but it doesn’t have to be. Not if you have a quick guide to help you. Lucky for you, Knoodle has just what you need. Bookmark this doc and refer back to it every few months. Scan the headlines and corresponding questions to see what applies to your business today, at this moment. That way you can narrow in on what needs your attention now and tackle it in doable pieces.
Updating your website will get you more business.
And did we mention that updating content alone improves your search engine rankings?
No matter whether you’re in homebuilding, senior living, healthcare, or home services, updating your website regularly will get you more leads because it improves your search engine rankings and branding. Improving your search rankings will help customers find you, leading to higher website traffic.
In this article, we will guide you through the process of updating your website. Here are 8 steps to take your website from zero to hero. Because you are the hero for taking on the responsibility of keeping your website current, truly.
STEP 1: Asses The Current State Of Your Website
If you are like most business people, you had your site done and you checked it off your list. You probably haven’t updated it with all the new offerings, much less look at what has changed in design, navigation and your own branding. Here are the factors to consider:
Is your content outdated or irrelevant? Are there any broken links or any areas that need improvement?
Create a list of pages that need updating or removing. Look at competitors around the country and make note of what you like so that you can add it to your website.
Most business owners wish their website performed better, got more traffic, more leads, and more sales. Some feel that their website is ok in some areas. But many don’t know where to start or which changes would actually make the most difference. You need to start with a website audit.
Get a free website audit from Knoodle.
You’ll get a detailed website report card that clarifies:
- What you are doing well
- What needs improvement
- How those improvements will benefit you
- Which changes will result in the most improvement
- How to make those changes
Review Design And User Experience
Is your website visually appealing? And easy to navigate for first-time users?
Evaluate your website’s design, layout, and navigation.
- Does it reflect your brand, and how you want customers to perceive your business?
- Is it user-friendly, and optimized for different devices? Over half of searches occur on mobile phones, so being able to capture the attention of customers on mobile devices like phones and tablets is essential.
- Does your website quickly answer the most important questions it needs to?
Analyze Website Performance
Have you checked your Google Analytics data lately?
Analytics tools like Google Analytics can help you identify and measure what is going well and what needs improvement on your website. It can help you learn more about the types of people who visit your website and what they respond to. The insights you get from analyzing your website will help you craft the right message for the right audience and present it in the right way to get more business.
Consider traffic sources, bounce rates, popular pages and load times. Identify how visitors convert to leads or customers on your website. Where can you improve? And remember, it all goes back to the goals and what you want to achieve.
STEP 2: Define Goals for Your Website Update
Goals will help you focus as you prioritize tasks during the update process. These should include:
Is website traffic resulting in conversions and sales? Are you tracking it?
The ultimate goal of your website is that it is a very effective tool to generate sales for your company. In order to generate as many sales as possible, conversion rates have to be at the forefront of your mind. Your hope is that everyone who visits your website turns into a customer. Just about every attribute of your website will play a role in getting the customers to your website and through to giving you their business. The most important thing is that every part of a user’s experience has to be easy, seamless and intuitive. Make the experience easy by providing desired information where users are expecting it to be. The process can be made seamless by letting users navigate through your website without feeling any resistance from loading speeds or bad links. To be intuitive, place page links and information exactly where users will expect them to be so that they don’t have to search or think.
Do you know what people are entering in their search bar when looking for a product or service in your industry? Are those terms on your website?
Get found. Enhance your website’s visibility on search engines by updating content, optimizing meta tags, and improving internal linking. We can help you research and develop keywords to include so when people search with those words, your website will come up. Create better content with these keywords more often to quickly climb the ranks.
Be strategic about prioritizing which keywords and pages are most important to promote, and link to those pages with those keywords more often.
Become a reader and a leader in your industry. Form opinions. This includes videos, podcasts, blogs, descriptive web copy and product information. When you aren’t producing your actual product or service for your customers, you should be producing content about your product or service.
Doing SEO right takes strategy, time, work, and patience. If it is overwhelming, hire an agency that specializes in SEO to help you.
Enhance User Experience
Is the user experience interactive, efficient and informative?
Make your website more user-friendly. Improve navigation, add interactive elements, and ensure fast loading times. Customers are generally expecting a seamless experience. With less friction customers are more likely to do what your website has called to action.
Design and User Experience is so important that we’ve included a whole section on it in this guide. (see Step 5)
Showcase Products Or Services
Are ALL of your current products and services on your site? Are old ones removed?
You want people to know about your current offerings. Make sure your update includes a focus on your latest products and services, so that visitors know what your company is about and so they know what they can do when they get there.
Update Blog Content
Has your blog been updated in the past two months? Is it time to finally start a blog?
Create new and relevant blog content, or update and repurpose old blogs to boost your search engine ranking and attract the right audience. Note that this is a continuous process and new blogs should be added on a regular basis.
STEP 3: Plan Your Website Update
Goals without a plan are just dreams. Too philosophical for websites? Maybe, but it’s the truth. We can all dream. Not all of us can walk the walk. Here’s how to create a plan:
Create a Timeline
Do you have a new go-live date?
Consider the complexity of the tasks and resources you have, then be realistic about how much time it will take to complete each task. If you are hiring a company or contractor to do it, it is wise to ask for one to keep the company or person accountable.
Who is doing what to get the job done?
Who is responsible for producing the many components that comprise your website? Either pass the project along to members of your team or consult a group of digital experts.
Who will be responsible for each task? Delegate responsibilities to your team if you have one. Use project management tools to keep track of progress.
Backup your Website
Have you backed up your website lately?
Services crash. It happens. Wouldn’t it be awful if something went wrong during the update process and you lost all of your data? Avoid this by backing up your website.
STEP 4: Update and Optimize Web Content
Prioritize content, as it is the backbone of any website. It needs to have the voice of your company and brand. It needs to sound like the brand you have created. It also needs to speak to the very people you are marketing. It’s important to have a personna in mind so that you know who you are writing to, what they care about, and their top concerns.
Where are your SEO keywords in your copy?
You need to have a solid strategy to discover and include relevant keyword phrases in your website copy so that visitors who search for those topics will land on your website. You need to know how many people are searching for specific keyword phrases so that you can prioritize including those keywords in the text on your pages.
Update Text and Visuals
Do the images, video and copy on your site really tell your story?
Remember your messaging is about storytelling. The website is your online storefront and your top salesperson. The average person will have a short list of companies before they ever decide to buy something or stop in. You need to wow them with your “why”, dazzle them with visuals. Remember original photography and video is far better than stock. Google may penalize you for using the same photos as your competitor down the street. Of course revise outdated or irrelevant information. Make it fun, easy and a habit for your consumer to return because they find value in your content.
Create New Content
Are you addressing industry news and changes that impact your company?
Add new pages and post blogs regularly to keep your website fresh and to provide value to your audience. Remember to stay focused on the subjects your consumers care about. Think about what your consumers ask you and how they make their decision. Keyword research will help you discover and prioritize new ideas for content.
Optimize Content for SEO
Do you know what image alt text, schema markup and geographic keywords are?
In addition to your SEO efforts, research and implement relevant keywords strategically into your written blog content including headings, body copy, and meta data. This will give you a super power to be found. You should also add image alt text and schema markup if needed. If you are a local business, make sure you include geographic keywords like your city and state too.
Update Images and Visual Media
Is your visual content impacting the speed of your website?
The importance of images and media can hardly be overstated. Ensure that all images and media are up to date, visually appealing, on brand, and properly optimized for fast loading times and visual quality. Video is a big bonus!
Add alt text to your images and consider adding captions to images in blog articles.
STEP 5: Improve Website Design and User Experience
Keep website visitors engaged by being visually appealing and user-friendly so they are drawn into the experience of your website. Support your great story with great user experience, and you’ll increase conversions, leads, and sales.
Don’t Make Visitors Think
Do visitors know immediately what you do as soon as they open your website?
We’ve written a whole article about the 5 Questions every web page should answer within a second in order to have good user experience.
Remember: Make it simple. Make it clear. Make it easy.
Does your website look just as good on mobile as it does on a laptop or bigger screen?
Given that a majority of all searches and website traffic happens on mobile devices, it is essential that your website is fully responsive and adapts to various screen sizes. This includes mobile and tablets.
Do you use drop-down menus?
Navigation should be simplified by organizing content into clear categories. Consider using drop-down menus. Other best practices include A/B testing of different navigational layouts, and ensuring that navigation is accessible to all users so that the best version of your website can be used on all platforms.
If you have more than 4 or 5 items on the top level of your navigation, strongly consider reducing, combining, nesting, or removing items to avoid decision paralysis. We know that this is hard when every stakeholder at your company wants their thing on the main navigation. But the research shows that more than 4-5 items up there confuses visitors.
Update Calls to Action (CTAs)
Do you have seasonal and rotating calls to action?
What do you want your clients to do when they are on your website? These CTAs can help drive business. For instance if you are a roofer in monsoon season, your CTA might be a free estimate for your house’s roof. If you are a project management company, it might be to sign up for a free download of a template.
When was the last time you updated a font or color on your site?
Give your website a fresh look by updating color schemes, fonts, and imagery. Your website should be eye-catching and memorable. Make use of colors that are compatible with your brand and logo to give the users a more visually immersive experience when visiting your website. Users should be able to get strong sense of what your company is about th;rough the look and feel of the colors and branding on your website.
STEP 6: Make Technical Updates
Don’t overlook the technical aspects of your website during the update process. It’s important that everything behind the scenes is running smoothly.
CMS and Plugins Updates
Is your CMS and plugins up-to-date?
Many websites run on a content management system (CMS) like WordPress. Ensure your CMS is up to date along with any installed plugins.
You should set up automated backups, and then you can rest a little easier setting up automated plugin updates, knowing that you can roll back your website if something goes wrong.
Update your content management system early and often. Again, having backups will help you feel warmer and fuzzier knowing that if anything breaks during an update, you can always roll back. The further behind you get with regular CMS/Wordpress updates, the more nervous you are likely to become when it comes time to update.
Website Speed Optimization
Does the speed on your site fluctuate? It shouldn’t.
Having a website that loads quickly will get you more sales. Fast page load speed is critical for positive user experience, and search engines penalize slow-loading sites.
Can a user do everything on the mobile version of your full site?
Test your website’s mobile-friendliness to ensure a smooth experience for mobile users. Being able to engage mobile phone users is a must. Remember it’s likely that more than half of the people that visit your website will access it through a mobile phone.
Have you done a security audit lately?
Safeguard your website from cyber threats. Perform a security audit to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities. Start with the security of your website hosting, and make sure you have SSL enabled along with sensible web application, firewall, and file permissions security policies in place.
In addition to cybersecurity on your host, you should secure your content management system. There are several security plugins for WordPress that you can try, and you should set up captcha on your web forms to decrease spam.
STEP 7: Test for Quality Assurance
Before making your updated website live, thoroughly test it to ensure everything works as intended.
Does your website work the same across Google Chrome, Safari and Explorer?
Test your website on different web browsers to ensure it functions correctly on all platforms. We all have an opinion, but you want people to find you no matter their browser preference
Have you polled unbiased friends and family for feedback?
Get your friends or colleagues to click through your website and provide feedback on its usability and any issues they encounter.
Forms and Functionality
Do you have broken forms on the site?
Verify that all forms, buttons, and interactive elements work flawlessly. Make sure to test both during AND after you update your website. Nothing is quite as disappointing as discovering that your most important lead forms aren’t going anywhere because of a typo or updated link.
Do all the links on your site work? Or still work?
Speaking of links, check all internal and external links to ensure they are functioning correctly. Check Google Search Console for crawl errors. Root out those broken links and redirect or fix them.
STEP 8: Launch and Monitor Your Updated Website
Once you are confident that your updated website is error-free and ready to go live, here are the basics to remember:
Launch the Update
Put your updated website live, replacing the old version.
Keep a close eye on your website’s performance post-update. Use web analytics to track visitor behavior, conversion rates, and other essential metrics.
What Happens if the New Website Performs Worse?
If you do proper research and prioritize fixing the right things, your new website should perform better than the old one. But be prepared if some pages don’t perform as well as they used to. Use analytics and user testing to figure out where you went wrong, don’t take it personally, and fix it quickly.
Encourage users to provide feedback on the updated website. Use this information to identify any additional improvements that can be made. There are several plugins and widgets that can enable easy user feedback on websites. If needed, you can also hire user testers.
Train Website Editors
Hold a training session for anyone that will edit your website, including blog writers or salespeople who need to know how to do basic things like:
- Write articles
- Change page content
- Upload images
- Upload documents
- Create and update products
- Access forms and lead information
Create a cheat-sheet or guide with simple instructions on how to use and update the website.
If you follow this guide when updating your website, you’ll succeed. Your website performance will improve. You’ll see more conversions, leads, and sales.
If you need help with any of these items, reach out to the experts at Knoodle. Many of us have run our own businesses, so we know it can be hard to do everything on your own, even if you feel like it is all up to you. That’s why we’ve spent years developing the very best ways to help businesses improve their websites and marketing.
We help businesses improve their marketing so that they can spend more time doing what they do best. Building and growing a successful business.