Time for a website refresh
Now is a great time to make sure your website is up-to-date and refreshed ready for the start of a new year. Below I have updated a post from October 2017 to give you some ‘quick wins’ for not only refreshing your website but also making sure it is working hard for your business in 2020.
Here are five areas to consider and, remember, even small edits can make a big difference to readability, SEO and traffic numbers.
1. Data Analysis
Whilst I am no expert user of Google Analytics, it is worth looking at some data related to your website before giving it a once over. Most website hosts, such as WordPress or SquareSpace, will be able to give you some basic information about your site and its pages, including how many visitors, length of visit, top visited pages, etc. Take a look at this and do a bit of analysis. Which pages are most popular? Which are rarely visited? Where are your website visitors from? How do they find your site?
Once you have answered these types of questions, consider how you can rework your website content to capitalise on this. So, for example, if all of your visitors are from America, is it worth using American English? Or if a page is particularly popular, would a refresh encourage more visits? Could you offer more links from that page to others on your site, to keep new visitors navigating around your website for longer?. Those pages which are rarely visited may be unnecessary. Is it worth streamlining your site a little or adding the information contained on a less popular page to another page, and condensing the information?
2. Accurate Key Information
I think the hardest thing for most small businesses is considering what is the ‘core’ or ‘key’ information customers will want to know and remembering to include it all. Forgetting the absolute obvious happens far too often. I have visited websites for physical places and found it really difficult to identify the location of the place, with a map or address details hidden somewhere at the bottom of a contact page or about us page. If I visit a website about a café, as lovely as it is to see photos of cakes and a description of the atmosphere, my priority is to find out where it is and when it is open! Make sure this information is not only contained somewhere on your website but it is easy to find … and, if necessary, repeated. Think about questions you get asked by those making enquiries or by first-time clients. Then consider, are the answers to these questions easily found on your website? If not, make that information more visible. Website visitors are ‘skimmers’, at best, and you have seconds to grab their attention and put the information they are looking for front and centre. If they can’t find it, they will move on to another site.
3. Updated copy
How many of you are guilty of leaving old products or offers on your homepage for months on end? Remember to update any Christmas content early in January. It looks really lazy if you leave outdated information on your site and suggests you haven’t visited your website or taken the time to do any kind of update for ages…not a good look for a vibrant, engaging, ever-evolving small business.
Check other areas of your site for ‘outdated’ pieces of information – are your opening hours still accurate? Are prices all up-to-date and consistent? Good business practice is to do a price check at least annually – checking competitors and seeing what items could handle a small increase (or perhaps a decrease) to help sales. Is it time for a special offer or January sale?
Also, consider sections like your ‘About page’ – is the information still relevant? A lot of people, when writing an ‘About us’ section, say things like they are just starting out, or state the number of years of experience, or perhaps talk about past experiences. These can become less relevant as time goes by.
The other concern is some website copy is not very future proof – so, for example, if you say ‘Really excited to start x this year’ or something about a product or item being ‘new’, it will date quickly. It’s ok to use this language but you have to make a note that the content will to be checked and updated regularly.
Finally, what can you add? Have you had been to any events you could mention or want to advertise? Have you won any awards or achieved something which is relevant and should be added to your About page? Have you expanded your business, but not added this to your website? Make sure your content is up-to-date and all encompassing.
4. Proofread and improve readability
A thorough proofread is always worthwhile and if you finished your website a while ago and haven’t changed any of the main pages since, you will proofread a lot more effectively. Or get someone else to do it!
Don’t only look for typos or grammatical mistakes, also consider your wording choices. As your business changes and develops, check your style and tone matches where your business is right now. Is your website ‘on message’? Does it match the style of other content you offer?
You can do a bit of SEO checking and enhancing too – learn more about SEO here. Are you using good keywords and long-tail keywords/phrases too?
Consider the overall readability for each page:
- check your sentence length – shorter sentences are better and easy to follow
- use short paragraphs – white space (lines between paragraphs) is important between chunks of text…and those chunks shouldn’t be too long (remember how much longer copy will look on a phone vs a desktop!)
- include headings and subheadings to help visitors navigate your page and get the key messages/core content quickly
- use ‘plain English’ suitable for your audience – you shouldn’t dumb down but ensure your copy is appropriate for your target audience
- make button and link text transparent – Google rates ‘clear’ links highly. So if you are offering a hyperlink or a button linking to another page, a download or an external website, make sure it is very clear from the copy you use where your visitor will end up. It will also reduce bounce rate from these clicks.
5. Change your Images
If you don’t have much time, why not update some of your website’s images? You can take great quality photographs easily, with a resolution high enough for a website, on most smartphones. You probably have a whole stash of images of your products, clients or shop front. With a good ‘DIY’ type website, it is really simple to go in and update any photos and give your site a fresh feel on a regular basis. Images are so important for a good eye-catching website these days. Don’t forget to add alt text, keywords and descriptions. You can also use the actual image filename to include keywords and your business name.
If you do not have images of your own you can use stock images. Make sure you check any copyright and get the relevant permission (and make payment, if necessary) or stick to copyright and royalty free stock images available at sites, such as Pixabay, Stock Snap or Unsplash.
Are you ready to refresh?
Don’t create a beautiful website and then leave it to get out of date. Grab a glass of something and go and give it a ‘once over’! …refreshed and ready for 2020.
If you want a fresh pair of eyes, then give me a shout. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org