Many small businesses or start-ups don’t have the luxury of an in-house tech or web team. In fact, businesses often rely on working with an outside expert to set up and launch a website. Once the website is up and running, continued maintenance is handed back to the company and that’s where things can start to unravel. The idea of being able to refresh a website might suddenly be overwhelming. The prospect of investigating how effective it is and figuring out how to improve a website, almost impossible! These things can feel far away from our abilities so it’s easy to see why websites are launched beautifully and then left to become out of date and ineffective.
Launching a website is not enough. Assuming a website alone will
attract users without any updates or maintenance is a common mistake. And it’s a mistake that happens in all sorts of businesses, no matter the size. Every website needs regularly updated, audited and improved in order to maintain and grow its efficacy.
We’ve rounded up 5 simple steps to update your online presence no matter what stage of growth your business is at.
1. Undertake a Full Content Audit
The best place to start with a website update is in the detail. Work through the site, page by page, link by link to check each piece of content. Relevant and recent is a good phrase to bear in mind. Are the products and services up to date and available? Have there been any changes to pricing, or to returns policies? Are the links and calls to action functioning properly? Is your Contact Us page as user friendly as it should be? Maybe you could update your Team page or perhaps your social links have become disconnected.
Basic content updates can make a particularly big impact on your homepage since that’s where most of your users first meet your brand and engage with your site. If you haven’t updated homepage sliders for months or if you’re showing Out Of Stock products there, take some time to refresh and rethink what content you’re offering your first time visitors.
As you’re working through your content audit, be sure to test your website. Open it on a variety of browsers (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome) and check that pages are loading quickly and effectively. Load your site on a phone, an iPad, a laptop, or a desktop. Be sure that you’ve viewed it on as many platforms as possible to check there are no glitches or viewing issues.
Lastly check any booking or payment functionality is working well. Run through test purchases or booking activities. Make sure payments are processing accurately, that receipts or confirmations are being sent and received and that everything is processing as you want it to. If you find any problems, you can be confident other users will have experienced them too.
2. Work Through Your User Journey
Now that you’ve deep dived into the content of your site, it’s time to put yourself in the shoes of your customers. From the moment they come to the site, imagine the journey they take. How do they move through your website? Are the pressure points where you might anticipate users experiencing problems, losing interest or disengaging? If customers are finding endless out of stock items, if it’s hard to view a returns policy or speak to a representative, make changes to your website to remedy that. Being as objective as you can to really experience the site as your users would do will help significantly. Sometimes the smallest changes can make all the difference when it comes to the user journey.
It’s helpful to ask for feedback. If you have a client or customer mailing list, reach out to them and ask for some comments on the site and their experience. Ask specific questions and find out what is working for them, plus what they would like improved. Asking for outside input gives you a more realistic perspective on what you could and should be doing to optimise your online presence.
3. Deep Dive Into the Competition
We can learn a lot from our competition and it’s a great place to start when it comes to making changes to your site. Select a few of your direct (or indirect if you’re in a niche market) competitors and use some free online tools to dip into their content. SimilarWeb shows traffic information for any site you’d like to look into. Buzz Sumo highlights the pieces of competitor content which are the most successful. Ahrefs gives you details of what you’d need to do for your site to outrank your competitors on search engines. Between the three services, you’ll find invaluable information that you can put to good use in upgrading your brand content.
4. Understand your Analytics and Basic SEO
Analytics can be daunting but some web hosting solutions offer good basic statistics and Google Analytics is a mine of information. Some important statistics to look at are your overall users (Audience) and how long they are on your site. Where your users are coming from (Acquisition), what pages they land on and which they leave (Site Content/ Landing Pages and Exit Pages). Then there’s your site bounce rate (Audience), and as much Demographic detail and Site Content tracking that you feel you can work with. Google Analytics offers an endless amount of information. It’s enlightening to find out how your users are reaching you, why they’re leaving and what content they’re engaging with in the meantime.
Based on your statistical discoveries you might decide to make some changes to site content. Maybe that means clarifying Calls to Action. Perhaps you’ll decide to move site copy around to try and engage with your users more.
As you update content, you can also be doing yourself some SEO favours. Firstly be clear on the language you’re using so that it integrates relevant keys words. Make sure you label any images you update for SEO. Don’t forget to use Headings (H1, H2 etc) and to optimise longer texts for keywords and phrases. There are several online tools (Yoast or Squirrly SEO etc) available to help you do that to the best of your abilities.
For more information on the web statistics you should be paying attention to, click here.
5. Create, Create, Create
Once you’ve refreshed and edited your site, the most powerfully positive thing you can do is to create. Create content that is relevant to your brand. Design content that puts out search optimisable text to improve your SEO. Craft content that also builds your brands and improves the customer journey. Add engaging, high quality content through a blog, thought leadership, a podcast, video content, or a Reel. Choose whatever content ties your brand, your ethos and your mission together. It can be helpful to craft a simple content strategy to hold yourself accountable.
Once you’ve done your audit and dipped into competitor information, you should be better informed about what your customers and users want to see, what your industry expects and what is missing from your site. Set up a plan that prompts you to design and upload this content regularly. Create a schedule that is attainable for you. Set targets that slowly build up quality evergreen content and you’ll be more likely to stick to them.
So, once you’ve worked through the steps to improving and updating your web presence, what kind of benefits can you expect to see?
Benefits of online updates
As a general rule, content updates and SEO improvements to your site should improve your search visibility. They should optimise your site for users and for search engines and over time as your site is indexed and new content is registered, they should drive increased traffic numbers to your site.
The second win you can look forward to is happy users. Focusing on and improving your user experience can only benefit your customers and clients, lead to return users and prompt positive brand spread. With up to date products and content, additional added value through content and regular refreshes, customers are more likely to return to your site and engage with the content you post there.
Updating and upgrading your online presence should be something that features as a regular component in your business maintenance. Undertaking some easy steps to make regular and notable changes can only benefit your brand, grow your visibility and ultimately boost your business.