Digital Housekeeping: Keeping Your Website Competitive
Keeping a clean house is one of the first lessons you learn from your parents. Unwanted creatures can invade and take residence, style can become outdated and structural problems can ensue, if you fail to maintain and update your home from time to time. Wait too long, and even your friends won’t want to visit.
A website is not so different. Much of the focus in digital marketing revolves around content creation: consistently generating articles and other materials of relevance to send a consumer to the client’s site. However, it is imperative to also maintain your website structure and update its look and functions as needed to make sure user experience is smooth and enjoyable.
A website is often the first way that a potential customer encounters a company. If it looks disorganized, outdated, or neglected, they will likely move on to a competitor instead. If the user experience suffers in any notable way (e.g. slow page load times or other issues that cause delays), your functions and layout almost certainly need a re-vamp.
Once you have decided that a redesign is in order, here are some things to keep in mind:
Make sure the information you have on your website is up-to-date, applicable, and correct. Customer loyalty manifests itself in confidence, so if you do not have appearance of accuracy and professionalism, the customer will not feel confident you can give them the best service for their money.
Check your content
If you are changing or updating content, be careful of drastic changes in site size. A website that goes from full and informative to skeletal suggests to regular users that there are behind-the-scenes issues.
When making changes to site content, your keyword usage can suffer if you are not careful in your planning. Make sure your edits don’t remove high ranking keywords, as it can impact ranking you have worked hard to earn. That is the equivalent of throwing a grand re-opening party and only sending out a tiny number of invitations.
Test Your Pages
On top of content changes, it is also essential to maintain the back end structure of your website. Have you made sure there are no dead links? Do all your function buttons work properly and within a reasonable amount of time? Google Analytics Experiments is an excellent free tool to check these functions.
Another program to employ is SEO PowerSuite’s Website Auditor, which identifies technical issues that prevent the site from attaining your desired search ranking. Once your changes are completed, SEO PowerSuite also makes sure that your pages are fully available for indexing in search engines.
Your page load time should not increase as a result of any changes. If so, then additional reformatting is required.
Aesthetic appearance is another facet of your website that can always be updated and experimented with. Keep up with the latest analysis on what sorts of design both attract casual surfers and cause them to continue investigating the site. Create two or three different design approaches and run tests. Ask participants to answer questions as to what did or did not appeal to them, what sorts of colours were inviting, etc. (Curious about what colours are the most effective for attracting an audience? Check out our blog on Colour Psychology.)
Always remember: not all pages are created equal. While each on your website pages deserve attention, your home page is key. If it fails in its mission, then the remaining pages will almost be inconsequential.
Preserve your URLs
Finally, the most important rule of website redesign – never, ever, never, ever change your website URL. URLS are part of your site and company identity. Past customers likely have you bookmarked and use that method to return. Changing your URL will result in dead links, consumer confusion and can lead to a hit to your ranking.
When your redesign is complete, you will likely see an improvement in your standing. SEO PowerSuite includes a Rank Tractor that makes it easy to keep tabs on the status of your numbers. Keep an eye on this tool to see what worked well, and what could still be improved.
Updating or improving a website is just good business sense. If you can accomplish both simultaneously, you are making excellent use of time and resources.
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