How to Update a Website to Build Awareness and Generate New CustomersChandal Nolasco Da Silva
Every 60 seconds, 380 websites are created, 1440 WordPress posts are published, 4.5 million YouTube videos are viewed, one million people log into Facebook, and $996,956 is spent by consumers. Crazy, right? Given the sheer volume of content created every day online, standing still means becoming old news — replaced by something shiny and new.
In this post, we’ll show you ways to update your website to stay ahead of the competition and keep people interested in your business. We’ll cover:
- Repurposing old content
- Updating content strategically
- Getting your website mobile-ready
- Choosing a CMS that makes updating your website easy
- Keeping on top of current web design trends
- Optimizing content for SEO
- Updating multimedia for better user experience
- Speeding up your website for faster loading times
We’ll also talk about what to do after a website update to make sure it’s a success. But first, numbers aside, why is it important that you update your website?
Why You Should Update Your Website
From a customer experience perspective, updating your website keeps your business and brand relevant. It gives visitors a reason to return to your website, to read new content and keep up to date with company news. In short, updating your website allows you to provide fresh content to your visitors. This leads to improved lead generation and customer acquisition without any hard pitching.
On the flip side, not updating your website makes it appear stale and outdated. Seeing old content may cause visitors to assume your business is no longer supported or, perhaps worse, that you don’t care.
Website updates also increase visibility. Google, which processes some 63,000 searches per second every day, favors websites with fresh content because this is what its users want to see. Its Freshness algorithm is designed to help people easily find relevant content without having to sift through outdated material.
Updating your content gives Googlebot (the tool Google uses to crawl and index webpages) new sources of information to index. And the more new information there is, the more Google will index pages to add to search results. The more pages you have indexed, the greater the chance you’ll rank for keywords and attract new customers.
Beyond content, updating the functionality of your website is also important. Google favors user-friendliness, particularly load speed and how well it performs on mobile. A good experience keeps visitors on your website, which lowers ‘bounce rate’ (the term used to describe visitors that leave after only visiting a single page) and improves search rankings. A low bounce rate also means you’re engaging visitors — a good sign if you’re looking to turn them into customers.
In short, update your website regularly and both customers and Google will love you for it. Now you know the reasons for updating your website, let's get into the steps you need to follow to make it happen.
Repurpose Existing Content to Give it a New Lease on Life
An easy way to update website content is to simply freshen up what’s already there. Repurposing content makes sense. If you’ve worked hard on a piece of content, you should milk it for everything it’s worth. And if it already performs well, chances are you’ll see better results once it’s repackaged.
Repurposing content is also proven to work. When looking at the data, Neil Patel found several examples of people enjoying great results for little effort. For example, Benjamin Hardy gained 20,000 subscribers from Medium in six months by re-publishing blog posts on the platform. Then there’s Adespresso, who was able to rank twice on the first page of Google for the same piece of content.
How to Repurpose Content
Content can be repurposed or updated in a number of ways. Turn a single blog post into a podcast, video or infographic. Or, turn a collection of blog posts into an ebook you give away in exchange for an email address. Consider updating old content to include new information (this tactic was used by HubSpot to double leads and increase monthly organic views by 106%).
You can also take a piece of content and paste it onto a new platform like Medium or LinkedIn Pulse to reach a new audience. This is a simple but effective approach to capture more attention with very little effort.
Older pieces of content that provide value to your audience are worth updating or repurposing. But start with your most popular content first. You can find your most viewed content in Google Analytics (GA).
From your GA dashboard, click Behavior > Site Content > All pages. This will show you all of your content and how many pages views its had:
Then, set the time frame to see content from the past year or two:
Another way of finding popular content is to enter your URL into BuzzSumo. This will show you how many times your content has been shared across social media:
Give your most popular content a new lease on life. Once updated, share it on your website and social media channels. Announce it as an updated version to bring new visitors to your business.
Update Your Content Strategically
Go through your existing content and spend some time re-reading it. How does it read to you? More importantly, how does it read to a visitor? Is your About page up-to-date? What about services or products — have you added something new or revised your offer? Your website is like a living entity. It needs to be nurtured and cared for to prevent it from going stale.
Honestly review your website content and pick out areas that can be improved. Then, have a trusted friend or colleague do the same. If you want a completely neutral perspective, you can also use a site like User Testing to have people critique your site.
Focus your attention first on the dynamic parts of your website. Pages like your homepage, company news, staff pages, blogs etc. These pages are most likely to be regularly updated or provide visitors with fresh content.
Then, look for and fix any broken links that throw up 404 errors. Broken links are bad for user experience and restrict the flow of link equity on your site, which has a negative impact on SEO. You can easily check for broken links with a free tool like Broken Link Checker or Dead Link Checker.
Staying on top of these things makes for a better user experience, which improves everything from lead generation to SEO efforts.
Ensure Your Site is Mobile Friendly
Mobile is now the dominant platform for browsing the web. In 2018, 58% of site visits were from mobile devices and, according to Google, 94% of people in the US use their smartphones to search for local information.
Your website needs to cater to mobile users. If it doesn’t, they may not hang around. In fact, research from Stone Temple shows the average mobile bounce rate comes in at 50%. You can find out how well your website performs on mobile by entering your URL in Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool.
If the results show your site isn’t set up for mobile, consider investing in a mobile-friendly theme on a platform like WordPress. If digging into the technical side of web development isn’t your thing, get help from a developer or web designer to improve mobile friendliness.
Use a CMS That’s Easy to Update
If you’re keeping on top of your content and design, you can expect to be making changes to your website at least every couple of months, more if you host a blog. Using a content management system (CMS) will make this process straightforward (providing it’s an easy CMS to work with, that is).
A CMS is software that helps you build a website without much need for any technical expertise. Most CMS platforms worth their salt will provide you with templates that can be customized with drag-and-drop functionality and menu options. They’ll also come with content management features that let you edit and update content using a WYSIWYG editor (which stands for “What You See Is What You Get”), which works much like Google Docs or Microsoft Word.
Using a CMS means you can edit existing pages, add new pages, create forms and build online stores quickly without having to write code. They also let you preview changes before putting them live to avoid mishaps. It also allows you to add additional users, which is ideal if you need technical help.
Choosing a CMS
To reap the benefits of regular website updates, you should be using a CMS. But which one?
While they all offer different features, you can’t really go wrong with any of the options we’ve listed. In any case, to help you weigh your options here’s what to look for in a platform:
- Ease of use, with all of the features and functionality needed to make updates and meet your business goals
- A WYSIWYG editor that anyone can use without requiring help from IT support or developers
- Plugins to improve functionality and security
- Digital marketing capabilities for creating landing pages, calls-to-action, and social sharing
- eCommerce capabilities (if you’re running a store)
- Flexibility — the ability to run on any platform and the flexibility to design a custom website
- Scalability so that it can grow with your business
- Mobile friendliness
- Role assignment so that new users can be added with selected permissions
- Third-party app integration — the ability to link with CRM and email marketing platforms
- Security features that prevent hacking and data breaches
- Support for help with technical issues
If you’re currently using a CMS that you’re not happy with, it’s possible to move to a new one that includes the above features without any long-lasting effects on SEO.
You can do this by manually copying your content over to a new platform and following CMS-specific instructions or with a migration service. If you’re moving your site over to WordPress (the most well known and widely used CMS), our experts can help with every step of the migration process.
Update Your Website Design in Line with Trends
Studies show that it takes as little as 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for a visitor to form an opinion about your website. That’s not enough time to judge the quality of the content, so opinions will be based on the design.
A modern website is much more likely to create a positive first impression than a website built in 1999 that hasn’t changed since. A good first impression will keep people on your website long enough to impress them with your offer.
Depending on what you read, it’s suggested that website design should be given a makeover every 2-5 years. However, it’s best to ignore any such time frame and instead update or redesign your website every time a change in your business calls for it, such as:
- Changes to company branding or color scheme
- Growth of the company that requires the site to evolve to include new products or services
- High bounce rates that are affecting conversions
- Complaints from customers on how the site looks or performs
With a CMS, changing colors and branding can be as simple as clicking a button. Even some design changes like the addition of banners, menu alterations, and tweaking the layout are fuss-free. However, some updates may require changes to the code for specific functionality. If this is the case, and you’re not confident editing code, you should consult with a designer and/or developer.
You can keep up with the latest trends and get inspired for your own website design by checking out the following sites:
Optimize Your Website for SEO
Every update that you make on the content side should be done with SEO in mind.
Despite social media changing how businesses promote their websites, search still rules the roost. According to MarketDive, 82% of marketers say the effectiveness of SEO is on the rise, with 42% stating that it’s rising significantly. As a result, more companies are investing money in search tactics and getting better results.
To keep up with the competition and take advantage of the 93% of online experiences that start with a search engine, you should have a professional SEO audit carried out that unearths:
- Technical and on-page SEO issues
- Website structure issues
- User experience problems
- Competitor marketplace insights
Why should you have a professional SEO audit done rather than doing it yourself? Because, while you can do a lot of keyword research and content analysis yourself, there are technical aspects that require industry expertise and specialist tools.
An SEO audit will differ depending on which service you use, but it should include:
- Competitor research — looking at who you’re competing within search results and how they’re ranking for specific keywords
- Accessibility — looking for any issues that are preventing visitors from accessing your website, such as loading speed or 404 errors
- Indexing — to see if your website is being properly crawled and pages correctly indexed by search engines
- Keyword analysis — looking at which keywords are bringing in traffic and how they’re converting, as well as which keywords should be targeted
- Link analysis — looking at internal and external links to see how data is linked and which third-party sites link to you
- On-page optimization — checking that all header tags, meta descriptions, and image alt tags are in place so that pages are fully optimized for target keywords
- Site architecture — looking at how easy your site is to navigate and whether it’s secure
- Content analysis — looking at which content visitors most engage with and whether it’s optimized for target keywords
An audit will provide you with the roadmap to improve your website and content for better search performance. Recommended changes can typically be implemented easily in the back end of your CMS.
Update Website Multimedia for a Better User Experience
Multimedia is a great way to grab attention and educate visitors on your products or services. In fact, a survey of online retailers found that including a video on product pages resulted in a 9% conversion rate. To put that into context, the average conversion rate across industries is 2.35%. The survey also found that people who consumed more multimedia spent more:
People recall 65% of information they see three days later, compared to only 10% they hear, so using visuals is a great engagement tactic. But it shouldn’t come at the expense of user experience.
Multimedia videos and animations can impact page load speed, especially if they’re using Flash. Flash was condemned by Steve Jobs back in 2010 for its poor performance on mobile devices. As a result, 95% of websites have ditched the technology and people viewing pages with Flash on Chrome decreased from 80% to less than 8% in 2018. Its decline led web browsers such as Chrome and Firefox to push developers towards new technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3, while makers Adobe announced that Flash would be retired in 2020.
To use Flash now would be terrible for user experience and SEO, so if the technology exists in any of the features on your website, have them updated or redesigned in the faster, cheaper (and now standard) HTML5 to ensure they cater to mobile visitors and users of major browsers.
If you use video on your website, consider uploading your content to YouTube or Vimeo and copying the embed code to feature it on your site. This will guarantee that content works seamlessly on all devices.
Check Your Website’s Speed
Website speed affects everything from SEO to bounce rate to conversions. According to statistics from Unbounce:
- A 100-millisecond delay in load time can cause conversion rates to drop by 7%
- 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again
- Pages that load within two seconds have an average bounce rate of 9%, while pages that take five seconds to load have a bounce rate of 38%
- 46% of people say waiting for pages to load is what they dislike most about browsing the web on mobile
Aim for your website to load in under three seconds. You can test load speed using a tool like Pingdom’s Website Speed Test.
How to Improve Page Load Speed
- Optimize images using a tool like Compressor.io before you upload them to your website
- Remove any unused plugins
- Switch to a fast loading template
- Consider changing web host or upgrading your hosting package
- Use a caching plugin for browser caching
- Detect and fix broken links
- Enable Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for faster page loading on mobile devices
What to Do After a Website Update
Test your new website changes to see how they look and perform before going live. Use the preview option in your CMS to see how content or design changes will look on desktop and mobile before publishing.
You may have to make some changes live before testing them, in which case run tests before publicizing or promoting links. If possible, physically test your website on different browsers on as many devices as you can get your hands on. You can also see how changes perform on different devices with Screenfly and on different browsers with a cross-browser testing tool like Browsershots.
Once you’re happy everything is performing as intended, spread the word about the changes to your visitors and customers by sharing content to email subscribers and across social media.
Don’t forget about Google. It’ll want to know about your changes too. Googlebot will find its way to your site to crawl pages eventually, but you can speed things up by submitting individual URLs to the URL Inspection tool in the Google Search Console.
This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, but you can monitor progress using the Index Status Report.
Updating your website can be as simple as repurposing a piece of old content or as technical as a deep dive SEO audit. The great thing is, every kind of update gives customers and search engines something fresh and keeps your business relevant.
Some of the tips we’ve featured here you can take care of yourself, others may require a bit of technical expertise, but everything we’ve covered can be implemented now with fast results. So go ahead, make those updates and enjoy the benefits of more traffic, repeat visitors, and increased customers that come with it.
Feature Image: Unsplash / Helloquence
Image 1-2: via Google Analytics
Image 3: via Buzzsumo
Image 4: via Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool
Image 5: via MarketingLand
Image 6: via Pingdom’s Website Speed Test
Image 7: via Google Search Console