“A website is a website, right? I’ve paid for it and it’s out there – isn’t that enough?”

The truth is, no. Not any more. One sure way to know if your website is out of date is if it’s no longer getting the results you expect. You’ve done your market research, so you know there are customers out there looking for the products or services you supply. But no-one is looking at your website, let alone interacting with it – whether that means placing an order, making an enquiry or even liking it on Facebook.

That’s when you know your website is out-of-date and it’s time to look at it with fresh eyes.

Design

Your website is one of the key marketing tools for your business. However, it’s estimated that the Indexed Web contains at least 1.55 billion pages. That’s a lot of competition. The hard part is getting heard above all that noise.

The design of your website needs to be fresh and appealing. Does it hold up to scrutiny when you look at your competitors’ website, or does it look tired and jaded? Is your own corporate image out of date because you’ve changed your logo or corporate colours? Customers expect clean, slick designs that are easy to navigate. If your website is cluttered or looks old-fashioned, it’s time to think again.

Navigation

Attention spans are growing shorter. We surf the web on our lunch breaks, while watching TV or on the move. And it’s predicted that by 2014, 59% of internet usage will be on a tablet or smartphone. If a website doesn’t respond instantly, your audience will quickly move onto one that does.

That’s why you need to make sure your website incorporates Responsive Web Design. This approach to building a website means it will ‘work’ no matter what device you’re looking at it on. It means that viewers can read content easily and navigate through with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling.

Check out your own website on your smartphone. Does it respond? If you have interactive elements such as an enquiry form or comments box, will they work on a smartphone or an iPad as well as they do a desktop or laptop? If not, you may have just lost a potential customer. And it’s definitely time to upgrade to a more responsive website.

 

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Also check whether your website uses Flash. If you have included animations or slide shows that use Adobe Flash, you’re probably missing out on the mobile market, simply because Flash doesn’t work on iPhones and iPads. So mobile users won’t even be able to see that jazzy content you put so much time and effort into. Another reason to upgrade your website: your designer will be able to suggest alternative options.

Content

How often is your website updated? Content must be interesting. Look at what it is saying and be honest with yourself. Is it boring? No one will linger, let alone come back, if you can’t hold their attention with stimulating, attractively presented content.

Equally, the search engines that index the internet are constantly hungry for fresh content. Fresh, quality content rates higher and will therefore improve your visibility in your customers’ search results. Do you know what Content Management System (CMS) was used to build your site? That CMS should give you the tools to manage at least some of the content yourself so you can add new text, videos, photos, documents and the like to your blog or other pages on a regular basis.

If you can’t add content yourself easily with a minimum of training, your website will be constantly out-of-date as you wait for your designer to do it. It may be worth investing in a new site that will allow you to add new information as soon as it’s available.

Visibility

Alongside fresh content, there are other tools that can help push your website up the rankings and into people’s line of vision. Again, though, if you haven’t tackled them since your website was launched, they’re more than likely out-of-date and need some expert attention.

Search Engine Optimization

Great content is part of the battle, but it has to be relevant to convert your audience to paying customers. This is where keywords come in – so you can post content on your website that includes the most frequently searched keywords and phrases as ‘hooks’ to draw people in. Have you assessed your keywords lately? What are your customers searching for when they search the net? What keywords are your competitors using? Markets and people change the way they search regularly, so make sure you’re up-to-date.

Links

Another tool that can push you up – or down – the search results is by including links. A link is created when you point your website’s visitors to another website; or when another company or institution includes a link to yours. In basic terms, this is like a ‘vote’ in favour of your website. To be beneficial, though, links must be up-to-date and send visitors to creditable, respected websites. Too many backlinks to unrelated or untrustworthy websites may actually harm your ranking. Broken or out of date website links can adversely affect your ranking.

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Social Media

Social media is big business – it’s a key way to interact with your consumers and customers. You may have a website and you may have Facebook pages, a Twitter account and all the other bells and whistles. But if your social media isn’t integrated with your website or blog, you’re probably not making full use of them; as well as losing out to other businesses that are. If you’re not making the most of social media to drive customers to your website and to interact with them, ask your web designer how.

So if you think you’re missing out because your website is out-of-date, ask your website designer to assess the ability of your website to compete in the modern world. It may be time for an update.

 

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