Updating your website can be a complex process. After all, you don't just want to give it a graphic facelift. Instead, you're looking for a comprehensive update that helps you bring your digital presence into 2016 and helps you succeed in your online endeavours. Because of everything you have to keep in mind in the process, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. But you don't have to be! Before you embark on your project.
Above all, you should design your website with SEO in mind. Google remains the world's most popular website, even though it is actually losing market share to its major competitors, Bing and Yahoo. Optimizing your site to be found easily by users on Google, Bing, etc. should be at the forefront of your mind throughout the website update process.
Another important step in updating your website is to make sure you optimize your user experience. A lack of effective navigation is among the top reasons users leave your site, and the problem compounds for mobile users. Even if your old website started out with a straightforward navigation, you probably added sections and pages as your business expanded and grew. Addressing this issue early on gives your web redesign process focus and direction.
Don't ignore the accomplishments you achieved on your old website. Chances are past visitors remember your page, and will want to find it again. Perhaps more importantly, other pages may have linked to individual pages within your website, increasing your SEO as a result. You don't want these to turn into broken links, which is why you should include 301 redirects. A simple change in the code means all visits to the original URL automatically redirect to your new page, minimizing your broken links and keeping your current and past visitors happy.
We're beyond the point at which visits to your page should be all that matters. You want your visitors to take further action, and you can accomplish that by including strategic CTA (call to action) buttons throughout your website. Make sure these buttons match the content, acting as a natural next step for visitors who read your content and are wondering where to go now.
This one is not optional. If your page takes too long to load, your visitors will leave without ever experiencing your digital presence. 47% of your visitors expect your pages to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% will abandon your site if it takes 3 seconds or longer to load. In other words, not paying attention to your page speed could mean losing almost half of your audience.
A website redesign is the perfect time to start thinking about increasing the security on your site. Especially if your website includes the option for visitors to leave their personal information, they need to feel safe doing so. An SSL security certificate encrypts the information, while simultaneously letting your visitors know that their information is secure with you. As an added benefit, it also improves your SEO.
How well do you track the metrics that allow you to determine whether your website is successful? Especially if you have been lacking in this department in the past, your website update should include incorporating tools like Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools to help you track the optimization and success of your pages.
Adding the 'nofollow' tag to a link on your page means telling search engines to not count that link when indexing your page. That may sound counterintuitive, but in fact can help your pages being considered spam for what Google considers unreliable links. The in-depth nature of nofollow links and their use for various links and subjects on your page is enough to fill a post on its own, but this article gives a great introduction into the concept.
Keeping these things in mind is crucial to getting the most out of your website update. Of course, you may not have the expertise needed for all of these concepts, which is why it's crucial to work with a trusted developer partner that can help you achieve success.
Terry’s cauldron of knowledge in the digital world is the result of a background in advertising, graphic design, web and multimedia development… 25 years in this business.