Even if your website is performing well, it will need refreshing every now and then to ensure it works well, it looks appealing and gives you the best chance of converting your visitors.
Technology and customer expectations change quickly online so it’s important to keep up with the latest developments and trends and avoid lagging behind your competitors.
It pays to refresh your website and online content regularly in general, but also in response to increased customer demand or key seasonal retail events.
In this article, I’ll look at how you can review your website periodically, checking for areas of improvement, and how to update a website to keep it fresh.
1. Test your site for speed
Slow websites can be a major deterrent for shoppers. If pages are noticeably slow to load, then it’s a poorer experience for your users.
As well as being poor user-experience (UX), it can also place doubts in the customer’s mind about how trustworthy the site is. If they worry about general site performance, then they may worry about payment security during checkout or using an online form to contact you.
Sites can use the Google Page Speed Insights tool to review site speed. Google will point out areas for improvement, some of which can be simple to implement, such as reducing image sizes to speed up loading.
2. Review the user experience
User experience matters. It’s about how easy visitors find your site to use. They need to be able to find the products they’re looking for, view key information that helps them to decide whether to use your business and to pay with the minimum of hassle on e-commerce sites.
If a site is hard to use, more visitors will abandon before completing a conversion so it pays to work hard on UX. To get started, try using your website as a customer would yourself and ask colleagues, friends and family to also try it for you and give you feedback.
You can also get some feedback from customers by surveying them and taking note of site related complaints in customer service emails and other contact touchpoints such as Twitter or live chat. You can also use remote user testing through sites like UserZoom and usertesting.com, where you can set tests and view videos of people using your site.
3. Fix the low hanging fruit
Using this valuable information, you can often find simple fixes that can improve the user experience.
It isn’t always necessary for huge design changes to improve usability. It can often be a case of adding more information to certain pages to help the decision-making process of your users, improving page titles and metadata to make site search results more accurate, or perhaps adding some explanatory text to form fields which have been confusing visitors.
4. Check and improve mobile UX
With more people shopping and browsing on mobile devices, the mobile version of your website becomes more important all of the time.
It’s easy to test using Google’s mobile-friendly tool, and there are versions of this in Bing Webmaster Tools too.
Tools like this will alert you to possible issues which are affecting mobile UX. These can be simple to fix, such as text being too small to read, or links being so close together that they are hard to click.
5. Improve product page copy
Product page copy can make or break a sale. It can inspire potential customers, or simply ensure that all the information they need to decide on a purchase is there for them.
Your copy needs to help customers to make a well informed decision about a purchase, so it should convey key features and selling points and be easy to read and scan for users.
Reviewing your copy on a regular basis is a good idea. It can pay to check out your competitors’ copy and to test different versions of your product pages to see which copy performs best in terms of converting customers.
6. Payment options
It can be a good idea to review and refresh the range of payment methods you offer to online shoppers if you run an online shop or take payments through your website.
Customer preferences around payments can change, and offering variety in this area can broaden your appeal to shoppers and increase conversion rates.
If you only offer credit and debit card payments, methods like PayPal and Amazon Pay can appeal to different shoppers. Meanwhile, fast payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Pay can be great for mobile shoppers as they remove a lot of effort from checkout.
7. Carry out a content audit
The point of a content audit is to assess the strengths and weaknesses of all of the content on your site.
This can be done from an SEO perspective, with the aim of improving search rankings for your content and site in general, or to improve the effectiveness of content in terms of building an audience and helping to increase conversions.
Key questions to ask include:
- Which pieces of content are performing best?
- Which topics and content types does your audience connect with?
- Which pieces of content need to be updated, or even removed?
Key metrics to look at include:
- Pageviews and visitor numbers for content
- Bounce rates and time on page. High bounce rates can indicate content which isn’t as appealing, while low bounce rates and high time on page indicates that the content resonates with visitors
- Organic search traffic and backlinks. If pages have high search traffic and plenty of links, then they’re doing well and should be maintained
- Search rankings. If pages don’t rank well, or have dropped from previously good rankings, they may need to be updated or even replaced
- Engagement metrics. Likes, comments and shares on site and through social media indicate valuable content
- Conversion metrics. Look at conversions, ROI and number of leads from content (if people are viewing pieces of content before converting)
8. Review analytics data
As well as reviewing Google Analytics from a content perspective, it’s important to look at performance across the site in general.
For example, viewing by landing page performance you can check key pages for metrics like number of sessions, bounce rates and conversions.
Looking for unusual patterns also helps to identify pages which need to be refreshed or updated. For example, landing pages with higher than average bounce rates, or decreasing conversion numbers may need some work.
This could be as simple as improving copy and images or looking at making changes to calls to action.
9. Update your content
It’s important to keep your content up to date for a number of reasons:
- Content around products and on site in general should reflect the latest information
- Out of date content can deter users. When it’s clear that information hasn’t been updated for a while, it can reduce customer trust
- Ensure that key information, such as delivery timescales in busy or difficult times is up to date
From an SEO perspective, updating content is about maintaining effective performance. If you have pages that perform well in search, it’s important to look after them.
Over time, competitors can outrank you with similar content, or your post may attract less attention as it’s out of date.
Google and other search engines value recency so a simple update can fix this. For example, going through a popular blog post and updating it with newer stats and information can be enough to boost or maintain search rankings.
Product images can play a huge part in driving conversions so it’s important to keep them fresh.
Images can be used to give the site a fresh look for example, by replacing older images with newer, high-quality versions.
Another thing to look for is the number of images you use on product pages. For example, could you display a product more effectively by showing multiple images? By showing items like shoes from different angles, customers can see the product in different ways, helping make a more informed decision.
The same principle applies for other websites too, not just online shops. Could you look to update your homepage imagery or is there an out-dated picture of you or your team on your ‘about’ page?
Take some time to review the type and style of images you’re using and check whether they still match your brand image, perhaps there are even opportunities to source and add more imagery to your site.
11. Check for broken links
It’s good to review internal links so that users aren’t clicking on links that don’t work and so search engines can crawl and index your site as easily as possible.
Broken links can be the result of typing errors, moving pages without updating links or external resources being removed from the web.
There are several free broken link checkers (like this from ahrefs) that can quickly check and identify the pages that need attention.
12. Competitor analysis
Keeping your site up to date is also about ensuring you keep up (and ideally ahead) of your competitors.
This detailed guide to competitor analysis provides more information, but basically it’s about identifying and learning from key rivals.
For example, you could see how they rank on Google for some of your target keywords. If they rank higher, can you see why? Do they have better or more detailed content? How do their landing pages compare to yours? Are you competitive in terms of price and delivery?
13. Test calls to action
It’s good to check key CTAs to maximise conversions on your landing pages and product pages. If customers can’t see key CTAs, then this can have a negative impact on conversions.
Characteristics of an effective call to action:
- It should stand out. If users can’t find it easily, you may be missing out on sales. It should be prominent on the page and impossible to miss. This is often about a mixture of size and colour so that it contrasts with the rest of the page
- The wording should be clear. Use phrases like ‘add to basket’, ‘buy now’, ‘proceed to checkout’ on e-commerce sites to make it obvious what will happen when the user clicks. Apply the same principals to other landing pages too, using phrases like ‘contact us’ and ‘request a quote’
It’s good to review CTAs for these characteristics and to check things like size, wording, placement and colour to see if you can make any improvements.
14. Review your checkout process
If you have an e-commerce website, this can be an area where you can have a big effect with some relatively small changes.
By using analytics as well as customer feedback and testing, as mentioned earlier, you can identify any areas of your checkout which may deter customers from purchasing.
Fixes don’t have to be difficult, it can even be as simple as adding some explanatory text to make a form field easier to complete. In an area like the checkout, little fixes can make the difference between people abandoning or completing a purchase, so can have a big impact on sales.
The reviews, refreshes and updates here are all simple to carry out and can deliver quick improvements to website performance.
In a competitive online market, it’s important not to rest on your laurels. Website design and features can become out of date quickly, and customer behaviour and device usage changes all the time.
By keeping on top of this, and reviewing and updating your site regularly, you can improve website performance without too much effort.