Could your website use a facelift? Update your website to the 21st century with these 9 simple strategies.
Your website is basically your virtual secretary now. In the past, customers would call with their questions or perhaps even drive by. (gasp)
Now, most information any customer would ever want to know is available on websites and social media.
On the bright side, you don’t have to answer the phone as much anymore. But this trend makes it vital for you to maintain an updated website—especially if your business targets young people.
I’ve evaluated the online presence of countless businesses. Sometimes, I’m honestly just happy to see the business has a website at all!
But your old Geocities website from 2002 is not enough, unfortunately. Just as it’s important to update your product and service offerings over time to evolve with new trends, it’s important to have a website that looks like it’s from this century.
Your website doesn’t need to be a ridiculously fancy expensive project with tons of bells and whistles. I’m not talking Lamborghini here, I’m talking Ford. (But let’s go for the gently used 2012 Ford Focus rather than an experimental model Henry Ford himself created).
According to Google, 50% of local searches lead customers to visit stores within one day.
Follow these nine simple strategies to make sure those searches show your business at the top rather than your competition.
9 Strategies To Update Your Business Website
1. Use WordPress
Don’t make your job harder than it has to be, especially if you’re making your website yourself. But whether you’re flying solo or working with a company to make the website for you, I strongly encourage using WordPress in almost every situation.
WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS). That might be gibberish, so let me explain.
CMS platforms enable you to update your site’s content without touching a line of code. They also make it way easier to update your site design and add new features. You can make changes to your site that could take 10-15x more time on a standard oldschool website.
You’ll be in good company as WordPress powers 59% of all CMS websites and 27% of all websites in general.
Along with being the most popular comes a massive library of free and paid themes, free plugins, and support—and quite a few freelancers and companies who service WordPress sites.
You can also make content changes at lightspeed—yes, you. Even if you’re not tech-savvy, you don’t have to spend hours learning or take a class to learn how to change a few words or add a new image to your WordPress site.
Making changes is just about as difficult as checking your account balance on your bank website.
This matters because it means you can rapidly update your site, ensuring outdated information never overstays its welcome.
Most people (especially millennials) chuckle when they see old content on a website, like a menu or employee of the month from 2012.
WordPress is the best choice for most situations. Sometimes, other options like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, or even a custom-built site might be best for you. But chances are, WordPress is the way to go.
Even if you’re making an extremely simple one-page site, use WordPress. I’m very confident you won’t regret it.
Quick note on WordPress: there is a difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. The former, which I linked earlier, is the open-source (free) CMS you can install on any web host. The latter is a paid hosting service with a watered-down WordPress installation.
I do not suggest WordPress.com. They have stripped many customization options and limited the plugins you can install.
Instead, create an account on a web hosting company like A2 Hosting (our web host) and use their one-click WordPress install feature. This is a cheaper option that preserves your ability to customize your site going forward.
2. Get a modern, clean template
Does your site look like this?
Your website’s design is just as important as updated information.
Some customers navigate away from “disaster sites” to avoid the impending search-and-rescue mission of finding their desired information. I may be one of them.
The thought is: Why should I have any hope the business has updated their hours, when it looks like they haven’t touched this site since George W. Bush was president?
Seriously though, your website’s look is important. It’s just as much a characterization of your brand as your logo or your physical location.
Again, you don’t have to spend much money for a nice, clean template. In fact, you don’t have to spend any money. Sites like ThemeForest are loaded with thousands of paid and free templates for WordPress and other CMS platforms.
You can install some themes directly from the WordPress control panel by searching the official WordPress theme database.
If you’re downloading a theme from a third-party site like ThemeForest, it’s as easy as downloading a zip file and then uploading it to your WordPress instance.
Some themes are highly customizable while others offer more limited settings.
Don’t worry if you can’t find a theme that’s exactly how you want it—you probably won’t. The theme may have settings to change exactly what you want. It’s generally very easy to change the site colors and upload your logo.
All hope is lost for more complex changes, you don’t have to light the whole theme on fire. There may be a plugin to help you achieve your goal. Or you can ask a consulting company or freelancer how much it would cost to change something for you.
Show your customers you’re a business that keeps up with the times by having a modern website.
3. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly
I can’t emphasize this enough: your mobile design is just as important as your desktop design, if not more important.
More consumers are browsing the web on their mobile devices than ever before. And they’ll be way less patient clicking around your website on a 4″ screen than they’ll be on their laptop.
In 2016, mobile devices overtook desktop computers as the most common tool to browse the web. And there’s no going back.
When you’re browsing for themes, look for the words “responsive design.” This means the content and design scale to any screen size, whether that’s a tiny phone or massive TV monitor.
If your theme is not responsive, pick another one. It’s almost definitely a bad theme that has more issues than just this.
If you have an old website that was designed in DreamWeaver or a WordPress theme from more than a few years ago, your site is probably not responsive.
Actually, it’s almost definitely not responsive. This means it’s time for an update.
Google penalizes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. And Google search ranking is a “make or break” factor for many businesses. This reason alone may be enough to hop on the mobile bandwagon.
4. Add lots of photos and other multimedia
Visual content is far more compelling than text. On the web, a picture is worth even more than a thousand words. (That’s a lot of words to read, anyway.)
Include an attractive splash photo at the top of your front page—your theme probably makes this easy. Add a photo gallery plugin and feature your products or services. Embed a video with customer interviews or other promotional content.
Whatever you do, focus more on visual content and less on text.
5. Install a contact form
Since many customers don’t call anymore, make it easy for them to contact you right from your website.
Sure, you can list your email address and phone number, but this still involves extra steps. Why not embed a contact form directly on your site?
Because it’s complicated? No, it’s not. You can get a simple contact form up and running very quickly with WordPress plugins.
It can be as easy as installing a plugin, configuring the form with your email address, naming the fields, and then selecting what page you want to add it on.
Make it as easy as possible for your customers—who may give you money—to get in touch with you.
6. Publish posts on your blog on a regular basis
Blog? Yes, you have a blog now. This is a core feature of WordPress and any theme you could ever download!
Content marketing is a powerful strategy. Fresh, high-quality content boosts your website’s position in search engine results and gives your customers a reason to keep returning to your site.
Of course, more is better as long as you’re posting high-quality content rather than short low-effort posts, which do nothing for your search engine rankings or engagement. But you don’t need to publish a post every day.
Even publishing something once per month is way better than not having a blog at all.
One online marketing expert stopped blogging for eight months as an experiment. He saw a 32% drop in overall traffic and 42% drop in organic traffic. Don’t send your site to the graveyard.
Just publish on a consistent basis: monthly on the 15th day; weekly on Monday; every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Google’s crawlers intelligently check your site for updates based on how often you publish posts. As far as Google is concerned, consistency is king.
7. Link to your social media profiles and add social sharing icons to your posts
Hopefully you’re also using the social media profiles most suitable for your business.
Add social media icons so customers can connect with you on these important channels. Your theme may have built-in social media icons. If not, there are hundreds of plugins offering this feature, like this and this.
There are also plugins to embed a feed of your Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and many other options.
And plugins to add social sharing features, offering your site visitors one-click sharing functionality—which you really want! This free plugin offers both share buttons and social icons.
Integrating your site with your social media profiles is the way to go. This multi-channel, integrated strategy will surely help you reach more customers.
8. Add a Google Map with your location (for brick-and-mortar businesses)
For businesses with a physical location: you might imagine by now it’s easy to embed a Google Map with your location on WordPress.
Even if you’re not ready to leave behind your old HTML website, it’s still easy to use the Google Maps API to add a customized map. You won’t have to do much more than copy-and-paste some HTML code to the correct location.
But because coding is likely not the best use of your time (for most of our readers), there are fortunately WordPress plugins that take care of this for you as well like this one.
This is a professional, modern addition to any homepage or contact page. More than just a “nice touch,” this just might push more customers to stop in.
9. Spice it up with some modern web elements
I promised you don’t have to learn how to code. I’m not backing out on that!
Modern coding languages enable all sorts of attractive animations and dynamic content.
Don’t overdo it like a PowerPoint presentation where everything bounces and spins around, but a few of these crowd-pleasers could go a long way towards impressing your customers with your website.
Though it may be a bit much for your website, it’s even easy to add cool stuff like this:
Plugins, of course, make it easy to add elements like this too. Search for plugins with terms like “animated text” and “CSS3 animations.”
Update Your Business Website Out Of The Stone Age
I won’t lie, making a complex website is extremely difficult and takes quite a bit of work, even for developers with years of experience.
But you may not need a complex website. A simple, clean online landing page for your business is truly better than nothing—and better than something last updated five years ago.
If you’re not sure how to get started, feel free to get in touch. We’d be delighted to point you in the right direction or to discuss the opportunity to take care of your website for you.