Running a business in the 21st century requires an online presence. There’s no getting around that. Business pages on social media are used to connect with new prospects. Custom email addresses help customers identify with the product or service being offered. Up-to-date websites can increase conversion rates. These are the three must-haves for doing business in 2022.
With marketing and promotions, traffic is most often directed to your website. Social media pages have a link to it. Emails display it in the signature line or link to it from the body. Your website is the modern equivalent of a storefront. What does yours look like when you visit? How does it perform? If you’re not satisfied with the answers to these questions, it may be time for an upgrade.
Keep your website up to date
Consumers are smart. They can tell the difference from businesses that prioritize their online experience and businesses that don’t update their websites for months or even years. To create a consistent, frictionless customer journey, be sure that your website reflects your latest inventory. This way, you can show prospective buyers your newest offerings, plus set expectations when a popular item ends up being out of stock.
Staying up to date also means switching up your design or imagery every so often. Some brands update imagery seasonally, which could make sense if your inventory or offerings vary by season.
Stay on top of what competitors are doing
For many customers, your website is their introduction to your business. To make a good first impression, you’ll want your site to be clean and easy to navigate. If your competitors have websites that provide a much better user experience, you’re probably missing out on a lot of business.
Like we mentioned earlier, think about your site like a physical storefront. Would you prefer to shop in stores that are welcoming and make it easy to find what you’re looking for, or stores that make it impossible to find the information you need to make a purchase?
Regularly carve out time to do competitive research, or assign the task to someone on your team so you can review together. It’s important to know exactly what your competition is doing so you can stay ahead of the game, especially when it comes to your website experience.
How to decide when it’s time to upgrade your website
Simply having a website is not enough if you want to compete in this economy. New technology is being developed all the time and consumer behavior changes frequently. According to a Microsoft study conducted in 2019, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the average attention span of online consumers is eight seconds. That’s how long you have to capture the attention of website visitors: eight seconds.
Your website needs to operate faster and be more intuitive if you want to convert leads to sales in this climate. Have you made any changes to it recently? Here are six signs that it’s time for a website upgrade.
1. Poor SERP rankings and organic discoverability
The acronym “SERP” stands for “search engine results page.” When a consumer types in a search term or keyword, the search engine displays the most relevant results for that term in a series of pages. Your objective as a small business is to get to Page 1 for any keywords or phrases that are relevant to your business. That creates a condition known as “organic discoverability.”
According to Statista, Google owns a 92.47% market share for global searches. The algorithm they use to determine page rank includes variables for recent updates and content relevance. Each time your website changes, whether it’s by modifying existing content or adding new content, Google reindexes your site and updates its SERP ranking. Poor SERP position is a sign you need a website upgrade.
2. Slow load times
Remember that eight-second attention span? If your website takes five seconds to load, you’ve already lost the consumer. Even if they’re patient enough to wait, they won’t stay long. This happens often with older websites that were built with code that’s now outdated or include plug-ins that take too long to function. Load times can be improved by modifying your website or changing the hosting service.
These types of updates can cost money, so it could be a good idea to cover the upfront costs by applying for a business line of credit. Continued investment in your website performance could lead to a nice uptick in customers and a decrease in bounce rates.
3. High bounce rates
Bounce rate is a term used to describe a website visit where the user doesn’t attempt to navigate the website and leaves from the first page they visit. This phenomenon can be tracked with Google Analytics or through a content management system like WordPress. High bounce rates can be an indicator of slow load speed, poor navigation options, or an unappealing website design.
4. Poor mobile user experience
User experience (UX) can make or break an online business. In March 2022, the U.S. retail ecommerce market was estimated at $431 billion. That’s in a nation with 230 million smartphones. How does your website perform on those devices? It’s a mistake to do a website upgrade and only focus on the desktop version. Check the UX on mobile and make sure it’s easy for consumers to do business with you––most people are doing their initial searches on mobile, so businesses need to meet them there.
5. Outdated appearance or design
The colors of your website can cause an emotional response in the user. Blues instill trust and loyalty. Greens are good for healing and quality. The London Image Institute has a comprehensive study of this published on their website (which is red). There are similar studies elsewhere about design, photos, and site layouts. Check the most modern data you can find to see if your website is up to date.
6. Unclear site structure or navigation
Navigation on a website needs to be intuitive and obvious. Every second wasted looking for the menu bar or specific product page is a chance for the consumer to move to another site. A good way to test this is by having someone who’s never visited your website log on and try to figure it out. Any struggles with navigation are a good indication that your website needs an upgrade.
Make sure that your products or services are easy to find, and most importantly, easy to buy or book. Your website should simplify the purchasing process, so remove as much friction as possible between the moment a prospect lands on your site and how fast they can take action.
Upgrade your business website frequently
What works today may not be sufficient for consumer interaction six months from now. Website upgrades should be scheduled regularly to keep up with technology changes and consumer behaviors. Indicators that you need an upgrade include poor SERP rankings, slow load speeds, a poor mobile UX, an outdated appearance, unclear navigation, and high bounce rates.
Luckily, once you know what issues your website has, you’ll be able to address them and improve your site experience for customers and prospects alike.