[Updated December 30, 2019]
Indications that you need a new vehicle can be obvious, such as rust, smoke, or loud grinding noises, or more insidious and difficult to detect until there’s a major failure. In the latter category we could include a lack of fuel economy, as well as engine damage and the safety aspects of a car getting weaker as it ages and accumulates high mileages.
Some of the signs that you need a new website are apparent, too, if you know what to look for. Others are less so, and can have cumulative effects over time. Here are a few of the major problems website owners encounter:
Your site breaks and your web host tells you it’s not a server issue
You will hear that no sign of forced entry into a website is a server issue. This is 90% correct. Some web hosting companies, who truly care about the security of the infrastructure on which your business is being served, rely on solid, secure servers. Other companies won’t go to the same extent to protect your business.
You’re getting negative feedback about your website
If you’re consistently getting feedback about perceived flaws in the design, usability, quality, or relevance of your website, then you may be losing business as a result. Complaints could be about a contact form that isn’t working, broken and misdirected links, or totally confusing instructions. Users of your website might be expressing their dissatisfaction in public reviews of your business or directly to you.
Your website might look a million dollars from your perspective, but what do your customers think of it? Do they love it as much as you do? Your customers are the ones that bring you business so if your website is hard to use, it’s likely they won’t contact you.
You’re sliding down the search rankings
If being found in searches is crucial for your sales, then evidence that you’re becoming less and less visible to your customers is concerning.
You might be experiencing a drop-off in traffic to your site, and an elevated bounce rate. You may be getting fewer enquiries through the contact form on your site. There are potentially many reasons that could account for these symptoms. Some can be fixed relatively easily, while others need more intensive work. For example, poorly written and optimised content, or technical factors like misconfigured contact forms and lots of large images.
Neglected websites suffer in search results over time as factors such as Google algorithm updates take effect. For example, a site that is not responsive on mobile devices and with pages that take ages to load is going to be penalised.
Here are a few of the reasons for lowly search results that we encounter:
- Duplicate content
- Unhelpful, confusing, or irrelevant content
- Content that’s full of errors and bad writing
- Poor navigation instructions for users
- Missing contact information
- Missing title tags and meta-descriptions
- Large pop-ups that obscure page content
- Design that isn’t fully responsive on mobile devices
- Pages load too slowly
- No internal linking strategy
- No keyword topic focus on pages
- Many anchor text links to unrelated content
- No Google My Business listing
Consistently refreshing and updating the content on your website will help to keep your rankings up, and having a quality website theme that is semantically correct is going to stand you in good stead.
What are the solutions?
If your website is more than five years old, then faults that may seem relatively easy to fix at first glance can be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There may be underlying structural issues that need addressing urgently. The design might also be outdated and your brand needs refreshing.
Seriously consider reviewing your website with an experienced, trustworthy professional who can help you to identify any technical and quality issues and make costed recommendations for fixing them. Make allowance in your budget for moving your website to a new platform while refreshing its design, user-friendliness, content quality and relevance.
You can, if you have time, check out what might be happening for yourself. For example, Yoast has some excellent troubleshooting advice on declining website traffic.
Ultimately, the decision about what to do with your website is going to be based on what you want to achieve and how to best help your customers. You need to get the best advice about what is wrong and how to fix it, and have the budget to carry out improvements.”
Do I need regular updates to my website?
Largely, content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc, are all vulnerable. Technology changes quickly, and with that comes a bunch of security holes. CMSs will regularly release updates or security patches designed to protect the integrity of a website. Keeping these up to date is important for two reasons:
- to keep up with changes in technology; and
- to prevent those who snoop from finding a way in.
The majority of websites that are hacked have not been updated regularly. whether it’s the core CMS, the theme, or plugins.
A website should never be left on its own. It’s a small investment now to maintain the integrity of your website, but it will save you thousands of dollars down the track.
There are two main types of update we work on:
- technical updates; and
- regular content optimisation.
A technical website update is intended to make sure your website is functioning properly and to keep the security of the site as strong as possible. The other is a content update that optimises text, images and other on-page content to ensure your website is fresh, relevant, and appealing to your prospects and customers. Both are vital to the continued success of your online business.
A website that is well maintained functions properly and is more secure. It usually lasts longer, before any major technology change forces you to reinvest in developing a new website. As technology changes, so should your website.
Regular content optimisation
Keeping content updated is all about optimising text, images and other on-page content to ensure your website is fresh, relevant, and appealing to your prospects and customers. Both are vital to the continued success of your online business.
We recommend engaging an experienced developer to carry out ongoing technical updates on your WordPress website. They should also be available to respond to any urgent problems that can occur from time to time.
Some of the problems we’ve heard about that people have encountered:
- Being dropped to the bottom of a web developer’s to-do list while they attend to “more important” work.
- Someone suggests the cheapest solution and you go with that only to find that the situation has not been fixed, or has become worse.
- Engage someone who never answers your requests for help (they probably don’t know what to do).
- Someone who charges like a wounded bull for a job that would take a trustworthy professional a fraction of the time and cost.
- Not having the problem and the proposed solution explained to you in plain English (a detailed analysis of coding or plugin functions is not going to be very helpful for you unless you are a tech).
This article was co-authored by Kalpesh Bhula at ThreePoint.