Why you should renew your website

by
Cecilia Macioszek

Recently I have been sending a few e-mails to some websites to offer a renewal, and I think a lot of people do not really think about renewing their websites. As a result I figured out that I should write a few reason why it is important to consider a renewal at some point.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

I understand that a lot of companies does not mind having the trendiest website design ever but I will get to this point after, at least you should think about your SEO.

What is SEO ?

Search Engine Optimization is basically how to optimize your website to be indexed well by search engine (generally referred to Google) and how to avoid to be penalized.

Relationship with a website renewal

Some good coding practices we have now did not exists 10 years ago, having a website that have not changed for a long time gives a high risk that some of the Google standards are not respected so your website may be penalized and as a result you get less visitors/customers.
Do you remember the Internet 10 years ago ? I do ! Some websites in order to increase their SEO wrote keywords in white on a white background (aka invisible keywords, this was ridiculous, I still have the habit of highlighting the text I am reading on some webpages I visit because of this stupid trend in the past). Actually one day I saw someone on Twitter talking about the invisible keywords trend thinking it was still working... The answer is no it does not work anymore.
See the article on Google about Hidden link.
Anyway, talking about SEO reforms in the past we got the following (and more) :
Google never gives that much details about how the update works, probably to avoid the websites to take advantages of the changes (in a bad way) and get to the first place of the ranking.
The following descriptions of the updates are sometimes supposition of the SEO experts and webmasters, since Google is not always very clear about the new algorithms.

  • Florida in 2003 : The main target was key word stuffing
  • Brandy in 2004 : Better keywords searching
  • Bourbon in 2005 : The target was probably the duplicate content
  • Vince in 2009 : Helped the brands to get a better ranking
  • Caffeine in 2009 : Started to change the crawling system to make it faster and make the ranking real-time
  • Panda in 2011 : The target were low quality websites and spammy websites. You can check how large websites had been affected here : Pandalized
  • Penguin in 2012 : The target were the websites with too many ads
  • Hummingbird in 2013 : Improved the search experience
  • Pigeon in 2014 : Changed search depending on the location of the user
  • Mobilegeddon in 2015 : Penalized websites that were not mobile-friendly

You can see that almost all the reforms have a common goal : get better search results and by extension give the user a better experience using a search engine. Which tells you about the potential future changes in the SEO world. So it is important to follow the best coding practices now even if it is not taking into consideration by the Google robots yet.

The last Google update algorithm (at least the last big one because they change and try different algorithms a lot) is regarding the responsivity of websites. If your website is quite old it is probably not mobile-friendly. As I wrote in my previous post : Responsive design and User Experience about responsive websites, approximately 50% of people are using their smartphones to go on the Internet, so you can guess that they do use it to search for websites as well. If your business does target only computer users then there is no need to have a website that is mobile friendly, but if you do target all kind of users you should consider it.

If you want to learn more about the Google SEO updates so far, check this website out : Google Timeline

Design and user experience

Kiabi website in 2006 and in 2016

A website is a reflect of your company, if it has an old fashioned design it gives your company an old and not very fresh image. However the problem is not only the design but also how the visitor enjoy visiting your website, even if it is related too. If your menu is confusing, or if it is not easy to navigate on your website, users would not be willing to visit your site again and again. On the other hand if you enjoy your visit on a website you may visit it again or even link it to a friend who may link it to someone else too etc... Having a modern website is very important

Having a good clean

If you decide to renew your website you can finally get rid of the old content you have been keeping for years that is not useful to your website anymore and just take space (it can be text but also pictures or videos etc...). You can rearrange your menu or your website categories, and have a fresh start !

Common excuses

There are websites that never changes since their release... Why don't they update their websites ? Here are a few "reasons" :

Visitors are used to the design, if we change it they would be lost

You may be affraid that user would complain about the new design and some would probably do it (especially if your users are French ;)) ! But at the end of the day they still visit the website and they eventually get used to the new design. Moreover if your website has not been re-designed for a long time, I think a majority of users would be satisfied with the new design better than the old one !

It costs too much money

People tend not to see a website as an investment, which I do not really understand... Having a great website obviously helps you getting more visitors and more customers and on the opposite if your competitor has a better website, you may not attract new customers through your website that easily because they compare your website and, as I said at the beginning of this post, new clients do judge your company on how your website looks if they have their first interaction with you online. A common mistake is to think : I just want to have a website to be seen, I do not really mind the way it looks.
No new customers = no money from new customers

I am the leader on the market I do not need it

Right ! Once you will get a new concurrent that offers a better design and at least one more functionality you will understand the importance of taking care of your visitors. Remember myspace ?

Conclusion

An important thing to remember is that you can get a free quote from the web agencies so even if you wonder about a renewal of your website you can still ask and consider the offer you get. Rejecting an offer is not uncommon at all, sometimes you realise that you do not have enough budget or you may get a better quote somewhere else, it is fine. On the other hand it is always a great help to say why you decided not to take an offer to the company where you got your quote from because it helps them to understand what customers are looking for.

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