Updating A Website – 23 Detailed Ideas

Photo by Anne Thornlley / Flickr

Photo by Anne Thornlley / Flickr

If you are looking for the interweb’s most complete listing of ways for updating a website, you’ve hit the jackpot.  Here are 23 ideas with in-depth descriptions (from guys who update websites for a living) and lots of links to live examples to get you moving.

  1. Update The Staff Page – Your staff page is often the most-visited internal page on your site, so keep it current.  A couple of hints here.  Use individual pics, not group shots.  As soon as someone leaves your organization your group shot is out-of-date and you can’t change it.  So get good individual pics of your staff.  Check out the IT Decisions staff page.  Get good photos.  Having a professional image is worth the extra cost.  Make sure credentials for staff members are current.  Don’t use “has been a part of the team for 12 years” because that will be out-of-date before you know it.  Say “has been a part of the team since 2002.”  There’s a side-benefit here.  Your employees will feel important because they are important.
  2. Shoot & Embed Videos – This one is simple and can make a big impact.  GoesslingUSA has short videos showing their hinged belt conveyors in action.  Put them on YouTube and embed them on your site.   There are more searches done on YouTube than Yahoo and Bing and every other site other than Google itself, so you can pick up traffic directly from YouTube.  Nothing fancy required.  Just show your stuff doing what it does.
  3. Develop FAQs – Talk to your receptionists, sales folks, project managers, and anyone who has direct interaction with customers.  Find out what common questions are asked and develop a helpful FAQ for your site.  This shows that you know what you are doing and it shows that you can make your customer’s lives better by knowing their needs and your product or service thoroughly.  That is your reason for being in business, after all.  This can be as simple as an email to your staff saying “We are working to develop an FAQ on our website and I need your help!  What questions do you get most often from our customers?  Are they confused about anything?  Are there safety concerns they should know about?  Are there ways we can put their minds at rest? . . . ”  You will likely learn some things that will make your business better through that process.  Check out Asheville’s Haunted Farm for an informative and humorous FAQ.
  4. Post New Testimonials – Testimonials are crucial for any type of business.  Make it a regular part of your process to follow-up with customers right after they use your product or service.  This is so important, we produced a video and blog post called How To Get Testimonials For A Website.  Not all testimonials are the same.  Have you done business with someone recently with a high profile in your niche?  One of the reasons we started using Long Tail Pro software for keyword research is that Pat Flynn and Marcus Sheridan gave a testimonial for them.  Those were names that resonated with us and gave LTP credibility.  Pursue testimonials for higher conversions.
  5. Add Or Update Pricing – Did you know that there is A LOT of easy search traffic waiting on you for queries related to pricing for your product or service?  Yep.  We’ve seen clients rake in a lot of search traffic and business by discussing pricing on their websites.  Your clients want to know your pricing and you get to be in control of the conversation when you are proactive in talking about it.  There are several ways you can approach discussing pricing to meet your comfort level on this tricky topic.  We discuss how to approach pricing on your website here with several good tips.  And take a gander at our sidebar.
  6. Blog! – HubSpot put out a study showing the impact of blogging on customer acquisition.  The numbers will surprise you.  There are a lot of good reasons to make regular blog posts to your site — some tangible, some intangible.   Did you know that blogging can actually increase your referrals, boost customer lifetime value, and help you build links?
  7. Boost Email Signups – We believe email marketing is hands-down the most solid way to stay in contact with your fans and customers, even above social media.  Why do we believe that?  Because we see what other brands and marketing firms are doing and the results are staggeringly consistent.  You can put email sign-up forms in your sidebar, on your about page, or even use a pop-up to really snag a lot of addresses.  Make sure your forms automatically dump to your email marketing service.  Derek Halpern has email signups down to a science over at Social Triggers.
  8. Update The Portfolio – Chance are, your work, your service, your product is better than it used to be.  Make sure you are putting your best foot forward in your portfolio.  Hire a photographer if you need good photos.  It is worth it.
  9. Make Your Map Interactive – Embedding an interactive Google Map to your location is so easy, it should be a crime not to have it on your contact page.  Your customers want to be able to see where you are and zoom out to figure out how to get to you.  Make sure there is a “directions” link accompanying the map so that they can put their starting address in and get turn-by-turn instructions.
  10. Refine Product & Service Descriptions – Most businesses continually improve their service or product to meet market demands and improve their offering.  Go through each page with descriptions on it and look for opportunities to update.  Make sure and focus on what your customers want, not what you want.
  11. Insert Links To Partners (And Request Links Back!) – Did you know that links are still the biggest factor in search engine rankings?  You don’t want to link to competitors, but there is nothing wrong with linking to suppliers or users of your service.  Once you’ve done that, feel free to let them know you helped them out and mention that if there is a place for them to link back to you on their site, that would be awesome.  Never hurts to ask!
  12. Check Social Media Icons – If you have begun using a new social media platform, make sure and let your website visitors know you are active there.  A simple LinkedIn icon may be appropriate.  If you have a large following on one of your accounts, use that as social proof to prove your status.  BlueRidgeParkwayDaily.com (I built that!), for instance, has a Facebook sidebar widget that shows that 53,000 other people are fans.  That shows legitimacy.  If you only have twelve followers, you should just use a simple icon.  If you have links to social media outlets that you don’t use, take them down.
  13. Take Advantage Of Internal Links – Links on your website to other places on your website are good for users and for your search rankings.  Google uses internal links to figure out which pages on your site are the most important.  And it makes it a lot better when a site user can just click the word “portfolio” to see your portfolio when you mention it instead of having to hunt it down in the menu.  Check out how Interchange uses internal links on their Food Grade Warehousing page.
  14. Update Your Logo – Has your logo been updated lately?  Does it need to be updated?  If you are going to update, horizontal orientation is usually better for the web and there is a major trend toward simplicity in logo design.
  15. Convert To WordPress – “Keep it secret. Keep it safe.” – Gandalf to Frodo.  I can never pass up an opportunity to talk Lord Of The Rings (see Your Website Is Like Bilbo’s Ring).  Why do I mention secrecy when talking about converting your website to the WordPress Content Management System?  Because WordPress is super-search-friendly and you definitely want people to find you.  If your website is built on HTML or some obscure system, consider moving it to WordPress so it will be easy-to-update and it won’t be a secret (to search engines).  You’ve done a lot of reading.  It’s time for an 11-second LOTR break . . .
  16. Ensure Mobile-Responsiveness – Mobile web usage is skyrocketing (has been for a few years).  Does your website reformat itself to fit on your phone?  2 ways to check: type your address in on your phone (duh!) or take your web browser and shrink it horizontally.  A mobile-responsive site will change to ensure there is no horizontal scroll bar and some larger images will probably go away for faster load times.  If your site isn’t mobile-responsive, you are likely annoying a large percentage of your site visitors and you are probably losing business.  Also make sure your phone number is clickable.  Need more motivation to go mobile?  Google recently announced that mobile-friendly websites will get higher rankings.
  17. Post Case Studies – Even better than a testimonial is a more in-depth case study.  What you want to do here is put your prospective customer in the shoes of one of your satisfied customers.  Describe the problem that the customer had, how you fixed it, and how the customer’s life was made better because of it.  Your prospective customers will see themselves in the role of the satisfied customer and you’re that much closer to a sale.  Mattern & Craig did a great job with this engineering case study.  HubSpot nails it too.
  18. Use Your Sidebar Wisely – If you have a sidebar on your site (most do), make sure and prioritize your sidebar stuff.  Your sidebar should be about as long as your average page.  Don’t stick too much over there.  Put the most important info at the top.  Make sure it is quality stuff that adds value.  It’s a great place for Calls To Action and regularly updated content.  Smart Passive Income has a great sidebar.
  19. Make Clear Calls-To-Action – A  Call-To-Action is an invitation to do something.  If you view your website as an online brochure and nothing more you need to rethink things.  Your website should be a lead-generation machine that turns visitors into prospects and prospects into customers.  That means you need to get your site visitors to call you, fill out a contact form, download some information, join your mailing list, follow you on social media, etc.  Think about what you really want your customers to do and make some strong and prominent Calls-To-Action through-out your site — buttons, sliders, sidebar banners, etc.  Do Calls-To-Action really work?  Are they better than a regular old link?  Check out our infographic: Measuring The Impact Of Calls-To-Action.
  20. Use Custom Contact Forms To Get The Right Info – Bays Mountain Park has to get a lot of information from teachers who want to bring their students in for a field trip.  So we designed a detailed custom form (Gravity forms is awesome!) that helped the teachers think through their options and funneled that information to the right staff person for a follow-up contact.  That process used to involve several back-and-forth calls and emails.  That form saved them a lot of head-aches.  What kind of information do you need to have a good first phone call with a customer?  If you can get solid info up front, you can be much more prepared to answer the questions they are going to have.  And it helps your prospects think through what they need ahead of time.  Also see Burleson Construction’s Subcontractor Prequalification Form.  And check out our New Site Questionnaire which we use for new website builds.
  21. Implement Search Functionality – Does your site have a search function?  If your site has more than five pages you really need one.  If your site already has one, you can often see what searches people are doing on your site through Google Analytics.  If you see a lot of the same searches are done over and over, you may want to consider adding a menu item for that search term.
  22. Refresh The Sliders – A lot of websites have a slider on the home page.  It’s usually a big picture with text that slides or fades every few seconds.  Make sure that your sliders are up-to-date and that they present some type of Call-To-Action.  Make sure the photos or illustrations are great and don’t try to cram too much onto them.
  23. Try Out A “New Here?” Page – If your website has lots of content, it may be overwhelming to a new visitor.  Put together a page with links to your best and most vital information to orient visitors to all the great stuff you have to offer.  We helped put together this Getting Started page for Carefree Boater.  Pat Flynn also has a nice Getting Started page.

Before you get overwhelmed, remember that you don’t have to do all of this at once.  You can tackle one or two items per month.  We offer monthly maintenance plans through which we can knock these updates out for a reduced, regular fee.  We’ll send you regular email reminders on these items to make sure you don’t forget to keep your site fresh.

About the Author

Eric is a red head which means he has a clinically-proven low pain tolerance, is photophobic (eye discomfort in bright light), and has a temper (likely due to the aforementioned maladies). But he NEVER uses that as an excuse for being a wimp or acting like a grouch. In fact, he never brings it up.