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6 practical tests to check if you need a new website

Brett NovakAugust 9, 2019
This guide has everything you need (yes you) to practically evaluate your business’ website and make an informed decision on what needs to change.

So you think it might be time for a new website? Or maybe you feel that your business website isn’t performing as well as it should? 

This guide has 6 practical tests that you (yes you) can do to evaluate your business’ website – and the free tools you can use to do them – right now and make an informed decision on what needs to change.

But first, a quick statistic.  

We’re big on stats here at Freeform. One mind-blowing figure we saw recently was the number of websites that exist on the internet. 

1.94 billion.

Holy mackerel? That’s (almost) what we said.

That’s a lot of competition to deal with. So fortunately Google is pretty smart with how it ranks websites these days. Gone are the days when writing ‘we’re a peanut vendor’ over and over again will make Google go ‘oh, they’re a peanut vendor, we’ll put them first on page one for that.’

There are actually over 200 ranking factors used by Google to rank websites and their pages. 

Again, mind blown.

‘But Jack, I’m just a small-time peanut vendor, what am I to do with this information?’, you might ask.

Well we can help you there! We’ll start by establishing the landscape of your industry and where you fit in.

 

What are my competitors doing?

Time for some desktop research. Google a few terms that are relevant to your business and see who comes up. 

The websites that appear on page one for competitive terms most likely follow Google’s standards for how a website should look and operate.  

Have a click through the top results and examine the competition. Are there any trends in the content and user experience of these sites? Are they big national brands or local businesses? 

What you’ll tend to find is a clear and easy to navigate user experience, with content and copy that speaks to the right audience with lots of opportunity for the user to interact. Now try and use a critical eye when comparing these websites to your own. What are the main differences? Try listing them and see how your website stacks up.

If you’re not so keen on many of your competitors websites just remember, these are pages that Google is ranking top for their industry, so there are definitely some critical elements (maybe not all, but some) that they are getting right.  

 

Is my website optimised for sales?

First, something obvious. If your business website is designed to drive sales or capture leads, then it’s very likely you have either a checkout or a form to capture data.

Getting more traffic to your website is one thing, but are you converting enough of these visits into sales?

It’s frightening how many businesses don’t know how much traffic their website gets, or how many visits convert into sales.

The first thing to do here is find out how much traffic you get. You can do this in the overview report of you Google Analytics account. Take a look at how much traffic you got last month.

Then count up your total sales (or leads) for last month and divide this figure by your traffic for the same month.

10 sales / 250 visits = 0.04 (4%) 

Now try comparing your conversion rate to industry benchmarks. Please bear in mind that website conversion rates vary depending on the industry and what counts as a conversion, but the rough average across all industries ranges between 2.35% – 5.31%. 

eCommerce comes in lower at 1.84% – 3.71% and B2B is normally 2.23% – 4.31%. 

Source: Geckoboard Marketing KPIs

How does your conversion rate stack up? If you’re less than the industry average, or in the lower half, then it’s time to take a look at your website and identify any potential roadblocks that may be hindering your sales process.

Are you presenting clear calls to action to your users? Have you tested your checkout system for any bugs? Are you providing any points of difference to your competitors?  

The latter brings us on to another very important question…

 

Does my brand speak to my audience?

This is a big one. It’s also the hardest to quantify and in many cases requires some unbiased critiquing. 

Nowadays, just saying what you do isn’t enough. Everyone does that. Like we said earlier, Google any service and you’ll get a host of businesses telling you, in no uncertain terms, that they offer this service.

And sure, making it clear what you do is important, otherwise you can potentially confuse your audience. But the real value lies in striking an emotional connection with your audience. This is achieved firstly, by constructing user personas. 

By profiling your users and understanding their habits, attitudes and what motivates them, you can present them with a brand experience that hits the right emotional notes and compels them to engage further.

What to know how to build user personas for your brand? This article by Conversion XL explains user personas in far more detail and provides tips on how to construct them. 

 

How’s my website’s page speed?

Page speed is a key test for any website, old or new. Websites with slow loading times are deemed to be a poor user experience in the eyes of Google and are often penalised for this.

Try running your site through GT Metrix to understand more about its speed performance. Anything longer than a 5 sec loading time is poor. 

Also pay attention to your page size. If it’s 5MB or above than you probably have some big files taking up a lot of space – most likely images, video or animations. All these can be streamlined with the right tools. 

 

Is my website really mobile responsive?

Last year 52.2% of all web pages were served to mobile phones. That means at least half your audience are visiting your website on their mobile phone.

Google recognised this statistic by changing their ranking algorithm this year to prioritise mobile first. This change resulted in a mad scramble by businesses to redesign their websites to be mobile friendly.

So, if you’re website isn’t mobile responsive there’s a good chance your ranking in Google, and consequently your traffic, is suffering as a result. 

Not sure your website is mobile responsive? Try running it through Google’s mobile friendly test.

 

Are my pages difficult to update?

An inflexible content management system is an issue for many businesses. Google prioritises websites that are well maintained and updated with fresh content, so it’s important to get some control in this area. 

Some older generation content management systems make it hard to update content. Or if you’re really old school your site may be a .php design, meaning you will need a developer to go in and make changes for you!

The best CMS we can recommend is WordPress. WordPress is the most robust, flexible, open source website management system on the market. It’s so trusted by the industry that 35% of the entire internet runs on WordPress!

Need more convincing? How about this – WordPress.com gets more visits per month than Amazon!

Make no mistake, WordPress is the most trusted website management tool for businesses online. A lot of template-based DIY tools have emerged in recent years – WIX and Squarespace to name a couple. 

Whilst these systems are quick and easy to use – you can have a website live in a matter of hours – big question marks have been raised over their ability to rank in search engines. So for a business that relies on its presence in Google, these are not viable options. 

So, which CMS should I use? And how easy will it be to update my content? These are both important questions to ask to whoever is building your website next time round.

 

Conclusion

Each one of the above questions is business critical to your website performing as well as it can. 

If you’ve been through all these points, you should have a very informed idea of how your website is performing and what needs to change.

As you can see, looking at the data behind the design is very important. If your website is built to drive custom and sales, then it’s very important to have a grasp on how many people visit your website every month. Each visit is a potential sale and needs to be treated as such.

Likewise, your ranking in Google is crucial. Search engines are your online marketplace, it’s how most customers will find you. So gearing up your website to be Google friendly should be a priority for your business.

If you want to find out more about how Freeform can help your business online, get in touch today!

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See for yourself!