Is it time to revamp your website? Here are the signs.

A Scripted Freelance Writer Writing Sample

Is it time to revamp your website? Here are the signs.

We could delve into the finer points of marketing communication and human behavioral response. Get all philosophical… But we're not going to. Right here, we're going to take a look at some cases where the answer is so much plainer and simpler than all that. No analysis paralysis. Just quick wins. Let's take a look at a few common situations facing business website owners to pinpoint some big wins you can take to the bank.

When your "About Us" isn't about you. It's strangers in a stock photo.

A few years back, Vince Vaughn posed for stock photos in a stunt to promote his movie, Unfinished Business. The sublime stupidity resonated with everyone who has ever seen a bad stock photo. It was a viral hit. The fake photos spread like wildfire.

Would you trust this guy?

Checking a business out online is only natural. Everyone should plan on being checked out online by potential clients looking for their website. Even if you're a brick-and-mortar business where you meet with clients in person, the sales process begins before you even meet. Usually, by going to your website. People want to know about you before they decide whether to call you or not. Often, they head to your "About Us" page. But what if your "About Us" page feels a little blank, and you don't want to bother taking real photos of you and your business? For some, the answer is to show potential clients a picture of suspiciously chipper people pretending to be business people in an eerily pretend business setting. What could go wrong?

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. In person, or online. For many people, your website will be their first and only interaction with your business. Make it a credible interaction that encourages people to get to know you better.

If your site is making people wait.

In the DoubleClick study, "The Need for Mobile Speed," researchers found that 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if the page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. And you thought the 3-second rule only applied to a cookie falling on the floor?

Internet users have the need for speed, and Google knows it. Site speed is part of the Google algorithm. If your site isn't working quickly, don't expect the website to rank well. This is a common theme with Google: If it doesn't work well for users, then don't expect your website to rank well. Google is driven to encourage website owners to improve their websites (and by extension, improve their search results). Google has found that website owners can lose an astounding number of customers by making people wait more than 3 seconds — 40% of all visitors will abandon a website that makes them wait. They won't just lose them once, they'll lose the majority of that business forever. 80% of those visitors will never return.

When your site is being hosted on some dude's server

One of the simplest ways to increase your speed is to upgrade your hosting. If you're on WordPress, the hands-down solution is quality managed WordPress hosting through one of the larger providers. Managed hosting has made exponential increases in quality over the last 2-3 years, and the hosting industry has been transformed. Hosting with an independent developer cannot compare to the quality and efficiency of a large company for this technical aspect.

In the old days, hosting your website on some guy's own server (possibly in his garage) might have been fine. Today, there are economies of scale a smaller developer or agency cannot match. The next time a developer offers to host your site on their server, just say no. If the developer makes using their own server a sticking point, that could be your cue to re-evaluate the relationship. Is the developer more interested in making money off you than ensuring you get the best performance and Google rankings? Choosing one of the largest and most widely recommended managed WordPress hosting companies is one of the surest ways to top speed and performance.

If you're not mobile-first

"Today, most people are searching on Google using a mobile device," according to the Google Webmaster Tools blog. Anyone not optimizing for mobile is waving off the chance to be seen by more than half of all Google searchers. If you don't have a large marketing budget you may not want to spend a lot of money on ads looking for new clients. But do you want half of all people looking for you to go somewhere else? For local businesses, mobile consumers are often highly motivated. They're often searching for the business they need from their own because they're in their car and ready to drive to your location.

Does your website pass the test?

There are real guidelines for creating great user experiences. Google is ranking you on your mobile content and site speed. If you're not mobile friendly, that's a big red flag that it's time to update. Once you commit to a new website, don't get stuck on your perfect ideal. Creating a great website means focusing on your customers' needs are being served.

-By Melissa DuShane

Melissa D
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A native Midwesterner, Melissa is an award-winning copywriter and content strategist who combines creative experience from MTV Networks with SEO and digital marketing expertise from working for high tech companies and start-ups. Her focus is on creating effective search engine optimized content to acquire clients and increase sales. A certified Google AdWords professional and nut for WordPress, her work includes Intel, Atmel, Intuit QuickBooks, Milestone Internet Marketing, Pilot NYC, as well as content and search engine optimization services for a wide array of small businesses and law firms. Since 2005, she has written and optimized online content for more than 200 websites.
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