Is it time to update your website?

When you’re so wrapped up in your business, it’s easy to lose sight of your website.  Over time your pages can get stale, your visitor numbers can drop and suddenly your website isn’t performing as well as it could. That’s where a website redesign can help – but how do you know if it’s time?

Here are 12 questions you can ask yourself to see whether you should be thinking about a website redesign now.

  1. Does your home page showcase the most recent and relevant information?
  2. Are there features on your website that no longer work or you no longer need?
  3. Are all your services, product descriptions and images still current?
  4. When you consider competitor sites, does yours look old?
  5. Has your website analytics experienced a drop in visitor numbers?
  6. Is the navigation intuitive to find the most important things on your site?
  7. Does your website appear correctly on mobile devices? Is it responsive?
  8. Do you know your website is missing content that would be helpful to your customers?
  9. Is there any old or outdated information that must be removed?
  10. Are your website terms of service out of date?
  11. Does your web store need to accept new methods of payment?
  12. Has it been more than a year since your last update?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to more than one of these questions then chances are your website needs a redesign.  Why not start a conversation with our design team about how we can modernize and refresh your website today.

What is Bounce Rate?

In this series of Analytics posts, I’m examining Bounce rate. It’s an important measure for site managers because it explains the number of visitors who leave your site after landing on it. In plain English it’s about who doesn’t find anything interesting enough to make them stay.

Bounce rates can be caused by a number of factors including:

  1. Hitting the back button on a web browser
  2. The user finished and closed a web browser window, ending the session
  3. The visitor clicks an ad on your website
  4. The visitor used the search box in their web browser
  5. The visitor typed a URL into their browser
  6. The visitor clicked a link to an external site, forcing them to leave your site

Bounce rates are calculated when a user takes any one of these actions before clicking on a second page of your site. So if a user clicked a second page before clicking on an advertisement then it would not be counted as a Bounce in your statistics.

Your site’s bounce rate can be calculated with the following formula:

Bounce = Visits that left after one page / Total number of visits

Website managers should aim to lower the bounce rate – as you do this it means you are engaging more of your visitors with your content and it’s an indicator that your content and design are correct, enticing people to click on more pages of your site each visit.

You can measure the bounce rate on your website using analytics tools like Google Analytics, which will automatically track these figures for you.

What is Analytics?

You may have heard of Google Analytics, but what is it? How do you use it? What can it tell you? These are all questions that we’ll answer in this new series called “Analytics Explained.”

If you look up Wikipedia, Web Analytics (the generic term) is defined as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of understanding and optimising web usage.”

In the olden days of the internet, propeller-capped boffins would have called this web stats.  Over the years, the reporting of these site metrics has become much more sophisticated, and Google has become one of the preeminent players in the analytics space.

What Analytics Will Tell You

Part of the reason for Google’s interest is because of how tightly analytics aligns with its mission of “organising the world’s information and making it universally useful.”  Analytics are the tools which make web usage transparent, to website owners and Google as well. The metrics can tell you many valuable pieces of information about how people are using your website including:
•    How many people visit
•    The sites that send you traffic
•    Which pages are most popular
•    What content readers like the most.

Going deeper Analytics can also give you very detailed information about which marketing campaigns are working best for you, and which customers convert into sales or leads.

Use Your Existing Google Account

Anyone with a Google account can open an Analytics account. If you’ve got a Gmail account or you access a Google drive, you’re already half way there.  Google allows up to 100 analytics properties (tracked sites) per Google account.

One of the important points to note is that you should always maintain your Google data. Some developers will establish Google Analytics on your behalf and then provide you access. While this works initially – if your designer parts ways you may lose access to your site data – and you’ll have to start again.
While we’ll look at the details of establishing Analytics in a later post, the fundamentals of setting up Google Analytics is reasonably straightforward. Each property you create in Google Analytics dashboard will have a unique property ID.

Linking Google Analytics To Your Website

Once you’ve got your property ID, Google will give you code to insert into every page on your website you wish to track.  Typical content management platforms like WordPress and Joomla, use plugins to add this code to each page automatically.  A quick search for Google Analytics in the WordPress Plugin repository will provide numerous plugins you can use for this purpose.

Once your site is linked using the code, Google Analytics will start tracking website visitors and producing reports.
For busy sites, the Real Time Analytics can be useful for watching real-time visitors to your site, while historical data will give you trends over time.
If you haven’t stepped into the world of Analytics perhaps now is the time to give it a try. If you’d like some help setting it up contact us – we’ll be happy to help.

“Help! My WordPress Site is Broken”

Nobody wants to hear those words, let alone speak them.

The often forgotten part about building a shiny new WordPress site is the ongoing costs. Hosting is a very straightforward cost, but what about ongoing maintenance and support. Who is going to help you when things go “belly up?”

Some people consider Maintenance and Support like an insurance policy. You only need it if you expect something bad to happen. But it’s more than that. Maintenance is about keeping your site updated. It’s a proactive eye on your website to ensure that every theme, every plugin and your WordPress core are at the current version.

Ongoing site maintenance, like the updates we’ve just mentioned are something you can definitely do yourself. If you have time, and you have the knowledge to be able to make adjustments to your theme and plugins you can definitely save money.

Will doing maintenance be a distraction from your core business?

I guess the question then becomes, how much time are going to spend fiddling with your site and settings rather than doing what you’re supposed to be doing?

I remember back to when I was doing my final college exams. Of course I was studying hard, but it was also really tempting to pick up the guitar sitting idle in the corner of my room. It was a welcome distraction from doing the study. While I had never been that good at the guitar, I learned more in my last few months of college than in the previous three years!

guitar-407114_640

I think the lesson here is that WordPress (something new and challenging) can be a distraction. It’s easy to follow the distraction instead of focusing your efforts on building great content, or marketing your product. If you are easily distracted, like me, then you really need to count the cost of website maintenance in terms of lost productivity. You can’t afford to tinker and play around the edges when sales are walking out the door. You need to spend your time more wisely.

The costs of getting something wrong can be extremely high

Your ongoing website charges are obviously your hosting, and we would recommend that this should be accompanied by a security and maintenance plan. At the minimum this will keep hackers at bay and ensure that your site is kept up to date. When comparing the cost of a maintenance plan vs. doing it yourself, it’s not just about the cost of how much a technician costs when something goes wrong. Consider the cost of lost business, or failed search engine rankings and the real possibility of Google putting an ugly “This site may be hacked” message against your search engine entry.

The cost of not taking up a maintenance plan can amount to thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars per event for small businesses, and the mopping up can sometimes take weeks or months.
Getting someone to do WordPress maintenance for you can be the better option

Small businesses starting out can start with an inexpensive hosting solution (some under $10 per month) and a maintenance plan that will give you monitoring, backups, updates and more starting from $24.95 per month. That would give you a website and the peace-of-mind that your investment is being protected so that you can spend your time on more important things.

It is worth mentioning one particular issue which arises, that may tip the scales in favour of buying a maintenance plan. Sometimes WordPress updates and themes don’t update well, resulting in a crashed site. While it doesn’t happen every time, we know from experience just how often it does happen. Without solid WordPress knowledge this can be a bit like playing a game of ‘Russian Roulette’ with your website, so be careful if you spin the barrel and decide to maintain the site yourself, and always remember to backup before you make a change.

WordPress Maintenance Plans are not expensive

Someone else can take care of WordPress for you, and this cost is pretty minimal compared to the risks we’ve already talked about. WordPress Update and Backup plans from Asporea Consulting start at $24.95/month and give you 24/7 monitoring, updates, and the ability to restore by backup on request. Great peace of mind for less than 85 cents a day!

Photo credit: David Goehring

Is Search Engine Optimisation for me?

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the process of creating, redesigning or restructing web pages and whole sites so they can be discovered and read by search engines in the most efficient way.

SEO is important for every website owner because it helps website visitors find your site.

People may visit your website from an address printed on your business’ vehicle, business card or letterhead.  You may even have taken out Pay Per Click internet advertising, or a radio or TV commercial but the reach of these mediums is restricted to who sees your advertisement.  It’s quite inefficient.

The truth about your website is that many more people could be visiting through search engine results.   Search engines provide a free way for people to find your website when they have a need – just-in-time – but many websites are just not prepared in the right way.

This means that without quality SEO Services many people won’t know you exist… simply because your website content is not appearing in their search results.

When people type your product or service into the search engine your website needs to be at the top of the search results.

That’s in-part what SEO is about… it’s about matching the descriptions of your products and services with the way people think, so that when they use a search engine your results come up more often and higher in the search results.

Why you should engage an SEO expert

Every search engine works slightly differently and has specific rules about what they consider acceptable SEO techniques. These rules are used to block deliberate ‘gaming’ techniques and keep search results as pure as possible.

Engaging an expert will not only save you time, but ensure that your results will not land you in virtual ‘hot water’ with search engines which could result in your site becoming demoted in search results or banned altogether.

When can results be expected?

Search Engine Optimisation does take time to see results because Search engines reindex websites at their own pace.  But generally you will start to see results within the first 2-4 weeks including:

  1. Improved position in search engine results
  2. Removal or demotion of less important website pages
  3. Matching your products and services with regularly used search terms

Our team work hard with our clients to ensure that we are across and know best practice SEO techniques.  We are happy to share this knowledge with you and start improving your website results.

Our SEO team are always available for an obligation free discussion about how we can help you with your next project.

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