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Analysis: Thinking of rebuilding your website? Don’t bother!


By The Drum Team | Editorial

September 9, 2011 | 6 min read

John Hornell CEO Brightfire discusses the lifespan of a website and whether or not companies are misjudging just how long they can last.

Lifespan of a website

So you’ve had a website for a few years now and are probably getting fed up with the same old boring content and design. How can I expect business prospects to like my website – you’re probably thinking – when I’m sick and tired of it myself?

But do your prospects feel the same way? Well, maybe not! As inbound marketing company HubSpot found out, a website’s longevity exceeds the lifespan its owners may confer on it.

Happiness with a particular website design appears to be a subjective feeling – if staff satisfaction with a company website reaches its peak a month after its launch, prospects are still admiring your web design endeavours five to six months down the line.

And if you and your employees get tired of looking at your company website 12 months after it is introduced to the world, your audience are likely to maintain the same level of positive interest in it for a whole lot longer.

Website Lifespan Graph

Source: HubSpot

The issue

So why then are you then itching to rebuild your website from scratch? There’s a simple explanation: you’ve probably just fallen out of love with the way your web page looks (or are craving a new dose of visual excitement to brighten up your day).

Instead, ask yourself, “What’s the purpose of my website – is it to please me and my employees or to serve our audience, generate more leads and convert them to customers?” If you have a website for aesthetic reasons, or simply to have a web presence, then it’s all fair and well but I would hope that most of you will subscribe to a more pragmatic proposition.

The remedy

Web creatives may disagree with me on this point but a website redesign is not in any shape or form a digital marketing strategy. Instead of wondering what to change about your website’s appearance, you should be looking at how your website is performing. Would you rather have a beautiful looking website that does nothing for your business or an acceptable website that is a lead generation machine? So consider whether your website is:

• Attracting a large – and growing - number of visitors

• Generating new leads

• Earning you clients

Here’s where the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies with full force. You don’t want to end up pouring buckets of £££ into rebuilding your website, only to find out that your customer numbers have not moved a notch.

As the online customer gravitates towards social web and quality content, you should be focusing your efforts on providing online resources focused on customer engagement. So whilst your website may be the ultimate destination, it’s not where you are going to initially find your audience.

As more and more businesses are hopping on the social media and content marketing bandwagon, keeping up with the competition might look like an uphill mission. Not of you follow these simple rules…

Three steps to outmaneuvering your competitors online

1. Think of your website as a magnet

The online world has moved on from its static late 1990’s nature so if you still think of your website as a pretty online brochure, you need a complete mind-frame overhaul. People are now actively searching for products and services online so you should try to attract them to your website via all available channels, rather than simply pushing your message out there megaphone style.

Think of spreading your message in an inbound, rather than outbound way – you want to drive visitors to your website by being smart, remarkable and omnipresent, not by shouting out in the hustle-and-bustle of what feels like a crowded bazaar where no one will hear you, and those who do, will perhaps choose to ignore you.

2. Create an abundance of content and promote it

Content is the key to getting found and driving visitors to your website. Devise an all-embracing integrated content strategy wherein you produce fresh content on a regular basis, optimise it for keywords, publish it and promote it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and all the social media platforms you’re active on.

Google values fresh material very highly so make sure you produce a plethora of content for a variety of audience consumption, such as:

• Blogs

• Podcasts

• Videos

• Photos

• Presentations

• eBooks

• White Papers

• Infographics

• Webinars

3. Build your online authority and influence

As Google algorithms rank off-site activities more highly than what happens on your website, you should focus on link-building and attracting people via different off-page channels. Although it’s highly important to create an appealing and well-optimised page title and description, a clear URL, an easily navigable menu and spot-on page content, 75% of your SEO efforts should focus on building your off-page reputation.

Try to boost your search engine rankings by getting third-party recommendations - inbound links to your web content, anchor text and retweets will indicate that your website has credibility.

Maintaining a regularly updated blog as a subdomain of your website, creating and optimising a variety of landing pages, and providing special offers and calls to action will make your website feel like an interactive lively hub, rather than a still-life work of art… and with so much to take care of content-wise, I doubt you will think about website revamp in the near future.

In Conclusion

So if your business has a website brochure, content that hasn’t changed in the last three years, and lacks any form of engagement with social media, you run a real risk of falling well behind more marketing savvy competitors and the job of catching up will be twice as hard.

It’s time to create an integrated online marketing strategy around content, search and social.

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