When your website looks more like a low-quality local commercial than a tidy information base, there's your sign--your site needs to change. When your site isn't relaying pertinent and relevant information--it's time to change. When your website is non-existent in search results--you definitely know it's time your site needs to change. There may even be issues glaring enough to require an entire website overhaul, such as non-responsive design, an unaesthetic layout, or a lack of SEO optimization that is preventing your site from getting the traffic and rankings it needs. But there is hope. If these signs are an unsettling reminder of your website woes, here's where to begin:

What is Responsive Design?

Responsive design involves designing your website and coding to adjust automatically to different screen sizes, ranging from giant desktop monitors to tablets and mobile devices. Responsive design also gives users the best possible viewing experience as they navigate, because your site remains clear and intact, no matter the screen size. Additionally, responsive design eliminates the risk of being flagged and penalized for having duplicate content across several versions of the same site. Duplicate content is a red flag that you can eliminate immediately by having just one responsively designed site (and having just one site makes maintenance substantially easier as well). The most important sign of good responsive design is that your business name and contact information are clearly visible, preferably at the top of the page. Additionally, your users (especially the ones who are mobile) will need the ability to click on the phone number to call, which leads to the following point:

Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly

In a recent SMX conference, Google's Matt Cutts repeatedly emphasized the need to optimize and adapt websites for mobile usage. More than 1 in 8 web users are browsing from their mobile devices. (For some popular sites such as Forbes.com, the ratio is more than 50%.) Does your site look as good on mobile devices as it does on large monitors and laptops? Do you know what your site looks like on Android devices? It is your responsibility to ensure your site works correctly regardless of the user's device. Contact information is especially important on mobile as people are often trying to find or call you with only their phones to guide them to you. Taking these steps eliminates the risk of losing business to competitors with more mobility-friendly websites than you.

Be User Friendly

According to Business Insider, 52% of people who don't return to a website say the usability of the site are what keeps them away. If your basic framework currently matches your goals and desired search engine result, a minor refresh may be sufficient, but sometimes a total rebuild will infuse more energy and utility into your site. Look at successful sites both within and outside your vertical market to see what aspects of those websites are appealing to you. Then incorporate those changes into your own aesthetic (without plagiarizing, of course). Additionally, if your company has new logos or has done a recent rebrand, you'll need to reflect those changes within your updated site.

Freshen Your Content

Search engines are currently ranking sites higher for quality content and lower for tactical and keyword-driven SEO. If your website doesn't have fresh and compelling content, consider rebuilding the framework with a focus on high-quality information that explains your mission, your goals and your value proposition to clients and customers. This is the information that search engines reward, and coincidentally, it's what your customers will find to be most valuable as well. If you want your business to attract more customers, your website has to be searchable and usable. Remember that interesting and informational blogs are a great way to engage with customers while also adding continual content that leads to improved search engine results. How has a website redesign impacted your business? I welcome your thoughts in the comments section below.

Published on: Oct 7, 2014