It's a sad story that you're probably familiar with. You build a website - the product of months of crunch time, overdue and over budget, you get it over the line, and then leave it. Initially, there's a surge of growth, and then...nothing. Things go quiet, and you're left wondering what's caused it.
There are a few reasons why that might be. Today we're looking at one of them. If you've experienced a slump in traffic a few months after a complete website update and you're wondering why, then this article will help.
The Cycle Of Website Decay
One of the key reasons behind the traffic slump to your website relates to how Google prioritises websites in search engines. Because Google's priority is to provide the most relevant and most accurate information to a searcher, the search engine is going to prioritise the most up-to-date, relevant, and accurate web pages. How does Google know that your information is more up-to-date than your competitor's? It checks the date stamps of the information. This is especially important in fields like health and technology, where breakthroughs can occur on a daily basis - what might have been the best answer for a question a month ago could be obsolete tomorrow, and the search engine knows that.
So, if you have a website that goes untouched for a long period of time, it isn't going to be indexed (listed as a priority and authority on a subject). Because Google's not going to treat it as a first-page priority on its search engine results page, the website will decrease in ranking, leading to lower click-throughs, fewer visitors, and less conversions as a result. All of this adds up to a decrease in online business, and you sitting, wondering why your shiny new website is underperforming only months after the launch.
The Cycle Of Continuous Improvement
There is, fortunately, a way to keep updating your website without placing too much of a burden on you or your business. The tried and tested method of Grown Driven Design uses a continuous update cycle, where small chunks of your website are updated on a regular basis. This continuous improvement cycle helps keep Google happy (because you're continuously updating your website with fresh information), but it also allows you to do three pretty neat things as well:
1 - Observe (and respond to) trends
Every now and again, there are articles popping up claiming that this or that new feature can be used to improve the performance of your website. If you're only updating sections of your website, and you're able to do that on a regular basis, why not use the shorter refresh time to try out new things or update things that you suspect aren't performing well on your website? Want to try some different placements or colour of your call to action buttons? Go for it. Heard recently that rotating carousels on a website aren't all they're cracked up to be? Swap yours out for a few months; see what happens. With a shorter turnover time, you'll be able to run experiments that help drive growth without having to commit to something that could mean success or failure for the next two years.
2 - Manage your resources responsively
Okay, so you tried out a new call-to-action button and it worked really well. Or perhaps you uploaded a new offer and it's become really popular - so much so, that you want to spend more time building pages that reflect that topic to help draw in more leads and convert customers. You'll be able to do that, because you've implemented a website update process which is lighter, faster, and more responsive to new happenings. You can spend more time on what's working now rather than only having a short period of time to spend on the popular pages and then having to devote hours to low-traffic areas of your site. It'll free up more of your resources and you'll see a continuous rate of improvement rather than a small jump after every huge rebuild every few years.
3 - Set up an improvement dialogue between you and your customers
If you're able to reconstruct parts of your website on a much more regular basis, you'll be able to respond to the habits of your customers and cut down on less-favoured parts of your website. Generally speaking, customers will indicate what they do and don't like about your website through the actions that they take while visiting (which you should be tracking, by the way.) Because you're tracking the response rates to different parts of your website, you'll be able to collect the kind of quantitive data that helps drive improvement. Plus, once you've got a great way of collecting quantitative data, you'll also be able to reach out to existing customers to collect qualitative data on how to further improve user experience and the conversion process.
Growth Driven Design And You
This cyclic nature of improvement is, as mentioned earlier, a natural part of growth driven website design. This two phase process looks at first planning the kind of website your business needs and who it's going to be marketed to, and then building on said website with light and frequent updates that push for continuous improvement. This method bests the traditional website rebuild at every twist and turn, since it manages to stay abreast of current industry standards, actively maintains a state-of-art website, and stays on top of timeline and budget.
So should you consider growth driven design and improvement cycle patterns for your next website rebuild?
Well, here's what they have to offer:
- Avoiding the post-launch traffic slump by providing fresh, authoritative content on your website
- The ability to swiftly trial and respond to new trends in website design
- Better resource allocation and response time to changes
- A user experience highly tailored to the browsing patterns of customers
- Better management of time and budget
Your website is in, many ways, similar to your front lawn. If you only mowed once every two years, the folks you invite over would have second thoughts about coming to visit. By implementing a more regular update schedule, maintaining will become a far more enjoyable experience, for both your business and your customers.