Last summer I was asked to consult on one of my colleague’s client’s website. This spa has been around for 10 years and has increased its services over time but recently branched out into medical spa services. The problem presented to me was that her site had , not been updated for at least a year and there were concerns that Google Analytics was not tracking properly. So, I was essentially looking at a major website update.
Upon review of the spa’s website, I first noticed that this site had a few things working against it:
- The original site had not been updated in over a year. WordPress, the theme, and most of the plug-ins needed updates. This is an issue for a lot of websites. If the essential components of a website are not updated regularly, the site can experience lag problems, slow image uploads, forms may not work correctly (or not at all), and a host of other problems.
- The blog was actually part of a completely separate site with a different link to it. While it could be accessed from the main site, it took visitors OFF the site and elsewhere. You want visitors to stay on your site, browse through the pages, read your content, sign up for a newsletter, buy a product, etc. If they leave your site they may have a hard time returning to it (especially if they keep clicking links). Also, when someone leaves your site then that affects your Google Analytics – your bounce rate in particular. So, keep visitors on your site and watch your Google Analytics numbers improve.
- The e-commerce portion of the site was also on a completely separate site and was very outdated with tiny images, non-descriptive descriptions and actually looked very antiquated. The spa owner had this e-commerce store for many years and had worked out a system that worked for her, but for the user, it was quite outdated. At first glance I didn’t even KNOW she had an e-commerce site. NOTHING on the site indicated that she had products for sale. I had to click on several different links before realizing that her products were for sale.
- The blog had not been updated in about six months. If you’re going to have a blog, keep it updated. If visitors see that you’re not updating your site, they will likely not return very soon.
- The site was non-responsive. This is a very large issue. Google changed its algorithms in 2015 that penalized websites that were NOT responsive. Responsive simply means that the website does not easily adapt from desktop to laptop to mobile devices.
- The ONLY item on the website that was updated regularly was the sliding banner on the home page. Search engine “spiders” roam the internet looking for relevant content and updated information. If the only item being updated regularly is a sliding banner, then that means there’s a lot of stagnant information and those “spiders” will likely skip your site, which affects your site’s rankings on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.
- SEO was intermittent. While there was a list the owner had of specific key words, the individual pages and posts were not all SEO-friendly.
With all of these items needing to be updated, I worked with the spa owner and we set up a game plan. Due to budget constraints, we created a 3-tier approach.
- Tier 1: Update any wording that was outdated, make the e-commerce site more easily accessible, cleaned up a lot of links, and did a few general updates, including solving the Google Analytics issue.
- Tier 2: Once the minor changes were made, I created a new test site. During this phase, I updated the WordPress version, selected a new theme, set up that new theme, moved the blog over to this main site and started on the SEO updates.
- Tier 3: Added a new e-commerce store on her current site with WooCommerce. This has been the longest part of the process. New images were taken of the products, product descriptions were re-written, and we added a few extra plug-ins to help with automating shipping costs and processing credit cards. Until this store is updated, the spa owner has been manually entering credit cards and adding shipping charges. It’s a time consuming process and one that we are hoping will end so that she can get a lot of her time back.
A Major Bump in the Road
In working through the changes, we were still experiencing long upload times (for images, pages, posts, etc.). I called the hosting provider and discovered that the website was on the original server from 10 years ago. It was an outdated server and we needed to move the entire site from this old server to a newer, updated version.
While working in conjunction with the hosting provider and my colleague from Dream Design & Marketing, we moved the site. There were a few bumps in the road with this move and my colleague, Christine, ended up being on the phone with the hosting provider for 8 hours to make the transition happen.
Once the site was fully transferred, it loaded much faster thereby making it a greater experience for the user.
Lesson learned: Make a site transfer at night and check it periodically to make sure it’s progressing correctly.
ON A GO-FORWARD BASIS
We have done a lot of work on this website over the past year and the dividends are paying off. In addition to updating and upgrading the site, we have also added about 10-15 new pages with great content for the medical spa portion of her business. We have removed a lot of redundancy, cleaned up the links, added new SEO material, and the spa owner is more consistent with her blogs. All of this combined together (and by keeping everyone on the site and not migrating to outside blog posts, etc.) means that her Google Analytics numbers are off the charts. Her bounce rate is exceptionally low (like 10%) which means visitors are staying the site and reading the content. This also means an increase in business and revenue.
THE TAKE-AWAY FOR YOUR OWN WEBSITE
- Make sure that all the components of your website are ON your website. There may be instances where they can’t or won’t be, but the majority of the pieces of your site should remain on your site.
- Your site should be responsive to ALL mobile devices. If not, that’s priority #1.
- Check your Google Analytics code to make sure that it matches with what is on your site. If not and you update it, then understand that your Google Analytics data will start from scratch. So, record the other data before you make any changes.
- Check with your hosting provider to make sure your site is on a newer server.
- Review your website in detail – check all links to make sure they work, review the SEO for each page/post to make sure it’s updated, etc.
- Add a blog if you don’t have one. But, if you don’t plan to update it regularly then don’t add it at all.
- Review your site’s content to make sure that it’s still relevant to what you do.
- Contact someone to help you if these tasks are too much for you to handle (or you want to focus on your business instead of your website).