Your Website: 3 Reasons You Can’t 'Set It and Forget It'
Websites are often compared to digital billboards, but there’s a problem with that analogy.

Billboards are static – you just drive past and look at them. Your website, on the other hand, is the primary way many consumers interact with you. They use your site to get a quote, sign up for your newsletter, and decide whether they want to do business with you.

You may be thinking, “I don’t need to update my website. I perfected it in 2015, and it’s been working fine ever since.” But a lot has happened in the past few years, including a change in the way consumers use the internet. If your website is slow, has outdated content, or doesn’t display well on a phone, you're leaving money on the table.

If you haven’t reviewed your website recently, here’s what you need to know.

No time to read? Watch our video overview:

The way customers view and use your website has changed

As predicted, mobile traffic has outpaced desktop traffic. As of May 2022, U.S. web traffic consists of 51.22% mobile, 45.79% desktop, and 2.98% tablet users.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Platform Comparison Market Share

This means you need a mobile-friendly theme or site design at a minimum – but it’s really more than that. Look at your site as a user would, which means using a mobile device. If you use a desktop or laptop to work on your site, you may not even know users are having issues. Using your phone, here are a few items to check on your site:

  • Are the buttons and calls to action big enough?
  • Are there big blocks of text that are too long and hard to read on a mobile screen?
  • Is there a search function?
  • Is it easy to contact you?
  • Do you have pop-ups that block valuable content or hide navigational buttons?
  • Is your quoter still easy to use on a mobile device?
  • Are the top menu items easy to see, read, and tap? Here's a good example to see how menu items need to change to be easier to use on a mobile device:
    Screenshot of the home page for Council for Disability Awareness on desktop and mobile, showing the menu buttons larger and in bright colors on the mobile device

Remember, you’re dealing with a lot less real estate on a mobile or tablet screen. What works on a desktop – like eye-catching sidebars – might not translate to a small screen. For example, your mobile customer may never see a sidebar since mobile-friendly web designs usually push them down to the bottom of the page.

How Google ranks your website has changed

Google has made a lot of changes to their ranking algorithm in the past few years. This includes changes that prioritize loading speed and a secure connection over HTTPS. While those were nice to have a few years ago, they’re essential now. If you haven’t looked at the technical side of your site in a few years, you may be behind the curve. Here are a few items to check on.

Niche expertise

Since 2017, Google’s algorithm has looked for evidence that you're a niche expert in your subject material. Specifically, it looks for an organization strategy called “the hub and spoke approach.” This means you have pages on your site that cover a topic in depth, link to each other, and use similar keywords. For example, let’s say you have an in-depth page focused on the keyword “life insurance.” And you also have in-depth pages that cover subtopics like “life insurance for single moms,” “life insurance for pilots,” and “life insurance for smokers.” Then, all these subtopic pages link back to your main “life insurance” page. This tells the algorithm that you have niche expertise developing content for that keyword. Take a look at how your site is organized – do you have multiple pages that use the same keyword but explore complementary aspects of it?

User experience

A ranking factor as of 2016, user experience refers to how engaging your content is and how well it satisfies the user’s search query. How long does a visitor stay on your page? Do they interact with videos, forms, or downloads on that page? Do they visit other pages on your site? These are all indicators that your content provides a good user experience, which boosts your organic rank.

Mobile-first website

Google knows where web traffic comes from, so it’s no accident that they want site design to focus on mobile devices first. Check out the list we provided in the section above to make sure your site delivers a quality experience for mobile site visitors.

Internal links

Also starting in 2017, Google started paying more attention to internal linking strategy. This means having pages that cover related subtopics and linking them to other authoritative pages on your site (as described in the hub-and-spoke approach above). Internal linking can also help keep visitors from needing more than 3 clicks to reach any of your pages, a good rule of thumb.

Site loading time

If your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load on a mobile device, you’re losing rank in Google’s organic search. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to test your site and get recommendations.

Screenshot of the home page for Google's PageSpeed Insights tool, showing an entry box for you to enter your website's URL

SSL certificate/HTTPS

It’s crucial that your site be secure, which means having an SSL certificate. If you don’t already have this, get one from your domain registrar ASAP. This digital certificate allows for an encrypted connection. This connection is represented by the “s” in the “https” you see at the beginning of your website URL.

Hackers are more prolific and creative than ever

The methods hackers use haven't changed so much over the years. But more site, program, and plugin vulnerabilities are discovered every day for them to exploit. For example, if you have a WordPress website but never log in to update your plugins, you’re leaving yourself open to attack. Here are a few items to check in terms of your site security:

Do you have tough passwords and unique usernames?

The first thing many hackers try is a brute-force attack on the password for the username “admin.” You can make it a heck of a lot harder for them by having unique usernames and tough passwords (16+ characters) for all website logins.

Screenshot of a traditional WordPress login page with the username 'admin' highlighted

Do you update themes and plugins on a regular basis?

It may seem like a pain to log in just to update your plugins, but it’s absolutely necessary. Sometimes updates have added features, but sometimes they correct newly discovered vulnerabilities. If you haven’t updated anything since 2019, for example, it’s the digital equivalent of leaving your back door unlocked. If you can’t be bothered, look for a plugin that manages these updates. These include Easy Updates Manager and Manage Updates, Plugins & Themes.

Do you make regular backups, just in case?

Sometimes bad things happen online – and if you depend on your website to bring in leads, any downtime hurts. As unsexy as it is, you need to implement a backup system. Best case, you’ll never have to use it. But if you do, it’s easier to hire help to restore a backup than it is to hire a designer to rebuild your site because you never had a backup. Most web hosts offer frequent backups, so check yours to be sure. For extra protection, you can add another backup solution from a vendor like Sucuri or CodeGuard.

That’s our quick look at 3 reasons why you can't "set and forget" your website!

We hope this quick run-down has convinced you to take a second look at your website. It may be as good as you remember it – but after a quick audit, you can do more than cross your fingers. You can sit back and relax...or take action.