2008 may not even seem that long ago to some of you. But so much has changed in marketing since then that quite frankly a website even developed in 2010 can seem – well – “old school.”

According to Pew Internet & American Life Project back around 2008, only about ½ the North American population even used online devices and a mere 8% were deep users of the web. Today North American internet users have climbed to 79% (US Census Bureau) with a whopping  90% of these users claiming they use the web to help them make purchasing decisions (Fleishman Hillard 2012 Digital Influence Index).

So it’s no wonder that a website that acts like a static brochure of your company is now a dinosaur in the digital world. Here are some criteria to help see if you’re website is hip and happening or pathetic and passé.

Do you have user-friendly navigation and quality content?

There is so much that can be said here and they say a picture can say a thousand words. This wonderful infographic is a must when deciding on effective web design.

Are you coming up on Google (at the very least locally) for key search terms?

To have a site that no one can find is devastating. While it’s great to have a nice looking site, if it’s not being found it’s useless from a marketing perspective. You need to focus on your Title Tags and Headers Tags and ensure they have the right keyword search terms (keyword research here is a MUST). You need these keywords in your content, you need new and fresh content with your keywords in them, you need links to your site from other credible sites, you need to make sure your pictures use the keywords in their alt tags, you need to be registered on Google Places, you need a sitemap, and this is just the beginning! If you want to see how you are doing, try many of the free website grading tools available online, then start making the necessary changes.

Do you have Google Analytics installed and do you monitor your traffic at least once a week?

To have a website and not know how it’s performing is like investing a ton of money into an ad campaign and not caring if it provides you with results.

The good news is that Google Analytics are still free and luckily most web developers can easily add the proper code to the pages on your site and even set up a report to arrive in your inbox once a week. I like to look at the following at least weekly and then deep dive twice a month in to other areas:

How many unique visitors am I getting?  How long are they staying on the site?  What is my bounce rate?  Where is the traffic coming from, including referring sites, what are the most common search terms, and what pages are the most popular?

Do you have multiple forms of media (video, photos, audio)?

To assume that everybody is going to read the content on your site is a bit naïve in today’s market. I recall a leader in web trends saying that before long websites will become mostly video in format instead of text. Why not start preparing, by climbing on the YouTube express and even creating a few Infographics of your own. Not only do multiple mediums appeal to different tastes, but they can then be strategically used on other online sites like YouTube, Pinterest, Slideshare and more. This again gives you more online exposure as well as valuable links back to your site.

Do you treat your website as just the hub to your entire online presence?

John Jantsch the fearless leader of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network of which I’m a part  introduced me to this great concept of the hub and spoke model of your online presence. It’s important you claim your online real estate and then post various forms of content to these other sites, encouraging them to visit your website. According to Universal McCann’s Wave 6 study, company websites are losing ground to social media sites in terms of credibility and popularity. These other sites, are places people will be seeking valuable information and engaging with your brand (see below) coming then to your website to show them how you can help them solve a problem or achieve a desired result. Implementing the hub and spoke model  increases you online presence tenfold if not substantially more!

Are you allowing prospects/customers to ENGAGE with you? 

Websites used to be a one way street. You shared information with readers and that was it. Not in today’s world. Now people want the ability to communicate back. Your website should encourage conversations by including a place for people to comment, share ideas and become part of a community. You should promote downloads of quality information via eBooks, Subscriptions to your newsletter, Surveys or Forms that help visitors find answers to their problems. Finally you website should definitely include some calls to action.

Can you easily change the content on your site and are you? 

Needless to say, if Google relies on content to help with their search engine results, you better be adding to and updating it on a weekly  or (at a bare minimum) monthly basis. This means you need to be able to change your own content and not rely on an outside source.

Did you know that according to HubSpot, sites that blog at least 20 times per month generate 5 times more traffic than those that blog only a few times per month?

Content is king in today’s online marketing world – it’s time to claim your throne if you aren’t already.

Is your site mobile and tablet friendly? 

Just like landlines are giving way to mobile phones, so are PC’s losing ground to tablets and smart phones.  In fact Fleishman-Hillard found in their  global 2012 Digital Influence Index that 2 of the 3 consumers they surveyed, use a mobile/smartphone to gain information on a brand, product or destination at least 3 – 4 days a week.

That makes it a no brainer that your site better pull up quickly and be easy to navigate on these devices.

To be clear, this doesn’t just mean your site comes up on a mobile device. It means that instead of a tiny, tiny, miniscule version of your site, there are nice big buttons that allow me to get what I need easily and even call you in one easy click of a button.

If you want to see an example of what your site should look like – go to Dudamobile.com and type in your URL.

That’s why today’s websites are now built with what is called a responsive theme that automatically adjusts the site to different sized devices.

If you want to get a quick idea how your site is fairing on some of the above elements, check out HubSpot’s free Marketing Grader.  It’s a great quick snapshot of your current website’s performance.

So how do you feel you did?

  • Hip and Happening
  • Better than I thought
  • Retro and proud of it
  • Definitely time for a new site


AvatarCidnee Stephen

Cidnee Stephen is the owner of Strategies for Success, a marketing company that focuses on the needs of budget minded small businesses and professional services. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.