These 7 concrete measures can tell you if your club’s website is in need of an overhaul.
1. Your site loads very slowly.
Google punishes slow websites by pushing them lower down in search results.
Common causes of slow load-times include:
- Too many large graphics that haven’t been optimized
- Failure to use a WordPress caching plugin
- Use of too-many plugins, period
- Keeping plugins “active” when they’re not actually in use
- Use of a drag-and-drop design “overlay” plugin like Visual Composer
- Custom code that’s poorly written, needs minification, etc.
Changes are pretty good that if you’re having these problems, you’re using an out-of-date or inappropriate toolset for managing your website content.
Don’t accept excuses from your web developer. These are all common issues with known solutions, although the details can be fairly intimidating if your developer is primarily a marketing professional or graphic designer with limited technical chops. If they can’t get it done, bring in a developer with stronger troubleshooting skills.
2. Your website doesn’t load right (or at all) on one or more devices.
Your website has to look right on desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets, in the Chrome browser and the Safari browser. Does that mean it’ll look the same in all browsers? No — but it does mean it needs to look good, and work smoothly, on all platforms.
When it doesn’t, the likeliest cause is
- On newer websites, hand-cranked code, clunky CSS, or poorly-written plugins that override the built-in resources that handle mobile-device responsiveness on your WordPress website.
- On older websites, the use of obsolete frame-based presentation and other outdated approaches that simply don’t work well in Chrome and Safari, or on mobile devices.
Today, the most effective websites use simple, streamlined design. They chunk up content to make it more mobile-friendly. And extensive navigation has been replaced by streamlined navigation (ex: the “hamburger” menu you often see on smartphones) tailored to the most common tasks or priorities of your site visitors.
Check how your site look on laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Run Google’s Mobile Friendly Test. Make sure the site loads completely, looks professional, and that all of the bells and whistles are still fully functional. Failure on any of these fronts will affect how high your search placement is, and it will also chase away site visitors.
Consistent performance, appearance and usability on desktop, laptop and mobile devices is a core principle of modern web development. You shouldn’t have to pay extra for your site to work properly across devices.
3. Both ad-driven and organic visits are down.
A poor match between landing page content and your site visitor’s search terms will reduce traffic from both organic search and paid AdWords campaigns.
Your content needs to align with the way people talk about your subject matter and the way they search for it — and the more specific, the better.
If you want attention from people who are searching for low-carb diets for weight loss, a page that addresses weight loss in general terms will not get much traffic.
A page that talks about low-carb diets and weight in detail will beat it every time.
The best way you can fix this issue is to make sure:
- You clearly understand your club’s target markets and the fitness and health priorities they want help tackling.
- You create original content tailored to each of those markets, and to their specific priorities.
- You write like your customers talk (and search). Use natural, conversational language.
- You don’t ever use “corporate marketing”-speak, jargon, and the overused and obvious “silver bullet keywords” your site developer suggested.
- Your pages and posts reflect the same health and wellness topics that show up in the search terms used by site visitors.
- You point your PPC campaigns to landing pages tailored to the ad itself — never, ever your homepage, which is rarely focused enough.
- You check your Adwords Quality Score. The usual culprit is a poor match between the ad and the landing page, and it’s a huge factor in AdWords success.
- Your AdWords ads and keywords reference similar content on the associated landing page on your website.
Hopefully, you already know not to stuff your pages with keywords. That tactic last worked about 15 years ago, for a short minute. Google is much smarter than that. These days, it just penalizes your search results.
4. Site engagement is anemic.
Think about your website from a prospective customer’s perspective:
- Is this the right club for… (image-conscious individuals, triathlete, beginner athlete, Crossfitter, weight trainer, older folks, weight loss, health issues, swimmer, family, etc.)?
- What do other people think about this place?
- Will there be other people like me there?
- Will I feel comfortable?
- Do they actually know how to help me work on my specific priorities?
- How do I get there during rush hour?
- What are the hours?
- Can I afford it? What are the prices? (Hint: keep the number of options small, or customers will go “deer-in-the-headlights” when choosing.)
- What’s the phone number?
- How far away from me is it?
- What’s the address?
- And so on.
What’s not on this list? The actual product names of all your equipment. The detailed resumes of your staff. Photos of gleaming equipment with not a soul in sight.
“Lead with the need” — and tell customers what you do to satisfy it.
5. Your club hours, address or phone number are hard to spot.
OK, this one isn’t just about your website. Of course your hours, address and phone number should be highly visible on every page of your site — NOT buried in the footer!
But you also need to claim and complete your Google Business and Yelp Business profiles. You also need to set up a page for your business on Facebook with the same info.
All three platforms are free. There is no excuse for failing to do this, or forgetting to keep your hours current. (Yes, holiday hours, too.)
6. You have low conversion rates on multiple channels.
If your business markets actively on social, email, banner ads on related sites, and AdWords — but nothing much seems to be paying off– the common denominator is your website.
- Are you using the same landing-page for every promotion?
- Do you have clarity on your target audience and their hot buttons?
- Is your content targeted, or generic?
When none of your marketing works, the problem is usually bigger than just tweaking ad copy or the images you’re using.
7. Even simple changes require a website developer.
WordPress is by far the most common website platform for businesses, and it really is incredibly easy to use. We train clients all the time on how to do routine tasks, from adding events to adding new content and making sure it’s SEO-friendly.
If you dread updating your website content or feel held hostage by a developer who’s slow or hard to work with, that’s on your developer. It’s not because you’re dumb about computers, it’s not the fault of the WordPress platform, and it doesn’t have to be this way. We see this situation most often when a graphic designer with a fairly low level of technical skills wants the revenue from actually doing the website implementation. Some are up to it, but most aren’t. No surprise — the skillsets are quite different.
Don’t invest in custom e-commerce setups, custom code for routine tasks like email signup and other basic marketing and customer service functions.
Insist that your developer use off-the-shelf tools, They’re readily available, extremely inexpensive, and they’re virtually always better supported. In fact, if you’re having to push your developer on this topic, it’s probably a better idea to just look for a better developer.