Signs Your WordPress Website has Gone Stale

24 March 2021Ashley Maxwell7 min read

A stale website looks old, it looks neglected, and it doesn’t conform to what we typically expect from a website these days. You wouldn’t think these sorts of things matter these days until you come across a stale website. It looks out of place, and it serves as a reminder of just how bad we used to have it on the Internet back in the 90s and 2000s. Have a read through this article and see if your website has gone stale.

Has Your Website Gone Stale With Broken Links?

Every now and again, you should let a broken link checker run loose on your website to see what it highlights. Contrary to what broken-link-checking plugins say, you do not need your website monitored for broken links. Despite promotional agency claims, a few broken links will not damage your website SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

Nevertheless, in order to maintain a fair user experience, you should let a broken link checker run through your website to see if some of your links are broken. When you receive your results, check them yourself because sometimes the link works, but the link checker couldn’t verify it. Plus, there are times when your broken links are not broken but are part of your affiliate advertising program.

If you have links to other websites that are broken, then try to fix them with links to similar websites, otherwise, remove them. If your broken links are to your own web pages within your own website, then you need to fix them and tighten up your interior linking. Search engines and web crawlers do not look kindly on websites that incorrectly link internally, and it does your online reputation no favours either.

Are Your Images Less-Than-Impressive?

Nobody says you have to have perfect images every time. For example, we all use free photo image websites from time-to-time because they offer copyright free images for use on your website. However, your website becomes a little stale looking if you over-rely on stock photos.

Some people rely on meme images, which is fair enough under certain circumstances, but they age pretty poorly and often make a website look stale before its time. On the other hand, an over-reliance on amateur images may also harm your online reputation.

Where is the balance? Consider our blog here at Vertanet, we try to mix up our blog images with stock photos, with images we created originally, or with pictures that we altered ourselves to make our point. In many of our blog posts, we use screenshots of elements from other websites because they help illustrate our points.

If your images have a direct purpose and meaning within the text, then they never get old.

It is okay to use images to set a mood, or even to highlight a notion you are explaining. However, if the images have an actual use in the page text, if they add to the point being made, then they never look old and stale. In short, do not rely on memes, do not over-rely on stock images and consider freshening up your images every year or two.

The Copyright Date, Old Social Media Icons, and Old Technology

It is always a little weird when you see a website that is clearly still active, but its copyright notice is very out of date. It also undermines confidence when you see old social media icons like Google+ and MySpace. The use of old-fashioned technology like marquee text is very off-putting, as is the use of old media technology like Flash players.

Some people are saying that if your website “Doesn’t” have social media icons, then it looks old and out of place, but that is becoming increasingly untrue. These days, people do not need social media buttons to share content. Plus, who really shares that much content these days anyway. If somebody sees a product you sell, and they want to share it, then with just a few clicks or taps, they can have it shared via WhatsApp, SnapChat, and on Instagram, and they don’t need social media icons. There is a good chance that in the near future, the websites that actually have social media buttons will be the ones looking stale.

Also, if you post content that is not evergreen. Perhaps you run a news blog or something similar, then set up your website, so your most popular content appears on the front page. If you are always uploading new content, then obviously put that upfront. However, if you are an infrequent poster, and you do not want your website to look stale, then have your homepage littered with your most popular posts. If you do not post frequently, and your home page only shows your most recent posts, then your website will start looking stale very quickly.

Time To Switch Your Text Fonts

Fonts going stale is not your fault. It is something that seems to happen without us really noticing. Over the years, certain fonts and certain digital text methods seem to go out of fashion. For some reason, certain fonts become stale. If you are starting to see signs that your WordPress website has gone stale, consider playing with the fonts a little to see if it improves the overall website experience.

Old Fashioned Fonts

Take a look at the horrible fonts shown in the image above. They are perfectly fine fonts, and at the time they looked great. But, for some reason, we now see the fonts in the image above as ugly, stale, dull and boring. Even take note of the formatting, how some of the links are in italics, and some are spelt in capital letters. Plus, they commit the modern sin of having very small text, which wouldn’t be acceptable at all these days thinks to touch-screen devices.

The example in the image above is a bit of an exaggeration. It is unlikely that your fonts look as old as a page from a 2004 website. Still, we often have a form of blind bias when it comes to our own websites, which is why you should experiment a little with fonts. You may find something that looks a little more modern and perhaps a little less stale.

Your Social Media Shares Look Terrible

There are several reasons why your social media shares look terrible, but it is important that you fix it right away. It is not for some sort of narcissistic need to ride high on social media. It is because if people see something they like or something they want to share, then they will do it over social media. Sharing buttons help, but people don’t need them. Yet, your followers are going to become frustrated if they try to share your web page, and the only image that spawns is the empty avatar atop your comment section. They may be pretty upset to see that instead of your page title coming up in the share, all it shows is a page placeholder number.

In reality, you should be testing your website to see if your social media shares come out looking okay. There are apps that will help you preview what your social media shares will look like before you even post your page online.

There are also times when your social media shares look good (or bad) because of your website theme. Have a read of our article on Top Tips for Picking Your Most Suitable Free WordPress Theme, and our article on Top 9 Reasons Why Your WordPress Theme is Unsuitable, and consider picking a newer WordPress theme that is more social media-friendly.

Your Website Takes a Long Time To Load

There are many reasons why your website may take a long time to load, but if things are taking just a little too long, then your website may have gone stale. It may need a few solid updates, such as updated plugins, and you could probably stand to update your WordPress as a whole. Perhaps some of the code you are using is a little old and needs refreshing. Perhaps you are still using website code, and maybe you should adopt newer website coding.

Some older websites load very quickly, often because they are not pulled down by more modern programming and software. But, the trade-off is often that the website looks stale and old-fashioned, which is never good for your online reputation.

Does your website need to be update proof? Well, since you are using WordPress, you are as close to update-proof as possible. As we all saw when WordPress’s drag-and-drop system went from traditional to the Gutenberg block editor, transitioning your old content from traditional to box editing could be done with just a button press. Updating was frightfully easy. If your website is starting to look stale because you are avoiding common updates, then stop resisting and come on in, the water’s fine.

Odd Margins and Poorly Optimised Responsive Content

Having odd margins is fairly common. It is usually due to people trying to make their content look as good as possible but go about it the wrong way. For example, some people try to adjust their margins so that their visual media (images) look great. However, the best course of action is to set your margins so that your content looks great, and then adjust your images to suit the framework you have laid out.

For example, with our website here at Vertanet, we set our image sizes based on the size the pre-set page element widths. For example, if we added a separator, aka a paragraph-level thematic break, it would auto-set at 800px, as would a blank table. Our images and our page elements scale down nicely from 800px to whatever size the mobile device’s screen size happens to be.

That brings us to your responsive content. These days, it is simply unacceptable if you have a website that “Isn’t” responsive. All modern WordPress themes are responsive. If your website theme is not responsive, then it is time for a change. If your theme is trying to push the idea of having separate content for your mobile website and your desktop website, then get rid of that theme immediately and upgrade to something responsive.

Old-Fashioned Search Engine Manipulation is Still on Display

Another sign that your website is stale and out of date is through the fact you are using very old SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) methods. A classic SEO method is stuffing your website home page with text, especially keyword-stuffed text.

Large chunks of text on the home page

Back in the bad old days, you would scroll through home pages and see epic amounts of text, usually poorly written, and usually full of keywords. Webmasters did it because it helped them rank up the older search engine results. But, these days, this sort of thing is out of place, even on a news website where the written word is king.

In the past, you could rank up the search engine results if your links had keywords in them, so websites will come up with lists of the most important keywords and turn them into links that mostly always led to the buying page. Finally, and possibly worst of all, are the badges. These are so old-fashioned and stale that even spam websites don’t use them anymore.

Final Thoughts – I Still Get Traffic, So I Must Be Okay

Believe it or not, people will frequently visit stale looking websites. They will also visit ugly and poorly optimised ones too. But, you do yourself no favours by keeping your website mired in the past. People will still take rickety and old buses to work, but they would prefer electric-powered buses with air conditioning and fluffy soft seats.

Plus, if your website looks stale, people may assume you have abandoned it, or that you simply do not care about it. Your newest viewers may not be too keen to become a follower of your website.