It’s a great idea to regularly invest time and money in your website, but why is that?
In our daily work as SEO consultants, we see many businesses with neglected websites, ours occasionally included (as we are simply too busy on client work to make time for it) but what are the reasons for sites falling behind and when should you be investing?
- The most common reason for lack of attention is simply that business owners and their staff are too busy with other things and haven’t bothered to regularly diarise work or content to be added.
- Another common failing is simply the belief that once you’ve struggled to get your site live and let’s face it, it’s not always as easy as it should be, then that’s it, you’re done. It never needs updating. At best maybe just a quick spring-clean once a decade!
- And then there are those companies whose idea of website investment is simply to keep on posting news about their latest client wins or rehash old seasonal content by changing its dates and publishing the same thing every Easter, Bonfire Night, Xmas and New Year etc.
So what should you be doing, and when, in an ideal world?
Obviously, the bigger your business the less you have excuses for ignoring investment in your website and the major search engines will be expecting to see DAILY changes. For most businesses though it’s sufficient to target a WEEKLY change, and if you are a one-man or one-woman band, then once a month. This could mean adding a new blog article or case study and testimonial.
- If you have your social channels linked through to your website, and you should do so as the search engines attempt to pick up on social trends to help decide racking factors in their positional algorithms, then try not to repeat all the same content on each channel. Be a little discriminating and adopt a slightly different tone for each social media as the audiences and browsing attention spans do differ.
Changing your products and services is an important update to ensure they are still relevant, topical and competitive. So this requires a little bit of desk research to check what your rivals are up to. It’s then important to ensure that any pages altered moved or dropped are handled in the right way with a mini-migration strategy to ensure the search engines spot the change and address it in the correct way, rather than thinking content has simply disappeared for which you run the risk of having your whole website penalised.
Website design is also worth considering from time to time as what looked slick and trendy a decade ago will most likely feel like old-hat today, but it is important to judge things with your customer hat on, not just your own opinions as we are all likely to be more familiar with our won websites and how they work than your typical customer or prospect.
Updates are important
It’s also worth considering the technical aspects that underpin your website both in terms of the platform it uses, where it’s hosted and how things like payments and security are handled. These important areas also have trends within them and if your website isn’t adopting fairly current standards it will not only feel wrong for your prospective clients, but the search engines may penalise you too due to issues like slow site speeds.
- Some recent examples of this include PHP and WordPress, the former was all the rage with large sites a few years back, smaller sites started to adopt the blog style of WordPress. Now even bug sites are moving into what we would call WordPress style sites, and that even impacts some e-commerce ones too.
- Topics like Schema (a mark-up standard) are all the rage now yet not adopted by many web companies so if you are updating your site and incorporating factors such as this you may well score some brownie points against your competitors for little effort.
- Speed of page delivery is of course more important than ever with more people using mobile devices and this tends to impact the importance of local hosting versus cheap international hosting.
Even amongst content that isn’t changing there is merit in regularly refreshing those areas that the search engines can read as this helps them conclude you are an active and thriving business. This flows through into meaning it makes good sense to add new areas, products, services and even useful functionality to your website. Maps, News and white papers or Q&A’s are regular options, and the bigger your website becomes over time, the more the search engines will generally like it.
- This tends to fly in the face of what you might expect – a large complex site is harder for the search engines to study but as data storage costs drop each year, these issues become less financially significant and worrying for the search engines. Conversely, a site with lots of good content and functionality is very likely to be a good destination for search results to recommend, after all, how can it be a wrong result if your site answers all likely questions on its specific topic? So, the more you have, the more most engines will like it.
Our final thoughts
So when it comes to investing in your website it’s important to put time aside to refresh the content and money aside to ensure you can keep developing the website so it looks clean, fresh and relevant to your target audience with a broadening range of useful features rather than a shrinking one.
Does this mean everything you do should get wordier? (Editor note: Like this blog?!) No, not always. As peoples attention spans get ever shorter its good to get to the point (as we did in the very first line of this blog, we summarised the recommendation especially for those that don’t have the time to read on), just make sure you get to the point on as many relevant topics as you can realistically cover!
Big web developments are of course expensive but many changes can be made to existing websites at very reasonable costs, so we recommend discussing things with your web developers as soon as possible, or if you’re not sure, give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to provide some impartial free advice for you.