19 Sep How Often Should You Update Your Website?
Your business’s website is a valuable tool in bringing in new business and keeping current customers engaged. But every tool needs sharpening from time to time. And as we always say, a website isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it proposition. It must continually be fine-tuned to function at its optimal level. The question is, how often?
As you’re about to learn, there is no single answer. That’s because every business website consists of different elements that need attention at different times. Making updates when and where necessary will keep it prominent in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and a real asset in building your business.
How Often Should You Update Your Website’s SEO?
This should be an ongoing process. Don’t wait until you see your website drop in the SERPs! It will take more effort to pull it back up than to keep it at a good position. Of course, be aware of Google’s frequent algorithm updates – especially the core updates.
As Kayle Larkin – owner of Larkin SEO – writes in her article for Search Engine Journal, “Google releases one or two changes to its algorithms daily; most of them are not noticeable. And a few times a year, Google will officially announce a ‘core update.’ A core update refers to broad changes to Google’s algorithm and systems that cause notable fluctuations in search results.”
This basically means that your website’s SEO may have been perfectly fine prior to the most recent core update, but through no fault of your own is now causing (for lack of a better word) your site to rank lower. If you’re a business owner who depends on traffic from Google, it can mean fewer customers and less revenue. As SEO specialists know all too well, Google never provides specific information as to what changed. Our blog post – “Why You Should Care About Google Core Updates” – covers this topic in detail.
If you’re working with a digital marketing agency or individual SEO specialist, staying up-to-date on Google’s updates and making the necessary adjustments to your website’s SEO is part of the service they provide. We’re getting ahead of our usual blatant self-promotion here, but if you’re going it alone, this may be the time to reconsider.
When it comes to SEO, most people think of keywords. Although a main component, they’re not the only factor that fine-tuning your site’s SEO involves. But since they’re typically top-of-mind, keep in mind that keywords – or, more to the point, keyphrases – change in importance over time. For example, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, certain keywords and keyphrases gained prominence as people conducted online searches for face masks, hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Changes in technology and ways that people use technology also have a strong influence. If your website is a few years old and you haven’t updated the keywords, its ranking may be slipping because fewer people are searching for those particular words or phrases.
Other SEO elements to update on a regular basis include content, meta description tags and header tags. According to Gayane Vardanyan – content writer for 10Web – “Fresh content means more frequent indexing. Though this doesn’t automatically mean that your posts will rank higher, it definitely means that Google will scan your site more often. So, if you improve your content and become a guru of SEO, your posts will be noticed faster and higher rankings are sure to follow.”
How Often Should You Update Your Website’s Functionality?
Does your website display correctly across multiple browsers? Is it optimized for mobile? We know that you’re busy running your business, but if you spend enough time online and spy on the websites of your competitors, you’ll soon notice if one – or most – of them are faster and/or overall easier to use than yours.
As our blog post – “Why Your Website Needs to be Up-to-Speed” – covers, Google has indicated that site speed is one of the signals its algorithm uses to rank pages. For those with just a passing acquaintance of tech-speak, site speed refers to the page speed for a sample of page views on a website. It is different from page speed – also known as page load time (the time it takes to fully display the content of a page) – or time to first byte (how long it takes a browser to receive the first byte of information from the web server). Why is this important? Because Google may be measuring time to first byte when it considers page speed – and, in turn, your website’s page rankings.
How Often Should You Update Your Website’s Design?
As soon as it looks outdated! Again, you’re a business owner, not a designer – unless that happens to be your business. But you do get around online enough to recognize the difference between a website that looks up-to-the-minute and one that looks like it was unearthed from a 1998 time capsule.
- Textured and/or colored page background.
- Left column of HTML links.
- Clip art or clip art-style graphics.
- Dated fonts, such as Times New Roman and the much-maligned Papyrus; hard-to-read fonts; inconsistent font types on the same page.
- Cluttered layout.
- Flash animation. Adobe stopped supporting Flash in late 2020 because of security issues, and recommended all users uninstall Flash Player. Plus, it doesn’t work on mobile devices, which is how most people now search online.
- List of keywords in page footer, or right-hand column.
- Visitor counter.
Not all outdated design elements are so obvious, however. Homepage carousels were popular until recently, but have fallen out of favor in a major way.
“Carousels may seem flashy and cool but they’re simply not effective when it comes to converting visitors to qualified leads,” writes web designer Joe Rinaldi in his article for IMPACT. “Not only do they lead to slow load times, but they also create a poor user experience that reflects badly on your brand.”
Don’t assume that visitors to your site will be willing to overlook its antiquated design. Rowland Yeargan – digital marketing specialist at TheeDigital – makes this blunt observation about what happens when visitors click on a painfully outdated website.
“If your site looks old or ugly, your potential customers will not want to engage with you no matter how great your deals are or how compelling your content is. Your site must be an extension of your professionality and keeping everything modern and fresh are aspects of that.”
The Take-Home Message and Our Blatant Self-Promotion
Your website is one of your business’s most important assets. Like every other asset your enterprise owns, it needs to be kept in optimal condition to function at its best to help you succeed! Our experienced Virtual Stacks Systems team offers website design and redesign, SEO services, social media marketing, email marketing, PPC advertising, review management services and much more! Contact us to get started.