Updating your website is important for a range of reasons, but the challenge is often finding the time to make improvements and keep things fresh. Here, we outline the importance of updates and provide a general guide for time-poor business owners who can concentrate their efforts on the times when they really need their website performing at their best.
Why is it important to update a website regularly?
Ensuring your website’s software is up-to-date is a priority to prevent your website from being hacked or filled with malware. Hackers may also use the backend of your website to serve spam which could get you blacklisted, preventing people from visiting your website and contacting you. In the industry, this is generally called malware.
The other key area which generally contributes to security vulnerabilities is core CMS or plugin exploits. When a developer builds your website, unless it is completely custom built, a CMS is used along with off the shelf plugins. Over time exploits are generally found in the code used in the CMS or plugins which can allow a malicious user to do anything from update content on your site, steal client data or just take your site down. Ensuring the core CMS and plugins is updated a few times a year can save you a lot of time and effort if this does happen.
Search Engine algorithm updates
SEO goal posts regularly change – search engines change their own algorithms and each time they do this the change might affect your site. For example, in 2018 Google rolled out a mobile-first index update, meaning Google would use the mobile version to index and rank a website. These changes can affect your ranking on results pages, with flow-on effects to traffic, conversions etc. When you update your website, or an agency does on your behalf, this is an opportunity to make any updates in line with any algorithm change to ensure your website continues to rank.
Providing timely content on your website around an issue or event for your business or industry is good practice. If it is a topic of strong public or consumer interest, there will be a spike in search traffic. Search engines prioritise relevant content for users. If your website provides content on a trending topic, in search engines’ eyes, your page will be relevant and newsworthy.
Build Domain Authority
Domain Authority scores range from 1-100, predicting how well websites rank on search engine results pages. Creating new content creates new opportunities for others to link to your website and opportunities for internal linking, increasing your Domain Authority.
Fresh content on a website will help establish trust with your website’s visitors. This is particularly important if you want your website to be a useful source of information for your business and industry. Having outdated information, or a blog that is not regularly updated can affect how customers perceive your business. New content on your website will show your customers that you keep up with trends and that you can provide value.
When should I update my website?
Understanding the importance of staying on top of your website often isn’t the problem. Finding the time to do it is the challenge. But, understanding how important this is, identify when you need your website performing at its best and plan back from that to determine when you can get your website ready.
Consider the annual activity levels of your business (and industry) and identify when your activity levels and demand for your products and/or services peaks throughout the year. Depending on your industry, you may experience a couple of big peaks or a set of smaller spikes.
How far out from these busy periods should you be making the necessary changes to your website? That depends on the combination of a couple of factors:
- The level of traffic your website receives during this period
- The proportion of revenue this traffic is responsible for during the period
Generally, the bigger the peak in traffic and the more revenue your website brings in (as a proportion of total revenue for the period), the more time you should allow for making improvements and updates to your site in the lead up to the period.
For example, an eCommerce store might experience their biggest peak in December, where traffic to the website triples and online sales generate double revenue for the month. You might start planning for this period in June and start implementing plans in September. By comparison, if the store has a smaller spike for Mother’s Day, plans might be made in February and begin in March.
Do you need help in managing your website?
For time-poor business owners, a project manager can save you the time and headaches and help you through this process. With an understanding of your business, project managers can help identify your busy periods and create and execute plans to make sure your website is performing when the traffic arrives.
If you’re still unsure what this process looks like for your business’ website, we’d be happy to help.