An up-to-date website is important for businesses. It impacts how prospects and clients perceive your brand, products and services. Regular website maintenance boosts search engine rankings, helps protect against malware and provides current information on your company and it’s offerings.
In this article “maintenance” will reference both technical maintenance and content updates. To help you gauge your own priority and ROI for site updates, we’ve listed five big reasons to regularly maintain your website.
1. Website Security & Function
Think of websites today as intricate software applications. Most modern websites contain thousands of lines of code and depend on specific databases, script types and software on your hosting server. Ignoring updates can cripple your site when firmware and software versions do not agree or are no longer supported.
After 20 years, we can assure you, the easiest site to hack is one that is running out-of-date software or plugins. Security updates and patches prevent vulnerabilities in code that can be easily exploited. In the event your website is hacked the malware has to be removed, the site files scrubbed and data restored. It’s likely you’ll have to contact search engines and browsers that have blacklisted your website for review. Even with updates, it’s impossible to prevent 100% of problems, but if you keep your site up-to-date, it’s much less likely and you’ll be in a better position to restore it.
Updates to your site software can also bring improved features or upgrades to its functional capabilities. These help your website perform better. Better performance translates to better user experiences, SEO scores and conversions.
We strongly recommend software and security updates on a regular, monthly schedule. Updating often brings the benefits of enhanced security, improved function, and better customer experience. These are all factors which can boost search engine rankings and results.
2. SEO/ Optimization
As mentioned above, technical updates affect performance and rankings. Google favors websites that are error free, load quickly, contain clean code and have security certificates (SSL). But beyond that, Google loves to index new content.
When you update your website with new content, you give search engines a reason to reevaluate your site’s pages and ranking criteria. Updated content is important because search engines are looking for current, relevant information. Don’t get rid of all your archive content, though. Older content matters, too. Having content that is mature adds to domain authority. Having content that is new and fresh adds to domain relevance. You want both scored well.
Think of Google and all other search engines as the match-makers between consumer questions and relevant answers. Content on your site should be a great source of quality, relevant answers for your client’s questions. When you add content to pages, galleries, videos, portfolios and blogs… think about the questions you’re often asked by prospects and clients. Make sure you provide great, optimized answers.
3. Customer Interest & Engagement
Your website is often the first impression customers have of your brand. Updating and improving your website with new products, videos, articles or other forms of content all add interest to your site. They give current customers a reason to stay engaged and return to your site. They also capture the attention of new customers and prospective clients. Regularly evaluating and refreshing your site content can help your website be more client-centered and consumer-relevant.
Technical updates can impact interest and engagement, too. Poorly functioning websites cause problems and losses for business. Customers abandon sites and lose trust due to frustration. Here are a few technical items to check when you’re reviewing content updates for interest and engagement:
- Grammar and spelling mistakes
- Broken links/404 errors (page not found)
- Page load speed
- Easy to navigate
- Works well on mobile
4. New Content
Readers want fresh new content. So do search engines.
If you fail to update your website, it communicates that you’re not paying attention to your customers, your business or even worse… that you may be downsizing or going out of business. Keep your clients and potential clients coming back by regularly updating your website performance and content.
New content can be added to your main pages, but typically the bulk of content is added to a blog to allow categorizing and search of archives. It can take many forms, but the most popular and effective are typically video, audio, photo collections and animated content. All content can be optimized. Written articles – short and long-form – are important for humans and search engines. A variety of forms and formats will help more consumers engage in the forms they like best.
5. Verify Site Backups
Websites contain a large amount of code, scripts and content that need to be backed up for safety. Should a site be hacked or otherwise compromised, a good back up is your best – and often only – hope of restoration. If you’ve invested in your website and its content, skimping on the backups at the hosting level is a very risky move.
Ensure your specific hosting account is running nightly backups and that backups are retained on a schedule for at least a month. This will ensure you have a copy to restore from if there is a delay between an issue occurring and its discovery by your company.
Making regular website updates will help protect your site, keep it engaging and can save you time and money in the long run.