Did you know that best practices for branding and business development dictate you update your website every three years, at a minimum? This is news to many companies—especially small businesses! The theory of “set it and forget it” seems to be common among those people who might not be particularly web-savvy, and as a result it’s not uncommon for many small business websites to fall out of favor over time.
What happens to your website if you don’t update it?
Think of your website like a house. Over the years you’re going to have to throw on a fresh coat of paint every now and then; you’ll need to remodel the bathroom to accommodate your changing needs; you’ll have to fix roofing issues as they develop, etc. If you fail to keep up with the needs of your home over the years, it’s going to fall into disrepair.
Your website functions on these same principles. You’ll need to update the content every so often; design elements will need to be fixed to accommodate new trends; you’ll have to manage the structure and navigation of the site, etc. If your website remains stagnant, it’s also bound to fall into disrepair! And, in today’s digital age, a poorly formatted website is one that’s not going to see very much traffic.
Search engine relevancy
There’s more damage than meets the eye when it comes to a poorly updated website, however. Not only can the visual integrity fall out of favor with visitors, your ranking in a search engine might tumble down as well! Search results algorithms for Google, Yahoo! and Bing all take website relevancy into account when it comes to ranking results, meaning forgotten sites will plummet while frequently updated sites rise.
It’s also important to note that search engine algorithms change frequently—sometimes as often as 5-6 times a year! Best practices for building a website a year ago might easily be replaced by new standards this year, making it critical to stay on top of your website month over month.
What should you be doing?
It’s understandable to have difficulty keeping your website up to date if you’re not web-savvy or don’t have the budget to hire a full time webmaster. It’s important to overcome these limitations, however, to ensure you’re not letting your business’ digital presence become lackluster.
The first and best way to make sure you’re remaining current is to form a partnership with an experienced web design/development company. It’s advisable to steer clear of freelancers and “friends of friends” who might not have the experience or reliability of an established company. If possible, figure out a monthly rate or pay as you go schedule that’s conducive to your business’ budget.
If you’re someone who has enough experience to get the job done yourself, take a look at a few best practices when it comes to keeping your website relevant:
- Blogs are perhaps the simplest way to keep content on your website fresh. A simple 500-word blog post will be recognized by search engines as an effort to produce quality, recurring content, keeping your site well-ranked in search engine results.
- Update your services or offerings as they change in real life. This is a good habit to get into anyway, to prevent confusion for customers. For example, if you now offer Service B in addition to Service A, make sure your website now offers information about your capabilities for Service B.
- Assess the design and responsiveness of your website biannually to make sure it’s compliant with existing best practices on the web. Also, be sure to check all links and forms to make sure they’re still working appropriately.
The key to a good web presence that’s accurate and to-date is routine maintenance. Taking the time to set things straight every so often will help you avoid the massive amount of work that’s required every three years to redesign your site and get it back into good standing with search engines and your customers.
If you’re concerned about your small business’ website, get in touch with your local AlphaGraphics today! We can help you figure out where you are, where you want to be and what it takes to get your website there.