How We Think
Fall cleaning: refresh your website and keep it maintained
Spring cleaning is a concept invented to get your home or office back to being neat and tidy after up to a year of neglect, but did you know that your physical space isn’t the only thing that needs upkeep? Many business owners are aware that it’s important to have a website, but what they may not be aware of is that regular website maintenance is just as critical.
Website maintenance (or lack thereof) affects perceptions of your business by current and potential customers, contributes to your site’s security, and can make or break your search engine optimization efforts. As the leaves turn and the weather cools, it might be time to take a look at your current website, and see what needs to be cleaned up. Unlike your garage, though, it’s crucial to maintain your website as often as you can.
Your website is just like a physical storefront – if your floors are unswept, you never change out your displays, and your windows are dirty, people will get the impression that you’re not very invested in your business, and you’ll lose credibility. On the web, if your site appears to be outdated and neglected, people will trust it less. On the other hand, if your site is up-to-date, it will show that your company is able to stay on top of things and communicate properly, and you will gain credibility in visitors’ eyes.
Give a good first impression
When a visitor lands on your website, you don’t have much time to gain their trust, so you want to leave a good first impression. While having a well-designed and useful site goes a long way, you also need to ensure your content isn’t stale or incorrect in some way. When users encounter broken links or outdated information, it reflects poorly on your company. The last thing you want is for a potential customer or business partner to visit your website for the first time and see a promotional deal that expired two years ago, or that the copyright in your footer is from 2014.
Improve your SEO
Adding and updating content on your website can also help with search engine optimization. Search engines love new content, and the more you update, the more they will crawl your site and potentially boost your ranking. The reverse is also true – if a site has not been updated in a while, search engines stop crawling it, and your rankings may begin to fall off for certain keywords.
Aside from boosting rankings, one additional benefit to regularly adding fresh content is that it allows you to use, and therefore rank for, more keywords you may be targeting.
Keep your site secure and running smoothly
Your website was probably built on top of a CMS, or Content Management System. On website building platforms like WordPress and Drupal, regular updates for new features, bug fixes, and security are shipped. These updates keep your site running smoothly and efficiently in an ever-changing technological landscape, but their most important benefit is keeping your site secure.
One of the primary ways hackers gain access to a site is through outdated web software. As security holes become known, hackers will take advantage of site owners who are not frequently updating the platform their website runs on, installing malware, stealing customer info kept in the database, or defacing it. Worse yet, if Google detects malware on your website, they will unlist it until it’s fixed.
Keep it updated, or you could regret it considerably down the line.
Get started maintaining your site
Now that you know the benefits of keeping your website maintained, how exactly do you go about it?
One of the best and easiest ways to add new content to your website is by updating a blog. A blog is a great way to keep your visitors aware of what’s going on with your business or in your industry, and, as mentioned, search engines love that kind of new content (potentially with new keywords). The right posts can also give readers original content they can’t find elsewhere, too, which can lead to repeat visits.
The rest of the site should be updated as well. Go through your content and double-check names, addresses, phone numbers, price lists, and anything else that may have changed since the last time you updated. Rotate your featured products or services and specials if necessary. Archive or remove events that have passed. Check your links to make sure they’re working. Test your contact form to verify that you’re receiving emails.
If you have an online store, you’ll want to check your product information and make sure it’s accurate. Any new products should also be added.
Finally, if you’re running on a Content Management System, check for software and plugin updates at least once a month. It should be as easy as clicking a few buttons, and it goes a long way to keeping your site secure.
Don’t have the time?
If you can’t spare the time to keep your site updated, then getting someone else to do it is always an option. Here at Tulip Tree Studios, for example, we offer a variety of website maintenance packages to our clients. Whether they need help writing new content, updating existing content, or keeping their site secure, we have the expertise to put to work for your website.
If you’re looking for assistance maintaining your website, contact us for a free consultation.
Written by Brian Pederson, Web Specialist