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3 Reasons Why Websites Need Regular Maintenance

Posted by: Alexandra Heseltine - Friday, March 18, 2016
 
 

Don't you wish your website had a "Check Engine Light" so you'd know when it needs maintenace?

I often hear business owners taking the “create it and forget it” approach to their website then they wonder why it stops showing up in searches and bringing in leads.

Like your car or home, your website needs regular maintenance to perform well. Imagine for a moment if you didn’t change the oil or transmission fluid in your car or replace worn tires. Your smooth ride would eventually turn into a “ride to remember” and may require a lot of expensive repairs. The same goes for your website: links break, rules change and competitors’ websites move past yours in searches.

So why go to the trouble and expense of maintaining your website? Here are three good reasons.

Google keeps changing the rules.

It can be frustrating to see your website go from a top ranking site to slide to the bottom of the first page or even page two seemly overnight. How does this happen when you didn’t change a thing on your website? It’s probably another Google change to the algorithms and you’re likely to recover if you take the appropriate steps.

Google is all about delivering a great experience to the searching public and dishing up the right content immediately. It’s constantly changing the way it evaluates and ranks websites with up to 200 changes a year. While many of the changes are minor, the major changes can have the effect of an earthquake and dramatically change the ranking for a website. For ecommerce sites or businesses that rely on web traffic, these changes can affect revenue.

During the first couple of weeks of 2016, Google launched a big change in the way websites show up in searches. Those who monitor Google changes speculated that the Massive Google Fluctuations in January was a Penquin update. In fact, the fluctuation was Google’s change to their core search ranking but was not related to Penquin.

Google made a number of changes in 2015 that affect how websites show up in searches. One of the changes was a shift to using Rank Brain artificial intelligence to evaluate the quality of a website and ranks. Rank Brain is more than a machine, it can train itself to evaluate the quality of a website and determine their rank in searches.

Earlier in 2015, Google launched a major change dubbed “Mobilegedden” which favors websites that are mobile friendly on mobile devices. If your website isn’t mobile friendly and your customers use their mobile device to find your products and services, you’re website isn’t likely to show up in mobile searches. This really affects local businesses that rely on mobile searches to bring customers through the door in real time. Google made three other major changes during 2015 that I won’t go into here.

I could go on about other changes Google has made over the past years or so but I think you can see where this is heading. Maintaining your website’s SEO and maintenance is critical if you want to show up in searches over the long term.

Competitors change their websites and web presence.

Have you ever seen a competitor’s web presence change overnight and now it’s out ranking your website in searches?

Just like you, your competitors are always looking for an edge, an advantage, that they can use to grow their business. Improving their website with rebuild, fresh content and updates will keep them at the top of searches and top of mind for customers.

Websites, of course, don’t change overnight but they can be rebuilt, upgraded and improved fairly quickly. Regular maintenance can help your website stay fresh with new design and graphics, current content that focuses on your ideal customer’s pain points and competitive in searches. The last thing a prospect wants to see is an out-of-date website that makes your company look like it’s behind the curve with it services, products or processes.

Monitoring your competitors’ online activity can be as simple as checking on their website and social media activity regularly. Check out websites for competitors nationwide so you can monitor trends and changes that are coming down the road and consider making some of those changes to your website.

So how often should a website be “fluffed up”? We recommend reviewing your website ever six months to ensure it stays current with relevant graphics and current design. This could be adjusted to a shorter or longer time frame depending on your clients’ needs to new information. We are assuming, of course, that you’re keeping your written content up-to-date through blogging, news, and special features.

Retailers may change the graphics on their website on a weekly or monthly basis to keep customers coming back for new information. It’s like changing the window display in your shop – keep the visuals changing and fresh.

Web designs trends change.

You only have a few seconds to impress a customer online or they go to a competitor’s websites.

Web design trends are changing at breakneck speed. A style that is used one year and be out of date the next year. In fact, design can change dramatically over the course of a single year. So what’s a business to do?

As you’ve probably noticed, web design is currently using a lot of white space, eye-riveting photographs, and flat icons. The feel is similar to a brochure that unfolds and offers the reader additional information with visuals that captivate the reader. The homepage anticipates visitor behavior and uses multiple links to interior page to make it easy for visitors to engage with a business online. Finally, the website needs to accommodate the behavior of mobile users by making the web page long and scrollable.

Quality websites also include create written content so copy needs to use strong, clear messages designed to reach the ideal customer. Using video on websites is a huge trend right now and enables customers a personal encounter with your business.

Finally, web design is about giving visitor a great experience when visiting a business online, which sounds like Google’s goal too. It’s also about great design that presents your business as current, approachable, and a trusted company to do busine

Change happens. Manage it.

So how’s the health of your website? Ask your customers or affiliates what they think about your website through a survey. Their responses may provide you the insight you need to provide a better user experience when visiting your website.

Keep your website current with the latest SEO best practices, competitive in the marketplace and relevant and engaging with customers but implementing a monthly or quarterly web maintenance program.



 Alexandra Heseltine | Marketing pro and creative director with over 25 years experience working with mid-sized to larger businesses and non-profits with experience in the construction, legal, banking and B2B sectors.
 
 

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