UPDATED: This post gets a LOT of traffic lately and we wanted to update a few things to provide the most relevant and helpful information possible.
The short answer is “as often as there is anything worth updating!” The problem we run into, however, is deciding what is worth updating. Website maintenance is about more than just your “news and events” page. Let’s face it – when you run a business, you have news. You have: new products, staff changes, announcements, policy changes, new services, warnings, tips – the list goes on. You have things to talk about! You really should make a point to update something on your website at least once a week. Let’s review a few reasons why, and some suggestions of WHAT to update.
Your clients really DO want to see your updates.
Making website updates has nothing to do with vanity or tooting your own horn – not that there is anything wrong with that. Many people hesitate to put news out about themselves or their company because they place themselves last. The customer comes first, after all. Whether they are afraid updates appear to be shameless self-promotion, or they simply don’t want to take time away from their customers, their own website takes the back seat. Website Maintenance is a crucial foundation in any marketing strategy. Google ignores your website if it isn’t updated. Viewers get a bad impression if there is old data on your website. This isn’t about tooting your own horn, this is about making sure your website is visible when your potential customers are searching.
Update your website to make it more interesting to read.
Your website viewers probably have more interesting things they COULD be reading. They came to your website because they were looking for information. Make sure you have what they are looking for on your website. When you add new products or services, make sure you put it on your website. A good website maintenance strategy will ensure you never lose a potential customer because you didn’t have the right information online.
Update your website to make a good first impression.
They may seem like silly things, but the Copyright 2002 in your footer makes a bad first impression. Having the latest post on your blog page several years old makes a bad first impression. You see the pattern here. Your customers want to do business with whoever they perceive to be the best. Having a bunch of outdated posts, wrong dates, staff members who don’t work there anymore – they all make a very bad first impression. Having outdated items on your website is like standing up to speak with a giant food stain on your shirt – your audience is too busy looking at the stain to listen to your message!
Are you able to update your own website?
It is certainly more cost effective if you can update your own website. To do this, your site should be built using a Content Management System that makes updates and changes easy. If your website is old, or does not have a content management system, check out our one-week website redesign plans. You could be up and running with a brand new website in no time!
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What kinds of things should I update?
Too many times, a business owner has a hard time getting started, knowing even WHAT to update on their website. We will close this post out with a list of things you should regularly update. For more ideas on what kinds of updates to make, we created another post about that very thing! Updating a Website: 23 Detailed Ideas.
- Blog: If you don’t have a blog, you need one. Voice your opinions on your products, competing products, offer expertise, etc. This builds your credibility while also increasing your search presence.
- News: Much like a blog, your news section will be a running list of important announcements. Fill news with items such as recent awards, innovations, new hires, new promotions and new products or services.
- Staff Directory: People like to see faces. Have a page with pictures and short bios of the people your customers will be interacting with. The flip side of this – if someone leaves or changes, keep this updated!
- Home Page: Your home page should change to reflect changes within the site. Put the latest blog post or news item teaser on the home page. Change out your header images. More importantly – place Calls to Action (CTAs) on your home page that lead the user deeper into your site. For instance, a graphic CTA that invites the user to “Click here for a free demo”. CTAs keep traffic moving.
- About Page: These are the business cards of the website world. Sometimes people actually read them – so if your about page says “we were founded in 1998 and have been in business 10 years”, then you are several years behind. Pay attention to anything that has a date on it. Longevity statements are great for building credibility, but if they are outdated, you have defeated the purpose.
- FAQs: These are kind of old fashioned, but people do still use them. A good set of frequently asked questions can save some annoying phone calls. Use these to weed out the audience you DON’T want to call.
- Products & Services: For goodness sake, if you add, remove, or enhance a product or service, put it on your website! This is key for getting the right kind of search traffic.
- Testimonials & Case Studies: Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising. If you make a customer happy, get them to tell you about it. Then put it on your website!
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If you can’t do it yourself, find a website maintenance partner
These are just a sample of things that should be updated regularly. If you don’t have the ability to make these updates yourself, you should find a partner that offers website maintenance services. Keep in mind – what might take several hours for you to do (you likely aren’t a web designer), a web professional might be able to complete in just a few minutes! Having a website maintenance partner lets you focus on what you love, and do best – while leveraging the strength and expertise of the web professional to keep your website in tip-top shape.
Thanks for your very good article.
I just have a doubt: someone told me that we should avoid making some kind of changes too often (without explaining which ones exactly) because it can be seen by Google as a black hat technique. Is this true? If yes what kind of updates should be avoided to be made too frequently? (Changing titles and metadescriptions? Restructuring the categories of the site?)
If you change your titles and descriptions around all the time, it will affect your consistency in the index. It’s hard to grow your position for something if you keep changing the page to suit something else. That goes against the patience aspect of SEO – stay the course and focus on good content and your rankings will increase. The types of changes we’re outlining here would not have any negative affect, actually a positive one. Adding new content or updating your current content is a good thing as far as Google is concerned. Google has to approach things from the end user’s perspective and if the content is out-of-date, that is bad for the end user. So they’re not going to penalize you for updating content. The reverse actually. But things like keyword stuffing or constantly changing a single page’s title and description to chase different search traffic would not be good. So if you want to target new keywords, create new pages or posts around those.
Yes, the things I want to change are directed towards the user’s end: improve the quality of the content, correct French language mistakes, make the site more user friendly and add new pages and categories quite often. So your answer reassures me! But I heard that there are things that shouldn’t be changed daily and I should do them all in once. For example, I should correct all the typo mistakes and add all new categories in one time and not a little bit every day because Google will think that I want to manipulate my position in the Serps. But I don’t think it’s true… If we avoid making good changes too often because Google might become suspicious by the fact that we try to be “too good”, this is paranoia, isnt’ it?
Lisa, Great question! In general, when we say “update” your website, we are referring to adding NEW content. A site that never gets updated – you know the one, with copyright 2008 on the bottom and the last blog post is several years old – will not be as attractive to google in terms of quality or usefulness. When new content is being added on a regular basis, google values this and takes that into account with your overall ranking and site’s worth.
As to the idea of any penalties – I wouldn’t worry so much about google penalties in relation to changing page titles and descriptions – but it’s going to make your index listings worthless. It’s like changing all of the names of your streets after the mapmakers completed the map. Google indexes your pages, notes the structure and link relationships, and if you change that around too much – it will appear to google as if pages that were once there, are no longer there. That would definitely hurt your ranking, but it’s more of a natural consequence than an actual penalty. Penalties come into play when you keyword stuff, have duplicate content, rip content off of other websites, etc.
Hope that helps!
Hi itdint, thank you for your useful answer. The fact is that I am in charge of a new website where I want to refresh the content and correct a lot of typo/grammar mistake.I will be changing the content a lot in the next weeks: add new “country pages”, correct typo mistakes… I might change content, then change it again a few days later (because I’m the kind of person who do things and undo them and do them again before I find them perfect!). So if I understand your reply, this would be ok? Thank you so much for your help!
That is correct. Google doesn’t index your site every time you make a change – it is on a semi-regular schedule. Fixing typos and making corrections would not affect you adversely in the least. Approach your pages strategically – think through what keyword or key phrase that page should be attractive to – and make sure content is relevant to that term. Focus on great content that is useful and readable and you’ll never go wrong!
Once you make your own website and your target is to invite viewers, then website maintenance is the first thing and most important you should do. Everything that need to be updated must be updated. Viewers will browse your website again if she observed that you are active and always up to date. They find it interesting to read more of your post which is also related to your previous post. Just put yourself on them. there you can understand what they really want.