How Often Should I Update My Website? Part I
Fall is here! The season of change. This should remind you that it’s time to update your website (if you aren’t doing so regularly or recently!) But how much is too much, or how little is too little?
There are two ways to approach this topic depending on your meaning, “How often should I overhaul my website?” or, “How often should I be updating content on my website?” There are two different answers to this question. Let’s take a look at the latter topic in-depth for Part I.
How Often Should I Be Updating Content?
On one hand, the updating of content on your website is spurred by the changing of your business. For example, if you added a new service to your offerings, you would want to update the website right away to promote that new service. Or similarly, if you were no longer offering a product, you would be quick to update the website and remove that product line.
Outside of this, a lot of times, websites become stagnant. If your product and service offerings don’t change, then some businesses don’t touch their website for years at a time. Unfortunately, this is not helpful, and actually quite harmful for a few reasons.
Reasons to update content regularly
- Search engines – Major search engines prefer updated content as a method of determining if the search result they are displaying is going to be helpful or relevant to the user and has been proven that they prefer content which has been updated recently to content that hasn’t.
- Correcting errors – Updating content frequently gives you a better chance to find and catch potential errors and omissions on a website. If you are looking at the content regularly and have an understanding of what is being said, it makes it easy to update the site without creating broken links and images, or creating contradictions between pages.
- Guests like fresh content too – Updating pages also gives visitors the sense the website is up-to-date and provide confidence that pricing and service offerings are accurate and complete.
- Save repetitive phone calls and emails – When guests know information is accurate, there will be less calls and emails about basic information, so you can get right to a sale or deeper discussion of a product, saving your time for doing other things for the business.
So, how often should I update?
Best guidelines suggest that updating your website copy every couple of weeks is the key to providing the appearance of an accurate and up-to-date web presence. We business owners are usually busy running things, so we always suggest our clients look over their website once a month at the very least. In 30-days it is very easy for information to fall out of date or become stagnant.
Do I have to update my entire website?
No, updating of copy refers to keeping things up-to-date and accurate. If your pricing and services have not changed, then you simply don’t need to update that page. We suggest paging through the website and making sure all the critical pages are accurate, and alternate between sets of critical and non-critical pages each month. There is no need to spend time clicking through every single page on your site, especially if you know nothing has changed, but it’s a good practice to check over them to ensure completeness and accuracy.
How do I update content if nothing has changed?
It’s best to think back to our younger years of writing essays in school. We all had that essay (or maybe a few) where we were required to hit a certain word or page mark and you couldn’t think of anything else to say. You’d already double-spaced everything, added justification, so how else would you reach 500 words? Well, you’d simply rewrite your information to be more verbose; say the same things, but in a different way, or provide more information explaining your position, even though the argument was already clear.
The same goes for updating your website. While you don’t need to delete everything and start from scratch every couple weeks, you can look over the content and almost always find tweaks, especially if you haven’t read the copy for a while. Many times, website owners don’t have time to write content, and the copy that gets provided to their website designer is something that was developed in a hurry in order to meet deadlines. If that copy has never been updated since, you are doing a disservice to yourself and your customers.
What should I update?
Some common items to check on review:
- Spell check and grammar check – Most obvious, check for accurate spelling and you can even use an online tool or Microsoft Word to check your copy for proper grammar and sentence structure
- Accuracy of dates and times – Do you say “we have been in business for 5 years” but now it’s been 10? These are common things we find in copy that easily fall out of date.
- Update products/service offerings – If you no longer offer a service, be sure to remove it from the website to avoid search engines cataloging your website for those items, and avoid irrelevant customer phone calls and unqualified leads.
- Update pictures – Nothing can make a page more fresh-feeling than a new picture, or adding a picture when there isn’t one. It could be adding a new angle view of a product, updating items in a portfolio of work, or adjusting and updating team members as they come and go.
- Post a special – The best way to show your site is updated frequently is by running a special and adjusting it every week. Seeing a special for last month is an easy to way to see that a site is at least up-to-date, even if the special is expired.
- Write a blog – If your site would benefit from a blog, and has a place to do so, write up a new article and post it. We suggest posting a new blog entry once a month as a general guideline. This gives visitors a reason to come back to the website, provides fresh copy for search engines, and varying topics can resonate with different demographics bringing your site in front of new potential clients.
- Update FAQ pages – If you have been in business for very long, you will be able to identify common frequently asked questions that you answer for clients all the time. Creating or adding these questions to a FAQ page on the website is very helpful for new visitors, as well as for cutting down on some repeated questions.
- Validate contact information – Another big deal is making sure your contact information is always up-to-date. Hours, phone numbers, and addresses should be the number one thing you update on your website right away. You never want to cause confusion for potential customers trying to get ahold of you, and additionally, search engines will grab the incorrect information and present it to customers through search products, and it can take a while for this information to update.
Hopefully this article has been helpful in determining when to update your website content, and also provided some ideas to answer the question of “what should I update?” when there aren’t any major things needing to change. Fresh copy is the key to a healthy website and search engine strategy.