Introduction

Have a good look at your site; when was the last time you updated it?

The market research firm Clutch did a survey of around 350 small business owners recently. According to this survey, 46% of them did not possess a website for their company.

At Trent & Hanover, as a Web Design, Development and SEO agency who have built our business by helping our clients’ to make their online presence as strong as possible, we are highly aware of the need for every small business owner to have a really good website. But this isn’t something you can merely set and forget.

Let’s say that you want to really present your business well, show it to be at the leading edge of whichever industry you’re in. If you do, you’ll need to regularly update your site. Here are some reasons why:

Changing or new prices, business hours or contact info

You need to regularly update your website whenever your business changes any of the following: hours operation, product or service prices, or contact information. Don’t keep outdated info on your site; it could hinder your business growth considerably.

Fix any mobile-compatibility issues

When you update your business’s website, you have the opportunity to make it friendly to smartphones; if it isn’t, then any visitors who attempt to access your site using them may encounter issues which could put them off considerably. These include indecipherable images, broken scripts and text which is really difficult to read; given that it’s predicted around 60% of all internet traffic comes from smartphones and other mobile devices, it’s really crucial you prevent this issue from affecting your business.

Update your site with a mobile-friendly design. Here are three ways according to Google:

Responsive Web Design:

This uses proportion-based units and CSS media queries to scale the website’s design, in relation to (or based on) the smartphone the user has.

Dynamic serving:

This uses a single URL but varying HTMLs for mobile visitors and desktop users; visitors on mobile devices see the mobile HTML, and visitors on desktop computers see the desktop HTML, naturally.

Separate URLs:

This uses a second URL for the mobile version (such as yourwebsite.mobi, or mobi.yourwebsite.com). This unfortunately is the least effective of the three main options, because any duplicate content creates issues with search engines indexing and/or crawling the two URLs.

In the end, it comes down to which method suits you best; if you need advice, we at Trent & Hanover are more than willing to help.

Install the latest version of CMS

On the assumption that your business’s main site uses a CMS (content management system) such as WordPress, you must ensure you update it whenever a new version is released.

A report from wpscan.org claims that roughly 37% of security vulnerabilities in WordPress are related to or involve the core CMS files.

Although WordPress introduced automatic background updates in version 3.7 of their software, this only affects minor releases so for any major releases you’ll need to remember to log in to your website and update your WordPress files.

Keep plugins and extensions updated

You may be able to install plugins or extensions, depending on the CMS your website uses. They are designed to provide additional functionality, like SEO and browser caching. But like the core CMS files of your site, these extensions or plugins should also be regularly updated.

Given that developers often push new versions of the extensions and plugins they offer (which includes new features being introduced and the fixing of security vulnerabilities etc), and that the wpscan.org report mentioned above revealed something rather startling: that 52% of all WordPress security vulnerabilities are caused by plugins, you should never neglect to update your site with the latest ones.

Add content regularly

Another way to ensure visitors keep returning to your website is to publish new content regularly; to drive this point home, Google has actually stated that publishing high-quality content is “the single most important thing” a webmaster can do.

The biggest advantage of publishing high quality fresh content is that it encourages search engines to crawl your site; and equally, it promotes higher search rankings. You’ll have an infinitely easier time climbing to the top of search rankings if your site features hundreds of well optimised pages with relevant content than if it is merely a bare homepage.

Also, consider your target audience carefully when you create a content marketing strategy for your website. Examine who is most interested in your business’s services and products; tailor it to suit them.

Forms of content apart from text – which can be equally important – include:

Images

Videos

Photo galleries

Interviews

Infographics

Quizzes

Games

PDF files

Surveys

Podcasts

eBooks

Flow charts

Remember to diversify your site with multiple types of content – as many as you need.

Fix any broken links

Unsurprisingly, broken links create poor experiences for users (user experience is also known as UX), so check your site every now and then to ensure all the links work properly. Everyone who visits your site expects to be redirected to an appropriate page; they’ll get a 404 error if it’s broken.

Even if you check links carefully before publishing them to your site you may encounter broken ones; if a website shuts down which you have linked to, for example, that link will naturally stop working.

Try using BrokenLinkCheck.com and DeadLinkChecker.com – these are web-based tools which scan your site to ensure it has no broken links.

Make sure visitor comments are moderated

Although visitor comments can be an excellent way to get fresh content, you don’t want spam; thus you should ensure you manually approve any visitor comments before you make them live. This is vital; no visitor will be drawn time and again to a website filled with useless spam.

Search rankings

In closing, regular site updates will encourage higher search rankings quite naturally; and this will draw substantially more online traffic to your website.

In fact, search engines actually take notice whenever a site is updated with fresh content and use this as a ranking factor. You’ll have so much of an easier time achieving high search rankings if you keep on updating your site frequently.

These are but a few reasons showing exactly why all business owners should regularly update their websites, but they are crucial.