You have a website and it’s awesome. People tell you that it’s nice. They go there to find information, see what’s new and contact you. They share it with their friends. You don’t need to do anything, right? Wrong. Your website is your brand’s virtual 24/7 representation. It is never “finished”.
These are the four types of website updates every website owner needs to consider making regularly:
All software needs updating FOREVER. Let me repeat that: all software needs updating forever. This is why you should only use software that has a dedicated team of developers releasing updates, bug fixes and security patches routinely. WordPress is the very flexible content management system (CMS) software that we use. It powers about 30% of all websites. There have been approximately 33 major releases, of updates to the WordPress core software, since 2003. Version 5.0 is due sometime in 2018 and it’s a big one.
Some web hosts, including me, offer automatic core updates. Sometimes, with major releases, it’s better to hold off on updating until you know it will work with your theme/plugins. You need to manually update any themes and add-ons/plugins/extensions your website uses. (These are all terms for a piece of software that extends WordPress or any CMS by changing the look or features.) On a Care or Continuity plan I do this for you, and although it’s pretty easy to do it yourself, I also check that everything is still working properly after every update.
If you’ve been living under a rock you might not have heard the saying CONTENT IS KING. Ok, I’m exaggerating, I just hear it ALL THE TIME because marketing is part of my business and something I’m interested in (passionate about?) There are over 150 types of marketing, probably way more, but Content Marketing is considered the ruler. And when you think about it, Analytics, Social media and Email marketing would all be useless without good content. Sometimes a simple change to the wording or call to action on your homepage can cause a shift in sales or leads.
As well as content for the sake of marketing, you should consider changing or adding content to your website regularly, for the sake of Search Engines. We design “search engine friendly” websites but search engine optimization (SEO) involves a continued content strategy. If you hire an SEO expert to SEOify your site, with no further work needed, you are going to get maybe 50% value on that transaction. One of the biggest things search engines look at is how often the content of your website changes! Maybe you just change the wording in a few places every few months, add a picture, write a blog post or add a product. If your business has employees and you’re doing nothing or almost nothing with your website content, metrics or social media, you should consider a Continuity Plan to help you and your team develop an integrated marketing strategy.
Website Updates based on Feedback & Testing
The feedback you get about your brand, website, social media etc. can be very helpful, but who do you ask? Asking your clients for this help can sometimes lead to them feeling unappreciated if you don’t take their advice. Other times your clients will only give you positive feedback, which is awesome, but doesn’t help. My solution? Look to your Industry. Check what similar businesses are doing, and join businesses groups to connect with people in your industry.
If your website visitors aren’t reporting to you regularly it’s a good idea to do some testing for yourself. In this case I mean going though your website from a user-perspective, clicking things and filling in forms. Let’s call it user-experience testing. You can find out a lot by doing this.
No matter where your feedback comes from you need to gather it, access it and put it to use. Maybe your phone number should be more prominent. Your call to action might need to be a different colour or in a different place. Maybe you need to create more content like the stuff people keep complimenting you on. Maybe a similar business has posted a glowing testimonial in a way you like. You might want to draw attention to a social platform you’re focused on or add a popup to help build your list. Whatever feedback you decide to use you should integrate this information into the look, feel and features of your website.
Website Updates based on Analytics
It’s amazing how much you can learn from a little bit of analytics! I rarely need to look further than the Google Analytics Dashboard to see what needs to be fixed on any website. So this handy and easy to use tool comes installed with all my Website Plans.
When you see what pages people are looking at chances are you’ll want to do something with this information. I mentioned that content changes affect your search engine ranking, it’s worth noting that this could include moving content around. In other words, visual merchandising for your website. As a boutique owner I love this analogy. It’s so important in a boutique to move stuff around at least once a month and we do this based on, you guessed it, Analytics! What’s selling the most, what we have a lot of and what we predict will be popular. You can do this with any website content. What do you want to feature this month?
The homepage of a website is usually hit way more than any other page. That’s why it’s so so so important to show people exactly what you want them to see right away. You’ll also see your “bounce rate” which is how often people leave within a couple of seconds! A high bounce rate could mean your site is loading too slowly. It could also mean you need to put more thought into how you convince visitors, within the first few seconds they are on your website, that there is value worth sticking around for.
Let’s have a chat!
I hope I’ve shown you that there are some very good reasons to make regular changes to your website! If you’ve had a WordPress website for 5+ years and have never updated any of the software, you could be using a plugin that’s no longer supported or has become incompatible with another plugin. This is why I’ve started offering Care Plans. If you rented office space for $20/month you wouldn’t expect free cleaning. But even on a DIY plan you get 1 annual online strategy consultation included free, where I can show you how to make any kind of website updates you might need.
We can add a simple feature or make a change based on the feedback you’ve received. If people are visiting your website and liking it, that’s awesome, but can it be even better? Even making just one small tweak can make a big difference!