How often should I update my website?

Logging in to update content on your website often feels like a chore you could do without. So how often do you even need to it?

With some tasks, you can tell when they need doing. If the mug cupboard is empty, it might be time to do the washing up. But others are easier to turn a blind eye to – if you’ve left it two weeks since you mowed the lawn, will another two really be that much worse?

Keeping your website up to date falls more into that second group. Once it’s got some outdated info on, does it matter if more pages become outdated?

Eventually, though, you become embarrassed that the site is so outdated and no longer represents you at your best.

Sometimes the real issue is that you worry that you can’t remember how to edit it, and might make an expensive mistake. Sometimes you do have the skills, or some outsourced help, you just don’t have a clear plan to stay on top of it. Either way, at some point we’ve all asked ourselves the question, “how often do I really need to do this??”.

What is my website for?

To answer the main question, you first need to answer this one.

What’s your site’s purpose?

People typically give me answers like these:

  • To share our latest offers
  • To stay in touch with customers
  • To showcase what we do
  • To get news out
  • To help people get to know us, before they call us for the first time

If you dig deeper, this gives us a few key purposes for your website:

  • Visitor perception. Your potential customers are shopping around, and your site has the job of giving them the best possible impression.
  • Communicating what you have to offer. Your site should draw focus to what it is that you do – how you help people, and the value you bring.
  • Bringing in new people. Your site has to be easy to find, especially through search engines.

You can probably see where this is going. Deep down, you may already know the answer to the original question. Here’s how I like to explain it.

The question isn’t necessarily, “How often should I update my website?”. It’s, “When should I update my website?”. 

So here’s when:

1. Whenever something changes.

Too often I have found myself on a website and gradually realised, “This isn’t current. I don’t know whether to trust what it says.”

At the time of writing, we’re in the phased reopening stage of the Covid-19 lockdown. Most of us realised we needed to update our websites with our status during lockdown.

But not everyone has kept updating that when things start to reopen. I think this probably happens where people are already in the bad habit of not updating their site when something changes.

So, a quick refresher of things that you should update on your website when they change:

  • Opening times
  • Staff members
  • Range/menu/services
  • Major cancellations/closures
  • Location
  • Contact details
  • Prices

In brief, if something changes that might affect people, you should be proactive and tell them.

2. Whenever you have exciting news.

Your website is your most powerful communications tool. Unlike social media, you own it and control what gets said. It should be the hub that you put your best stuff on, before feeding the snippets out to social media and print marketing.

So when you want to release an announcement or launch a promotion, you should update your website to reflect this:

  • Special offers
  • New products or services
  • Awards you’ve received
  • Five Star reviews from customers
  • Big achievements

In short, this means shouting about things that make people more confident in buying from you, or glad they’re supporting you.

3. And… whenever you want to say something.

Use your site to build a personal connection with the people who visit it. The great thing is that you can do that simply by being yourself.

Here are some of the things you might say, that should go on your website:

  • Marking milestones and anniversaries
  • Changing your mission statement
  • Sharing behind-the-scenes stories

Between those three groups, the truth is that your website is never really finished and it does need to be updated.

Perhaps you should take a few minutes now to make a list of things that, when they happen, you’ll know that it’s time to update the website.

What about Google? Doesn’t it need me to update my website frequently?

There’s a reason that news websites rank so highly. To get good rankings, your website needs to show signs of life. It needs to be edited at least every couple of weeks, and new content should be added a frequently as possible.

But I think if you follow the guidelines above, you’ll find you’re doing things more than often enough for SEO purposes.

Help! I can’t keep on top of it all!

Communicating with your customers really isn’t a low priority task. It shouldn’t be left to spare time or the cheapest employee in your organisation.

So if time really is too tight then you need a plan.

The tips that work best for my clients are:

  1. Put updates into batches. Keep a list somewhere and write changes down as soon as you think about them, and then move on. Schedule an hour or two once a fortnight and blast through them. Friday afternoons work well for me.
  2. Review your site monthly or quarterly. If you don’t have time to look through the site frequently, set a recurring date in your diary to go through it and
  3. Get help. If you’re spending several hours or £100+ worth of time each month doing website work, it might be sensible to consider getting help. (You know better than anyone else what your time is worth!) What takes you 3-4 hours might take a web professional only 1-2 hours. Lots of website developers and designers offer packages to take these tasks off your plate and free you up to focus on things that are more your area of specialty.

Summing up

If you take nothing else away from this post, it’s that you will benefit from giving your visitors the right information. Update the content on your website whenever something changes, whenever you have some news, and whenever you want to say something to the people who visit your site.

In other words…

How often? As often as needed.

(Which is quite often)

 

 

PS – Are you struggling to keep on top of your website content? We can help.

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