Sunday, May 10, 2015

How Often Do You Need to Update (or Refresh) Your Website?

It's a beautiful day in the Philadelphia region: 80 degrees and sunny with a mere wisp of a cloud in the sky. It's hard to believe that only a month ago, we were mired in a seemingly never ending winter. Philadelphia was not hit as hard as, say, Boston, but for many in the region the bitter temperatures that continued into April felt like a personal insult.

A Boston car dealership buried in snow [Source]

The picture above is a testament to the amount of snow Boston received, but we're betting you'd probably prefer to look at something a bit more...sunny. For all things summer, we simply love the somewhat annual Secret Forts "Full on Summer" series.

Ahh, now that's more like it [Source]

We offer this seasonally-inspired prelude today to illustrated a simple SEO point: the importance of refreshing your website content.

Most major e-commerce brands refresh their websites with seasonally-appropriate images and content quite often--monthly, weekly, or even daily. The J. Crew of today, for example, looks a lot different than the J.Crew of, say, last December.

If the big guys are doing it, why shouldn't the little guys do it, too? 

Even smaller, local websites can stand to benefit from refreshed content. The presumed problem for most website owners is time--the smallest companies believe they just don't have the time for a simple homepage refresh, let alone a blog post. 

Our advice?

If you attract a significant amount of exposure from your website (say more than 500+ visits a month), you could double or triple your exposure simply by refreshing your content.

Would doubling of tripling your online exposure translate to more profits?

If so, we suggest letting go of the tired excuse, "I don't have the time!" 

Make the time! 

Website Update 

Once you do make the time, you might be wondering, now what? If you own a small website, it's important to understand the difference between a "website update" and a "website refresh." These terms are often used interchangeably; many SEO writers take them to mean the same thing. We think it's helpful to distinguish between the two. 

A website update is a major change. Ideally, working with a website developer and SEO specialist, you would update your website as you update your brand and build your offering. This update could happen yearly or bi-annually, but you want to make sure you don't perform major changes too often. For better or worse, an update can have a major impact on your SEO.

Here's what Jayson DeMers has to say about major updates over at Search Engine Watch:

"There are many good reasons for updating a website, and because of the rapid evolution of technology, you’ll need to update multiple times over the course of your company’s development. When you update your website, you’re bound to experience some SEO shakeups — even if you’re extra careful, at least a handful of keyword ranking movements will be inevitable."

If you're planning to perform a major update soon, we suggest contacting your SEO specialist--or at the very least, reading Jayson's article.

Website Refresh

A website refresh might simply include new seasonally-appropriate graphics, new contact information, or new content. Ideally, you would refresh your website quite often--weekly or even daily.

Now, please keep in mind: we are not using the term "refresh" in the way that some other publications might use it. Illuminant, a public relations and strategic communications firm, includes the following image in its article "How to Refresh a Website: The Five Most Important Factors."

A website "refresh" does not need to be this complicated

Save the complicated work for your website developer and SEO specialist. Instead, to "refresh" your website simply, you might try a blog with frequent updates. If you're handy with basic coding, too, ask your website developer and/or designer how you might simply change the graphics on your home page.

In the next few weeks, we will explore both website updates and website refreshes in more detail. For now, if you have any immediate questions, please feel free to call our sponsor Alex Stepman, of Stepman's PC, 215-900-9398.