When was the last time you updated your small business’s website? According to a survey of 350 small business owners by the market research firm Clutch, 46 percent of respondents did not have a site. In today’s competitive commercial landscape, business owners can no longer afford to stay offline.
A website isn’t something that you can set and forget, however. If you want to present your business as a leading authoritative figure in its respective industry, you’ll need to update your website on a regular basis, and here’s why:
If your business has recently changed its hours of operation, product/ service prices or contact information, you’ll need to update your website to reflect these changes. Keeping outdated information on your site could hinder your ability to attract new customers and grow your business.
Updating your business’s website gives you the opportunity to make it mobile friendly. If your website isn’t compatible with smartphones and tablets, visitors attempting to access your site on those devices may encounter usability issues like hard-to-read text, indecipherable images, and broken scripts. And given the fact that roughly 60 percent of all Internet traffic comes from mobile devices, this is one mistake you don’t want to make.
You can fix mobile- compatibility issues by updating your website with a mobile-friendly design. According to Google, there are three ways to create a mobile-friendly design:
Uses CSS media queries and proportion-based units to scale the website based on the user’s device. This mobile-friendly configuration is the only one recommended by Google.
Uses a single URL but different HTML for desktop and mobile visitors. Visitors on desktop computers see the desktop HTML, while visitors on mobile devices see the mobile HTML.
Uses a second URL, such as your website.mobi or
Assuming your business’s website uses a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, you’ll need to log in and update it when a new version is released. According to a report by wpscan.org, roughly 37 percent of all WordPress security vulnerabilities involve the core CMS files. Hackers often target websites running outdated versions of WordPress because they contain exploitable vulnerabilities.
WordPress introduced automatic background updates in version 3.7. However, this only affects minor releases, meaning you’ll still have to manually log into your website and update the WordPress files for major releases.
Depending on which CMS your website uses (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.), you may have the option to install plugins or extensions. These add-ons are designed to provide additional functionality, such as browser caching and search engine optimization (SEO). But like your site’s core CMS files, plugins and extensions should also be updated when new versions are released.
Developers often push new versions of their plugins and extensions to introduce new features and fix security vulnerabilities. The same wpscan.org report cited above revealed that plugins cause 52 percent of all WordPress security vulnerabilities. Neglecting to update your site with the latest plugins leaves it vulnerable to hackers, and something no business owner wants to encounter.
You can’t expect visitors to keep coming back to your business’ website unless you publish new content on a regular basis. In Google’s own words, publishing high-quality content is “the single most important thing” webmasters can do. When the world’s largest search engine makes a bold statement such as this, it’s a good idea to listen.
Fresh content encourages search engines to crawl your site, while also promoting higher search rankings. The more content you publish, the more “real estate” your site will consume in the search engines. If your business’s website consists of nothing more than a bare homepage, it won’t generate much traffic. But if it features hundreds of optimized pages covering topics that are relevant to your industry, you’ll have an easier time climbing the search rankings.
When creating a content marketing strategy for your business’s website, consider your target audience. In other words, who is most interested in your business’s products or services? If your company sells wedding dresses, for instance, your target audience is probably newly engaged women, in which case you should create content specifically tailored to these soon-to-be brides.
Keep in mind that content for websites isn’t limited strictly to text. Other forms of content to consider include:
Don’t limit yourself to using a single type of content, but instead diversify your site with multiple forms.
Broken links create a poor user experience (UX), which is why you should periodically check your site for them. A visitor who clicks a link expects to go to the appropriate page, not be redirected to a 404 error page instead, as a broken link would do.
Even if you check your links before publishing them on your site, broken links may still occur. If you link to a different website, and that website later shuts down, the link will break.
Several web-based tools will scan your site for broken links, such as BrokenLinkCheck.com and DeadLinkChecker.com. After entering the URL of your business website, it will reveal the location of any broken links, both internal and external.
Allowing visitors to comment on your business’s website is a simple and effective way to fill it with fresh content. Because substantial numbers of comments are nothing more than spam, however, you should manually approve comments before making them live. That means you’ll have to log into your website’s CMS, and either accept or reject new comments.
Updating your website on a regular basis encourages increased search rankings, which boosts traffic. Search engines take notice when a site is updated with new content, using this as a ranking factor for their respective algorithms. If you refresh your site with current content on a regular basis, you’ll have an easier time achieving a top search ranking for your desired target keywords.
These are just a few reasons that small business owners should update their websites. While it may seem time-consuming and laborious, it’s a smart investment of your resources that pays off in the form of a more prosperous business.