Your new website is launched – huzzah! It was a labor of love that is finally out there for the world to see… now you can sit back and watch the leads roll in, right?
Well, maybe for a little while. But to stay ahead in the digital age, your website needs to be maintained and updated. The following Three R’s can help guide you as you create a plan for keeping your site fresh, secure, and useful to your audience.
Research: Find What Website Updates You Need
☐ Internal Conversations
Ask the folks who answer most of the phone calls in your office what questions they are most frequently asked. Are they basic things like office hours, mailing address, simple product questions, or how to find a certain document they need? Are the answers to those questions on your website?
If so, maybe they’re not easy to find. If not, the frequency with which they are requested gives you a big indication that they should be added to the site during your next website update.
Check in with your team at least once a quarter to find out what your website is missing or what needs to be rearranged.
Where are people going on your site? Take a look at your website’s analytics and see where people spend their time, where they exit your site, and what percentage make it to the pages you really want them to see.
A look at the Users Flow tool within Google Analytics
Google Analytics gives you several tools for looking into all this, but a great option for seeing people’s path through your site is called Users Flow. If people aren’t getting to the information you want them to access, or if they aren’t taking the actions you want them to take, then it’s time to consider making changes to the website. Make it so it guides your users along the path you want them to take by providing more obvious calls to action (CTA).
You can have analytics reports sent to you on any schedule you set up, but I recommend you set aside at least half an hour a month to really go through them and see what’s happening on your site.
Requirements: Maintenance You Need To Complete
If you were unable to implement step 2 above, the first thing you need to do is install Google Analytics on your site!
☐ Plugin and Theme Updates
We frequently personify the internet as being a “living, breathing thing”, which of course is an absurd statement. But the point is this — from amazing technical and design advancements to hackers trying to prove their ability to take down any software known to man, changes happen faster on the internet than anyone can really keep up with.
That’s why it is VITAL to keep all the moving parts of your website, such as plugins and themes, up-to-date to ensure your site stays secure and functional. This website update needs to happen at least once a month, if not more frequently.
☐ Broken Links
If you link to other sites, it pays to go through and double check those links every once in awhile to make sure they still take users to the right places and not an ERROR page.
This helps your users avoid frustration and also makes the search engine “bots” happier. This should happen once a quarter.
Hopefully you already have a website with a responsive design optimized for mobile viewing, because mobile usage has been higher than desktop for about three years now. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, make it your next marketing priority and add it to the top of your website update list.
But don’t stop there. Your website needs to do more than just look okay on a smartphone — it needs to be just as effective for users across all devices.
Go through the site on your phone and ask yourself if the most important information is easy to find on a small screen. Is the journey through the site just as obvious no matter what device the user is on? If not, it’s time to revamp.
Recommendations: Website Updates You Should Implement
☐ Fresh Content
If SEO is a high priority, this should probably be in the “requirements” section; for now we’ll just call it “highly recommended.”
It’s important that your website reflects changes happening within your company and industry. From personnel changes, to new product or service offerings, to new research in your field, you need to keep your website updated with all the latest news and information.
A frequently updated site is an indication to the search engine “bots” that the site is active and vital. It also increases your standing as an expert in your field (with both the search engines and your potential clients) if you have quality content in the form of regular blog posts.
Fresh content keeps your audience engaged and coming back for more, demonstrating your commitment to what you’re doing as a business. Blog posts should be uploaded at least 2-3 times a month, and other pages on the site need to be monitored regularly for necessary changes.
☐ Simplify Content
More is not always better. In fact, too much information will overwhelm your users and drive them off your website.
Make sure everything on your site is intentional and goal-oriented, with a clear CTA to guide the user to each next step. Analyze your whole sitemap and the user’s journey through your site at least a few times a year to make sure it is as user-friendly as possible.
Too much information can make a site frustrating and overwhelming for your users
☐ Update Imagery
Maybe you started with stock photos, so now it’s time for custom photography.
Maybe your last staff headshots were in the era of polyester and big perms. Maybe you have re-branded and all your products have a different logo on them.
Images can be just as important as words, so make sure the imagery on your site reflects where your company is today. Evaluate your photography once a quarter and make a plan for replacing those that are outdated.
Scheduled security updates, refreshed imagery, up-to-date information, and regular analysis of your site. All of these things take time, but they’re vital to keeping your site safe, relevant, usable, and discoverable.
Depending on how long it takes, it may be worth looking to outside sources to make these changes for you. At the least, you should have a designated team member that can keep an eye on these needs and make adjustments when appropriate.
Wondering how your website can be improved? Need guidance on what updates are most important for your business? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any lingering questions. We’re happy to help.