You are the proud owner of a brand, spanking new website, a thing of exceptional beauty and practicality. Because your website design agency has (hopefully!) built it with search engines in mind, it’s all a-OK with Google, which has happily crawled your pages and added them to it’s index.
Now you can sit back, forget about your web presence and wait for the customers to arrive… or can you?
Maybe once upon a time, in the olden days when Google was a mere stripling and fewer of us had internet connections, never mind fast ones. But these days the answer’s a definite ‘no’. Here’s why you need to keep your website fresh, add new content and do regular housekeeping.
First, the technical bit…
It’s more than likely your new site will sit on top of a Content Management System. Hopefully it won’t be a custom-built CMS, but one that millions of developers and businesses already use, a proven back-end you can rely on in the long term.
Why does it matter? Popular CMS like WordPress, which we swear by, are updated regularly by a community of thousands of dedicated, passionate developers. This means that the million of websites hosted on the CMS benefit from excellent security, staying ahead of the latest hacking trends.
There’s more. WordPress releases regular upgrades, protecting your site a lot better than any proprietary CMS designed by a small team or even one smart coding bod. It’s impossible to stay secure in the long term if your CMS is too old to deal with contemporary security threats.
Updates also involve cool stuff like better back-end functionality and an ever-better user interface, improved interaction with social media and fast reaction to new developments in the ever-changing online landscape. Plus updated plugins for stuff like spam filtering, site security, social media sharing… there are thousands of plugins available and once you upload one, it’s vital to keep it up to date.
All this is much more than a web design ‘nice to have’. It’s essential, part of any savvy online business’s planning process. Thankfully WordPress makes it remarkably easy for you to DIY.
Second, the content bit
Imagine this. You have a brand new website. It has to compete with two, ten or even a hundred other businesses in the same sector. You leave your site to languish, neglecting it completely. But everyone else is blogging or adding new content in the shape of ‘how to’ guides, FAQ, product maintenance, videos, animations, cartoons, images, special offers, events, new product developments… you name it.
Who wins in the Google search stakes? Not you. These days it takes no time for a static website to lose visibility if it ever gained any in the first place. The name of the game is freshness, and Google is algorithmically designed to surface fresh, new content above old, less relevant stuff.
If you write a brilliant blog post per month and your primary competitor writes one a week, they win. If you have an excellent ‘evergreen’ FAQ section that’s better than anyone else’s, you win. Whatever you do, you never work in a vacuum. Everything you do affects other competing business’ natural search visibility, and everything they do affects you. Which makes the shifting sands of the search results extremely hard to predict. But letting your site slide is never an option.
Watch this space for new website maintenance services
Many of our web design clients are perfectly happy to update their own CMS. That’s the beauty of WordPress; it is so flexible. Others hand updates over to us, and a few don’t bother at all. It isn’t always a matter of inclination, skill or experience. It’s also down to time. Some people just don’t have the time to keep tabs on their website.
The same goes for writing new website content: some people don’t know how, some only don’t want to, others take to content marketing like ducks to water. Which is why we offer content marketing services.
We know it’s not good enough to build a website for someone then leave them to it. At the moment we pitch in to support clients with site updates whenever we’re needed. But watch this space for a better way.
We’re busy planning the launch of our new website care plans. It means our clients will be able to invest in affordable, reliable, regular web support instead of doing things on an ad hoc basis or on the hoof.