It might not seem like a big issue at first glance: So what if your ecommerce website was built in 2015? You’re constantly updating your product listings; isn’t that enough?
Well, it isn’t. Not in today’s highly competitive online market. Whether you have a big corporate website or a blog for your personal brand, to stay competitive, your site needs to keep up with the times in terms of both looks and functionality.
In short, the importance of keeping a website up to date is this: With the majority of people spending more and more time online, regular well-executed updates can help your business grow and lift it to the top; a lack of updates, consequently, can bring you down.
We’ll list the top reasons to update your website regularly. We’ll also touch upon different components of websites — design, technology, and content. Depending on what your business does, some of these components might be more important than others. But it’s still vital to keep tabs on all of them. Let’s go over the main reasons for updating your website.
Reason #1: Upgrade technology
Internet technology is a rapidly developing and constantly changing field. The goal of any new tech stack is to make websites better: faster, simpler, lighter, more secure. And if you upgrade your website to adopt these new technologies — at least those relevant to your business — you’ll always provide your users with the best possible service and user experience, earning a good reputation and good profits..
Reason #2: Rebranding
It might seem obvious, but we feel compelled to point out that even if you make only minimal changes to your brand, you need a website update to reflect them. This will help you, among other things, to attract your visitors’ attention to these changes.
This is even more important when you’re introducing changes to your business strategy. Your website is the face of your brand and the first thing potential customers will notice about you. It’s vital for this face to always be in sync with your business.
Reason #3: Follow design trends
Design trends change often, and while there’s an appeal to appearing old-school in some niches, plain old isn’t the same as old-school or retro. If you don’t keep your eye on design trends, you’ll start losing customers in no time. Or you’ll stop attracting new ones, which, depending on your business, can be even worse.
On the other hand, if you redesign a website for your business from time to time — when the trends are relevant for your business — you can pull in new customers who were “just passing by”.
Design trends aren’t only about color themes and shapes. Although global preferences change in these directions as well, website design is about so much more. For example, in recent years, we’ve been moving towards uncluttering our lives, and that’s been reflected in web design: Cleaner and more straightforward websites are all the rage. Following these trends requires a careful and smart approach so that you don’t overdo it. When done right, an up-to-date website design can get you new customers.
Reason #4: Improve loading speed
One of the main problems in our everyday lives is that we don’t have enough time to do everything. No one will hang out on a website that takes too long to load. In fact, slow loading speed is the number one reason for a high bounce rate.
A number of things affect page loading speed. One of them is, of course, the way the page is coded. If you check out the latest trends in web development technology, you’ll see that a great number of them are aimed at making pages load faster. Website updates that employ new technologies can lower your website’s bounce rate and improve your Google ranking.
But technology isn’t the only thing that can make your website slow. Old themes are one of the main causes of slow websites. Other causes include cluttered UIs, an overabundance of unnecessary or unoptimized links, and heavy image and video files.
Reason #5: Ensure data safety
It’s all about data safety today. Users’ personal and financial information is often digitalized and stored on website servers. For example, your medical history is likely stored on the servers of your healthcare provider. Outdated security measures will cave under modern hacking attacks, and at times, even a year-old technology can be outdated. A hacked server can be used for spam.
Moreover, all the user data contained on it will be compromised and can even be stolen if you don’t keep up with the newest means of data protection. Regularly updating your website and content management system (CMS) is a must, and if your website uses custom-built security, see that it’s compliant with the latest standards.
Reason #6: Provide flexibility
Today, if your website doesn’t have a mobile version, you can just throw it away. According to Statista, in 2021, over half of all website traffic (54.4%) was mobile-generated. Globally. Granted, in some countries, this number will be lower. But in others, it will be higher. This trend has led to what we now call mobile-first website development. As the name suggests, it’s when websites are created for mobile initially and are later adapted for desktop browsers.
Even if you have a separate mobile app, your website still needs to adapt to mobile screens; otherwise, you face the very serious danger of losing potential customers. If your business has been around for some time and your website is several years old, you need to optimize it for mobile ASAP. Since old technology didn’t allow for mobile optimization, old sites may be displayed incorrectly on mobile devices.
Reason #7: Improve your search engine rankings
When should you update your website’s SEO settings? Well, major changes to Google’s search engine algorithms happen approximately every half a year, so you can start with tracking those. But smaller changes to Google’s algorithms can happen at any time. Sometimes, we see iterations every couple of weeks; other times, there are several months of calm before the storm.
Changes in search algorithms can affect your website’s ranking in search results, so it’s important to refresh your website regularly if you want to rank higher than your competitors. And it’s challenging to comply with all the new demands set out by search engines if you’re using old technologies.
What about the actual content? How often should you update content on your website? Well, depending on the type of business you have, the answer will be different. However, most search engines rank frequently updated sites higher.
At the same time, when you think about the importance of updating website content, it’s essential to take into account the quality of content and your SEO strategy. Regularly updated poor content can be your downfall, both with visitors and with search engines — for example, it’s widely known that Google’s Panda algorithm (now incorporated into Google Search core algorithms) can lower the rankings of websites in search results for keyword stuffing (overloading text with keywords that lack proper context) and for low-quality or repeated content.
In the last years, Google’s algorithms have been particularly demanding about the quality of content. Enough so that the company has created principles for websites to comply with if they want to keep high rankings in search results:
- Google’s Helpful Content — Websites should be created with users’ interests in mind.
- E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) — Websites should be trustworthy and the content and site itself should present relevant expertise. If there’s anything that seems sketchy or potentially harmful, Google will lower the ranking of the site.
- YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) — Content that touches upon information which can impact big decisions among readers (news, medical and financial advice, legal advice, etc.) must be written by professionals in the field.
Reason #8: Add integrations
Many plugins and third-party web apps can be integrated into a website today to enhance its performance or engage users better. More pop up every year. One of the major reasons to redesign your website is to add such plugins. Here are just a few examples of possible integrations:
- Social media
- Google Analytics
- Payment gateways
- Reservation/booking systems
- Ecommerce plugins
- Content management systems
Adding plugins also sometimes means updating your code, design, and technologies to make the website work. But it can be a necessary step if you wish to stay ahead of your competitors (or at least not lag behind).
Signs you need to update your website
That’s all well and good, but how do you know that it’s time to update your site? It’s not like every website owner is well-versed in design trends; most are busy leading a business and don’t have time or sufficient knowledge to follow the technology news.
Luckily, there are indicators to evaluate a site’s performance. Here’s a list of parameters that might show you it’s time to find a development company to update your website. You can check these parameters with Google Analytics or alternative services. Check them regularly to keep your website alive and kicking.
- Bounce rate. The bounce rate is the percentage of people who see a single page of your website and then close the tab. Too high a bounce rate means your UI/UX needs a makeover as soon as possible.
- Page loading speed. If the pages on your website take too long to load, users will go look for what they need elsewhere. People have neither the time nor the patience to wait around when there are a plethora of alternatives. There are different ways to measure loading speed and a number of services that can do that.
- On-site time. The amount of time users spend on your site indicates the quality of your UX design and content. The optimal on-site time depends on the particulars of your website. It’s generally recommended to consider on-site time as complementary to the bounce rate.
- Leads and conversions. Leads are your potential customers, and conversions are the numbers that represent the leads that have completed the desired action (e.g. left their email in a contact form). If you’ve seen a distinct drop in either leads or conversions, it’s a sign that people aren’t finding what they’re looking for on your website. This can be due to old content or to your site being difficult to navigate. Either way, it’s time you freshened it up.
And here’s a list of unmeasurable things that indicate you should update your website:
- Your website is old. You should update your website every few years. Five years is way too long to go without updating these days. UI/UX, technology, content — you need to keep things fresh even if you don’t have many competitors.
- You have no mobile version and/or your website isn’t responsive.
- Your website uses HTTP. All respectable websites have already moved to HTTPS, the secure version of the familiar HTTP protocol. It’s especially important to use HTTPS if your website deals with any kind of sensitive data.
- Dead links. These are links to pages that don’t exist anymore, whether internal or external. Every such link discourages visitors from trusting your website.
- Making changes is a challenge. These days, websites are built to make updating content easier than before; modern platforms are built to be flexible. If making even a small update takes time and effort — or even requires contacting a third party — it’s a clear sign you need to reconsider things.
- Yours is among the oldest-looking sites in your niche. If your competitors have newer websites, they’ll start stealing your customers simply because their sites look more up-to-date and, hence, they come across as businesses that care for their customers. Looking neat and modern says a lot about your business practices.
The benefits of updating your website’s design, code, and SEO are huge. Regularly updated quality content can bring you to the top of organic search rankings, and a modern look shows your customers you’re keeping up with the times. Using the latest technology keeps your website safe and earns trust among users and search engines alike.
If you’re ready to do just that and are wondering how to update your website our team at Expand Digital Media are experienced website designers and we’ll be happy to offer you assistance or consultation.