Too often I witness businesses spending a lot of time and effort putting together a brilliant website only to leave it as is for two or three years – an eternity in Internet time. They figure, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”
Well, it may not be broke, but it’s just not doing as much for your business or organization as it could be. You need to keep the content of your site fresh. This is important for both visitors to your site (especially repeat visitors) and search engines.
Let’s look at the first of these. When people come to your site for the first time, if they see dated material, they’ll probably not take you too seriously – not a good first impression. If you went into a grocery store and saw milk in the refrigerator that was past its expiry date, would you go back to that store? (Okay, not all of us drink milk, but you get the point.)
Repeat visitors will be even more critical if they keep seeing the same material each time they visit your site. The reason they’re checking back is to see… what’s new?! What if the radio station you listen to never played new songs. How long would you keep listening to it? Probably not very long. True, we do like some degree of familiarity and to be able to see/hear our favourites, but if there’s never anything new, we lose interest quickly.
As for search engines, they look at your site in a similar manner. If there’s nothing new in a while, they’ll start dropping your rankings, as your site is considered not that important. Makes sense, really.
So, does this mean that you need to obsess about changing your page copy every day or to even hire someone to do that for you? Not at all (do I hear a collective “phew”?). There’s no rule, but the more often you can do it the better. A realistic plan for most small to medium sized businesses is to freshen at least some of the content every two or three months. If you can to do it more often, great. If you can only manage every six months, well that’s still better than nothing.
We’re not necessarily talking about rewriting the content on every page. Again, it’s up to you and your schedule as to how much you’re going to do, but at the very least have a news section on your home page or a top ten list that you can easily update on a regular basis. If you have the time/inclination to update more of your site or add new pages, even better. Just do something. If it helps, schedule the first day of every even numbered month to update whatever you have time to. Trust me, your site visitors (potential customers) and the search engines will like you for it!