Every business magazine, book on startups, or business coach worth the name will tell you that you need a website. A website has become one of the fixed requirements that all businesses must meet to survive.
Many of these same sources will even give you some advice about setting your site up.
They discuss the pros and cons of custom sites versus sites run on content management systems. They point out some of the more reliable web hosting services. The may even talk a bit about SEO.
The part that so many of them leave out is the importance of website upgrades. Not only are updates important, but they are also a necessity for ongoing business success.
Improve the Look of Your Site
Ever visit a website and feel like you stepped through a time warp into 5 years ago? It’s not that there is anything specifically wrong with the site, it just feels dated. That’s almost always a result of not doing periodic website upgrades to visual elements of your site.
It’s an understandable oversight. For small businesses and startups, it’s very easy to set-it-and-forget-it once you get your site up and running. You’ve got products to launch or orders to fulfill.
After a while, though, neglecting your site’s look can drive off potential customers. A site that looks dated can suggest that the business isn’t really in business anymore.
Every so often, go and look at your competitor’s sites. Do they all use minimalist design now? Do they all use similar color schemes?
While you don’t want a replica site, you do want enough similarity that any visitors will assume your open for business.
SEO is one of the most challenging hurdles for most business sites. It’s not because people neglect it, but because it never stands still. Every time search engine algorithms change, the SEO goalposts move on you.
Despite the always moving end zone, you can take steps that will yield good results in terms of SEO, such as:
- use plain English URLs
- link out to reputable sites
- link between pages on your site
Plain English URLs can only help you. It’s one more way that visitors can know that they’re going to the right place on your site or another site. It’s part of building a good user experience.
Choosing reputable websites to link out to benefits you in several ways.
Search engines like it. Equally importantly, it establishes that you know your industry well enough to pick out good sources from bad sources. It lends authority to the things you say, which is key to setting yourself up as an expert.
Internal linking is mostly about pleasing search engines. Good internal linking takes visitors from content on part of the site to highly relevant content on another part of the site. If you do this right, it tells search engines that your site has a good focus around a subject area.
Websites and the databases they use come under constant attack from hackers looking to steal personal or financial data. That means that a highly secure website from two years ago might be a hacker playground today.
Customers don’t take data breaches lightly. Social media giant Facebook got sued almost immediately after admitting to a breach.
Businesses that contract out for custom-built sites prove very at risk for security problems. In many cases, their sites don’t get attention from a website developer or security expert for years at a time.
Businesses that use a CMS often fare better because the CMS creators provide security updates. In the end, though, you bear the responsibility for protecting customer information and your own internal data.
Bring in someone with cybersecurity experience at least once a year for a network and website security audit.
Integrate Responsive Design
Google has spoken and the message was clear: Mobile is king. In fact, Google will look at the mobile version of your site first in deciding where it ranks.
That means you can’t afford to put off getting a mobile ready site that uses responsive design. Responsive design lets web developers program your site in a way that makes it work on both mobile devices and desktop computers.
You can get this custom-coded for your website. You can also get it via themes for websites run on content management systems.
Change in Business Focus
Many small businesses owners and startup founders discover their vision for the business changes after the first year or two. Often, they learn they must target a different market segment or that a small element of their business generates the most of the revenue.
When this happens, they undergo what Lean Methodology calls a pivot. It’s when a business reinvents itself to focus on that new market segment or the small revenue-generating part of the business.
Of course, that also renders your website and almost everything on it instantly obsolete.
For example, let’s say you launch a startup that aims at building a consumer-oriented piece of software. All of the marketing copy and imagery you placed on the website aimed at that consumer market segment. Except, it turns out that businesses want your software more than consumers.
When you reframe your startup as a B2B software company, you must scrap all of that copy and imagery. You need copy and imagery that will appeal to other businesses.
Parting Thoughts on Website Upgrades
Website upgrades might feel a minor or even trivial concern when you first launch your site. The thing you must remember is that your site might still be up and running ten years from now. It leaves room for lots of potential issues.
A few key areas to watch out for include SEO, security, and responsive design. Fall behind on these and you can end up with no traffic or a lawsuit. Don’t let the look of your site fall behind the standard set by your competitors.
If you pivot your business in a new direction, make sure you get your site updated as soon as possible. Otherwise, you’ll pull in the wrong market segment.
OSO offers a range of digital services including site design, SEO, online marketing, and content writing. For more information or to get started, contact OSO today.