Your organization’s website is its digital storefront. An outdated or poorly constructed website could keep customers from knocking on your door.
A regular checkup to ensure your website is up to date is like an annual physical. If you feel fine and are kind of busy, it’s something to skip. Right? You can use that time for something else. Besides, it won’t cause any issues to just wait and see what happens. Wrong!
We’re not medical experts, but your annual physical is important. And it remains important no matter what your age or state of health. Regular check-ins with your trusted advisors – healthcare providers, accountants, life coaches – help you make sure everything is okay and look to the future. So, while a checkup can identify issues before they get much worse, it can also ensure you are progressing toward your goals.
Even someone who is eating their greens and exercising regularly needs accountability. Meeting with a health coach or writing in a wellness journal keeps them on track. Additionally, such accountability and guidance keep people focused on their goals much better than if they simply mixed up their morning smoothie and waited to see what happened. Similarly, investing in the future wellness of your digital future takes patience, determination, and accountability. It is all too easy to put off updates until “tomorrow.”
But, how do you incorporate website checkups into your routines? Why does it matter anyway? And, are there warning signs for when issues have gotten out of control? Keep reading for insights into keeping your website up to date with helpful checkups.
How to Know It’s Update Time
Rolling out a new website is an exciting launch. It’s also a huge project. So, once your site is live, you might be tempted to sit back and enjoy it for a while. Perhaps you are thinking your website is basically new, so it couldn’t possibly be out of date already. You can update the website again later, after the new design feels old.
This is not a good line of thinking.
A website checkup is needed no matter the age of your site. Simply put: Don’t put your website on the back burner. What seems like a cost- and time-savings hack could end up costing you more later, especially if issues pile up. Additionally, if you ignore your website, you won’t be the first person to spot issues, even small ones like broken links or misspellings. Your clients and potential clients will be. Keeping your website up to date also helps you stay current and competitive. See what your competition is doing online. Analyze their websites and thoughtfully consider what they do well.
Even when new, your website remains ever-evolving. This is in part because of the nature of the digital world. One major sign your website needs to be updated is if it is not friendly or accessible to your audience. A dozen or so years ago, websites were only starting to become mobile responsive. Now, every website should be friendly for people to view on their smartphones or tablets. More and more organizations are also thinking about digital accessibility lately, and ADA compliance. New technology, new resources, and new styles force some change. And, if your business is growing (and we hope it is!), a website should reflect that. Got new clients? Earn a major award? Those are simple additions to your website.
Social, SEO, and Security
When it comes to a website checkup and ensuring your digital face is up to date, design might be the first aspect in mind. Your website should be both eye-catching and enjoyable to navigate. However, one reason why websites need to be regularly updated is because there are many little tasks that add up. Sometimes, it simply comes down to checking that links work. No 404s found here! A quick task to keep your website up to date could be adding social icons, so that visitors can easily move from one platform to the next. This will give them a full picture of your organization. Similar quick-hit website tasks include checking your contact page. Is everyone in the organization listed correctly?
Moving on, another task that’s a little more involved is updating your SEO, or search engine optimization. Find ways to improve your old content and add new content. Having the right buzzwords and keywords sprinkled throughout your site will get your brand in front of more people. When used effectively, SEO increases your traffic and generates leads. If your website includes a blog or PR and news area, you’ll also want to make sure those are refreshed regularly. Haven’t posted anything new in a month? It’s definitely time for a website checkup.
Finally, security is an area to always check. Is your website secure? Secure your site with HTTPS, which, as Google explains, “protects the integrity and confidentiality of data between the user’s computer and the site.” Update the latest version of your CMS and plugins. Review who in your organization has login credentials and their strength. Clean up any comments with spam or phishing links (or turn off comments entirely). Of course, security is especially important if you have an online marketplace as part of your website.
Schedule Your Next Website Checkup
Little and big maintenance tasks can turn into a never-ending to-do list. Monthly, quarterly, and annual updates to your website will keep you on task. Scheduling website updates makes getting them done more manageable, because you’ve already set the time aside. For example, when you go to the dentist, do they schedule your next appointment before you leave? It’s hard to ignore coming back in six months when you’ve already planned ahead!
Keeping content fresh, security tight, and technology updated will also keep you ahead of your competition. Also, while your website may be your digital storefront, it’s also crucial to your communications. A solid and updated website is part of any smart marketing plan. Assess when to perform your next website checkup with these tips:
- Oh no! You’ve noticed an issue. Is it something that can be fixed in under 30 minutes? (Or, could it cause major embarrassment for your organization?) Do it now.
- Congrats! Your company was featured in a Top 10 list. Put it on your update list and set aside time at the end of the week. Monthly or quarterly, update your examples or case studies area to feature more great work.
- Here we go again…another update is needed. Assess with your IT person how this might affect your site and when it needs to be done.