What are the benefits of updating my website regularly?
We often get asked here in the Marketeam office... what’s the benefit of updating your website on a regular basis? There are many reasons why it’s a good idea to update your website frequently but before we jump into these reasons, we need to outline what ‘updating your website’ actually means.
What does ‘updating’ a website actually mean
When we talk about updating websites, there are a few different trains of thought about what this entails. Updating a website can include:-
- Updating the software that runs the website
- Updating the content on the website
- Updating the design of the website
All of these have different benefits, timeframes and costs involved, so let’s explore each one.
What’s the benefit of updating your website software regularly?
These days, most websites are built using a content management system. Here at Marketeam we regularly build websites using both Joomla and WordPress – two of the most popular content management systems on the planet.
Often, when we build a website using a CMS we install a range of different plugins, modules and components to assist with certain functionality (easy-to-use editors, backup components, visual page builders, etc).
As you can appreciate, the developers who create all these amazing plugins for WordPress and Joomla do their best to make sure they’re secure and not open to attacks from hackers. This is also true for the core content management system, however, from time to time there are security issues and hackers will find their way into an open-source CMS or a plugin or component.
In a best-case scenario, these security issues will be reported to the developers so they’re able to do some testing and release a security patch update that can be installed, making your website secure once again. Here’s how the process essentially works:-
- A piece of software, plugin, module or component is released
- Multiple websites install release versions of software
- A security issue is detected (typically this is when a site will get hacked or trigger a security alert)
- A security issue is reported to core developers of software
- Developers work on a security patch
- A software update is released
- An update is installed on your website
- The process repeats ad infinitum
How often should you update the software on your website?
This will really depend on what software you’re using, which plugins, modules and components you have installed on your website and how often they are updated. There are no hard and fast rules about how often a site should be updated as security patches will be released as security issues are discovered. This could be several times a month or once every 3 to 4 months, it really depends.
You should update your website software as soon as an update is made available, however, remember to ALWAYS backup first.
To give you an idea of how often WordPress and Joomla are updated, here are the release updates for 2022 so far:-
WordPress releases for 2022
|6.0||May 24, 2022|
|5.9.3||April 5, 2022|
|5.9.2||April 1, 2022|
|5.9.1||February 23, 2022|
|5.9||January 25, 2022|
|5.8.4||March 11, 2022|
|5.8.3||January 6, 2022|
Joomla releases for 2022
|4.1.4||24 May 2022|
|4.1.3||07 May 2022|
|4.1.2||30 March 2022|
|4.1.1||29 March 2022|
|4.1.0||15 February 2022|
|4.0.6||18 January 2022|
As you can see, we’re not even halfway through the year and already the two most popular content management systems have had 13 updates between them.
How do you know your website software needs updating?
Both Joomla and WordPress have update messages in their control panel that will let you know any time there’s an update available. If you would like to check manually, this is a very straightforward process.
Checking for updates in Joomla
To check for updates in the Joomla content management system, log into your Joomla administrator and go to the following:-
Extensions / Manage / Update
Checking for updates in WordPress
To check for updates in the WordPress content management system, log into your WordPress administrator and go to the following:-
Dashboard / Updates
Updating your website software regularly is one of the best ways to ensure you’re running the latest versions of modules, plugins, components and core software with the latest security patches and updates etc. This will help minimise the chance of your website being hacked.
What’s the benefit of updating your website content regularly?
When it comes to updating your website content, there are loads of different ways this can be done. We’re not just talking about changing a few words here and there on your homepage or adding the occasional one-line news item, we’re talking about well-written, meaningful content that’s going to add benefit not only to your users but to search engines and potential customers.
Adding regular content to your website is a great way to improve your SEO as you’re adding more keywords, semantic keywords and long-tail keyword terms to your site which gives Google a better understanding of what your website is all about. Also, blog entries on your website are quite often some of the most popular pages, helping to lift your site overall in Google’s rankings.
When thinking about content ideas from an SEO perspective, these can be typically be broken down into three areas:-
- Additional service pages
- Additional geographic pages
- Blog entries
Additional service pages
Most websites will have somewhere between three to ten service pages on their website. This is great for outlining the different types of services that you offer in a clean, neat menu structure; however, often on these pages, the content is targeted toward one type of service and the keywords on the page are also shaped in that way.
As an example, if you were a mechanic and you offered general car servicing on your website, you may have a page about ‘Car Servicing’, which is great, but that doesn’t get into any type of specifics about the types of servicing you offer, or the models you service etc.
When people search for a service, they typically search based on the problem they’re experiencing or the area they’re in.
If a potential customer is looking for a service in Google (in this case our aforementioned mechanic), they tend to search based on the issue they’re having eg. “mechanic for Mazda 3”, “mechanic for stalling car” or the area they’re located eg. “mechanic in Aspley” or “mechanic in Manly”.
One page on your website about car servicing is great, but you have an opportunity to write additional content for pages that focus specifically on different problems people are searching for.
Conducting a quick search using the Better Way To Web Google Suggest Scraper I was able to find the following keywords:-
- mechanic for classic cars
- mechanic for cadillac
- mechanic for check engine light
- mechanic for car window
- mechanic for roadworthy
- mechanic for diesel trucks
- mechanic for audi near me
- mechanic for emission test
- mechanic for hyundai
- mechanic for nissan cars
- mechanic for jeep wrangler
- mechanic for suspension
Each and every one of these keyword phrases could be an additional page on your website, expanding the keywords and pages you have and driving more targeted traffic from users looking for specific keywords in search engines.
Additional geographical pages
Depending on the type of business you have, people will search for your business type with a geographical indicator attached to the end of their search query. If you’re the type of business that is required to have services close by (think hairdressers, mechanics, fish and chip shops, etc) then people will typically search based on a suburb.
If however, your business isn’t as common (Japanese restaurant, antique shop, model hobby car store, etc) users will tend to expand the geographical area they search for.
If we take our mechanic example once again and look at our Better Way To Web Google Suggest Scraper tool we can see people searching for:-
- mechanic indooroopilly
- mechanic in blacktown
- mechanic in smithfield
- mechanic in campbelltown
- mechanic in mount druitt
- mechanic in cabramatta
- mechanic in cranbourne
- mechanic in camden
- mechanic in coburg
- mechanic in canberra
- mechanic in campbellfield
As you can see, people are searching for a mechanic in their particular area, so a business that has a shop in one suburb can easily create pages for the surrounding suburbs they service on their website.
Blog entries on your website are one of the best ways to drive more traffic through search engines. Blog entries that are informative, help users improve upon your product or service or extend the life of your product or service are always great blog fodder.
Creating regular blog entries for your website will:-
- Position you as an expert in your field
- Create additional content on your site that Google loves
- Create additional content on your site that users love
- Can be used as articles in your newsletter
- Expand the amount of content, keywords and pages you have on your website
How often should you update the content on your website?
This will really depend on several factors including how often competitors in your industry are updating their sites, the type of content you’re adding to your website and your ability to generate content internally (or your budget if you’re outsourcing to a company like Marketeam).
As a general rule, if you can add one blog post and one additional service or geographical page to your website every month, you’re doing great. If you can do more, it’s always worthwhile – if not, don’t get too hung up on how often your site is updated. If you write informative, useful, evergreen content for your blog posts, they will perform over time and help to boost your website regardless of how often you update it.
How can you tell if your website content needs updating?
One of the best ways to understand how your website is performing is to look at analytics to determine how users navigate and use your website. One of the key performance metrics from a user's perspective is ‘time on page’. This is how long a user will, on average, spend on any particular page.
If you’ve written a blog post that you know takes approximately four minutes to read (you can figure this out by using an online time-to-read tool like Read-o-Meter) and the average time on page is 35 seconds, you know there’s something wrong with the blog and it might need updating.
From a search engine perspective, search referrals in analytics will tell you how many people are finding your website through search engines. If your website isn’t generating any, or very little traffic via search engines, it might be time to consider updating and adding new search engine optimised content to your website.
Handy Tip: If you would like to know more about writing search engine optimised content for your website, check out our article What’s the difference between search engine friendly and search engine optimised?
What’s the benefit of updating your website design?
If your website is old, out of date, isn’t mobile-friendly and runs slowly, there are several benefits to updating the design (and possibly the underlying content management system if it’s very old).
Benefits to updating your website design include:-
- Better user experience
- Higher conversion rates
- Better accessibility
- Faster loading times
- Better responsiveness for mobiles and tablets
- Higher rankings in Google
- Lower bounce rates
- Higher time on site
- Better click-through rates
- Better quality score in your Adwords, giving you a lower cost per click
- Greater functionality on the site (clickable phone numbers, etc)
As you can see there’s a multitude of reasons why keeping your website design updated with the latest design practices and technologies is beneficial.
How often should you update the design of your website?
The design of your website should last somewhere between 3-7 years (depending on your industry). Most of our clients tend to look at refreshing the design of their website every 4-5 years.
Obviously, this will change if your business goes through a branding change, updates its logo or combines with another business. On average though, a website design should last no less than three years if designed properly.
How can you tell if your website design needs updating?
The easiest way to tell if your website design is out of date is to take a look at some of your competitors' websites. We have a saying here in the Marketeam office... ‘your website needs to be at least as good as your worst competitor’ so take a look at some websites in your industry and if your website design is on the bottom of the pile, it might be a good time to look at updating it.
If you would like any additional information about updating content, software or the design of your website, please feel free to chat with us about your requirements.