"I haven't had time yet. I'll get started on it once I've had time to breathe"
Is this a conversation you've had before? Sometimes it's true; sometimes we really are so busy that we can barely sit down, let alone entertain the thought of taking on website maintenance. And yet, there are always tasks that sit in our home and workplace that are going to be done 'Just as soon as there's time'. Even when there might arguably be time, those jobs - cleaning out the shed, completing that bit of paperwork, updating your website - invariably end up at the bottom of the to-do list. Why is that?
I'd argue that rather than there not being 'time' to update, we've simply decided that it isn't a priority - at least, not the kind of one that we need to act on in the near future. This can be a serious issue if the task in question is something which could be crucial for your business, like updating your website.
The Benefit Of Action
I wouldn't blame you in the slightest if you shuddered while reading 'updating your website'. This task has a reputation for running over time and over budget, and often only happens perhaps once every two years or more as a result. This is the case for many businesses - commissioning an overhaul, and then not touching the content at all between rebuilds. However, we're not talking about doing a complete rebuild today. Instead, we're looking at the reasons why you should consider regularly updating and modifying the content on your website, and how that can be of benefit to you. Your business' website is your most valuable asset for generating new sales and leads, so it stands to reason that investing time in it will pay off. If you were in any other team environment, you wouldn't put your best and brightest to counting peanuts, so why do the same for your website?
The thing is, you want to be looking at your website as an asset for your business, and you want to check the bottom line of its value. A website that has content updated regularly can see around 4x more visitors per month after a twelve month period. An updated website will also see around 3x more leads per month within the year too.
This is the key benefit of regularly updating your website - you'll attract and convert more new customers, as well as give returning customers more reasons to be interested in what you offer.
When you make a business case to regularly update your website, it'll be updated on a more regular basis. You'll have the time to invest in it, because it will be a priority. And because it'll be the kind of priority that is invested in and managed well, you'll be able to see the results of your website working for your business.
The Cost Of Inaction
At this stage, you might still be looking at the (perceived) insurmountable task of regular website updates and be wondering how much of a priority it really needs to be. Surely you can come back to it a little later, after you've had time to think about it. You're a busy person, after all - surely this can wait until you've got time?
Well, uh, no. Here's three things I can think of off the top of my head that become problems for websites that aren't updated regularly.
1 - Google reduces your ranking
Google and the other search engines use a few different factors to determine whether your website page provides the best answer to a searching person's question, and the frequency of page updates is one of those factors. Favouring fresh information ensures that searchers won't be stuck with answers that are out of date or incorrect. If your website is only updated once every two years, you'll see a slight jump in traffic at launch, and then a steady decline until you fall off the front page of results. And once you fall off the front page, people generally stop looking, and your business suffers as a result.
2 - Updating your website becomes an impossible task
Updating your website is a lot like cleaning. If you do it regularly, it's pretty manageable. If you only do it once something starts to smell suspicious, it turns into a massive job that takes ten times the amount of time and effort that you'd put in otherwise. It's also nearly impossible to enjoy, too. The issue is that most folk would count an update as a traditional website rebuild, where the whole thing will get an overhaul and then it won't be touched for two years. And then you go back to it, and wonder how in the world one job could ever require this much work. A website that has small chunks of content updated regularly requires less time and energy to keep going.
3 - Your website will fall behind your competitors
If you're falling down the ranking ladder on Google, then someone else who can answer the searcher's questions is going to be climbing up it. The competition at the forefront of your field are going to be using their website like a business asset and will be updating their sites regularly. If you want to keep pace or outpace them, you'll need to be doing what they're doing (regular updates) and be doing it better than them (regular updates with the next generation website model). Otherwise, you'll just fall behind.
Taking The Initiative
So, what should you do about that website update that you haven't had time for just at the moment?
Consider that the website is part of your business. There's a business case to be made for updating the content on your website on a regular basis, and some solid numbers to back it up. By updating and modifying the content on your website and monitoring the results, you'll be able to see the benefits that come from a shorter update cycle. Having a shorter update cycle will also enable you to make more responsive changes to your website - is there a particular topic that your buyers are concerned with at present? You could populate your website with more information that meets that need at that time. You'll also be able to adapt to changes that your business needs, as they happen, instead of hazarding a guess at the kind of information that your buyers want and committing to that for two years (and paying the price if it isn't what your customers were after.)
Updating your website isn't a matter of 'time' available; it's a willingness to make the job a priority. Once you've committed to the task on a regular basis, you'll find that it is far easier to manage and enjoy, and you'll reap the benefits of an active business asset within a delightfully short period of time.