Some people think of a website as a "one and done” kind of thing. You design the page, select your photos, write your copy, and put it on the web. Now it's time to kick back and watch those sweet hits roll in, right?
If only it were that simple! These days, a website needs to do more than simply exist if it wants to attract attention. It's important to regularly update your website in a variety of ways if you want to stay relevant.
Posting fresh content
Everyone knows a blog needs a steady steam of content to survive, but did you know that a business website or ecommerce store can also benefit from posting regular content updates? Blog posts, articles, images, and video – any kind of content you can provide will have a positive effect on your website.
This is the cornerstone of a larger concept called content marketing, but for now we'll just focus on the specific benefits.
New content gives users a reason to visit
The biggest and most obvious advantage fresh content provides is giving your potential customers a reason to come by your site. Anything you can provide that is interesting, relevant, or entertaining is a chance to connect with a visitor and turn them into a customer. Done right, the content you post to your website can be far more effective (and WAY cheaper) than any traditional ad or marketing pitch.
Regularly updating your site helps your SEO
You may or may not be familiar with the term "search engine optimization” or "SEO” but they matter quite a bit to the performance of your site. Simply put, SEO is about making sure your page appears at the top of Google's search results.
How Google determines which websites to put at the top of a search result, and which to dump in the graveyard several pages down, is through a complicated automated algorithm. There is a lot involved in understanding that algorithm, but one of the easiest paths to success is to regularly update your site. Google loves new content, and the more often you anything to your site, the more Google will notice your page and index it.
If you provide particularly strong content that gets linked to by other sites, that will also increase your page rank. Google determines how relevant or helpful a site is by the number of people who reference it as a source by linking to it. So the more you update, not only are you getting the page noticed by Google more, you increase your chance of beneficial "backlinks.”
It shows your business is vibrant and busy
This benefit is a little harder to quantify, but an active website is always a good sign that a business is engaged and on point.
Have you ever come across a site where the last news post was for their Halloween party two years ago? Or their banner is still advertising a "2013 blow out sale?” Doesn't exactly inspire confidence does it? You have to wonder if the business is even still open. I know I sure to want to place an order on a site like that, and I'm not going to send them an email asking "hey, are you still around?” I'm just going to find a different website that seems like it has a pulse.
Regular updates let people know your alive. Done right, they even put a little spring in your step. If you're able to come up with interesting, funny, or impressive updates, you can boost your brand's reputation and image.
How often should you update?
Different websites are going to have different goals. If you run a blog or work in the sports or entertainment fields, you're going to want multiple updates a week. If you're running a small business or managing a corporate site, you can afford to travel at a more luxurious pace. One update a week is generally sufficient.
What kind of content should you post?
Producing content is a tricky thing. It's easy to bite off more than you can chew, but it's also easy to overestimate how difficult it can be. I've seen examples of both impulses paralyze businesses. Some jump in too fast, promising to create all kinds of blog posts, videos, and wild stuff, only to burn out within a few weeks when they realize how much work is involved. I've also seen businesses convince themselves that they're business is so insular or dull that they can't even keep up a news feed.
The truth is almost always somewhere in the middle. Most small to moderate businesses can see good traction with a mix of small blog posts, news items, and the occasional image gallery. Writing small blog articles about what's going on in your industry, your business, and what you find interesting about it isn't as hard as it may seem. Even news items, product shots, and updates about events are better than nothing.
Is there an easier way?
If you're really not sure how to begin, or just don't have the hours in the day or staff to do it on your own, you can always outsource your updating needs. There are all kinds of content creation services out there who would be willing to create content for your site for a surprisingly reasonable rate.
Creating content will never be free. Whether you're putting your own time and energy into writing blogs, diverting staff off other duties to get it done, or hiring out a freelance copywriter, you're going to incur some kind of cost. However, the price for not updating your site, falling into the black hole of Google's search results, and scaring off customers by looking like a zombie, can be far, far greater