Here's what happens to neglected websites
Updated: Apr 20
I create websites and web apps for a living. I've been doing it a long time, like since 1999, and let me tell ya, things have really changed in those 20 years. No surprise, right?
The one thing that never ceases to surprise me, however, is just how many people I work with that don't think updating their website on a regular basis is important to the success of their business. In this post, we'll look at how updating your site regularly helps you improve your search rank and the affects it has on your business.
While I do agree that back in the 90's, you were lucky to get an accurate search result, much less a solid page rank, things have drastically shifted towards content focused rank rather than being based on a search query alone. Translation - your content matters! It matters more than ever before. Your content drives visitors, visitors convert, converted visitors equal sales.
Today's search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and the like, use a variety of algorithms to determine where a website lands in the search results, the higher your rank in the results the more visitors you're likely to get. While the algorithms vary between search providers, they all focus on 6 critical ranking factors - website visits, time on site, pages per session, bounce rate, page speed, navigation complexity and quality of links.
When a site doesn't get updated for months or even years, customers stop visiting the site, links become stale and page load times increase. This lowers your search engine ranking considerably, because the number of visitors also affects metrics such as the time on site, pages per session and bounce rate.
The final product of all the neglect? A run down, broken, underperforming, or most likely, non-performing website on the outskirts of the internet that's blamed for not delivering new customers to the business it is there to represent.
Let's dive a little deeper into each of these factors and identify how each affects your page rank individually, but more importantly how they, in turn, affect your business.
Site visits is the single largest factor affecting your rank. Google, Yahoo and Bing all prioritize site visits when crawling a site. In many ways it's a vicious cycle: you have to increase site visits, to increase your rank, to increase your site visits, and so on. Not updating your site has the exact opposite affect. Less visitors means lower rank, lower rank means less visitors, etc.
You can increase your site visits by keeping content updated, fresh and engaging. The reason site visits are so important in search engine algorithms is that they determine the next three metrics that the algorithms use to figure out where your site lands in the results - time on site, pages per session, and bounce rate. Without updated content you get less visitors, ranking lower and lower in the results. Less visitors means less conversions and diminishing sales.
Pages per Session
Pages per session means how many pages were viewed by a user in a single visit. The higher this number the more engaging your content, the more likely you are to appear towards the top of the search results. When content on your site is kept up to date and relevant, site users tend to not only stay longer, but view more pages every time they visit. Useful, engaging content tells search engines that the information there is valuable to searchers and will put it closer towards the top of the results.
Time on Site
Search engine algorithms also take into account the time on site, so don't be fooled by thinking that having a ton of pages per session is all you need. These two metrics go hand-in-hand. This metric is exactly what you think it is. Its the length of time in hours, minutes and seconds that a site user spent browsing content on your website. The longer a user spends on the site, the more relevant the content must be, telling the search engines that it's more valuable. Up go the rankings.
This is a confusing metric for some. Bounce rate is defined as the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. Bounce rate goes up if the page takes too long to load, it doesn't contain the information that visitors thought they would see, or if visitors don't trust the site. The lower the bounce rate, the higher your rank in search results, the more visitors and potential customers.
Page Speed and Quality of Links
You may be asking yourself, how can page speed and link quality possibly affect my business? The answer is very simple. Today, people are less patient. When the internet was young and people used dial-up modems to surf the web, a load time of 10 seconds was expected, and in some cases celebrated. Today, however, the expectation is completely different. Google's guidelines for modern sites is that it completely loads in 2-3 seconds. In some cases, visitors click off the page in less than 3 seconds.
Large images, outdated integrations, and poor design all increase the load time of the page while broken links do nothing more than to frustrate visitors away from your site, decreasing your ranking and lower your chances of making the sale.
Last but certainly not least is the notion of navigation complexity. You see, algorithms look 2-3 pages deep into your website and search engines such as Google prefer to see a flat easy to navigate site structure. Creating complex navigation on your site in an effort to deliver content is counter-productive as it confuses visitors, increases maintenance time and ultimately lowers your search result ranking.
While many of the factors I've outlined today affect your search results, it's important to remember that it also affects your site visitors. Your visitors are everything to the success of your site online, and often translate to success in business.
Weblii specializes in helping individuals and small businesses create beautiful, mobile-friendly websites, that help you run your business with features such as social media integration, customer management and invoicing, marketing emails, and of course analytics, just to name a few. Building a business is hard enough. Let us help you make a great first impression. Get started today at www.weblii.co/success.