Businesses are waking up to the costs of leaving their websites untended—and the returns they reap when they budget for regular SEO and content updates.
The days when you could put a site in place, do some SEO so you’ll show up in a search, and then let it coast, are extinct. This is the first of five articles about website management trends for 2019. In this article, we’ll paint in broad strokes, and in following articles we’ll address each of four identified trends in more detail.
Four trends are driving change in website management.
- Security threats are requiring increased surveillance and protection.
According to Small Business Trends, the average business website is cyber-attacked 44 times a day. That’s over 16,000 attacks annually! The bad guys are a determined bunch, so site owners must be vigilant. Small to medium businesses are prime targets because their security practices are often weak or nonexistent. It’s not enough to keep your WordPress site up to date with the latest core updates. Plugins and themes must be updated as well. All businesses should have a comprehensive security program in place that includes prevention and a plan for what you’ll do when your site is breached. By the way, when was the last time you changed your site admin password? Yeah, that’s what we thought. You’re not alone, so don’t feel too bad. Just do it now. We’ll wait.
- Site complexity is far greater than it used to be.
Website designers and developers have excelled at building sites with the customer in mind, which is great for building leads and sales. It also means customers are getting quite accustomed to sites that are a breeze to click through. They just think that’s the way sites are supposed to be. And of course, they’re absolutely right. (As customers are known to be.) Users expect easy access to accounts, tools to use, videos to view, etc. All of those features need ongoing maintenance, testing and updating. Just like a brick and mortar store, you’ve got to take care of it or it will start breaking down.
- Rapidly evolving SEO is more sophisticated and competitive.
Ahh, the good old days when a keyword was just that—a word you could put on the page and wait for the crawlers to discover it. Presto, SEO accomplished. Now keywords can be key phrases, and search algorithms have grown way, way smarter. The spiders want to see fresh, expert content. They want to see mobile UX design that’s as appealing as the desktop design. They want tasty snippets for SERPs (search engine page results.) They crave local search features. The battle for good page rank is fierce and it is going to escalate. Many companies are investing in paid search (those ads you see at the top or the side of a search page) just to get to the head of the line.
- Competitive spend is increasing.
Gartner reports that marketing technology is the “single largest area of investment when it comes to marketing resources and programs.” Companies are dedicating more investment in digital marketing and increasing website spend either through the IT budget or the marketing budget, or both. Websites are normally the core of digital marketing efforts, so it’s important to keep them up to date with fresh content and regular back-end updates. Marketing digital spend was 44% of the marketing budget in 2018 and is projected to rise to 54% within the next five years. To state the obvious: when your competitors are devoting themselves to enhancing their sites, there’s only so much time before untended sites lose ground.
How Should Your Business Respond?
If your company is allowing its website to stand still without ongoing management, your brand and your business will be sliding backwards. Customers will move on to competitor sites with easier service and fresher content. Smart businesses are dedicating a portion of their planning and budgeting to make sure their sites deliver against strategic goals.
- Commit to a strategic digital marketing plan as part of your overall marketing efforts. Include planning for site maintenance, SEO, content marketing, PPC and social media. Keep in mind that the first three of these items are the bedrock of all digital activity.
- Make sure your site’s back end – the functioning guts and brains – are regularly maintained and updated. This ensures the user experience is at its best and helps prevent hacks.
- Conduct monthly and quarterly analytics – based on specific goals and KPIs – to spot potential problems and capitalize on strengths. Let the data tell you what is going on, not anecdotal opinion.
To summarize, websites are a working resource that build brands and business. They should be managed like any asset to garner maximum ROI.
Want to learn how to kick a lazy website into peak condition? Let’s talk.