What Happens when you Don’t Update your Site?
Five reasons why consistent website maintenance is important
Keeping your website in good working condition is imperative. What happens when you don’t update your site? Failing to perform routine maintenance or forgetting to add to your content will make your website less effective, and can actually hurt your image and your bottom line in the long run.
Why? Websites are no longer static entities. As new technologies emerge and are quickly adopted by consumers, the expectations of what your website can and should do will change.
For example, when smartphones became a permanent fixture of modern life, suddenly, websites couldn’t be built to view in just one or two sizes. Nowadays, websites must be responsive with a layout that was designed to look good on giant desktop monitors, tiny phone screens, and everything in between.
If your website can’t be navigated on a mobile screen, you’re missing out on valuable money making opportunities. As technology continues to advance, so too must your website. So, what happens when you don’t update your site?
Read on to see five reasons why website maintenance is important.
1. A Shrinking Readership Base:
Content Management Systems (or CMS for short) like WordPress and Squarespace are some of the best site platforms around, especially for small business owners. In fact, WordPress alone makes up over 27% of the internet as a whole. About 680 WordPress sites are created each day.
That’s exactly why updating your site frequently– both with new and interesting content via your pages and blog, and maintaining the health of your software– is so important. Your site is competing with everyone from the NY Times (who, funnily enough, also use WordPress as their CMS of choice!) to the neighbor kid down the street. Different sites, different levels of readership and influence, but all moving towards the same goal—ranking high in the search and being a site people actively want to visit. Who wants to struggle with a site that doesn’t work, or cite an article written about domain names back in 2001? Most people want to interact with fast, easy-to-use websites with fresh content.
2. Decreased Site Rank and Penalties from Google:
Less traffic doesn’t just mean less customers in the short term; it isn’t that simple. A poorly traveled, broken website lowers your SEO score and may even earn you some penalties from Google and other search engines. Why?
Every browser competes against the others to be the most popular and trusted navigation tool on the internet. To keep a good reputation, they don’t want to display just any site when a user types in a query. They want to give answers that are the most relevant, recent, and popular. Sites are ranked based on several factors: how well the page reflects the search terms, how frequently it’s updated, and how credible others find the content (by linking to it). Hands down, the quality of your content is the most important criteria bots use to rank a website. Users and search engines alike aren’t going to endorse your site if it loads slowly or it tries to trick people by keyword stuffing. In fact, you might even get penalized for employing black hat SEO practices like scraping content created by another writer. If you want to know how your website is currently performing, you can get an SEO audit (kind of like a yearly checkup at your doctor’s!), which is a great way to see what you’re doing well and what you need to work on.
Overall, fewer eyes on your content and fewer links to your site means you won’t stack up against your competition. At that point, why have a website at all?
3. More Vulnerable to Hackers:
Badly managed sites aren’t just rarely visited—they’re also far more vulnerable to hacking attempts. Think your site is too small for a hacker to care about? Think again. You may not store your customers’ financial information or have a wide audience, but your site still has something of value—an established domain that hasn’t been blacklisted by Google for any nefarious activities. If they gain entry, they’ll use your site to help them spam out their messages to other sites until you boot them out again.
But how are hackers getting into your site in the first place? Aren’t most site platforms secure? They are, but the fact is, every program that’s ever been written has a bug or error somewhere—and those errors introduce the opportunity for a security vulnerability. The good news is, because bugs are a fact of coding life, there are entire teams employed by WordPress, Google and every other major CMS platform and search engine out there to find and fix security concerns. However, once they fix the error, they’ll release an update to the software and an explanation of what was fixed to the user base. That means that the vulnerability itself is now public knowledge, and hackers will target sites still running an out-of-date version.
4. Flagged by Browsers as Dangerous:
Because security updates become public, the browsers people use to view your site (Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) expect that website owners will do their part to keep their site safe. Failing to update your site software means you’re allowing a security concern to go unheeded, prompting browsers to see your website as a risk to all their users. It’s understandable—after all, no one would choose to use a browser that allows malicious or old sites to infect their computer. Leave updates for too long, and browsers may flag you with a “this site may harm your computer” message until you remove the risky software. Even if your site isn’t flagged, eventually, it will become too outdated to display properly on the newer versions of the browsers people are using.
5. More Likely to Fail with Large Updates in the Future:
No matter how little you care about competitive SEO practices, you’re going to need to update someday. Whether you’re being left behind by browsers that refuse to show your site or you finally want to introduce a new feature, building on a shaky, unsupported foundation is a recipe for disaster. Trying to update from version 1.3 to 3.8 may leave you in the same situation as installing an addition on a neglected house—staring at a very large, very expensive hole where your hard work used to be. Updating regularly keeps your site in good shape and prevents small fixes from becoming major problems.
The Big Picture:
What happens when you don’t update your site? You aren’t just leaving yourself open to security risks- you’re also ignoring one of the best marketing assets you have!