Updating Your Site: Finding the Balance Between SEO and Usability

Updating Your Site
In our forums people have been asking “How often should I update my site?” The quandary, our forum users pose is “If I update my site too often it may alienate returning customers but if I don’t update it often enough it could hurt my SEO efforts!” Our marketing team discussed this issue in depth so that we could offer advice in a way that is as straightforward as possible. Here is the result of that conversation:

Types of Changes

We should clarify that the “updates” our forums users were referring to essentially fall into three categories: Content (website text, pages on your site, and blog entries), Navigation (layout, categories, and products), and Design (colors, headers, homepage images, and buttons).

SEO

In terms of a direct SEO benefits, content is king! Other changes will only have an indirect SEO benefit; for instance, navigational and design changes may make your site more appealing to potential customers and companies that want to link to you.

That doesn’t mean that your SEO efforts should only focus on your content, but it means that you should be continually improving on your content if you’re serious about committing to SEO.

How Often Should I Make Changes?

It’s dangerous to say “you need to change this aspect every X number of days, weeks, months, or years” because it assumes that whatever you were doing before actually needed a change. But what if what you are doing is working wonderfully?

Let’s state the question this way: “How often should I re-examine my efforts?”

  • Content
    You should be looking at your content as often as possible to determine if you need to make any changes. The search engines love fresh content so if there is any opportunity to add something new to your product descriptions, showcase a new feature of an old product, revamp your about us page, add new articles or provide new resources, seize it right away!
    As an example, if one of your products was recently mentioned on a popular TV show or in a magazine, use that in your product description; or if you have observed a new way to use a product, make mention of that.
    Also, update your blog regularly. As Search Engine Marketing Specialist, Pam Westbrook, explains, “Every time you add something new and relevant, that’s one more chance you have to get picked up by the search engines. You want to increase your opportunities as much as possible.”
  • Navigation
    Once or twice a year you should re-evaluate whether you are getting the most out of your navigation. If you’re not satisfied with what you’re seeing, experiment with making changes to your layout, categories, and products and then use tracking tools like Google Analytics to evaluate how traffic patterns changed as a result.
  • Design
    Either seasonally or quarterly re-examine your design from a customer’s point of view. Look for ways that you can improve a customer’s shopping experience by tweaking colors, headers, homepage images, and buttons. Make customers excited to buy from you! After each change monitor your sales to track the return on your creative redesign.What Are Other Volusion Users Doing?

Here is some feedback our forum users shared:

“On average [we make changes] annually. But the changes are not too dramatic. We want existing customers to still recognize us. I have had customers mention that they remember us because of the color of the site….it is significantly (and intentionally) different from our competition. So we keep working on enhancing the site while keeping the same general color scheme. The base color was brightened on the last two template changes – but in a subtle way.” –Rick H.

“It’s not that difficult if you hire someone with prior experience with the Volusion templates. When we did a makeover of our template, we hired a designer and she had it done in a few weeks. We approved her work, she installed it, did a few tweaks for us and that was that. No real downtime at all.” -LasVegasGuy

“I figure if you aren’t changing, you aren’t improving. I built our site 18 months ago and it probably hasn’t stayed the same for more than about 3 consecutive weeks in all that time. I’m amazed when I look at my competition and I see that they have the same design they used in 2004.” -Matilda

I Need Help!

But what if you’re just too busy to make these updates to your site yourself? Where can you go to get some help?

In addition to our authorized resellers and our extensive customer forums, Volusion offers a wide range of services in-house:

-Kate Pierce eCommerce Specialist

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