Do you know how often a site needs an update or when you might need to?

There’s a chunk of the internet that’ll leave their websites, collecting dust for decades, before something breaks that they finally even decide to update their site. And that right there is a big yikes. At max, the shelf life of a website is usually 5 years without any noticeable changes. And that’s pushing it.

The best thing a website owner can do is update their website every 3-5 years. The upgrades you apply can be very minimal and would save you a ton of money throughout your business’s life span on the web. I’d even argue that you could potentially have more money in the bank by staying as relevant as possible. There isn’t a single person I’ve met that wouldn’t want more money, so you do benefit from regular updates.

No matter what stage your website is at, there are obvious and not-so-obvious indicators that can help pinpoint if you need that update to your website.

Obvious Indicators

It looks outdated and way behind web trends

How important is it for your website to even keep up with the current trend? You could be hurting your brand or business by not being up-to-date. Ask yourself this, what does my competitor look like compared to me online? Is my website driving my potential leads away and into the arms of the competitor? If it is, you’ll definitely have to change some things up and whip that website into shape. You want to stay relevant and memorable.

A quick search on your favourite search engine about this year’s website trend will set you in the right direction. Just type this into your search bar every once in a while “Top 10 Website Designs of 20XX” and you’ll get different compilations of trends. Pick out ones you think would help your brand.

It moves slower than a baby turtle eating

It’s slow, like if you were to order a package from across the sea, you’d get that well before your website ever loads. Maybe a bit of a stretch for an analogy, but I’m certain a majority of your users refresh your site a few times, thinking it’s them before they even think it’s you, and then end up leaving in frustration because they can’t load your page. Content might be king, but if the page doesn’t show it’ll be your loss.

These are things you can keep up-to-date to avoid a slow website.

  • Make sure you remove redundant code
  • If it’s a site dependant on integrations, plug-ins or widgets, update and delete ones that don’t work for your website
  • Switch to optimize your site to deliver on AMP HTML or change your CMS to a headless CMS
  • Optimize your media content to be the smallest size possible
  • Have your content load offsite on a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
  • Have content served from a service that allows you to embed the content to your site. For example, YouTube for videos and Spotify for your podcast or audios.

Just to note. The bonus to having your content serve from somewhere else gives you the potential to cut the cost from having the host deliver that content on your website. Also, if someone were to go off of your website, to say, a video on YouTube, you’ve increased the likeliness of someone binging on your content and giving them the option to subscribe to your channel.

Some functions aren’t working

So when I say some functions aren’t working. I usually mean that if your website hasn’t been updated for a good decade, it’s more likely that a major component or 2 just broke.

It’s just in your face and obvious. It could be something on the backend causing your site to crash or functionality on your website glitching out. It could be that API, from that one developer from 12 – 15 years ago, it’s broken and no longer being supported. The company that connected to it became defunct and shut down its servers.

If there isn’t a lot you can do about this one on your own, then there are ways to keep on top of it. For example, you’ve got a contest widget on a WordPress site. It’s not broken, but it has been causing slight issues or its upgrade plans are getting more expensive for those shiny features you want. Those are decent enough reasons to do a little price comparison shopping for a newer and much better widget that’ll feed your needs at the right price point for your site.

Not-so-obvious Indicators

Some indicators aren’t obvious. There might be a few you’re not aware of that could be affecting the overall health of the website. The likely chance you wouldn’t be aware is because you’ve done a “set it and forget it” website and even then, you should upgrade to a newer “set it and forget it” website.

No longer following best practices

The internet is constantly changing. It’s not so much the wild West of the online world that it used to be. Issues have popped up and the needs of the web change. People, developers and governments shape the web as a tool, a means of entertainment and how we do business. If you aren’t keeping up you could be paying a hefty fine or losing on potential users.

There are tons of things to consider, but here are a few to keep in mind. Does your site need to be CPPA or GDPR compliant? Do your images need to provide alt texts to images? Is it running on HTML5 CSS3? Does your site need to be multi-lingual?

Mobile-friendly or using

Is your website mobile-friendly or still using “m” as your “www” alternative to appear friendly to mobile users? If it’s the latter of the options, then it’s time to get that site to be responsive or adaptive. Both have their advantages, but at least you’re not updating a secondary site every time you make a change. You can have it resize or the layout just changes based on the size of the screen where the site is being displayed.


This one is super important for websites taking any form of payments directly on their website or handling sensitive information. Do you have an SSL certificate and run an online store, a learning platform or a membership site? Then you’re all set. If not, you could be hurting your ranking.

You know those sites with the HTTPS on them at the very beginning of a website address? Google considers those a priority in search because it authenticates the identity of the website and that data that gets onboarded onto the website is secure. You’d have to try pretty hard to have Google recommend you a website that doesn’t have “https://” in the front of the address on their first page.

Don’t worry though. Most web hosting companies have an SSL certificate for free with your hosting plans.

SEO and Content

Are you feeding the web crawlers so you don’t lose ranking and making them think your content isn’t relevant? If you want to have a chance to rank in Google’s search engine, then you want to make sure your metadata and content is up-to-date. It’s why you should find a place to share your content, like social media, and develop your backlinks.

This ties into the last point…

Broken and dead links

These are the worse. I hope you have an awesome 404 page that redirects to your site, or even better a re-direct link related to the dead link. You will definitely need to spend some time fixing these or having someone fix these for you. These links are like an untreated wound for SEO. The longer you leave it untreated, the more likely you are to suffer from it. You can hurt your ranking or ruin your trust relationship with your users.

Luckily you can repair this by searching for your dead links and creating 301 moved permanently redirects. One way of preventing broken links is by having specific pages host content that will regularly update there. A good example of this is webinar live events. If you regularly host live events, maybe you create a live or webinar page that updates with new content instead of giving the content its page. By doing that, you at least save yourself from doing regular broken and dead link checks.

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