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I think how often a website is replaced/upgraded is (or should be) in direct proportion to how committed the owner is in integrating an online presence into their business model.

Most sites I’ve done for micro businesses just sit there and rot i.e. as long as they don’t go down, they’re never touched, have traffic analysed, or used as part of any broader strategy.

I have had one stand out exception to that – the site was rebuilt 4 times in about 3 years before the business was sold at a profit … not sure what the new owners did.

The client was a typical micro business, wanted a website but had been scared off by high quotes and was nervous about ROI.

We started with a free template, a 3 page static site on el cheapo hosting, virtually no copy and a couple of crap images, from memory about $200 (and that’s all it was worth). But it did work, the site got traffic he got solid leads, something his expensive online Yellow Pages never did, plus it beat same in organic search for what he wanted.

With some proof of ROI, Yellow Pages was dumped and a larger static site with better copy and bespoke images was built (better quality paid theme template). The instruction was, “keep it under a grand”, from memory it went a little over without complaint.

Traffic and referrals/leads increased and the client was convinced it was a critical part of his business and started paying more attention to Google analytics …

There was also a subtle change in how the client wanted to integrate the site into the business … he sold swimming pools, and lost a lot of time dealing with, and visiting prospects, sorting out selections and what would fit etc. He wanted to drive any enquiry to the site (direct referrals, other marketing) so they had a better idea about what they wanted (and fitted site and budget) BEFORE he visited them, it was also to thin out the tyre kickers.

This build was a CMS (WordPress on a VPS) lots of content and images, can’t recall the total cost, but probably under 2K … used a paid template (no bespoke design) and we had a lot of the copy and images existing. This site (being on a CMS it was easy) had several further iterations as marketing ideas and equipment suppliers changed. Business volume improved again.

Analytics started to show a big jump in mobile and tablet traffic, and as the client was/is a mobile junkie he took no convincing he needed a responsive site (the current one was awful on a small screen).

I no longer wanted the VPS and the WP maintenance was driving me nuts. So for the last iteration it was moved to Squarespace (again in a template , but a responsive one) where it stayed and continued to perform till he sold out.

I did not notice any kind of organic search ranking deterioration in any of the shifts, only improvement, but some of that may be down to a committed client that understood his market and targeted them in other ways as well.

My main observation from this was that this guy is typical in some ways. He’s a clever business man, but a digital idiot (I can say that cause I tell him to his face), if his options had been several K to get started he wouldn’t have. By starting small and smart and watching what was happening he’s now educated to the benefits and still has websites for other businesses (integral) and no longer quibbles over money to get what he wants.

Long post, you can tell I’m having a quiet PM, hope it offers some insights to the research.