without comments Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
By Craig de Fasselle
Successful websites are relevant, fresh and give visitors a reason to return time and again. Achieving this requires more than slapping together a site using some keywords, graphics and content that promises quality products at a low price. (How many times have you heard this claim, anyway?) Maintaining an engaging website is a commitment if you expect it to inspire visitors to act, and search engines to respond favorably.
Even if your site is not a news hub, you need to refresh the content regularly to keep the information relevant. Even if your products and services always stay the same, you still must focus on keeping your website content updated and effective.
So where, and how, do you start? Here, we’ll tackle a full range of important updates to consider, from basic maintenance and marketing refreshers, to enriching the content.
Read on if you want visitors to be “regulars” on your website and to earn the search engine rankings you desire.
The Basics: Check Your Web Stats
Simple updates can make a significant impact on your website traffic and search engine ranking. For example, if you visit a site and click on a link that goes nowhere, how likely are you to return to that site? (We’re talking about pesky broken links.)
You can add to your site: new products, customer testimonials, press releases and other news items. And, you should check your web stats, which will red-flag underperforming pages. (Read about this in
Web Stats That Matter – Using the Right Numbers). One important item to watch for is links. If you link to other websites, make sure those links are still active—a common issue if you link to file downloads, videos or other reference sites. A broken link on your site may irritate visitors, so check those often. If you don’t want to do this yourself, Blitz Media Design offers a Link Checking Service for our clients where we can scan your site for broken links regularly.
The Obscure: Crack These Important Codes
Now that you’re dealing with broken links on your own site, it’s time to examine links from third-party sites. This is a greater challenge. You’ll spot these errors when web stats show “crawl errors,” which are pages that Google could not successfully index, or links that returned an error code. Often, these errors come from other sites that contain an old page address or typo in the link.
How should you deal with links that, essentially, you can’t control? You can try to contact the other website owner and ask for a correction—but that’s not always practical. Or, they may decide to remove the link to your site, and you don’t want that. Instead, talk to your webmaster or a web design professional (ahem) about how to add code to your site to redirect the bad link to the correct page.
The Buzz: Must-Do Marketing Updates
Marketing updates are the most important to site visitors and search engines. And, the good news is, updating your content is much less expensive than doing a redesign every few years. There is content “freshness factor” in SEO, but some content (like products or services) are not likely to change. Although Google recognizes some items may not change, you still should focus on ways that you can update content, even if your products and services always stay the same. Here are a few ideas:
- Price Changes: For an e-commerce site, new product releases are important. But you might also consider announcing upcoming price changes that can spur rush orders to beat the cost hike.
- Company News: Newspaper mentions, product reviews and new testimonials are worth adding to your site.
- New Staff: Announce new members of your team, or add a page where applicants can fill out a form and attach their resume.
- Product Features: Showcase a different product or service on your home page. If you have a seasonal business or if you focus on special occasions, highlight products and services that coincide with those events. You often see this on e-commerce sites before the holidays.
- FAQs: Add or update a Frequently Asked Questions page based on emails and phone calls.
Keep It Real: A Content Tip for Distributors
Avoid the temptation to copy/paste content from distributors’ sites if your company offers their products. One of the factors in SEO is whether or not your information is unique to your site. Lifting information and placing it on your site could hurt your search engine ranking. Consider why your company offers the product—what do your customers need to know about it, and how can you add a fresh angle? Your own unique text will be more compelling for a visitor.
Photo Updates: Show Your Stuff
While image updates have little or no bearing on search rank, they are often helpful for attracting visitors. Avoid simply posting any photos you have. We encourage you to be selective and choose images that tell a compelling story or represent your best work. Seriously consider enlisting in a professional to take product photos—and remember, you can get lots of mileage out of these images by using them in other marketing materials. It’s always worth investing in creative services that help you portray a professional image to clients and prospects.
Content Add-Ons: Say Something New
If the ideas above don’t apply to you, or only happen infrequently, there are still some things you should consider to keep your website relevant. These include:
- Monthly Newsletter: This might include case histories, tips relevant to your market, or other items that interest your audience. If assembling enough content for a monthly newsletter is too challenging, try for a quarterly, or add some white papers to your marketing arsenal and offer them as a downloadable “bonus” to visitors.
- Blog: As long as you can commit to regularly posting, a blog can be a very effective content addition. Blogs are generally less formal and structured than newsletters. The key is to add content regularly—even short posts, such as links to articles you’ve read that would interest your market, can give people a reason to visit your site regularly.
- Social Media: Properly done, social media is far more work than a newsletter or blog because it requires a high degree of creativity and time to avoid simply becoming an ineffective series of ads. But, social media is viral, it’s everywhere—it’s on your customers’ and prospects’ smartphones (it’s in their back pockets, quite literally). Just be sure you can commit to constant updating, or enlist in a professional you trust.
Wanted: A Copywriter
Not sure you can take on the task of regularly writing a newsletter, blog or social media updates? Then consider hiring a writing professional. A small time commitment to meet or chat with a skilled copywriter regularly can make this process easy and effective. While many of us have trouble expressing our thoughts in writing, talking about our organization is much easier. You talk, let the writer do the wordsmithing.
Now you’ve got a checklist in hand to continue updating your site and keeping it fresh for visitors. Don’t we all want something new and interesting to look at and read when we return to a website? Think like your visitors—look at the launch of your website as a beginning rather than “the end” of a large marketing project. An effective website requires regular updates to avoid errors or obsolete information, and it requires adding fresh content to keep it relevant and interesting to visitors.
Need more ideas to keep your website fresh, relevant, strategic—and highly ranked on search engines? We encourage you to contact us. We’d love to talk more about how to keep your site feeling new.