Whenever we contact a friend, one of the first questions we naturally ask is, "What's new with you?" If we have spoken to him recently, the answer may be short and simple. On the other hand, if it has been a while since we have visited, there may be much to catch up on. When we refer to website traffic as 'visitors', it is because this same principle of updating applies. The longer someone has been away from your site, the more he should find to explore when he returns.
Probably the biggest commitment to updating a website is keeping the content fresh. This does not just apply to event calendars and dated material. This can include current articles that apply to your site, or any information that has changed that a potential client might need/want to know. Never forget that your primary purpose for having a website is for communication with an audience.
The first step to consistent website maintenance is to appoint someone to handle the matter. Having one person in charge keeps your site on track and rolling along in a timely manner. Of course, this does not mean that the 'maintenance chief' cannot have help; it just means that a named person is responsible for making it happen.
Next, determine a regular time interval for updates. For example, if your website posts information that changes daily, then someone must make the necessary changes daily. If, however, your website is a straightforward representation of your business, a monthly content check may be enough. If you are not sure how often you need to update, occasionally browse other similar sites and make a note of how often they update. Is it enough? Is it too much? Adjust as necessary. It sounds like a no-brainer, but many site owners fail to take this simple step of setting up a maintenance schedule.
Once you have someone in charge, and an idea of how often you need to make changes, consider the following checkpoints:
- HOME PAGE-- Is this first image that the public sees still the best representation of your business/organization?
- ABOUT US (or equivalent)-- This is one of the most overlooked sections when updating. If you mention the history of your business, do any statistics need to be changed? For example, if you said you had 20 years of experience when you created your site, and that was 5 years ago, say "25 years" or "over 20 years". Have there been any location or personnel changes? Do you need to adjust your philosophy or mission statement? Is your professional focus exactly the same as it was when you built your site?
- PROFILES/EMPLOYEE INFO-- If you have a section like this, you must keep it current with every hire, separation, or change in qualification or contact information.
- PHOTOS-- People change, projects change, styles change, and so should your photo images. Rule of thumb: replace any pictures of your staff or your work that would make a site visitor think oh yeah, I remember when that look was popular. You get the idea.
- TESTIMONIALS-- No one cares if your business got rave reviews years ago. Replace old praise, keeping old testimonials only if they are exceptional.
- Y'ALL COME BACK NOW-- Ask yourself (honestly) if there is some key feature on your website that urges people to come back regularly. If not consider incorporating a blog or newsletter for this purpose.
- Updating your site on a scheduled basis is one of the easiest ways to guarantee repeat visits!