And we don’t mean the up time of servers!
We are continuing our theme that websites are live, living things that need to be fed and nurtured on a regular basis.
Somewhere in the not-so-distant past, we have talked about website objectives. For all the fancy words and umpteen bullet points, extracted from your team over tea and biscuits, at some point we are sure, you will have mentioned getting traffic through to your site.
This means ‘traffic’ as people and, in many small, online business cases, websites objectives are about turning this traffic in to paying customers. Once you have attracted them the first time, you have the heady task of attracting them again… and again… and again…
On the face of it, this might not seem like too big a task but only if one of your website objectives it to ‘maintain the interest’ of the passing populace.
To maintain interest you must maintain the website, with up to date, vibrant content that, for many websites, means adding new content.
It is a story you will have heard before. Search engines constantly crawl websites looking for the juicy, new bits and so, making sure you have a plan to revamp or add new content – and sticking to it – is essential.
The worst case scenario – if you are worried about your website (it seems to be sinking without a trace), then take a walk through it.
- Do the links work? (Nope).
- Does it load quickly? (Nope)
- Is the information current? (Nope)
- Is it sleek, modern and fits your business? (Nope).
Need we go on?
Take away lesson – websites that are kept up to date, load quickly with fabulously engaging content will have a better chance of success and being ‘spotted’ by the search engines as being authoritative and trustworthy.
The basics of website upkeep
Just like we need to vacuum the office, wash the tea cups and take the tea towel home once a week, there are basic, menial website tasks that need to be done to maintain the website. You will need to assign this task to someone; we also suggest setting time at least once a month, to check out the whole website (we are not talking social media engagement here – that should be a daily occurrence).
- Ensure information is up-to-date – does a product description, price or P&P rates need adjusting, for example?
- Proofread the main pages and texts – is there an error that needs correcting? Could you re-write a paragraph so the message is clearer?
- Graphics – these also need to be checked; are they still relevant? For example, all your Christmas graphics should be safely tucked away till next year
- Accessibility – do customers know how to contact you? For many potential customers, knowing how they can contact the business (and when) is a sign of trustworthiness
- Content and news – ensuring thee are kept up to date is also essential along with expansion tasks such as regular newsletters to people who have signed up to your mailing list
- Announcements – do you have a feature that allows you to advertise promotions of flash sales? If so, have a plan for how to use these.
Take away lesson – although flashy bits are all well and good, if the basics of your website are either not functioning at all, or are not functioning to their full capacity, adding fancy extras will be a waste of time.
Your website should be active in the sense that it can ‘read’ your business and market place, and create possibilities for people to engage and, if possible, buy from you. But once you have looked at your website and you think you are happy with it, then all is rosy in the garden… or is it?
Just as important as creating your website in the first place with professional help and services, so is keeping it alive and active.
Extend your thinking…
Step 1: The Website Review
YOU review your website in a regular basis, picking up odd bits of spelling and grammar mistakes. You have changed some graphics you no longer like or think are appropriate and you have some new content on there too.
Try shaking up this process:
- If you have staff, then pass the Website Review task from one person to another; getting different perspectives can be incredibly useful but rather than going for the scattergun approach, get them to look at certain aspects
- Feedback from customers is also a great way of gaining some knowledge and thoughts from those people who use your website; there are several ways you can entice people to do this, including a prize or two (makes a great news item for your website too!)
- Test the findability of your website on the various search engines
- Create a set of recommendations for a future plan for the website
Step 2: Prune, as well as add
New content is essential. In fact, a lot of your time should be about creating or finding new content for your website but, a rose bush will only grow to its true splendour if it is pruned back after a growth spurt. Getting rid of the weaker tendrils on your website will make the core stronger.
Adding more and more content can mean the ‘white space’, the place where the eye rests can be lost, making your pages appear cluttered and slightly chaotic. Look for duplication, as well as content that is no longer relevant.
Step 3: a re-shape, at some point
When you decorate your lounge, you wallow in the newness of it all but, in 2 years’ time, that same paint and finish can start to look tired and dated. You may also decide that now is the time to invest in new flooring, hence the space that was once shiny and new, is re-shaped… and you will need to do this at some point with your website.
But websites are expensive and so you need to get the very best out of your current one, before you go for a re-vamp
Step 4: Seek help
If your website is not working for your business, and it seems like an expensive waste of time, you may need the beady eye of a professional web designer, content writer or marketing ‘expert’ to help you out…
** With the new Growth Voucher scheme in England, you could get up to £2,000 towards the cost of digital help **