Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Update Your Small-Business Website Content Today

A lot of small business websites don't get updated.

The company puts the site up, breathes a sigh of relief now that it's "out there," and goes back to work. Thinking the site will magically know to inform visitors if anything changes.

Sound old hat? Sound Web 1.0 (not to be overly cliche)? It is, but it's common. I've even seen companies who regularly blog, or issue a newsletter forget to update their main site.

Why? It's a chore. It's not seen as a value point in marketing strategies, even though it should be. Here's why.

1. Updates refresh the copy. This helps get a better search engine ranking. Google likes tasty new content.

2. New information may change your target market. Consider these situations:
···a. New company direction (a whole new market)
···b. New management (they may bring clients along)
···c. Buyout/merger/partnership (Adding to your existing market).

3. And of course, the strongest reason - it helps you keep the clients you have. They know to come back every X days, because you'll have something more for them. You stay fresh in their minds the rest of the time.

Obviously, everyone should update their Home page first. That is the first place visitors see. But other pages would benefit from updates too, in ways you might not initially consider. These include the following.

Autoresponder Emails - Anytime there's a new campaign, check your autoresponders. Even the basic "thanks for subscribing" ones. You never know if you slipped some copy in that's no longer relevant, or might clash with the current message.

About Us - Don't let phone calls like this happen to you. "Oh, that employee isn't with us anymore." "Er, but she's still on the website." "Yeah." "So why hasn't anyone taken her off? Then you wouldn't get calls like this." "Uhm..."

Privacy/Shipping/TOS Pages - These don't get read much. But if someone has a need to read them (like, say, an attorney), you'd better be sure they're up-to-date. Case in point: new legal requirements, contract amendments, partnerships, etc.

Shopping Cart - The copy in and around your shopping cart should be checked now and then. Especially if customers abandon your site there. (Means something in the copy tipped them off the fence.)

Media Kit/News - There's no such thing as "nothing happened this past week/month/quarter." Yet companies sometimes leave news pages unchanged for years!

FAQ - Many companies with FAQ pages add new questions as they come along. But they don't usually check the original questions to make sure they're still relevant. This creates discontinuity in your content, which can confuse readers.

Sales/Customer Service Scripts - Staff still reading off a script made in 2004? Even if it's working, there's always a tweak which would boost response. Besides, would you want long-term clients hearing the same thing when they call back next time?

New content is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to promote a small business. And since relatively few update regularly, it becomes an automatic leap forward in your market's mind. Don't forget the website when change rolls around!



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