In the part 1 of our blog, "How Often Should I Update My Website?” we looked at technical and design considerations when updating a website. In this (Part 2), we look at the other major consideration: updating the content.
The simple answer to the question “How often?” is “as often as possible”.
One of the biggest reasons to update content is to improve your search engine potential (the ability to show up for a certain search term, and hopefully higher up than your competitors). Search engines love to see fresh content: it gives them a reason to return to your website and see what's new. Creating new content also gives you the opportunity to be found for phrases you weren't previously talking about on your website. (For example when we publish this blog, we improve our search engine potential to be found for the term "how often should I update my website?" as well as many of the other valuable terms/phrases contained within this blog).
It's important to note that updating (or revising) content is different from adding new content. Revising content may actually drop your search engine potential if you remove a valuable key phrase (say from the page title, or page headline). So it is important to understand which of your pages are already generating good traffic, and monitor what impact changes to content may have on your search place.
Next, identify your content outlets
There are many tools for publishing content on a website. Blogs and twitter feeds, discussion forums, interactive ask-the-expert (Q&A) boards, image and text carousels, and just plain old content pages (pages like "Our Services") where information may change over time. You probably have at least several of these tools on your own site. The first thing you should do is make a list of what editable sections of your site exist - and don't be embarrassed, you might be surprised how many website owners approach us not sure what content tools exist on their site! You may need to do some investigative work or prod your web team for this information.
Guidelines for content creation:
Knowing we are answering the question, "how often should I update my website" with the general conclusion of "as often as possible, there are a few guidelines that will help keep that very bold statement in check:
1. Create a schedule and write within your capabilities. Although creating new content as often as possible can benefit your site’s ability to show up better in search results, you have to be practical in acknowledging how much resources (i.e. staff time) you can commit. We sometimes see a lot of work put into developing an ambitious content-generation strategy that didn’t result in new content because the strategy didn’t match the company’s resources. By creating a realistic schedule that ensures publishing new content to each of your outlets, you begin to make a healthy habit of keeping your information current, and giving web visitors the confidence that, if they come back they will learn something new each time they visit.
2. Do not publish noise. Knowing that more content could mean better search potential, one might reach the conclusion that bombarding your website with lots of low quality content (i.e. blog posts with little to no meaning, but with good search terms) is a good thing - it's not. It might make search engines pay more attention to you, and possibly even place you higher in search results, but at the end of the day, the search result that matters is the one clicked on by a human being. If what you're saying is rambling nonsense, you've probably just turned that person away. The content you create has to be meaningful.
3. Fulfill Visitor Demand. Simply put, if your visitors/customers are asking for certain information, give it to them! This may mean working a little harder to create an extra blog post on a topic that wasn't part of your content schedule. Visitor requests for information can occur online and offline and, can come in many forms. An auto mechanic may frequently get asked questions about brake fluid and decide to post the answers in a Frequently-Asked-Questions (FAQ) section of his or her website. A greenhouse nursery may get lots of questions about pesticides. The topic, if popular enough, could warrant a blog posting that addresses some of these concerns. You can also analyze your website traffic (i.e. using Google Analytics) and draw some conclusions about what the most active pages are on your website, and find opportunities to expand the information.
Questions? Pop us an email or give us a call. We’re here to help.