Web Sites are a Journey, Not a Destination

For many people, a web site is a like a place. A virtual corollary of their real-world business. But what kind of place is it? In your real-world business, you wouldn’t open a store and promptly leave it there, understaffed and unsupported, never ordering any new inventory. Anyone knows that is a recipe for failure.

And yet, for a lot of people and businesses, that is exactly what their web site is like. They put forth a substantial amount of time, effort and expense into building their shiny new web site. It looks great, and everyone is proud of it. But then it sits there, gathering dust as months and years pass without updates or fresh content.

This too is a recipe for failure. The difference is, most times a web site failing is hard to notice. It’s not that it is actively taking away from your business, at least not much, only that it is not adding to it.

Your Web Site Is A Valuable Asset

A web site is a tool. It is a phenomenal tool to reach out and connect with your customers. But you have to use it correctly. That’s the key.

So how do you put your web site to work for you? I posted earlier about ways to make great content for your site. Great content is important, but it’s also got to be fresh! New, relevant information will keep your customers happy, as well as the search engines.

Search Engines & SEO

If you have a web site or you’re looking to get one, you may have heard the term “SEO” being thrown about. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of making sure your web site plays well with search engines like Google, so you can show up higher in search results.

SEO is a very complex topic, and is beyond the scope of this article. But there is one basic SEO rule of thumb that you can put into practice today: Fresh content, just like I said above. Search engines naturally tend to give higher “ranking” to web sites that have content that is more current and up-to-date than other sites. It just makes sense.

But What About Your Customers?

Have you ever been to a site that said, “Last updated” or “All Content Copyright” with a date from the Stone Age? Did it give you confidence in the company or individual who ran that site? Keeping your site updated with fresh content means your customers know you have your stuff together. They know you are organized and on top of things, and care about all your customers no matter how they find your business.

Plus, your customers are much more likely to visit your site more than once if they like what they find, and it seems likely that you’ll have more to offer them later on. You could turn a random web surfer into a loyal reader!

Keep it Fresh!

Don’t let your web site languish in some dark forgotten corner of the web. You can’t just put a website up and expect that it will sustain itself. Running a web site takes effort! Keep it updated with the latest information, posting updates as often as you can. Many popular web sites update every day, though that may not be realistic for everyone. Try updating every week. Even once a month is better than never. Set a schedule that works for you, and stick to it!

Web sites are a journey. They are a product of time spent giving your customer what they want, over and over again: The most up-to-date information relevant to your business. You may never reach a “destination”, but if you travel far enough you’re sure to reap the rewards.

Do you make sure you’re web site is always up-to-date? Or has it been sadly neglected? Have you made a plan for bringing it back to life? Let us know in the comments!

 

About Karyl Gilbertson

Karyl is New Harvest Media's Creative Director. He is passionate about design, and pretty stoked about things like web standards, usability, and Wordpress too.