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Keeping Your Site Up To Date

28th March 2013
How often do you think you’d visit Facebook if there were no new status updates for days on end? Would Twitter still have any interest to you if nobody you followed tweeted for over a week? And would you start to feel a little bit ripped off if The Times offered no new news for a month on their website having convinced you through their paywall?

Imagine, then, what your website is like to visitors. Do you try to attract repeat visitors? Is there a purpose to entice them back? If somebody went a month, six months, or even a year between visits, would anything look different upon their return?

If your answer to the first two questions in the last paragraph was yes, but the last answer was a no, there can be little basis for anyone to see fit to try and meet your aspirations and continue to use your page on a regular basis.

Being a static page is all well and good in a directory listing or an encyclopedia entry on a matter of scientific fact or historical resonance that isn’t set to change at any point in the future, but if you’re selling online – and let’s face it, that’s what virtually every website tries to achieve, whether you’re set up for e-commerce or not – you have to keep moving with the times to stay ahead of your competitors, and that may have to be a regular process. There are numerous ways and means of ensuring that little tweaks make a big difference to the way that users interact with your site – and find reason to return to it.

The average website has a shelf life of around three to five years; which reminds us – our own website currently falls into that age group. However, our site, like many others, can afford to get to a ripe old age in web design terms by rotating content in key positions, so that returning customers can see a new angle each time they return to a familiar framework.

Think about simple rotating images on your front page; a nice selection of four or five ensures that the page stays fresh even as you sit watching it, and altering a couple of the images periodically – assuming they’re relevant – is a very visual alteration.

A news feed is also key. Ideally, this sits within your site in the form of a latest news or blog section, with headline news sitting in your site. Just two or three articles a month will make your site feel well-loved, even if the product or concept you’re selling doesn’t evolve quite as rapidly as that. We’ve already run a piece on how to keep your blog up to date – take a look at some of the ideas when you have a moment.
Competition exampleAn example of a Twitter feed and competition held by our client Harbour Guides
A simpler way of achieving the same end result if you’re not one for writing lengthy feature pieces (though with web writing, less is often more if you’re concise and use well thought-out language) is to integrate your Facebook or Twitter feeds into the site. The brevity of these updates makes them a much more attractive proposition for busy company owners, with a quick re-tweet or status update taking a matter of seconds, but achieving the dual success of updating your social networking pages as well as your main site – fresh content wherever your visitors land.

Though it requires an element of moderation, you can also keep your site busy by encouraging visitor interaction. If you’ve got news items or blog articles on the go, enable comments so that visitors can offer feedback, and have an urge to return to see if others have joined in with their conversation. It’s a win-win situation – you (hopefully) receive good feedback, and your site continues to update, and you haven’t had to generate any of the content yourself.

Galleries are great tools for grabbing visitors’ attentions, particularly if you update them or add new sections, and you can integrate a gallery feature along the same lines as the social networking suggestion we made earlier by using the embedded apps on offer from Instagram or Pinterest, which display attractive photo montages.

Perhaps you could consider a regular competition page too? Even the simplest giveaway – perhaps a novelty USB, a promotional pen or an iPhone case – will generate interest if promoted properly. Set up your competition page, add a link in the form of a front page article or banner, and drive traffic by submitting the details to the most popular compers’ sites such as ThePrizeFinder or Loquax. Run a different giveaway each month, and you’ll pick up a regular following who are keen to see what you’ve got to give away. Even if your conversion rate from these visitors is very low (as is to be expected from people who want something for nothing), the SEO benefit from increased traffic is not to be sniffed at.

Give some of our methods a try – we’ll be amazed if you don’t start to pick up some positive feedback from being fresh.

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