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5 ways your website dies a slow death

As marketers, one of the most painful things to watch is the slow death of a company’s website. Here are just a few mistakes we see companies making that, when rectified, can make a big impact on the effectiveness of their websites.

1. You launch the site and you have no plan for how (or how often) you update the content.

It takes months to plan, design, write and launch a new and highly professional website. Yet, time and time again we see companies spend so much effort in the planning and launch phases, but zero effort nourishing the site once it goes live. Without an ongoing effort to revisit, update and enhance the site’s content, the web presence begins to wilt the day the site launches.

In order to keep your website fresh, thriving and engaging for repeat visitors, your content must replenish with frequency. As you hire new employees, earn press coverage in major publications, add new products or services, etc. you should be adding that content to your website. For most B2B companies, updates should happen on a quarterly basis (at an absolute minimum – we really recommend making those updates as need arises); for B2C companies the frequency should be much greater; and for all companies, your homepage design should be updated at least once a year.

Updating your website is one of the easiest, most cost-effective and most logical ways to tout your company’s competitive offerings, achieve better search engine optimization (SEO) results and drive in qualified leads. If you’re sleeping on your website, wake up and smell the opportunity.

2. The content on your site is dry and poorly written

We’re all accustomed to the concept that “content is king.” That statement is not just a catch phrase; it’s the golden rule of the Internet. Be sure that the content on your website is compelling (you don’t want to bore your customers to sleep), well-written (spelling mistakes and poor grammar ruin a brand’s credibility), and helpful to the reader (nothing is worse than visiting a website for new information and leaving with the same amount of knowledge … or leaving completely confused).

Not sure exactly what to say or how to say it? Here’s a tip: storytelling is everything. When we work with our clients on copywriting challenges, we often recommend identifying the key things that everyone should know about their company (e.g., what you do, what makes you unique, how you offer value to customers / clients, etc.) and then working with a bona fide copywriter or qualified writer within your company to appropriately tell the company’s story and fill the site with colorful content.

3. You fail to realize how quickly the Internet evolves

Remember when there was no such thing as an iPhone? Neither do we. That’s how quickly the Internet and technologies evolve.

Gone are the days when a website would go live and last for years without a proactive, ongoing program that revisits how the site is coded, how it works and how the pages are crafted to present the content that will ultimately convert your prospects into clients.

What many business owners fail to realize is that as new versions of browsers and operating systems roll out, their websites and content management systems need to be updated to work with the latest technology. If you thought your website would last for years and years using the same technologies it launched with, this is your reality check.

HourglassThe Internet is changing too fast and your site will be forced to change with it. Having a proactive technology update program in place enables you to evolve your website in tandem with the Internet’s tech evolution. Yes, it does cost money to revisit and update. But it costs far less to keep a program like this in place than it does to wholesale redesign every 2-5 years. So, be sure to budget adequately for your website update program in 2014.

4. You haven’t created a real online newsroom

If you don’t have an online newsroom, you need to get one – like, yesterday. Generally speaking, online newsrooms are a go-to resource for journalists seeking information about your company. But the general public (including your target audiences) is hip to the online newsroom as well – they know it’s a destination to discover the most current and newsworthy information about a company and they seek it out when viewing your company’s website. For the record, we’re talking about a real, valuable online newsroom here – this does not include a web page with a list of so-called news from your company’s summer crab feast.

So put a concerted effort around developing an easy-to-use, engaging newsroom with truly newsworthy content. Otherwise, it gives off the impression that, well, you don’t have any news. And that’s never a good message to send.

Online newsrooms are one of the easiest sections of a website to keep updated. And, they do wonders for your SEO because search engines look for content that is new and chock full of relevant keywords. Go full steam ahead with launching a newsroom, but be sure to delegate the task to the right internal or external resource. The project lead should be an expert in PR or journalism, have strong press-writing skills and be well versed in website design and programming.

Need an example? Check out Saint Agnes Hospital’s online newsroom. Our team at Vitamin launched it over a year ago. Since then it’s become the hub of the hospital’s public relations program and it was recently featured in Ragan’s Health Care Communication News.

5. The “face” of your company is poorly portrayed.

While technically your entire website is the “face” of the company, (your virtual storefront if you will) let’s talk specifically about your company’s “about” section. About sections (especially the “team” or “leadership” pages), are almost always in the top five most visited sections of websites. Why? Because your site visitors want to see you! New business prospects want to know who they’d be working with and what their qualifications are; potential employees want to understand who their mentors would be; and customers want to know who’s running the show.

And, speaking of faces – nothing kills an about section more than awful headshots that look like they were taken straight out of Polk High’s 1989 year book; mottled backgrounds and horrible lighting included. So please, do us all a favor and spring for a professional photographer! We mean a real pro, not the boss’ son who has a sweet Nikon. Anyone can point and shoot. Good photography is all about composition and lighting – knowing how much or how little to use to get the desired effect.