Remember that time you launched a website?
Take a trip with us in the Wabac Machine. Six months ago, your organization launched its beautiful new website. Ah, what a day that was. The birds were singing, the sun was shining. Everything seemed full of possibility. You could just see visitors lining up to come to your new site. And you solemnly swore to update the content “on a regular basis.”
Fast forward to today. Your website is about as fresh as a week-old head of lettuce, amirite? And that vow to keep the content current? It got pushed down to the bottom on your to-do list…well, pretty much instantaneously.
No doubt about it, your new website has collected some dust—and it shows in your analytics. Traffic volumes have levelled. Conversion rates are weak. User engagement has fallen off to almost nothing. It’s not on life support—yet. But it’s in a deep, deep sleep. How can you bring your website out of its coma? With an injection of fresh content. Websites need regular injections of fresh content to keep the visitors coming and the clicks flowing.
Wait—What’s Content Again?
Before we explain why you need fresh content, let’s go over the basics. What is content? Hint: It’s way more than just words on a page. Anything you publish to your website is content. It’s video, images, infographics, and more. Have a cool animated gif? That’s content. A funny meme? Also content. SlideShare presentation? Check, content. User-generated content? That’s when your users create content for you. If you have that, you just hit the content jackpot.
The Magic of Fresh Content
We’ll cut right to the chase: Updating your website with fresh content will get you more visitors. Google’s search algorithms rank websites based on hundreds of factors—and one of them is how frequently and recently a website’s content has been updated. Search engines consider websites that have fresh content to be more credible, because they perceive those sites to be working harder to meet user needs. Putting a new picture up everyday won’t guarantee you the #1 spot in a search result, but it will place you above a similar website that doesn’t update its content as often.
Earn Bonus Points!
Fresh content has the added bonus of keeping your current users engaged, interested, and invested in your organization. How? Let's take two websites: “Active Website” and “Passive Website.”
Active Website and Passive Website both offer a great user experience, intuitive navigation, eye-pleasing design, yadda yadda yadda. But Active Website posts a blog and emails its audiences once a month to say, “Hey, we got your fresh content right here!” And it keeps its homepage banners current and fun with new images, event updates, and news.
Passive Website is a lovely wallflower. It just sits there, neglected. Same old banners, same old content. The last time the news section was updated was 2015. The picture of the retired CEO who put the company in her rearview mirror three years ago is still up there. It never reaches out to its audiences. It keeps getting passed over by new users. The search engines have mothballed it to page 4 of the search results.
Consider this: Active Website can email its 1,000 users every week and say, “Hey friends, check out this article I just wrote,” and all 1,000 users can say “No, thanks; I’ll just delete this” EVERY SINGLE WEEK and it will still be a net win for Active Website. Not only is Active Website being thoughtful and proactive (behavior that the search engines smile upon), but its audience is getting a monthly reminder that Active Website exists and will be top of mind when one of those audience members needs its services.
Keepin’ it Fresh
To make sure you stick to your promise of updating your site’s content, follow these principles:
● Create an editorial calendar. A failure to plan is a plan to fail.
● Hold people accountable. Once you create your editorial calendar and assign content creation tasks with dates and roles, make sure people do what they say they’re going to do.
● Challenge your definition of content. Remember, content doesn’t necessarily mean words. Ask your colleagues for ideas for new content.
● Check your analytics regularly. That way, you can see the impact that fresh content is having on your site traffic and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Keeping your website’s content current doesn’t have to be a big burden. With some planning, creativity, and follow through, you can reap the rewards of keepin’ it fresh.