Let’s say your blog’s voice is hip, informative, useful, and it brings people to your site. But when they check out Services or About, your site’s static content reads like it was written five years ago, by somebody who didn’t know what you know today … because it was. Your blog has evolved but the rest of your site is frozen in time. Now it’s time to wake up and refresh your tired old content!
Check existing content
Your first step is to check that existing static content is correct. This can be a mundane task, but it’s an essential place to start. If your head is starting to spin because you have lots of static content, check out our Content Review.
Now your sanity is moderately restored you can get started. Wherever you have static content on your site, check it for these things:
Words and language
Have any names changed for people or organisations? Are there any outdated words or industry terms?
More subtly, sometimes the way things are done or talked about changes too. Here’s an example – when the internet was new industry best practice for hyperlinks was to say click here to have all your dreams come true.
People had to learn what to do with a hyperlink then, but now they know. So we make the hyperlink a statement about what will happen when they click, and leave it at that: have all your dreams come true.
It can be hard to see these slow changes happening, so just keep a look out for them.
Tone and ‘voice’
If your website has a personality, how does that personality speak, and has that personality changed over time? If your blog is hip, informative and useful, does the rest of your website sound the same? If not, should it? (Of course the tone and voice of your site should suit your audience.)
This can be a challenging question to answer because the tone and voice of your written online content are part of your online presence and brand.
Obsolete or inconsistent images
You know the photograph of the Company Director was taken when the company was founded in 1995, but nobody else does. Now she’s unrecognisable.
Or maybe one staff member’s photo is a low-res selfie that stands out against the other, professional team photos, because that staff member was unavailable when the photographer was in the office.
It’s time for an update!
Make sure links still work, and that content at their destination is still useful. While you’re at it, make sure external links open in a new window, so users aren’t kicked off your site when they click.
Check that text format styles are applied consistently. And do you need more white space anywhere?
Remember that simple layouts and white space really help mobile users. And that matters, because more than half of the world visits your site from a mobile device, and that percentage is growing year-on-year.
Clean up and clear out obsolete content
Look out for anything obsolete. Perhaps your organisation has experienced changes in direction or policy which aren’t correctly represented on your website. If you find anything old, delete it or update it.
Get on topic
Search engines won’t rank your web pages if they can’t easily work out what your web pages are about. So – go through your pages and make sure they’re focused on a single topic.
It’s OK to have a top-level ‘Services’ page, or ‘Categories’ list in a shop – however, you should also ensure you have focused pages for each service or category.
As an example, if you’re selling heating and lighting products – don’t have a ‘heating and lighting’ web page. You need a ‘heating’ page and a separate ‘lighting’ page.
Your customers will thank you and search engines will like you better too.
Update the information on offer – what have you (or your organisation) learned since the content was last reviewed? Can you provide more value to your readers?
Can you add any information that will help them understand the problem they want to solve, and thereby show them you understand, and have a solution?
Besides helping your prospective customers, search engines give priority to quality content which is relevant to the topic in question.
Have you done some really good work? Nothing tells your story better than a testimonial and it’s worth taking the time to ask your best customers to write a story about how you’ve helped them.
Important: your Testimonials page could be obsolete. The best place for a testimonial is on the page which relates to the work involved. This way prospective customers can straight away see that you know what you’re doing, and that it’s not you saying so.
Add an offer
This isn’t for everyone, however you may want to offer a free download, a special package deal, a newsletter signup, or something else relevant to your situation.
Just make sure it’s simple and clear and that the offer is delivered when a person opts in.
Can you liven up a page with a new photograph? Can you support complicated instructions with an infographic on screen, or even as a download?
Can you add anything interactive to the page? Keep it simple, just think if anything would make sense here. A download, a survey, an offer?
Humour has been described as the shortest bridge between two people. Used appropriately it can break the ice and help you connect with customers. Depending on who you are and what your organisation is about, see what you can add.
Think about mobile devices
Take a look at your site on a smartphone. How does it look? As we mentioned, more than half the world views your site from a mobile device, so it’s worth taking steps to make your website mobile friendly. There are a wide range of opportunities here:
- Break long chunks of text up into smaller paragraphs with shorter sentences.
- Think about font size, and how much white space there is between rows of text and between paragraphs
- Make sure images are optimised for display on the web so pages load smoothly and quickly
- Add ALT Text to images so users can see what the image is about even when the image doesn’t display
- Check that popups can be closed to reveal the page beneath them
- You may even decide to do a complete rework of your site’s theme to make it mobile friendly
Keeping your website fresh and current is an ongoing process but it isn’t actually hard. It just needs to be done. The reward is a website that gives visitors the information they need just as well as if they’d called you up on the phone.
Webstruxure is here to make the web work smarter. Let us know how we can help you for user friendly, mobile friendly and search engine friendly websites. Our services include:
Maddy Schafer is a writer and web content alchemist who does magic with words and images. She writes clear and direct copy, instructions which include all the bits you’re ‘supposed’ to know but don’t, and has super powers to read between the lines and deliver what clients want (instead of what they ask for). Working for Webstruxure, she provides expert content support to a variety of clients and also contributes to the Webstruxure blog.
Also published on Medium.