Quick – how accurate is your Web site?
My deepest apologies if I caused you to have anything from a puzzled look on your face to a panic attack. But if you own a Web site and have any sizable amount of content, it should be periodically reviewed to see if it needs to be updated.
Where there are tools available to help this – perhaps within your content management system (CMS) where you update your content, or external, third-party tools, I’d like to share a basic, straightforward and low-tech way to remind you to review your content.
From Louisville With Love
In a past role I managed the technical environment for our Web site and Intranet, working with staff from Marketing together as the Web team. One day someone from the facilities department stopped by my desk, and the brief conversation we had went something like this:
Julie (not their real name): “Hey, Mike.”
Me: “Hey, Julie”
Julie: “You know the Louisville, Kentucky office moved, right?”
Me: “Yea, I saw that someplace… why are you asking me?”
Julie: “Because the old office address is still on the Web site – you do something with that, right?”
After that thrilling conversation, I got on the phone with my marketing counterpart (we’ll call her Natasha) and has basically the same conversation with her, however I said Julie’s lines. This was followed by a few choice adult words by both of us, then Natasha proceeded to make the change to the Web site.
Maintaining With a Plan
Still on the phone, we both could hear each other exhale. We were glad we were able to make the change quickly, then the conversation continued around how much other outdated content was out there, updating it, and a plan to do both of these tasks moving forward.
As with many Web sites out there, content has many owners. The marketing teams for each product managed their own content, and Natasha was responsible for the overall “corporate” content. We didn’t have a feature-rich CMS for the site that could alert us to “expired” or “expiring” content, nor were there many decent comprehensive content tools at the market at the time – and we looked – so we had to come up with our own solution.
What we came up with was straightforward yet highly effective, and it came about with these steps.
1. First I listed all pages of the Web site and put it into a spreadsheet. As we had a Sitemap page it made this task easy.
2. Natasha then took the spreadsheet and added a column called “frequency” and proceeded to make the frequency of how often page content should be reviewed (e.g. weekly, monthly, quarterly).
3. I took a look at her revised spreadsheet and made suggestions regarding the frequency – remember, I am much, much more than just a technologist!
4. Natasha, using the final spreadsheet as a guide, created calendar alerts with links to the pages as reminders to review the content.
That was it, and it worked.
Of course some content would be reviewed more frequently, namely when it was modified or other business triggers occurred. The point of the above exercise though was to ensure that, on a regular basis, all of the Web site content would be reviewed for accuracy. In addition to this, I would perform regular link checks to ensure the content was technically connected.
What Works For You?
As you are reading this, I hope you are thinking of the content of your Web site, as there is no time like the present to be thinking about it! In addition to the site itself, your extended Web presence includes your social media profiles and feeds. As it’s easy to tweak one or more and forget about the others, perhaps this “detached” solution of using your calendar will work for you too?
Deconstructing a Web Content Plan
In this hyper-speed world of content development, it’s not unusual to have inaccurate or incomplete content out there, exposed, for all to see. By coming up with a straightforward and highly usable plan, you will be able to get ahead of long-standing errors and omissions in your Web presence.
This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.
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