Dear website owner,
The design is complete, the site has been tested and now it is launched. Congratulations! But having a website is only part of the story. What are you plans to maintain it? How are you going to drive traffic to it? In short, how are you going to keep it alive?
Websites are living organisms and need attention and care to thrive. The best way to do that is to have some mechanism in place to generate content on a regular basis. To make sure that happens, take a cue from the print industry. Like a monthly magazine that has deadlines to meet, schedule your updates.
Your first step is to find out what information your audience is interested in and decide what you can provide. A look at site analytics will show what features and pages most people visit. Is it your photo portfolio? Your calendar? Recent news? Figure out what information, images, and news you can add to these pages. Then schedule someone (yourself?) to supply that on a regular basis, once a month or more. Break down the schedule into its discrete parts: idea generation, outline, writing, editing and review, and posting. When you break down the process into 20 minute chunks, no task seems to hard.
If you haven’t already, consider starting a blog that covers the news and ideas important to your audience. Inspiration for the blog can come from many sources. Subscribe to other blogs in a similar field and join groups on LinkedIn. Discussions there often lead to rich resources that be the fuel for your blog.
Part of site maintenance is also making sure your audience knows about updates. Send out a monthly email newsletter (services like Constant Comment can help with that) to existing clients. Add a subscription form to the site to gather new readers. Keep the email short; just a headline, brief description, and link to new content.
Also take advantage of social media to get the word out. Use Twitter to highlight the gist of new articles, start a discussion on LinkedIn, or post a status update on Facebook. Always include a link back to the site.
Having a site that is updated regularly will pay off with new visits both from new and existing readers. This in turn will improve your search engine ranking, leading to more people finding your site. But none of this will happen unless you plan for it.
Sometimes it seems that keeping up with your business is hard enough and finding time for the website seems to fall by the wayside. However, your website is really your least expensive sales tool and ignoring that means more money and time spent else where.
Look for help when you need it. Consider keeping your website designer on a retainer to help out. They can post content for you, create artwork, integrate with social media, even best of all, nudge you for the content you promised yourself to provide. Knowing that you have already made a commitment makes it easier for you to stay motivated to keep on schedule.