The care and feeding of your new business home on the Web is as important as any of the steps that got you there.
Whether tweaking SEO, reviewing your analytics, adding new products and services, updating your site map, launching promotions and other marketing campaigns, keeping your site well-tuned and effective is a task that never ends.
Although the hard part is indeed over, the key to long-term business success on the Internet is maintaining your Web site.
In this, the last step, we tell you how to keep on top of it in 6 parts:
- Keep Things Secure
- Manage Existing Content
- Tend Your Analytics and SEO
- Add New Content and Links
- Constantly Promote Your Web Site
- Reconsider Ads
Keep Things Secure
Top of the list: Be vigilant about the security of your Web site and content, your network and your customers’ private information.
This includes all of your company’s firewalls, anti-virus scanning, adware protection and Web hosting services.
A wide range of online services and software can handle this crucial task for you or help do it yourself. Some are free, some charge.
This is a good starter’s list:
Manage Existing Content
Even the most basic business Web site should be regularly refreshed with new information, images, promotions and services. If you have an e-commerce site, it’s obvious that your offerings will – or should – constantly change.
You’ve seen “stale” sites – never-changing, never improving, blah. That’s not what your new business Web site was so carefully nurtured to project.
Whether you hire out the work or do it yourself, keep these tips in mind:
- Some Web developers are willing to negotiate a fee for maintaining your site. If you hired one, ask.
- Include easy-to-use feedback forms on your site and monitor replies every day.
- React quickly to critical comments and suggestions from your customers and employees, fixing any problems and making necessary upgrades or improvements. Give priority to any trouble with usability.
- Don’t let old topical material stay online. Event dates and calendars, promotional deadlines, seasonal specials and products – anything with an expiration date should be archived and immediately replaced.
- When you update your Web site, check for “orphaned” pages – a result of breaking the links to them when you make changes. Your analytics software can help you spot these floaters. If an orphaned page is no longer needed, delete it from your host server.
Tend Your Analytics and SEO
Your Web site’s analytics software holds the keys to staying on top of how your site is viewed and used by visitors and customers, sales, reach – essential hard data to track your online performance.
Whether you maintain your Web site alone or with help, know this:
- It seems logical that registering with a slew of search engines will make it easier for customers to find you. But one-size-fits-all may not be the most effective approach for your business type. Check your analytics to see which engines are getting the most hits, and which are doing nothing.
- Once you review this data, register with any search engines that clearly target your business audience.
- Consider adding site-tracking technology that shows what users are doing in real time. Knowing this allows you to make pinpoint-targeted special offers and information.
- If you’ve found SEO management to be more than you can handle, hire a specialist to do it for you (see Step 8).
Add New Content and Links
As your company grows, improves and evolves, your Web site will need to keep pace:
- When you hire new team members, promptly add their profiles to your “About Us” page and make any other necessary changes to the lineup.
- Call out new additions to your product or service lines on the home page, and includes links to them.
- Whenever you add new content to your Web site, test the affected pages to be sure they’re optimized for peak performance.
- Don’t forget to update your site map after any changes.
- Always watch for opportunities to secure external links from other relevant sites.
Constantly Promote Your Web Site
Drive traffic to your online business home with regular promotional campaigns and strategies. This is limited only by your creativity and imagination, but start with these well-tested methods:
- Discount programs are easy and effective. Use them as you would any direct-mail campaign. Creating urgency with “Today Only” and other limited-time offers is especially effective.
- Offer “Family and Friends” incentives.
- Set up a schedule of online and targeted e-mail newsletters. Include columns by staffers, company news, promotions – anything to lure customers back to your site – with links to get them there.
- Consider adding a podcast to your site, with an RSS link so your visitors and customers can subscribe to regular feeds.
If you haven’t tried any form of online advertising (see Step 10) and you’re disappointed with your early Web site results, reconsider.
Besides potentially costly search engine ads, there are alternatives – often free. Some examples are Superpages.com, Citysearch.com and Yellowpages.com.
You can also buy ad space on sites that attract an audience you want to reach. Online ads can cost as little as a few dollars per placement, or thousands if the site has heavy traffic.
You’ve reached the end of the beginning. Building your Web site from concept to completion and going live online has added an entirely new dimension to your business.
Whether that’s the Twilight Zone or the end zone is up to you.
We’ve given you a great start. But to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “Never give in, never give up, never stop improving.”
There’s always more to learn.
Web Site Security
Web Page Testing
Web Site Maintenance
Analytics and SEO