Website Upkeep as a Business Owner
A content management system means I don’t have to manage my content, right?
Well, no. A content management system (CMS) is a tool that allows for input, formatting, and collaboration of content. It also helps to display that content correctly on your website. Think of a CMS as an intermediary between a database, and your website.
You can imagine the headache if managing your website required writing databases queries or hand writing html. What a nightmare! This is the beauty that a content management system offers.
A CMS does not create or upkeep content.
Pages are the ‘meat’ of your website content. The content that exists on your pages should always be relevant and up to date. This is the stuff that is evergreen, or always true. Things like mission statements, purpose statements, business history, and descriptions should all stay pretty consistent so that content can be placed on pages and considered evergreen. This type of content rarely needs re-visiting and is often crafted just prior to website launch.
Update Schedule: Once a quarter make small adjustments.
You can think of blog posts as content that expires, or falls our of date. A blog post might not be relevant in a month or it might reference an event with an end date. It’s for this reason that blog posts are often date stamped. This tells the reader that the information may no longer be relevant. This type of content never gets revisited because it gets replaced by newer content on a revolving basis. Most of the time old blog posts automatically get placed in an ‘archive’ when newer content is published.
You’re reading a blog post now, this information may not be relevant in a year from now, but by that time it will have been replaced by newer, more relevant, content.
Update Schedule: Once a week, add a new blog post.
Products are a type of specialty content that are important enough to talk about specifically. You can think of your eCommerce website as a storefront. So, like any retail store, it’s important to make sure old product is removed, prices are up to date, and that inventory is showcased in the best way possible.
Products have some basic attributes like images, descriptions, prices, stock numbers, etc that all need to be kept up to date. The majority of your time as an eCommerce website owner will be spent managing product content.
Update Schedule: Consistently, and constantly.
Other types of content also exist on websites. Staff pages, portfolio images, and help docs all require their own management schedule and process. For example, a staff page might get updated when a new member starts. A help document might get updated when a certain number of customers ask a specific question. Some non profits, for example, showcase their donor list on their website. These types of content might require extra special attention to make sure it’s up to date and accurate.
Update Schedule: Depends.
Make a Plan, Create a Process
One of the things that Mindshare excels at is creating systems and processes. One such system and process is a website content management plan. These plans all have a few basics; definitions of content types, update frequency for each type, person responsible for updates.
We like to use existing tools to integrate this plan. For example, if you’ve decided that you want your blog to be updated once a week, and you already have shared calendars, then create a recurring calendar event called “Write Blog” and invite the person responsible. If you’ve decided that you want all staff members to be on your website, make gathering and updating that content part of your hiring process just like signing tax forms or getting direct deposit set up.
Products can often be a sticking point when it comes to content management. Companies like Shopify, Wix, or SquareSpace promote the idea that you can “set it and forget it.” Well, nothing can be more from the truth. If you’re selling products on your website, those products are going to require some amount of management. Whether it is updating prices, switching out photography, updating stock numbers, or adding new items, there is always some amount of hands on content updating to be done. Make this management part of your teams daily or weekly routine.
Educate Your Team
Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to have a team to help manage website content. This is a godsend but can also cause some problems when it comes to the proper curation and management. So, it’s important that your team understands benchmarks of quality, the editorial process, and the basics of making edits. For example, do you write your blog posts offline then upload the finished piece? Or do you use your CMS’s built in editorial functions? Does someone review the content before it gets published? What is the publish schedule? What happens after the content is published? Does it get shared on social media?
Spending time thinking about this process will save time and energy in the future. So, take some time and write out your preferred process (or get us to help you with it), and then stick to it for a couple of months. Let the process settle before you revisit and make changes.
Why does all this matter?
Quality and up to date content is important for two reasons: SEO and Customer Service.
Being mindful about your content ensures that your visitors have a good experience. Just like walking into a well curated store creates a sense of trust, browsing an up to date website can also create that trust. Nothing is more damaging to your brand than an untrustworthy website.
The second reason your content is important is SEO (Search engine optimization). Google can detect when new content is added to a website. When this happens, Google assumes it’s more pertinent than older content, so, your site get’s ranked higher.
There is a third and more complex reason to keep your site updated, and it has to do with internal team trust. Your team is entrusting your website to handle intake, sales, and the first impressions. This is a HUGE responsibility. If your team loses trust in your content it will likely mean a slow and consistent loss of investment from team members.
One Last Note
The more time you spend on website content, the easier it is to manage. Just like cleaning the house, if you wait too long it becomes an all day task. Do yourself a favor and invest a small amount of time on a regular basis.