Matt Cunard, Sr. Digital Marketer
When you purchase a product, you expect it to be complete. Just imagine if Big Macs suddenly had no special sauce, if iPhones couldn’t download apps or Campbell’s chicken and noodle soup was just noodles. There would be riots in the streets.
When it comes to your company’s website, however, it’s much harder to say when it’s done. Why? Because just like your business, your website should continue to grow and evolve. I’d even go so far as to say your website is a living organism, and should be given as much attention as a beloved family pet.
“But I don’t have time!” you say.
You don’t have time to ensure product and service information is up to date, that there are no errors and that your company is putting its best foot forward online? Your website is your company; if it is maddeningly difficult to use, people may assume the same about you.
BrightLocal, a technology company focused on local search engine optimization, conducted a study regarding user attitudes toward websites in 2014. Of the 811 respondents, 36 percent said that a “clear and smart website gives a local business credibility.” Additionally, two of the top three things that would influence a consumer not to contact a local business were a site that is slow to load and an ugly or badly designed website.
So, how do you prevent one-third of prospective customers from not even considering you because of a poor website? What you need is a web governance plan combined with an ongoing search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to ensure your website doesn’t slowly turn into the online equivalent of a dilapidated building.
Web governance focuses on keeping your website accurate and spiffy clean, while SEO tackles the tedious task of keeping your website ranking high in search engine results.Both governance and SEO are crucial for keeping your website user-friendly for weeks, months and years after launch.
Web Governance- Not as Boring as it Sounds
If you think “web governance” sounds like a dull subject, I don’t blame you. “Governance” can paint pictures of droning city council members calling roll and reviewing last month’s meeting minutes. But there are positive similarities between web governance and local government, as boring as they may seem. Both have a primary goal of making things easier for people. On your website, broken links, outdated information and ill-fitting graphics ruin user experience. A proper web governance plan covers a number of things that make visiting your site smoother, like:
- Ensuring old products you no longer offer are taken down
- Ensuring product information stays accurate and is updated as needed
- Keeping your staff page accurate
- Adding new location hours and contact information
- Fixing broken links or broken images
- Making sure it’s never hard for users to find the right content
When creating a web governance plan, be sure to include who will be carrying out the plan, how often they will review the site and a step-by-step process so you can know exactly what was changed on what page. If your website’s CMS records all changes that are made, that will make this process much easier. (Shameless plug: all of Forbin’s proprietary CMS platforms come with an audit log that tracks all changes.)
But aside from keeping your website, and therefore your reputation, intact, having a web governance plan in place also helps with another critical factor in your website’s ongoing success: search engine optimization.
Search Engine Optimization- Serving SERPs and Users
Now that we have an idea about web governance and what it entails, we can focus on creating a solid search engine optimization plan. However, it doesn’t have to be entirely separate from your web governance strategy because good web governance actually makes for great SEO. How?
- Making updates to your website’s content, fixing broken links and ensuring a good user experience all play a huge role in SEO.
- When done on a continuous basis post-launch, you can help your site keep those good SEO vibes from its initial launch.
- Regular updates indicate to search engines you’re trying to offer great content and a fluid experience for users, increasing the number of times your site is indexed and improving your chances of achieving a higher ranking.
There are a number of other items you need to be looking at and addressing for SEO (far too many to mention in this post). But there is a lot of overlap between governance and SEO that will make your job easier.
Your To-Do List
This is all well and good, but what exactly do you need to do? Here are your next steps to take for web governance:
- Remind yourself that your website is a living thing and should be maintained on an ongoing basis.
- Create your web governance plan. It should include who’s involved, frequency of review and changes, an approval process and a system to keep track of it all.
- Put your plan into action!
Search engine optimization is a little different. Again, there is overlap with web governance, so you’ll already be helping SEO just by implementing your governance plan. However, true SEO work requires specific knowledge of search engine ranking factors, on-page and technical SEO techniques and the ability to correctly analyze a website’s unique needs. (That’s a roundabout way of saying VGM Forbin offers hourly SEO services to augment your web governance plan.)
A Simple Choice
The continued success of your website as a marketing tool that can drive business hinges on a decision. You can choose to see your website as a one-off project that never needs to be touched, resulting in it becoming outdated, inaccurate and hard for users to find. Or, you can recognize that your website is never “done” and create a plan to keep it user-friendly, accurate and ranking high in the search engines. The choice is yours.