On Episode 25 of The Edge of Innovation, we’re talking about 7 ways to keep your site fresh.
7 Ways to Keep your Site Fresh
Jacob: With Savior Labs, we do a lot of work updating people’s websites and getting them up to speed. But one of the things that we constantly see is people’s websites that are woefully out of date. We actually have any podcast that we do called Save Your Site, and it was investigating and looking at people’s websites and doing an audit of them. One of the ways in which we think people can be doing a good job to keep their website up to date is just keeping it fresh. I know that seems a bit redundant.
So keeping your website fresh, keeping it up-to-date, and we just want to offer seven ways to keep your website fresh. Let’s just kick right into it. The first one, one of the more important things is having a blog on your website.
Paul: Well, I think it’s necessarily having a blog. I mean, a blog is a tool that allows you to introduce content. That’s the point of a blog is it prompts you. Now you have a place to make content can be extemporaneous and from you or your employees or people close to the organization. So you have to remember not to forget what’s the goal of your website. And just like you get haircuts, you clip your nails, if you’re a man, you shave, or maybe if you’re a woman, I don’t know. So all of these things. You buy new clothes, you know. Your clothes, you wash them, are all maintenance activities so that the people in our lives will be able to better interface with us. If we don’t do those things, they are impediments to interaction.
And so the same thing happens on a website. Why would I come to your website? There’s nothing new on it.
Jacob: I think that’s a great step to back up and ask, “Why are you keeping the content fresh?” And it’s not just so that people can interface with you, but it’s actually so people can find you.
Paul: Right. Absolutely. Yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s the first step of interface is to be able to find somebody. If you’re in an empty room, you can’t do that if… If you’re in a room with a bunch of people and you see somebody that’s wearing your sports team’s jersey, “Huh. They must about interested in that.” And that’s a reason to go and engage with them. So, I think that, you know, content is critical, you know. If, if there are seven way, the top six should be content. New content, new content, new content. We are people who are social creatures, and we are fascinated by new content and new ideas.
Jacob: Yeah. The way to jumpstart that in terms of content… Actually, a lot of our topics for seven ways to keep your website fresh are going to be content. The blog, we touched on it. Let’s talk a little bit more in detail. How can we do a blog? How can we keep a blog fresh? Because one of the perennial problems of a blog is, “Hi. Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.” And the post before that was, “Hi. Sorry I haven’t posted in a while,” and they’re two years apart.
Paul: Yes. Exactly. Yes. Well, first of all, I think you have to define that it is valuable in your own mind. Because we do… People do what they want to do. And so if you’re writing a blog, uh, it’s a commitment. It is something you have to do. Whatever business you’re in, or whatever cause you’re championing, you need to effectively communicate about that. So if you’re interested in saving the squirrels, you know, because there’s a problem with squirrels. They’re are on the endangered species list. And you need to make that impassioned plea and, you know, push that message.
I literally picked something that was absurd because it was, well, they’re not on the endangered species list. Most people consider them a nuisance. So you would have to have a compelling argument for people to be able to engage in that and say, “Oh, that’s a good point.”
Now, you know, if you’re in the lawn care business, and you say, you know, “Get ready for winter,”Do this and this. If you’re thinking about you have some dead spots in your lawn, now is the time to plant seeds. People will see that and say, “Oh, yeah. We’re reducing the cognitive load for them. We’re saying, ‘Yeah. You’ve got a problem. I’ve just identified a solution to it and can help you do that.'” That’s what a blog, that’s what content has to do, is add value to the consumer, the person who’s going to consume that content.
Jacob: And I think, as well, for you and your industry whether it’s real estate or restaurant management or, you know, niche markets of how to do bracelets, writing blog content postures you as a leader in your industry. Whatever the industry is. If it’s whaling, whether it’s, you know, lawn care, you are constantly, what we experience here at Savior Labsw is we are constantly learning and seeing new ways in which we can be doing our business, the ways we can be serving our customers. And in some ways making the value that this is important, and then turning that into one-hour time slot a week. I’m going to write a blog post about this.
Paul: I mean, we, we naturally share information. That is the human condition. Oh, you know, if you… If you listen to the small talk that happens when a family comes together at the end of the day, it’s like, “Oh, did you see they’re building a new this?” Or, “Did you see this?” Or, “Did you see…” That’s information that’s going across.
Even that trivial stuff that sort of makes up our very fabric of our being, or, you know, “I read this really interesting thing,” or “I saw this funny picture,” that could be simply your blog. You know, you’re adding value. Now, you know, you should, maybe, if you’re a painter, you know, here’s five ways to paint your own room. And of the 10 people who read that, four of them might say, “You know, I’m just going to hire them.” And so that conversation, that value proposition, is critical in it.
And, you know, so we talked about blog, move into social media. Well, social media is just a way to advertise that, to perpetuate, to expose that to more people out in the world. And so, you know, that’s critical. Your website, though, has to be fresh.
If you came home every day and made the same thing for dinner, you would grow tired of it. So, if you turned on the TV and the same show was on, you would grow tired of it. You know, it might be the greatest episode of Andy Griffith, but that’s the only show that they play on the Andy Griffith channel, you’re not going to be really interested in coming back to that.
Jacob: Well, and I think the blog and the social media are two key ways, especially in our day, of indicating that you’re still a viable company.
Paul: Absolutely. Are you still in business?
Jacob: I can’t tell you how many websites gone to and I’ve looked at it and I’ve been like, “Oh, this is very interesting.” And they have a blog. I’m like, “Oh what’s on the blog? Oh, it’s two years old.” I click on their Twitter account. Oh, they made a post nine months ago. Is there still anybody hired by this company?
Paul: And it could be an ongoing concern. But you don’t know that because of the lack of information on their website.
Just one of my pet peeves — I don’t think it’s on this list — is that it has to work on mobile. And it has to be easy to look for the information on mobile. We’ve talked a lot about restaurants and, you know, when you go to a restaurant, it’s like, “What are your hours? Where are you?” It has to be the top thing. And, you know, I don’t care about… If I don’t have that, I don’t care how good your chef is. You know what I mean? Or what specials have today.
So, anyway, keeping your copy fresh is critical because, you know, as you’re saying, nine months, well, two months, one month. It’s like… Are they… Have they given up?
Jacob: Well, one way to do, I think, before we move on to our third point, keeping your copy fresh or refreshing your copy, and with the blog and social media, I think you can actually just, if you have employees — we started doing this with Savior Labs — hey, as you’re working out this project idea, would you just write 300 words on how do that, how you did that, or the success of doing that. And then with social media, just taking pictures of, you know, company events or the, the place where your company is at, I think, adds a personal touch and makes your company accessible.
Paul: Absolutely. I mean, that’s key. You need to give people insights into a secret world, you know, that they don’t have otherwise. And it’s huge, huge to do that.
Jacob: So the third thing that we’ve put on the list is copy refresh. I think one of the reasons this comes to mind is basically, the way I see people do websites is they put a lot of effort for a week into their website, and then the copy stays the same five years down the road. People have changed the way the look. The company has focused its organizational priorities.
Paul: Let’s hope so.
Jacob: Yeah, let’s hope so. And so, taking the time the go back and revisit that content and reflect from the website.
Paul: I think that’s true. I think, you know, in children, infants, there’s this thing called “failure to thrive,” and it’s basically the assumption that a child will thrive. And you know, thankfully, there’s not a lot of “failure to thrive” in modern society. But really, when you don’t change your website, when your child isn’t gaining weight in an infant, when they aren’t, oh, starting to crawl or reaching for things. When those, those, those sort of stepping-stones don’t occur, doctors come in. And, “Oh, it’s failure to thrive here. We need to intervene.”
And that’s really what you’re doing with your website is you’re demonstrating the failure the thrive, is obviously nothing new is happening, you know. I could see we have the number one widget that that does X, Y, and Z. And that will never change. You’re going to have a lot more traction if you show that thriving and, uh, I’ve sat with many potential customers that then became customers where I was asking them the question, “Are you still in business? Are you planning to stay in business?”
Jacob: “Do you want to stay in business?”
Paul: Because based on your signals that you’re sending out, I don’t see that. And that’s copy refresh is critical to really be, to put into your schedule a time where you relook at that content. And I would say minimally six months. Every six months, you should be changing something on your, your content copy. Uh, and really rethinking about that.
Jacob: Yeah. I mean, because if you’re a company like ours, Savior Labs, we are constantly — I mean, almost on a weekly or monthly basis — refining. Oh, we need to correct this direction. We need to adjust these things and just reflecting that in your website. I mean, our website goes, I mean, almost every three months we’re updating it.
Paul: Yeah. It’s a work in process. It’s always… It’s never going to be finished.
Jacob: Yeah. And I think that on the copy refresh, it just addresses this once-and-done on the website.
Paul: Yeah. That’s just not realistic. You know, things change.
Jacob: Yeah. So, moving from copy refresh, the second thing I put this on our list, basically, existing on multiple platforms. This might sound daunting to people, but I think the gateway into this is addressing the whole idea of lazy assets. Can you talk us through that?
Paul: Sure. I mean, the concept of you’ve done one thing. Reuse it. Repurpose it. Whether it be, I mean, it’s a little bit of a stretch, but you could say, if somebody is doing something new for the first time, have them document that. Well, that’s… You’re producing, you’re taking something and producing something extra out of it. Or you wrote a white paper. Well, now maybe you want to have an audio interview about that white paper. Some people are going to latch on to that audio interview, or do a video podcast on that to say, you know, “Here’s, we’re talking about how to fix this.” Let’s do a little video of it. And don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be super high quality. You know, make sure the sound is good and somebody is holding the camera steady, and it’s got good light. And you know, people will appreciate that.
And so the point is you don’t have to come up with completely new, original content. If you have a thing, you know. You’re, let’s say, an investment adviser and you just want to beat the drum for people to save money, say that. Two months later, rewrite it. “I know I said this two months ago, but I can’t emphasize enough, you need to save money. Here’s a list of three people in history that have saved money and…” You know. And so it’s, it’s not like, “Oh, I have to come up with the new pithiest thing in the world.” No.
Jacob: Well, and I think the topic of lazy assets — that’s what you were talking about — gets us into the idea of being on multiple platforms because you can take, for example, with this podcast, we sit down and we do the talk. And then we produce a transcript. And lazy asset there is we just transcribe the podcast and put it on the blog. And now we’re engaging two media outlets where people can be engaging in the content.
Paul: And completely different search methodologies.
Jacob: Two different search methodologies. And then we take the audio, and we make it into a YouTube video, and now you’ve got three. And it’s very minimal effort for doing those. The tools are available to do that. And that’s a way to keeping your content fresh on the website. So taking lazy assets and then kind of stretching them out through some very simple tools to be across multiple platforms.
Paul: Yeah. And I mean, even if you’re doing a podcast, snap some pictures. Put them on Instagram, you know, Snapchat. Put them out there so that people can discover it, you know, these edges of their experience. And all of a sudden, “Hey, there’s that picture. Oh, what’s that about?” It leads them to the podcast, as our producer picks, takes out his iPhone to take some pictures.
Jacob: Yeah. Everybody smile.
Paul: Everybody smile. Everybody on, listening, smile. Pull off to the side of the road.
Jacob: Excellent. So, moving on to our fifth category. How does your website compare to others? I think this is a great question to ask for copy refresh, because while I don’t think it’s necessarily the greatest idea to be copying your web, your competitors, but the assumption is your competitors are doing the same sort of thing of how to keep fresh and relevant.
Paul: Well, I think you’re bringing up a good point. Understand the context of your website in other websites, contextually. So, if they’re going out and doing stuff, they’re going to prompt you to say, “No, that’s a stupid way to do it. They shouldn’t be saying that. That’s going to be new content.”
Or you say, “Wow. That’s a really cool thing.” You know, you could write something similar. But just like if you walked out on the street and saw a person with big wide bellbottom jeans, you’d say, “They obviously don’t understand that’s not in style.” You know, and they thought it was just fine. Or a leisure suit, you know, whatever it is. So it’s the same thing. You sort of can see what’s going on, both from a business point of view, but also from a social context point of view. It’s critical that you make sure that not just in your field, but just in website design trends, you know.
It’s very interesting. If you look at Indian websites, they’re all very bright colors. That’s an aesthetic that Indian people think is good, that they love. Well, we look at it, and we say, “Oh, that’s just not right.”
And so, you need to look. So if we’re doing work for people in India, we may want those bright colors. And a web 2-0 site that’s really simple and minimalistic would probably not be successful in India.
Jacob: Yeah. And I think you see that just looking at websites across the board to see what are other people doing. But also, I think it’s, to reverse the question, to go to your website as a visitor. We get a little too close. I mean, I lead an organization, different from Savior Labs, and I actually don’t do the website, even though I do websites for other people. I don’t do the website because I’m too close to it. And I’m always asking people, “What was your experience like coming as a visitor?” Because it’s helpful to engage your content from a visitor’s perspective.
Paul: I think that’s one of the biggest problems to overcome is that first-person knowledge is, is… I can’t do it with my own content. It’s very, very, very difficult to be cognitive dissidence of saying, “I’m going to look at this like somebody else.” You need trusted advisors, people around you that can look at it and say, “This is terrible.”
Jacob: Yeah. “What are you doing?”
Yeah. “What are you doing here?” You need to get those people who are willing to do that. I think we actually do a very good job of it on a day-in-day-out basis with clients, because I have an ability to do that with other people, but I can’t do that with my own. It’s very difficult.
Jacob: So, sixth thing — and we kind of alluded to this with mentioning Instagram and Snapchat — but sixth thing for content refresh is just the images on your website.
Paul: Absolutely. I mean, you want good images. I’m a big fan of not using stock photography when possible. You know, they’re okay for backgrounds and things like that, but the death nail, for me, of a website is the typical people-around-a-table-meeting stock photo. That just doesn’t work. Now, you know, you got to be careful. Not everybody is a good photographer. Good photography makes a huge difference.
Jacob: I would definitely say, if it’s core photography for your core photos for your website, I would demand it must be paid for.
Paul: It really makes a difference.
Jacob: Just volunteer basis, I mean, it’s great, but paying for somebody…
Paul: It’s not great, actually.
Jacob: It’s great in terms of motivation but not great in terms of output.
Paul: Intent, I guess. Intent.
Jacob: Hearts in the right place.
Paul: Good intentions.
Jacob: Camera lens a little bit off. Yeah, I think paying for photography and keeping the photos on your website is really important, and it kind of reflects some of what we were talking about of you are constantly updating as a company.
Paul: Right. It has to be fresh. I mean, people change. You have different hairstyles, different clothing styles. You don’t want, uh, a picture, you know, a headshot that is two years old, you know. It’s just not, not the way to do it.
Jacob: Yeah. Especially I’ve been to websites where I’ve met the CEO or somebody, and I know that they now have lost all their hair. And I go to their website, and I’m like…
Paul: Their high school picture?
Jacob: Yeah. Like, where’s all that hair? Where did that hair come from?
Paul: So, yeah. You absolutely have to good photos. I would rather see stock though! You have to be very careful picking stock photos. You can do yourself in with that.
Jacob: Well, one of the big stock photo places, I’m a huge fan of Unsplash, but I can now, I can look at a website, and within nanoseconds recognize whether they, their web designer uses Unsplash. They are so prolific. I see Unsplash… I actually see those stock images now, like, on billboards and book covers and so, you have to be very careful because if you’re using stock photos, you may be giving visual cues that people have associations with that you might not want to be associated with.
Paul: Good point.
Jacob: So seven things. This will wrap up our list. New pages on the website.
Paul: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, things change. You offer new products. You offer new insights, new organization. Things become clearer today than they were yesterday. That should be reflected in the page structure on your website.
Jacob: Yeah. And with Google, kind of like we were saying, “Why do you want to do this?” in the beginning, Google sees new pages and new blog content and all this stuff in terms of new pages as, “Oh, this is not only a viable company, but they are increasing and producing more.” So your search engine ranking, your search engine optimization, goes higher.
Paul: Yeah. It has a voracious appetite for new information.
Jacob: Yeah. So just to wrap things up in terms of what I would recommend for executing these seven things — Paul mentioned this earlier — you have to schedule this. You have to put this on your calendar. It has to be a priority. And you have to put it on the calendar.
Second thing; delegate this to who’s going to be doing this. You know, I don’t know if you have any thoughts on this, Paul, but delegating to somebody who knows what they’re doing and asking them to do that on a regular basis.
Paul: Yeah, I mean, the mechanics and the technology of it. Definitely, take that off your plate. You’re busy enough running your business or at your core goals. You know, there’s a lot of people who, because they can do it, think they should do it. And that’s just not a wise use of your time, because more than likely, the things thinking about your business, figuring out what products are good, all that kind of stuff, nobody else can do. Posting a blog entry or even writing a blog a blog entry for you to edit, they can do that. And so you need to figure out ways to multiply yourself. So delegation is a very good way to do that, whether it’s an internal person or getting somebody on the outside.
And honestly, you know, an outside person has an advantage because they don’t have an axe to grind. They don’t have any necessarily, you know, “Well, I’m going to say it this way,” or you know, just, you know, any manipulation points in the game. It, it’s, it’s an outside person that is basically saying, “You know, that sort of sounds strange. I don’t understand it.” That neutral person could be really helpful.
Jacob: Yeah. Well, if you need this neutral person, Paul is able to help you. Savior Labs is able to help you with your website. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Edge of Innovation, and we’ll talk to you next week.