I spend a lot of time on the internet researching various markets for myself and clients. I have been shocked by how many websites, blogs, and social media accounts of well-respected professionals have been left to languish for not one, not two, but in many cases – several months.
Believe me, I know how hard it can be to keep your online content updated… I sit at my computer many a Saturday because I’ve gone weeks without a blog post and it eats at me. I am busy doing client work (yay!) but I also know my efforts to market myself for future work will be undermined if I don’t regularly update client, membership and work information, as well as write blog posts and share marketing musings on Twitter and Facebook. Those to whom I am pitching must be impressed when they visit my site and they must see me as current and relevant because when I ultimately recommend they do the same, I must set the example.
However, there are many out there who are not paying attention and it is really damaging their personal brand and reputation. And further, it’s costing them business. Jay Jaffe wrote about this in his white paper “A realistic look at lost opportunity costs connected with website content writing delays,” specifically for the legal industry:
The website only becomes top-of-mind when a partner learns that a prospect turned to another law firm for representation when it saw that this newly merged law firm’s website was unimpressive and out of date.
It happens, and it happens a lot. Like the rest of us, those in professional services get busy with billable work and put off updating their web bios and practice descriptions, and time flies. The impression it leaves is damaging, but is easily fixed. Even something as simple as having a prior year’s copyright date at the bottom of your site can make a potential client scratch their head. Not keeping current implies that you’re out of touch or worse – that you’re no longer in business.
In “Why Is It So Important To Keep Your Website Fresh,” MeloTel says, “The importance of keeping your website content fresh cannot be understated. To put it bluntly, when you don’t update your website on a regular basis, it becomes less engaging and therefore runs the risk of ranking a lot lower in search engines. It’s no secret that Google prefers fresh content. The more your website content is updated, the more up-to-date the site will appear and the higher it will end up ranking.” The article goes on to say:
Keep in mind that a website that is rarely ever updated will have a negative effect. It will give visitors the impression that nothing new is happening with your business and, in some cases, may convey that it’s no longer operational. Regular updates add tremendous value to your website – and that includes keeping visitors from going to other company websites for products, services or even information that your company provides. In fact, outdated content almost always leads to the reader jumping to one or more of these conclusions:
- That your website is going out of business
- That your customer service must be terrible
- That your company is lackadaisical and just aren’t “with it”
- That your website managers are technologically incompetent
- They’re not good enough for my money
- There’s no need to come back because there will be nothing new
To the last point, search engines behave the same way. If visitors to your site have no reason to return because of outdated content, the same goes for search engines. If you aren’t constantly giving search engines a reason to crawl your site based on new content, there’s nothing to entice them to rank your webpages higher than those of your competitors who are doing so.
There are other types of updates you can make that freshen up your site as well, and keeps up with current aesthetic trends. In “7 Signs That Your Website Needs Updating,” Burlington Press lists the following embarrassing signs that can have a negative impact on your brand:
- Your Website Isn’t Mobile-Friendly/Responsive;
- It’s Difficult To Add Content To Your Site;
- High Bounce Rate;
- Slow-Loading Website;
- Stale Content;
- No Social Media Links;
- Your Site Looks Outdated.
On the subject of social media, a frequent and consistent approach to sharing content should be undertaken here as well. And don’t forget to let web visitors know about them – you’d be surprised by how many websites I’ve come across who have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts, but who neglect to put the icons on their home page so visitors know they’re there!
Bottom line, you absolutely must commit to putting time in each week to review and update your website, and post to your social media accounts. If you don’t have time to do them all, drop the social media accounts altogether because it’s better not to have them there than have them neglected. But your website is non-negotiable. Get your professional information updated, highlight recent accomplishments, and ensure all information is accurate — including the list of team members who work with you (yes, I just came across an agency website with staff profiled who left years ago according to their LinkedIn pages. What a surprise to new clients who may base decisions upon that information).
It’s about more than content, it’s about your reputation.