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updated: 9/16/2013 7:09 AM

Websites need attention, updates to be useful

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Your website may need some care.

That thought has been lurking in my mind for some time, but it was pushed to the fore thanks to a networking connection I thought I had made at a recent Daily Herald Business Ledger Newsmakers Forum -- normally a good place to make contacts.

My new friend seemed likely to be a source of useful information for readers, so we exchanged cards. That was the high point of our budding relationship.

I visited my contact's company website. When I clicked on the site's blog tab, the most recent post had a 2010 date. A link that promised new information said "Check back later."

I looked at the site's copyright date, significant of little other than as an indication of how often someone at the business pays attention to the company website. The copyright date was 2011.

I called the phone number displayed, which (positive sign) rang normally. And rang. And rang some more. There were 15 rings, with no answer or voice mail.

There could be many legitimate reasons why I couldn't connect through my new contact's website or phone number, which is why I haven't identified either the individual or his company. Yet a phone number that doesn't answer makes me wonder. Web content that appears to be at least three years old makes me wonder more.

Is the business alive? Does anyone at the company pay attention to the website? Is there anyone at the company? Does someone care?

Website visitors don't hang around. If they can't find the information they seek within two clicks, the third click most often goes elsewhere.

Look at your website. Click through it like a visitor would. Read the content. Better yet, ask a noncompeting friend to review the site for you.

Like the Yellow Pages once were, websites are where prospective customers check us out, which means that websites need to be fresh. Your website is a marketing tool. Use it.

Here are some keep-site-visitors-interested thoughts:

• Whether yours is an e-transaction site or an eversion of the traditional print brochure, its content should sell -- gently, but definitely. The visitor's stay may be brief, but site visitors are a captive audience. Sell 'em.

• Tweak the site as budget allows -- maybe every six months, perhaps annually. Your site needs to be interesting to regular visitors, too; simple new content often does the job.

If you blog, for example, update the blog at least every two weeks. Weekly updates are better.

• Are you ready to introduce a new service? Splash the news on your website.

• Traditional newsletters and ads, emails and social media postings can be good places for positive announcements. But if you have a new product or, perhaps, a new endorsement, say so first on your website.

• Jim Kendall welcomes comments at 2013 121 Marketing Resources Inc.

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