Does it sort of seem as if your economic development organization or chamber of commerce website (or the ED page on your city website) takes care of itself, with a major refresh needed only every few years? If that's your perspective, you might want to consider this.
Websites suffering lack of regular maintenance are easy to spot. Your community is constantly evolving, with businesses being bought out or going under while new businesses spring up. Demographics change over time. Industry sectors evolve. Anchor companies open and close. If your website doesn't stay up to date, it's not effectively representing your stakeholders supporting your businesses, attracting workforce or companies making location decisions.
Google changes its search algorithms hundreds of times a year, most of these relatively minor, but sometimes with changes that can bump your website off the top results, with a major core update taking place late December 2020. The emphasis for most of their recent updates has been on quality content, page experiences, opportunities for engagement and interaction, as well as mobile responsiveness.
New buzzwords pop up (economic gardening, pop-ups, etc) and you need to take advantage of those to draw more quality traffic to your website/webpage.
Sometimes incremental changes to a website (a new COVID update webpage or MicroSite) can result in broken links, dead end webpages that "trap" a user, etc. You'll want to avoid and correct those broken links wherever possible, since they can negatively impact your SEO. All the above can degrade the user experience, and result in driving away potential prospects (assuming they were able to find you in the first place).
We recommend doing, at minimum, monthly check ups on your website, but if time and resources do not permit that, we strongly suggest at very least a quarterly review. So even if it doesn't feel like spring outside, we encourage you to use this opportunity for an early website spring cleaning! Some items to check for include:
Is the data on your site as up to date as possible?
Does your website show several dates for demographic data points within the same webpage? This makes it look like updates to the website are random and haphazard. We've seen Census 2010 (and in some cases 2000 data!) on EDC websites. There is no company out there that will base expensive location and investment decisions on ten-year-old data. GIS Planning products use integrated data from respected data sources which update projections on Demographics, Occupation Data, Labor Force and Consumer Spending data twice per year.
Is the data usable?
That is, can people interact with it, download it, and share it with others easily? Interactivity is one of the key components in Google's anticipated 2021 algorithm update. They want to know how enjoyable your website is. Our interactive data tools, such as ZoomProspector and six standalone Intelligence Components add interactivity to your website. And our new ZoomTour software lets you build as many themed, interactive virtual tours as you want, in order to delight your visitors. Here's how Google describes this kind of functionality:
"The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction."
Are your keywords up to date?
Are there new or different key words search terms that could be more effective?
Is your website linked internally?
That is, can users navigate easily from one section of your site to another and back?
Is your website linked from other reputable websites?
We counsel all our clients to build a solid backlink strategy with other organizations and institutions within their region. Websites with a .gov or .edu suffix are particularly valuable. Don't be shy to reach out and ask them to list the link to your website and interactive web tools - and repay the favor!
Is your sites & buildings database up to date?
If you list available commercial properties on your website, check to see how often they are updated and refreshed. The ZoomProspector Client Services team will work with you to customize the best solution for listings, including automatic data feeds from listing services, regional MLS, RETS feeds from local brokers to make sure they are still on the market and have all the right data.
Is your business data fresh?
If you list local businesses in the community, check with them to make sure they are open for business as well as any restrictions (take out only? etc. ) customers need to be aware of. Our ZoomBusiness listing tool allows businesses to add their own information with the click of a mouse (admins get to approve them).
Interested in how you can get your website in tip top shape for 2021? Check out this video recording of our recent webinar, 10 Key Trends for Economic Development Websites in 2021.