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Updating Your Web Pages – Why It’s Important:

In the online world, a college’s website is often the first exposure community members and professional colleagues have with the institution, and this experience weighs heavily in their decision to enroll or to trust the accuracy of the information they find. The SCC website is often the main source of information and promotion about the college’s courses, programs, services, facilities, and resources.

The website is always available to be seen, so it needs to be kept up to date.  According to a recent research study, an individual needs to see a website seven times before taking action. Visitors to the SCC website may have to return many times in order to see everything that our site has to offer; however, they may not continue to return if they find outdated and/or inaccurate information.

In preparation for the writing of this article, a recent search of the College website quickly revealed the following outdated information:

  • an email address and photo an employee who is no longer at the College
  • event information from a date passed but written as if it will be a future event
  • a notice wishing students a “good summer” and “…hope to see you in fall 2010”
  • dead links to internal and external sites

The College website is one of the most important elements when it comes to serving students and attracting new ones.  This is why all web page owners must be serious about making sure their web page content is current, accurate, and relevant. Web page maintenance should be viewed as a continuous process and not just as something that is done once a year or only at the start of a new semester. Every web page owner should have an effective strategy for updating his or her web pages.

Things you can do to keep your web pages current and fresh:

  1. Check all links to external sites at least every six months. If broken links are found and cannot be resolved, delete the links from your page.
  2. Add a “News” headline to your homepage. This will allow you to add new or exciting content to your page easily. Using a whole page for this “News” is not necessary; a small highlighted “News” box  stands out and is effective.
  3. Remove announcements 2– 4 weeks after posting or when the deadline has passed.
  4. Changes in department, service area, or committee membership contact information need to be changed on all pages where the information appears. If you don’t have access to any of the pages, email the updated information to the page owner and request that the change be made.
  5. Proofread any new content and test any major modifications prior to publishing the page, i.e., making it public.
  6. Avoid the use of “Coming Soon” or “Under Construction” notices. New pages should be hidden, i.e., not published, until they are ready for publication.
  7. Delete obsolete files (including web pages and images).  When these out- of- date files are retained they can still be “found” by search engines.
  8. Consider adding testimonials—they are extremely helpful in establishing creditability. Be sure to have either a page dedicated to these testimonials or scatter them throughout your web pages in a way that they will stand out when visitors are going through your pages.
  9. Use your imagination and remember that the more relevant and accurate the information you offer on your web pages, the more likely others will want to visit them.

In summary, the benefits of well maintained, up-to-date web pages are:

Visitors see SCC as organized, professional, and serious about student success.
Outdated web pages can leave a visitor disappointed and can quickly spoil the reputation for excellence that the College has worked to build.

Google loves up-to-date websites.
If Google notices that a website’s information is changing regularly, it will visit or “crawl” the website more frequently and return these results in Google searches

Visitors will return, share, and bookmark pages.
If students, colleagues, and community members can depend on the accuracy of the information on the SCC website, they will re-visit, share, and remember it.

Finding the time or remembering how to update your web pages can be a challenge.  Try to do a little at a time, or if you need assistance, contact:

busche_don@sccollege.edu  or styffe_amy@sccollege.edu . You can also consult the SCC Web Publishing Wiki Site  on the College Intranet at: http://www.sccollege.edu/WPWiki/Wiki%20Pages/Home.aspx

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