In today’s content-hungry world, a lack of news is like having the ‘closed’ sign on permanent display.
Firstly, fresh content sends the right signals to Google which rewards websites that are updated on a regular basis. News articles are quicker and easier to write than detailed blog posts or in-depth articles, yet will tell Google that you’re using your website to share information and provide valuable information to your site visitors. So if search engine rankings are important to you, an up-to-date news area is imperative. (Quality, insightful content that is so good your visitors want to share it and link to your site is even more powerful – but we’ll cover that in another post!)
Secondly, fresh content tells your site visitors that you’re an active company with your finger on the pulse of your industry. It’s off-putting to your potential buyers to see your site hasn’t been updated for months. By developing your news area as a source of quality information you’ll be able to build your authority in your industry and show you’re the ‘go to’ experts in your field. If people can see you’ll tell them about any major developments that affect them, they’ll return to your site time and again. This helps on so many levels – from warming up prospects (or people who can help you if you’re a charity) through to reinforcing your value to existing customers and influencing stakeholders such as the media or investors.
Keeping your website up-to-date isn’t always easy, especially when you have a myriad of other priorities to fulfil.
To tackle the time issue we would always recommend setting aside an hour once a week to develop an article or two for your news area. It needs to be seen as an essential part of running your business and worthy of your valuable time.
It certainly helps if you plan your content refreshes in advance. While there may sometimes be essential news that you want to share immediately with your audience, most news updates can be planned a week or so ahead. This approach avoids the last minute scrabbling around for content ideas which at best leads to poorly written pieces and at worst, a missed opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.
It’s particularly difficult to keep your site up-to-date if you’re not used to looking for news to share – what makes a story? What would be interesting to your audience and how do you connect what you do with the things your readers would be interested in?
These are the sorts of questions we tackle all the time. Fortunately, a background in journalism gives us a head start. As a journalist you’re taught to find stories in the most unlikely places. So even if you think your organisation doesn’t appear to be very newsworthy, let us assure you: there is news to be found. It’s all a question of knowing where to look.
We’ll finish this post with a round-up of ideas on how to find news within your organisation.
In most industries there are several ongoing issues of concern to customers and suppliers. You probably keep abreast of developments anyway – share those developments with your website visitors. Comment on whether you think the developments are good, bad or indifferent. Link to useful resources where your readers can find additional information.
Your customers and other stakeholders probably won’t visit your sales pages on a regular basis, especially if they’ve been working with you for a while. Create news items about new products and services to bring these developments to their attention. Tell readers about the rationale behind the new product and the problems it should help to solve.
A short news item about new customers you’ve won will certainly be of interest. Explain what service you’re providing and over what timeframe. If possible, ask your new client to provide a glowing testimonial you can use in the article.
If you’ve helped a customer to tackle a particularly awkward problem, detail it on your news pages. Where possible, highlight what impact your solution has had on their business. Quantify the result where possible, especially if it’s made a financial difference.
If you receive letters or emails of thanks from your customers, spread the good news. In most cases it takes just a simple phone call to ask their permission.
Demonstrate how great your people are, and your commitment to their continued professional development, by writing news updates about what they’re up to.
If your teams are raising money for a good cause, speaking at a conference, achieving a personal challenge, ask if they will contribute a news article to your site. These sorts of news items can really help to bring your business to life.