Is hoarding your guilty secret? Maybe you've de-cluttered your shed or spare room, but what about your website: is it bulging at the seams with news articles over 10 years old and links to websites that no longer exist?
We've created a monster!
According to Internet Live Stats, there are approaching 2,000,000,000 websites at the end of 2018. Five years ago, there were under 700,000,000. The majority of websites have only been in existence for a relatively short time and it's only after a few years that the problems of digital hoarding really become apparent.
Websites are a great way to provide visitors with the quantity of information that would look like War and Peace if printed out. In addition, it's good for SEO (to improve ranking in search results) to give Google plenty of relevant words and images to index, and to keep adding to and updating this content.
However, if you dutifully add new pages, news stories and blog posts to your website on a regular basis this will quickly add up. Your visitors might find it useful to be able to download reports from 2010 or check what events were going on five years ago, but more likely they'll be frustrated as they wade through endless pages to find the information they need. Or worse, they'll simply give up.
My advice: be brutal and delete, delete, delete.
Unless your website is a record for posterity, it doesn't need to show everything from all time, and even then, there's the internet archive. Keep in mind the main purpose of the site, whether that's to generate bookings, make sales or provide particular information, and make sure that's always front and centre of anything else. Don't let it drown in a flood of irrelevance.
Pruning shears at the ready
Websites are often created with great enthusiasm and fanfare. Regular website maintenance is not as glamorous or popular but from your visitors' perspective, the everyday experience of using a website is just as important now as it was on the day it launched.
It's crucial to keep information on your site up-to-date; it can be a major source of irritation when published prices or hours are wrong, or links are broken. Reviewing pages and checking details are correct across an entire website can be quite a task for website admins; it's much easier if you keep content to a manageable level.
One way is to set your website to only display, for example, the last two years worth of news or only show current and future events. Another is to record the date when pages are modified and have a policy of checking all pages at least once a year. You can also run link checking software across your site to look for broken links, either internally or to external websites.
Not only will website housekeeping make your website easier to manage, but it will also reduce the disk space taken up by your website (and potentially save you money) if you delete files and images that are no longer required.
Every now and again, review your site structure. Hopefully, you have a site map or an admin system that makes this easy to do. Your website layout has probably grown over time and may have become lop-sided, with dozens of pages in one section and only a couple in another. Maybe it's time for a tidy-up.
Pay attention to your web traffic as well. Are some pages or sections getting much less traffic than other? They might need to be promoted more or maybe they're simply not relevant or interesting to visitors. If so, get rid of them!
Make a statement
Once you've cleared out the obviously old content, take a look at the text of your pages, news stories and blogs. There's an art to writing for the web which includes keeping content brief and to the point. Website visitors are busy people - there's a reason why the acronym TL;DR exists! They want to find the salient information quickly and then move on. Yes, you want enough text on your pages to keep Google's bots happy, but not at the expense of waffling. If you don't feel confident, ask a colleague or friend to read through text or employ the services of a copyeditor.
There are techniques for making long pages appear shorter and less daunting. Expandable headings which show and hide content underneath when clicked, for example on the Pregnancy Sickness Support Get Help page, make it easier for visitors to take in everything that's on a page and zoom straight to the information they're interested in.
Who's in charge?
The key to a well-maintained website is having a strategy and policy about what goes on the website and how long it stays there; a person or team to implement it consistently; and a schedule for maintenance and review.
If your website has got out of hand content-wise, it might seem like an overwhelming task at first but once you've had a clear out it will be so much easier to manage - and your visitors will truly thank you.
Or get in touch with us! We love to tidy up websites and we are not afraid to be brutal 😉