Updating Older Web Sites

Most of the questions that I get from WebKeyDesign vistors have to do with upgrading or making modifications to current web sites. Perhaps you need to add a banner advertisement or image gallery, but in some instances the current site has been designed in WYSIWYG programs like Frontpage and Dreamweaver. These sites usually have a few things in common: they were designed back in 2001, look dated by today’s popular weblog sites, and do not rank very well on search engines.

Update Outdated HTML to XHTML

The best improvements for a typical site like this is to update the HTML code itself to XHTML. Transitional XHTML is a good target to aim for, but if you find that HTML 4 is still something you rather stick with, then the very least you can do is add a proper DOCTYPE and utilize CSS Stylesheets to clean up your HTML and make it easier for search engines to index your site.

To learn more about XHTML, I recommend Jeffrey Zeldman’s Designing With Web Standards, which is a good introduction to what web standards are and how to begin to utilize XHTML.

Since the content does not need to be changed, just the code, make sure that for each page of content that you have proper meta tags filled out. The most important ones being the Title, Keywords, Description, and the Robots indexing meta tag. This will insure that the search engines have something to help them figure out what your content is about.

Web Site Marketing

Once your code is updated, the search engines will find it easier to index your site, but one of your other goals should be gaining a bigger audience of visitors. A short marketing campaign can help with the popularity issue. The first step is to advertise your site in three different ways. Sure you can advertise more, but you may not have the time to invest in a prolonged campaign.

The first thing to do is a word of mouth campaign. Just remind friends and people you meet that you have this cool web site and that they should visit it because such and such reasons. A good way of helping people remember your site is the old business card. Just have business cards with your web site address and slogan. Pass these cards out to your waiter, to your friends, to the guy waiting for his wife at the mall.

Small print publications are a great choice for web sites, if the publications fit your market. Try a couple of small advertisements and see if it draws anymore traffic than usual.

Next you need to market your site online. Consider buying an advertisement on another website, or possibly running a short term Adwords campaign.

As you market your site, make sure you monitor your stats. You want to have some way of monitoring your efforts to see what worked and what did not work. This will help you decide in the future what type of marketing is most appropiate to your site. You may find out that the most unlikely source of traffic may be free via search engines. Find out what is working and then add new content to your site based on what is driving traffic to your site. The important thing is that you need to keep monitoring your results and eventually you will have a more successful site without having to completely redo everything.

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