You may well deserve a holiday, but does your website? What happens when your webmaster takes a break, should your website relax as well? Have you even thought whether or not your blog needs time off? At this time of year business owners head to the beach, but does that mean their websites should head to the hills in their absence?
Imagine for a moment that you are Rupert Murdoch and you are the owner of The Sun – the world’s most popular daily newspaper. Do you say, “ah, never mind, most of my reporters are having time off this August, so why don’t we just stop publishing for a week or two”…? Imagine too that you are the controller of BBC TV. Do you say, “oh whoops, everyone is on their hols at the moment so we won’t be able to put together Eastenders for a couple of weeks”…?
Now imagine you are one of your website’s readers, or one of the people who regularly come back to your blog. If the site is not updated or the blog doesn’t get written do such readers go “oh dear, never mind, they are obviously away sunning themselves at the moment, I’ll come back in a couple of weeks when they are back”…?
Just like the readers of The Sun or the viewers of Eastenders, your website audience or your blog’s readers expect to be able to engage with your new content – even if you do have your feet up in the Bahamas. Having a holiday is no excuse; websites need to be updated regularly and blogs need to be written according to your readers’ expected schedule no matter whether you are on your hols, or in bed with Swine Flu. Your readers don’t care about your personal situation – what they care about is your content. If you don’t provide it, they will go elsewhere.
In the “olden days” – around five years ago – you could take time off and so could your website. Fresh content was less important then as we were not as used to Web 2.0 technologies such as blogging or the likes of Twitter. However, the spread of regularly updated website and blogs means that online readers now expect new information and material regardless of your circumstances. Plus we are much less forgiving; if we can’t find what we want from you now, we go elsewhere without waiting. Simply because information is so widely and freely available it means that if you don’t actively produce new material regularly, you become an “also ran”.
If your website or blog does take a holiday, come back and look at your traffic figures and rankings. You’ll disover they will have dipped as your regular readers will have realised you have stopped adding material and will not be revisiting as often as they used to. It could take you up to a month or two to get back to the traffic levels you were at prior to your holiday, thus delaying your online progress.
So, if you are planning to have a holiday, or your webmaster is about to jet off to Ibiza, you need a strategy in place to ensure your website continues to be alive, even if you are dozing on your sun-lounger. You could, for instance, use your content management system to pre-load your website with fresh content that is automatically added each day while you are away. Or you could get a freelance writer or someone from Elance to produce content on your behalf. Or you could take time out each day on your holiday to visit the local Internet cafe so you can post your blog from there.
Whatever you do though, the “show must go on”. Your readers expect you to keep to your schedule, no matter what. That’s partly why The Sun has millions of readers – the unfailing, regular, predictable production cycle goes on day after day. It’s why Eastenders gets millions of viewers – the reliability of the evening broadcasts. If production cycles break down because of holidays, you lose reader loyalty and have to rebuild your audience again after each break you take.
Prior to the world of the Internet, your audience rarely knew you were away as information largely went through the postal service and was therefore slower; your time away wasn’t really that visible. Now, with information going between continents in fractions of a second, any gap is noticeable. If you don’t want to lose some of your audience, you need a strategy for coping with holidays so that your online presence is always updated, fresh and new.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+