- General Best Practices
Nearly everything in life needs a little maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape. Our homes, our cars, our bodies, and even our pets need scheduled "maintenance." When we neglect what needs attention, we often see it deteriorate in quality. This may not always be immediate. In most cases, it isn't. Rather, a lack of maintenance results in a steady decline in quality that one day hits you over the head and you ask yourself, "how did I let this happen?!"
The same is true for your school's website.
It needs maintenance, attention and updating — constantly to keep it performing at its highest capability. And when you don't give your school's website content its very own scheduled maintenance, you run the risk of letting it deteriorate in quality and effectiveness.
That being said, what kind of scheduled maintenance does your website content need? And how often? What content really matters, and what content can you skip? Today, I'm taking to the Finalsite Blog to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about school website content management.
1. Why do I need to change up my website content?
Your school's website is your most important marketing tool and in some cases, the first impression you ever make. It's the home for your capital campaign, annual fund, athletic event tickets, online admissions applications, summer camp registration, school pride gear, online tuition payments — the list goes on and on.
So, a one-time investment of time isn't going to cut it.
First of all, your repeat website visitors expect that you'll update content, add photos from the latest event, write new, interesting stories, and blog frequently. But even more importantly, prospective students will visit your school's website numerous times throughout the process, and stale content (you know, that news story from last December that is still on your homepage) can be a major deterrent.
2. What types of content do we need to update?
Granted, you don't have to update your entire website on a yearly basis, but there are a few key pieces of content on your school's website that need updating:
- Visual Content (photos and video)
- Homepage hero slider content (whether it be images or video)
- News content
- Blog content
- Interior page content
3. How often should I change my website's visual content?
At a bare minimum, you should update homepage slideshows and header images at the beginning of each new school year. However, if you have the resources, consider updating your photos throughout the year. For example, schools like Pingry and Trinity-Pawling update their homepage hero images to reflect how their campus and community changes throughout the year. If you don't have the resources for seasonal updates, opt to add something fresh at the beginning of each school year, and after you send acceptance letters out.
Photos that are not integral to your design — like photo albums from plays, alumni events, and athletic events — can stay on your site longer. As long as you continue to add photos, older ones can stay put.
Keep in mind that as you update the photos on your website, they will need descriptive ALT text to meet WCAG 2.0 standards and remain ADA compliant.
Videos are evergreen content, especially compared to the rest of the content on your website. They're also a much bigger investment. Due to both of these factors, you can replace your school's main admission / marketing video every 2-3 years. And yes, it's OK to have testimonials from students who have graduated!
Like photos, video content needs to have captions and be transcribed to be ADA-compliant. If you're school receives federal funding, you'll need to ensure your videos meet WCAG 2.0 standards — which means you may need to update them sooner than intended.
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You should review your text content at the same time you review your photos. A slight cleanup should be done annually based on page performance. Pages with high bounce rates and high exit rates should receive the most attention.
If you always want to have fresh content, without the added task of manually updating banners, use social media feeds on your school's homepage to automatically curate fresh, new images daily.
4. How often should I post news and events?
You should update your news events frequently and consistently . Be timely. No one wants to read about something months after it's happened.
However, during admissions season in particular, switching up content this kind of content essential. During admissions season, you're getting more website traffic than ever — as students check open house dates, apply online, and check application statuses. If they're seeing the same photos, news and events every time they visit your website, they get bored and uninterested, which is going to make filling those seats even harder.
5. How often should my school blog?
A school blog is one of the most difficult content marketing projects to get off the ground because you need a dedicated set of writers and a content plan to make it work. While the necessity to blog changes from school to school, the easiest way to generalize a rule is as follows:
- If the purpose of your school's blog is to increase organic website traffic, you'll want to blog at least 3 times per week with quality content.
- If the purpose of your school's blog is simply share quality content, then blogs don't need to occur multiple times per week. However, aim for one blog per week (or one blog per newsletter cycle) to remain consistent.
6. How often do I need to update my Calls-to-Action?
Call-to-Action buttons are one of the most infrequently updated pieces of content. Yet, at different times of the school year, your school's admission, marketing, academic and advancement teams all have different goals. And therefore, your calls-to-action should change with them.
Calls-to-Action won't necessarily be changed on a particular schedule, but rather, updated in certain areas of the aspect when needed to draw website traffic to a particular campaign or page.
7. How "Evergreen" Are My Student Testimonials?
Student testimonials should be changed once a student graduates. If a piece of content is that valuable, be sure to at least note that the student has graduated.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's Content Marketing Manager, Mia plans and executes a variety of inbound marketing and digital content strategies. As a former TV and news reporter, freelance cinematographer and certified inbound marketer, Mia specializes in helping schools find new ways to share their stories online through web design, social media, copywriting, photography and videography. She is the author of numerous blogs, and Finalsite's popular eBook, The Website Redesign Playbook.
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