A long time ago, I wrote an article up on my business blog about a promotional strategy called “Hub and Spokes”. It’s a great and powerful strategy for the long-term life of your web business. You can find the article at http://sohoman.blogspot.com/2005/08/hub-and-spokes.html. The strategy basically involves having a central primary website, the “hub”, and then having it surrounded by lots of other interlinked websites, called the “spokes”. Think of a bicycle wheel.
One thing I hear a lot as I present about this topic, though, is: “How can you manage so many websites! I can barely handle one!”
Well, first of all, it doesn’t happen overnight. These sites build up over time, and the network grows. That, and, over time, I’ve developed systems that happen daily, weekly, and monthly that keep me moving forward.
But I thought it might be helpful to go over those and share my strategies. This doesn’t mean that you have to do it my way, or that my way is the only way that works. But it HAS worked for me, and so it might help you a bit as well.
Up front, let me say that these steps are for maintaining and updating my sites. They are already built and published. That’s a whole other issue.
Daily (or at least every other day)
- Check traffic. I look to see how many hits came to my site, and I look at where they came from. I’ll also check search engine URL’s to see what sort of search queries people were using when they came from a search engine.
- Check orders. Are there new ones? If so, fulfill them right away.
- Respond to emails. If someone asks a question, it really impresses them if you answer quickly. On my music site, I like to follow up on performance requests ASAP!
- Check and participate in communities. Email groups, forums, and MySpace are a large part of my marketing strategies, and I can spend as much as a half hour a day reading messages and participating in the discussion. Checking and adding the MySpace friend requests is also a big part of that.
- Track Auctions. When I have auctions pending, I’ll check the progress of those daily. If it’s the last day, I’ll do that even more often, since most of the bidding happens right at the end. When it closes, I contact the buyers and get the product shipped quickly.
- Blog. If I lag more than a week between my blog entries, I start to notice my traffic dropping. At least once a week is my rule.
- Read other people’s blogs. Not only is it a great way to draw up ideas for my own blog, but when I post relevant comments on other people’s blogs, it can draw attention back to my blog and my sites.
- Tweak my site. I’ll make adjustments to my site regularly. Adding a paragraph here or there, or a new product is a simple thing that keeps the site alive. I also keep a running “news” tab on the main page, so that when I make a deep change, the main page changes, too.
- Linking. I’m constantly looking for link exchanges, or ways to get other people to link to me. Not only for search engine ranking, but more links means more direct click traffic!
- Checking traffic on spokes sites. I don’t track them as much as my main hub site, but I do track them. Information is power!
Monthly (or maybe quarterly)
- More significant changes to the site. A new information page, a new special on some products, a new product line. I don’t make these kinds of changes often, but still periodically. Monthly works well.
- Checking my rankings. It’s always good to investigate the search engines and check how you’re ranking on various keywords and search terms. When my site tracker shows me getting results from certain searches, I’ll check to see how I’m ranking on those. I might want to rework my site to enhance those results.
- Adjusting my search terms. At the start of my site’s life, I research my keywords and search terms to see which ones are the strongest. Every once in a while, I’ll do that research again just to make sure I’m still optimizing for the best words. Then, I’ll make sure that those good words appear on the pages of my site often enough to get me good rankings.
- Sending out newsletters. What’s the point of building a mailing list if you never use it? Once a month, I’ll send out an announcement of the changes that are happening at my site.
- Writing and submitting an article. If I get my articles into directories and published on other people’s websites, then I get linkbacks, which is great for both traffic and ranking. It also helps me feel like an expert.
- Creating or updating a spokes site. Once in a while, it’s good to update things on the fringes. Build a new spoke in your site wheel. Update an old one that might be getting stale.
- Major revisions to my website. With all those little revisions going on month in, month out, it’s easy for my site to build up a lot of chaos. About once a year, I’ll revisit the site, and give it a good reorganization. I’ll move the content into more relevant sub-categories, and make sure the flow is clear and sensible. In some cases, I might even rebuild the site from scratch, just to keep it fresh.
These are all things that happen in the regular course of my site’s life. It is work, but it pays off! Take it a bit at a time, and it’s all manageable.