Far too many A/E firms have a website designed, and abandon it until a substantial update is no longer avoidable. The best firms understand that their ability to immediately access and update a website in real time is critical to their digital marketing efforts.
It was 2008 when I convinced the owners of our civil engineering and surveying firm to invest in a new website. I took on the strategy and content creation, but we needed the expertise of a web design firm to design, create, and handle the technical aspects of the site, including Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Vital to us was the ability to modify the site’s content in-house. It seemed like our contact at the web design firm was trying to throw up a smoke screen with technical web jargon to avoid turning over control of the website. It was frustrating.
We reached an agreement whereby they would make “reasonable” minor updates on a quarterly basis at no additional fee, but some less scrupulous web design firms would have kept us on the hook for steep maintenance fees to make even minor changes.
My firm uses a software that allows all but the most hardcore luddites to revise content, switch out graphics, and even update software. We even train our clients to modify the site content. They obviously require support when making complex design changes, but it’s important for them to be self-sufficient in updating content. Some firms choose to outsource all maintenance and that’s fine, as well.
The days of printing a company brochure and updating it every few years have taken a back seat to an Internet-driven instant gratification culture where oodles of information is available within seconds. As a business, your digital presence must be optimized 24/7. For A/E firms that means adding and updating projects, profiles for key team members, services, in addition to posting news and possibly blogging.
Allowing your website to stagnate has search engine ranking ramifications, as well. An unidentified source once said: “The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google.” It’s relevance to your positioning in search rankings can’t be stressed enough.
A/E firms must constantly strive to improve search rankings. Facilities managers, developers, contractors, private owners and other potential clients are likely to find and research your firm on Google. In a world where the response to a phone call is often a Google search, you can’t afford to have stagnant information on your website.
The game is always changing when it comes to how search engines rank your website. Google controlled 89.26 percent of Internet search traffic as of July 2015, according to statista.com, so this tech giant’s process for ranking websites is important. While using the proper keywords remains relevant, how Google’s bots crawl and index your site and the various algorithms they use to establish search rankings are the source of constant speculation. What we do know is that Google wants current, relevant, and ethical content.
Take control of your online presence today. Your website is your greatest marketing asset in the age of the Internet. Make sure you have a mechanism in place to keep it up to date in real time to reflect your current qualifications. You never know when a prospective customer might drop by.
About the Author: Brian M. Fraley is the founder, manager, and chief strategist for Fraley AEC Solutions, LLC, a marketing communications firm that builds solutions on a foundation of industry understanding for the design and construction marketplace. He has served this niche market for more than 20 years.
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