Online marketing has become crucial to the success of businesses of all sizes,  particularly small businesses which are competing against the deep pockets and vast resources of larger players. Your Internet presence has to be carefully managed, and that requires skills and tools that demand development.

The ongoing, day-to-day administration of your Web-based resources is key to fostering sustained success in this all-important forum. Use these professionally proven tips to help guide your website management and make the most of your digital assets.

Have a Vision, but Be Flexible

At the outset of the website-building process, you need to have a very clear picture of what you want to create and how you’re going to create it. However, in the execution of that vision, it’s easy to lose sight of a very important fact: you need to remain flexible and give yourself room to react to changing and shifting dynamics.

Leave yourself room to add sections, features and templates to your website. One big mistake many newcomers make is creating a website that breaks down as soon as new features become necessary, forcing a rebuild from scratch. Avoid this time-consuming and costly eventuality by building in the space to grow and change — you’ll need it as your business grows and changes.

Expect Change

Building that flexibility into your website is one thing, but being ready for change is another thing altogether. The hallmark feature of the digital landscape is that it is constantly changing as it continually adapts to shifting best practices and new technologies.

Remember: the purpose of your website is to provide a clean, helpful, easy-to-navigate and informative experience to your end users. If you keep that in mind, you’ll embrace changes that make it easier for you to deliver that exact experience.

Use SEO and Social Media to Your Advantage

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most crucial aspects of website construction, yet it’s one of the least-understood techniques for driving results, at least among non-professionals. The basic principles of good SEO include:

  • Giving websites specific, accurate page titles
  • Including descriptive metadata with each page
  • Ensuring that important keywords are used naturally throughout your website
  • Regularly adding new content and updating existing content

Social media sites, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, offer unique tools to business owners. You should take full advantage of them; they’ll help your posts and content look as professional as possible, which is key to projecting a positive image to end users.

Hire Professional Writers and Editors

One of the pitfalls of business ownership is the constant drive to do everything yourself, but there are some tasks that are best left to professionals. Website content creation and editing is one of them.

If your website is riddled with inaccurate diction, poorly written descriptions and grammatical errors, you’ll give users the wrong impression. Unless you’re 100 percent confident in your ability to craft concise, error-free prose that displays a high level of marketing savvy, you’re better off to invest in the services of professional writers and/or editors. They’ll help you bring your site content to a higher level — and that will ultimately be to your benefit.

Choose the Right Content Management System

All websites rely on content management systems (CMSs) to organize content and make it accessible for editing. When choosing yours, consider the following important questions:

  • Is the CMS in widespread usage? The more common it is, the easier it will be to find people who are familiar with its features.
  • Is it easy to use? If so, you’ll be better able to take a hands-on approach when it comes to website management.
  • Does your IT team recommend it? If not, look for a better solution.

Make a Maintenance Calendar

One of the best ways to stay on task is to create a schedule for website updates. For example, if you run a retail business and you have a big seasonal sale planned for the upcoming months, make sure to schedule promotional changes into your website maintenance calendar. That way, you won’t be scrambling at the last minute to spread the digital word, and you’ll have plenty of time to ramp up your marketing efforts in the weeks and days leading up to the event.

Things Will Go Wrong

No matter how carefully you’ve planned your website, and no matter how fastidiously you’ve maintained it, you’ll encounter problems. Fonts will render incorrectly. Images and graphics will be misplaced or misrepresented. Dead links will redirect users to outdated pages.

When these things happen, prioritize their correction. Work on the biggest problems first, then make your way down to minor issues. Most of all, take heart in the fact that if you’re always fixing new problems, then you’re doing something right — it shows that your website is growing and changing, as it should.