Webmaster at Work

Ozdachs Updating a Site

I was up on New Year’s morning, changing copyright dates on websites before noon.

Yes, I am anal retentive, an anal-retentive web master, and I know when to use a hyphen.

I am also evangelical about making websites look fresh.

You don’t have to compete with me on editing your website before noon on January 1st. But, please consider these two compelling reasons to do a January cleaning of  your site:

  1. Your potential clients want to know that what they’re reading is current.
    Most Internet visitors get queasy when they see “Happy Holidays” in February or “Enjoy Your Summer Vacation”  in October.  The unease turns to nausea in May and December.

    When I see a copyright date on a site that is years old, I personally wonder if the business is still active and if the information I am reading is still valid.  Intellectually I may know that the directions to a business would not have changed in the past three years.  Still, if the “Find Us” page is dated 2009, a powerful, if irrational, warning trips in my animal brain.  I want to flee to a safer, newer place.

  2. Google ranks pages with fresh content more highly than static pages.
    When Google crawls your site it finds out the date each page was last updated.  It uses the modification date to give an extra boost to pages that were recently changed.  Editing the visible copyright date on each page will make Google think that the pages are recently changed and deserving of extra attention.

If you find yourself getting into the freshening-up mode, here are a couple more tips to keep your site looking evergreen:

  • Only date material – even customer testimonials or company news – when you are anal-retentively committed to changing the information frequently. When the website includes praise from a client dated January 1, 2011, by January 1, 2012 it looks like you haven’t satisfied a customer in over a year.
  • Remove any “Last Updated” notices on your web pages. That type of bragging was automatically added to pages using older HTML authoring tools like FrontPage, but those statements are no longer in style.When the page was last updated yesterday, those messages look great.  But,  the whole page looks suspect when the date posted is a couple years in the past.

Finally, for more information about what you should put in your copyright notice,  read the official US Copyright Office rules.