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  1. #1
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    First off, to avoid confusion: In this case, content = the nonsales informational stuff that goes below CPM banners.

    When I got in this biz a few years back, it was common advice to change the looks of a content site around every year or so. To "freshen it up" so to speak.

    Since I primarly do sales sites, I never paid much attention to the trends in content sites since then--but now that I've got a couple more of them, it's been nagging at my mind again. Especially since one of them actually has people coming to it LOL!

    So, is it still a good idea to change the looks of a content site every so often? Or should it stay the same almost until the design itself is practically a date-stamp?

    In other words, do content viewers still appreciate change nowadays, or steadfast sameness?

    And, if a site should be changed, how much of a change is good? It'd be easiest to just change the color, but do people look for more differences than that?

    Thanks in advance for your comments!
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  2. #2
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    Has hell frozen over? Leader doing content sites now? Where's Karl at?

  3. #3
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I wouldn't bother unless it's really outdated.

    Is it the kind of content site that is being regularly updated and has a large number of return visitors? If so, an updated look might make some sense. If it's a pretty static site with mostly search engine traffic rather than repeat visitors looking for new content, I don't see a need to freshen the look.

    I have some content pages/sites that haven't had any significant updates since 1996.
    Michael Coley
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  4. #4
    Content $ Queen Ebudae's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by MichaelColey:
    I have some content pages/sites that haven't had any significant updates since 1996. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Same here.

    I do updates to mine as the mood strikes - color changes, updated logo, etc... but the basic layout stays the same.

    I have gone back to reorganize things - make navagation easier without changing page urls. And I have also changed page urls/titles/metas if it seemed like a good thing to do for search engines. But if a page is doing very well and has incoming links - I leave the urls alone.

    Good Luck!!
    Ebudae


  5. #5
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    Yeah I agree with Ebudae and Mike. Depends on what changes you are referring to. If the content is pretty 'static' info stuff then I wouldn't bother. If it's like a site and you want repeat visitors coming back to read other stuff then perhaps a change would be good for times like Halloween, Christmas times just to 'alter the mood' of the site...

    That in itself is questionable, for me if I go back to a site to read stuff I don't like it if they change it so much that I can't navigate like I'm used to...kind of like when supermarkets change the aisles or restock stuff differently...only frustrates me. I don't mind it if they just put pretty Christmas decorations up but if they move those aisles and I can't find things then it defeats the purpose.

    Also, if a content page is already ranking well in SERPs - changing it could risk changing your position there.

    My 2cents,
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  6. #6
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Is it the kind of content site that is being regularly updated and has a large number of return visitors?~Michael Coley <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    It's recipes. SE traffic is a big part of the viewers, but it seems to be getting a decent amount of bookmarks, too. Occasionally I put up some new ones, but there's 100s up already, so it should take quite a while before anyone can reasonably see them all...

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Has hell frozen over? Leader doing content sites now? ~TrustNo1 <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    LOL! How this one got where it is, is pretty flukey. The *intent* was to make a DMOZable site to drive PR to the REAL sites, and then pretty much ignore it.

    But, DMOZ didn't list it. I had only put one itty aff link/page, to related books, but I found out they rejected it for being a "BAMM affiliate site." (This was before BAMM killed their commission rate, of course.) So much for the Commie Directory.

    Then, I tried to get a freebie listing from Yahoo, but they didn't give me a listing either. Oh well, I wasn't going to pay $399 or whatever to get in...so much for them.

    So for a few months I ignored it (although I immediately dropped a Store off the back as soon as I found out that DMOZ and Yahoo wouldn't be letting it in). And I signed up for Fastclick, too--might as well try to get *something* from it. But I wasn't happy with it--it was definitely my "ugly stepchild." I even considered selling the thing outright!

    But then something happened. Google decided to like it! People started coming!!! Although actual *sales* are as I'd expect (ie., not many!), the Fastclick ads actually make enough money that it's not a loser, so I decided to keep it.

    And then I started wondering just how big I could get it to grow.

    Now there's this growing idea of trying to kick the @ss of all its competition. I think there should have been a warning label on that domain when I bought that said, "DANGER: DISGUISED VIDEO GAME" because I seem to keep being drawn to play with the thing...
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  7. #7
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> I think there should have been a warning label on that domain when I bought that said, "DANGER: DISGUISED VIDEO GAME" because I seem to keep being drawn to play with the thing... <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Content sites are funny that way. Somehow, a few bucks here and there on a content site inspires hours upon hours of further development, while sites making $1000s sit idle. It must be something about the challenge...
    Eathan Mertz

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  8. #8
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    My general rule is that if it is a content site, you can freshen up the graphics a bit, but don't mess with the navigation. And don't ever change the urls of the pages in the site. Why start over with a highly ranked content piece. So if you have a picture of somebody on a laptop, make sure the picture isn't from the 70's and if they are on a cell phone, make sure it isn't one that is in a bag over their shoulder.

    Otherwise, content sites can be left pretty much alone on a design side. Now if you are focusing on a technology or art related product, spruce that puppy up no less than once a year.

    And of course if you are doing a credit union or coin collector site, take a time machine back to 1994 and copy a design and keep that until 2020 just to annoy everybody that comes to your site.
    Chris Mayr
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  9. #9
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    Complete waste of time, unless there is an seo angle or unless it's jakob nielsen's site.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Content sites are funny that way. Somehow, a few bucks here and there on a content site inspires hours upon hours of further development, while sites making $1000s sit idle. It must be something about the challenge...

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Yes could'nt have said better myself but i'll try anyway. Sites that start making a few dollars early on throw me into feverish activity while the big hitters i just stare blankly at.

  10. #10
    The Eternal Optimist zimmy's Avatar
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    I think the best thing I've learned on ABW is how to integrate affiliate programs into content sites. I have several content sites, one that does well, another that is a recipe type site (kind of)that just does okay and one that is not doing very well.

    The one that does well I work on all the time. I update daily, have an fairly active message board. I'm always changing it for the better.

    My recipe one I've basically left alone although I update once in a blue moon and it does minimal (I mostly sell cookware and lots of recipe books) and then the one that I leave alone completely makes like $25.00 a month.

    So...I think you get out of it what you put into it. But maybe it depends on the demographics and the types of programs you can push. I find the more I work on it the more ideas I have for new stuff to add.



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  11. #11
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    According to the SEO guys on WebmasterRadio tonight changing the design can get you tossed back in the sandbox. But they also said changing from table based to css based can get you a boost. So unless you are going the CSS route, I would leave the design alone. And you already know to leave the structure and navigation alone
    Deborah Carney
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  12. #12
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>
    So if you have a picture of somebody on a laptop, make sure the picture isn't from the 70's and if they are on a cell phone, make sure it isn't one that is in a bag over their shoulder.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I must be getting old.....

    Now I remember that I have to remove the Motorola 8000 and the Tandy 1000 pictures from some forgotten pages.

  13. #13
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    I've got a content site that's pretty dated-looking. (I still use a background image, for instance -- it doesn't look too bad but still, that's very out of date.) But visitors still tell me they like the way the site looks, so I mostly leave it alone, although I make minor changes from time to time (gradually adding advertising, for instance).

    I did a major overhaul of the navigation and URLs a few years ago. I got at least one complaint about that, but it improved the site overall so I'm very glad I did it. I am fortunate that my site's always done well in Google, and the changes I've made haven't affected that.

    I would say: Change it if it's going to improve site functionality for visitors. Don't change just to keep your site looking up-to-date if it's successful currently. And I don't think regular visitors like changes, so make the necessary ones gradually. And that is my two cents.

  14. #14
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    Now I've seen it all - Leader talking about content sites!

    Anyways, for content sites it generally is not a good idea to change URL's of the pages - as you never know who has linked to that page. Moreover, it is a PITA to go back in and change other internal links that you have which link to it. If you have cPanel you can always do a permanenet redirect - but it's a lot of hassle for little benefit most (but not necessarily all) of the time.

    As for updating the look, navigation and general feel of the site I agree with everyone else here pretty much. If you content site hasn't changed much over time (such as adding in new sections or categories of topics covered), there isn't a huge reason to change things unless the site is just plain ugly.

    However, I'm going to be upgrading my 4000+ page content site this year. The look will basically remain the same as will the color scheme. However, I've added a ton of new content categories into the site that I never anticipated having. By updating the categories in my main navigation structure this should allow people to find these sections and categories of the site more easily.

    Additionally, my main content site is a pure HTML table hell site. When I started with it I knew little about HTML and nothing of CSS. When I redo things I'll be really hacking away at the code and using CSS extensively. Thus, not too much will chnage from the users perspective but much will change "under the hood." And the under the hood changes will allow me to make changes to the site via CSS in the future much easier.

    Whether all that work or not you do is worth it really depends on how much you make from your content site. As my content site is a nice money maker, the time will be well spent. On the other hand, if you have a 1K page content site that makes 2 bucks a day - the time and effort may not be worth it.

  15. #15
    ABW Adviser Panel Dynamoo's Avatar
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    "Content" is at least a mental gear change from "sales", so a bit of variety in your sites can stop you from going bonkers.

    I think I'll go with the concensus - if the content is clearly out of date, update it. However, concentrate on the high-traffic pages most of all. And yes, never change those URLs unless you can avoid it.

    As for the ODP thing - well, it depends on the mood of the editor on the day. The odd banner ad won't disqualify you from a listing, but all editors are human and interpret the rules differently. However, in the last couple of years the guidelines to affiliate sites have been made clearer, so a genuine content site that happens to carry a few ads is much more likely to be accepted. Typical affiliate sites are still as welcome as a sausage roll at a bar mitzvah though.
    Innovative advertising with Slimeware Corporation and Telephore. Mail-order fuel with Petrol Direct.

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador darkstar7's Avatar
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    Recipes... Hmmm, I would put a few new ones on to update the site and show them on the front page of the site for repeat customers. But that's it. Once other month.

    You might think about creating a site that lets other people put recipes on the site without you having to find them yourself. It just might feed itself.
    Luke
    Have you promoted your brand name today?

  17. #17
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Darkstar 7:
    You might think about creating a site that lets other people put recipes on the site without you having to find them yourself. It just might feed itself. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Anyone wanting to build a site like that might be interested in one of the domains I have for sale: AddYourRecipes.com. I had the same idea about a year ago. Got a good domain for it, but with the list of ideas and domains I have, it'll be years before I could get to that one.
    Michael Coley
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  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador phillyburbs's Avatar
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    I woke up today and everything seemed normal. You know, shower, coffee, check the e-mail.

    Then I come to ABW and it's clear that I've stepped into an alternative universe. Somehow, the space-time continuum has been distorted. I actually rubbed my eyes and took another long drink of coffee, but there it was. Leader asking about a content site.

    Clearly we have witnessed the Third Horseman of the Apocalypse.

    Since I've been plunged into this Brave New World ...

    We update the look & feel of our site regularly, probably every 12-15 months. We tinker with stuff along the way, then do major overhauls.

    More important is to change the main content displayed - that is if there's a dominant image and headline, change them with some regularity. This gives the user the feeling that there's something new on to look at (even if there isn't) and encourages repeat visits with increased frequency.

    You can use a rotator script (like you do for ad banners) and plug in a handful of main stories that change every time someone hits the page. Gives the page a dynamic feel.

    Anyway, there's my two shiny pennies' worth. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be lacing up my ice skates and heading to Hell. I here they've got a new ice rink down there.


  19. #19
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Thanks all for your suggestions! I guess I'll leave it alone, then, except maybe for a logo.

    @Karl--Hell's rink isn't quite frozen yet, only slushy. But it would become completely frozen if a content site became my MAIN site, and I start calling content "King!"

    Your ideas are good for stories, but I don't have any stories on this site. It's got a lot of recipes, divided into a few categories. It's pretty much set up like a sales site, nav-wise. Although it's easier to navigate since there aren't soooo many things in the list.

    @ Luke--the idea of getting users to put the recipes in is a good one; I think I'll add a "submit recipe" page and see what comes of it...
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

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