A News page used to be a website essential. But how relevant are they today?
When I first started out as a freelance copywriter in the early 2000s, every website I worked on had a News page. It was often the only page of a website that would ever be updated – the rest would remain static year after year. That meant News pages were important for search engine optimisation, encouraging SEO bots to come back and crawl the site.
Unfortunately, lots of companies wouldn’t get round to updating their News page. So not only was it not doing its job in terms of optimisation, but anyone who actually visited the page might wonder whether the business was still a going concern.
Why News pages don’t get updated
First, you need to have news to share. Unless you’re a media savvy company, always looking for opportunities to enhance your reputation, it can be hard to come up with newsworthy ideas.
Once you’ve decided on a story, you need to dedicate time to writing it up and adding it to the site.
Nowadays, with websites built using a content management system, adding new content is pretty straightforward. If updating your News page means using an FTP interface and messing around with HTML code, or worse waiting for a designer to do it for you, it’s even harder to get round to it.
So what’s the alternative?
The current trend is for websites not to include News pages.
Large companies are more likely to have a Media section, including links to their latest press releases. They will also send the press releases directly to key media players and upload them to distribution sites to maximise the chances of a story being picked up and republished by third parties. This is a much more proactive approach than simply adding stories to your website and hoping people will pop by and read them.
Many also have a section called something like Resources or Knowledge centre, where they post case studies and white papers – in-depth articles demonstrating thought leadership. Smaller businesses keen to appear established and authoritative will often emulate this approach.
Businesses of all sizes have also turned their attention to blogging as an alternative way to connect with their audience and keep a stream of new content flowing onto their website.
Blogs offer several advantages over traditional News pages:
- Your content doesn’t just have to be ‘news’. It can also include views, reflections and advice, allowing you to showcase your company’s expertise.
- Even if your website isn’t built on a content management system, you can easily add a user-friendly blog using a platform like WordPress.
- Social media integration encourages readers to like and share your blog posts. This is a fantastic way to create a buzz and drive traffic to your website.
- You can use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to promote your blog posts yourself, again helping to spread the word.
Another good alternative is sending out regular email newsletters. Here are a few of the benefits of this approach:
- Newsletters land directly in the inboxes of your clients and prospects, reminding them that you’re there. How many people will actually go and visit your News page unprompted?
- You can include links in your newsletter to encourage people back to your website and then track what they do.
- As with a blog, your newsletter doesn’t actually need to be ‘news’ focused. You can include opinion pieces and case studies and your business’s unique perspective on topical issues.
- Having a set schedule – monthly or quarterly – makes it easier to fit coming up with and writing stories into your busy working life.
What do you think? Are News pages old news?