The Importance of Updating

Stephen Yagielowicz

Last week's Webmaster Poll asked you about your site updating habits. I conduct these polls to get a feeling about the demographics, psychographics, marketing techniques, and experience levels of our evolving user base in an effort to better understand and serve you. Sometimes I find the results of these polls surprising, and this is one of those times:

While you cannot examine any of the poll results in a vacuum (as they are often subjective and dependent upon the specific wording involved, and as with every poll based on voluntary input as opposed to a more scientific sampling, the results percentages can be misleading), I feel that they are useful tools indeed. With that being said, here are the results of, and commentary on, "Do You Improve Upon Your Site?"

Yes, I Constantly Refine It!: 61%
This figure surprised me almost as much as the lowest amount did. If you own a pay site, especially if it's a single-model "real" amateur site, then constantly refining your site is the only way to go. For most other applications, however, it is a serious waste of time and resources. Sure, we all need to have one "ego" site that demonstrates our own personal "cutting edge:" an online vehicle for developing new techniques, and implementing new technologies. Want to try Flash, DHTML, high-end JavaScript or PHP/mySQL database integration? Try it on your "ego" site, after all, it's the place to learn, and to shine!

If this is your only site, however, then constantly "dicking" with it is probably not doing you any favors, or making you any money. Especially when it's the sort of anally retentive exercise in changing backgrounds, button styles, URLs, and other minutiae that I am personally fond of wasting my spare time on.

Yes, I Keep it Updated: 24%
Updating your site is another matter entirely. A mandatory practice for pay and premium level AVS sites interested in member retention, as well as a vital daily regimen for traffic pumps such as TGPs, Pic Posts, Link Lists and the like that rely upon repeat visitors, updating your site is the key to success! Unless you run a typical free site of course:

Free sites should only care about sending the surfer off to the sponsor and away from your own site as soon as possible. If you can do it from your "warning" page, before the prospect has seen any of your content and devoured any of your bandwidth, then so much the better. As far as updating gallery images on a free site, why bother? You don't want people seeing them in the first place. Having them return to see more, and ignore your sponsor's offer once again, is a waste of resources.

No, It's Good Enough: 13%
I like to see confident Webmasters, especially when their sites are deserving of it. If you operate free sites then you may have already realized that they don't need to be great to be profitable; in fact, sometimes a "poor quality" free site will outperform a much "nicer" one. Or as they say "ugly sites sell!"

Perhaps your site is well established, and requires no updates and few improvements. Sometimes you can hit a formula that will remain profitable for extended periods, allowing you to focus on what's truly important - sending traffic to your site.

Standard AVS sites also do not need a lot of "improvements" or updates. If they were good enough to meet the AVS' linking guidelines, then they should be of adequate "quality," although this is no guarantee that they will convert visitors into paying customers. Improvements to these sites should focus on the conversion ratio, meaning your ability to convince the visitor to sign up for a membership. Even in today's market, a decent AVS site can convert at better than 1:300 on most types of traffic, as long as it's niche specific and well targeted. ...playing "the numbers game" is the easiest way to real money in this business...

No, I Build One, Then Another: 3%
This result surprised me the most, as only 3% of respondents claim to pump out one site after another. While it is not a recommended stratagem for those who have not "mastered" the art of building a super-converting site, playing "the numbers game" is the easiest way to real money in this business, and it can only be accomplished through a "build 'em and forget 'em" attitude.

What do I mean by playing "the numbers game?" Consider the fact that unless you own a super-converting pay site (and a popular affiliate program to support it), traffic may be very hard to come by. The more sites you have, the better a chance you have at attracting visitors. For example, if you build AVS sites using the CyberAge system and hope to grab their hot link list traffic, then you better have a few sites on it. Offering the surfer over 230,000 choices, if you have only one site, there is a 230,000 to 1 chance that you will be found on the list.

But build 10 sites and your chances increase to 23,000 to 1. Build 100 sites and they increase to 2,300 to 1, and whip up 1,000 sites to increase the odds to 230 to 1! Much better indeed, even if the example is a purely mathematically based over-simplification. You will also see a dramatic increase in revenues by doing this, as 1 site making 1 sale a month might earn you $15 a month. 1,000 sites doing the same will earn you $15,000 a month!

For the majority of adult sites, improvements (beyond the basics of clean and effective site design) are not needed to increase profits. Traffic is what's needed, and you are well advised to focus your efforts on developing new sites, and driving traffic to your existing ones, rather than constantly tweaking those sites that you've built before...