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Marketers and communicators are creating more content than ever before and publishing to a greater diversity of platforms and digital channels, and the errors are starting to pile up.

The business value of today’s digital communications is being undermined by out-dated, erroneous, broken and incompatible content. This is damaging the customer experience, causing sinking rankings in web search, and putting revenues at risk. 

So how do you avoid these costly website governance pitfalls? Companies need to address their approach to governance in order to embrace today’s challenging multichannel environments while dealing with quality issues effectively.

Below we take a look at the seven most common web governance mistakes, and how you can successfully avoid them.

Not aligning your web presence with the rest of the business 

When a business decision is made, a company’s website is often the last channel to know about it. The corporate site is too often seen as separate to the rest of the business.

Web strategy must be fully aligned with the overall business strategy, and support clearly defined objectives.

Wobbly foundations 

Usability, Accessibility and SEO are the three pillars that make up both the start of any website strategy and its ongoing maintenance. They are no secret but companies often neglect them.

Solid foundations are the key to an agile, high-performing web presence.

Missing website policies and standards

Having comprehensive website policies and standards in place will protect your brand and user experience, and ensure you don’t fall onto dodgy legal and commercial ground.

For policies and standards to succeed you need to monitor your websites to ensure that compliance is being achieved and maintained, and have an end-to-end plan for managing and evolving your standards throughout the website lifecycle.

Lack of accountability  

From editors to designers, developers, marketers and brand guardians, a modern website will have a vast number of ‘stakeholders’. Having clearly defined roles and responsibilities is crucial.

This becomes even more important when the web team is distributed across departments and countries.

Time for a refresh

The pace of change has meant websites now feel dated quicker than ever. It might be your site no longer reflects your current strategy or that you’re missing a trick by not integrating more social features, or catering for mobile platforms.

Staying current is hard, but key. You need to ensure you have an agile governance framework in place that allows you to quickly deploy new standards and communicate change to all the members of your web team.

Unacknowledged heroes

Find ways to regularly share examples of best practice achieved by your team, and celebrate your star performers. Carrots generally work better than sticks when building a culture of best practice.

Lack of top-level visibility

Managing a full complement of local sites, microsites and digital channels, all owned and managed by different departments, in different countries throughout the world can make it difficult to see how each one is measuring up.

The key is to set KPIs and generate regular reports so you can see how each site is doing in the context of the rest of your business.

Managing complex, multi-site, multi-national websites is hard work. No matter how vigilant you are or how many hours you put in, you will never catch everything.  

However, an effective governance framework will provide the safety net you need to confidently pursue today’s multichannel opportunities, while protecting quality and driving revenue.

You can download Magus' ebook on the subject here

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Published 29 November, 2011 by Simon Lande

Simon Lande is CEO at Magus and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

3 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

david carralon

david carralon, Head of SEO EMEA & APAC at Career Builder

Hi Simon, thank you for sharing... this article is spot on. I work for a government institution and can see myself identified with the 'governance' challenges you point out. I would have perhaps mentioned 'budget' constraints too as often this specific element determines the extent to what can be achieved and it definitely adds to the complexity of governing a large website/s.

I have just happen to write a piece on my personal blog around the subject of 'corporate SEO' which, I think, it is in line with the main points made on your post, though a bit more SEO-geared: http://www.davidcarralon.com/what-is-corporate-seo

about 5 years ago

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Simon Lande, CEO at ActiveStandards

Hi David - thanks for your feedback, glad the article resonated with you.

Certainly agree that budget sets the boundaries of what can be achieved, and the ROI of good governance needs to be clearly articulated. Especially in today's challenging economic climate - although that can actually work in favour of web managers lobbying to implement a good governance program, because the benefits include improved efficiency of web operations management (not re-inventing the wheel for each web property) and maximising website effectiveness.

Your article really captured the spirit of corporate SEO, in particular the big gap between the "ninja-like tactics that you learn at the conferences" and the reality of implementing those in a corporate environment.

As you mention, that has to be done within a broader strategy that engages all the key stakeholders. Which can be a time-consuming (and sometimes frustrating!) process but definitely worth it in the end since it is the only way, as you say, to take "...advantage of the industrial strength elements of the environment".

about 5 years ago

Philippa Gamse

Philippa Gamse, Adjunct Professor at Hult International Business School

Hi Simon, Great article. I've been advocating for a long time that every business should appoint a "web ambassador". This would be a C-level position for someone within the management team who is part of the strategic business planning process. This person would have oversight of all aspects of the web presence (delegating implementation tasks as appropriate).

Having this role in place would help to ensure that there is a high-level view of all activity and necessary linkages between departmental content, with opportunities for cross-fertilisation. It would also provide management with immediate input as to the role of the web presence in evolving business strategies, and advocate for required budgetary priorities.

Very few businesses in my experience have successfully embraced this concept, but those that have are very pleased with the results.
Note: I write more fully on this in my new book "42 Rules for a Web Presence That Wins".

about 5 years ago

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Simon Lande, CEO at ActiveStandards

Hi Philippa - thanks for your feedback. Couldn't agree more on the need for a C-level "web ambassador"; it's a recurring theme we see, especially in large organisations, that web governance advocates often still struggle to get their voice heard, in some part due to the complexity of having to engage multiple stakeholders with differing agendas.

However, we have seen a definite shift this year, as the C-suite is becoming increasingly aware of the wide-ranging benefits arising from a joined-up web strategy. 2012 will surely be the year that web governance truly comes of age, making the web a better place both for users and managers of websites...

about 5 years ago

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