Being a webmaster is always a challenging job. At the start of the year, it is perhaps more important than at any other time to recognise the challenges that are likely to present themselves in the 12 months ahead. This is especially true if you’re a webmaster working for clients on a contract basis. They’re likely finalising budgets for 2014 now, if they haven’t done so already, and will want to know exactly what a webmaster is going to deliver in the year ahead, particularly if paying for a webmaster is included within a general digital marketing or marketing budget in general.
Here are the key challenges webmasters should be prepared to face in 2014.
In the past, the role of the webmaster might have been targeted more towards looking after the technical aspects of a website. However, today a webmaster needs to be well versed in everything from design and development aspects to how to harness the latest SEO trends in order to help a site succeed.
The biggest challenge in this respect is likely to come from the creation of content. Although technically sound, the average webmaster probably isn’t the sort of person who wants to sit down and make sure that 700 words of high quality copy are researched and written to be uploaded to a blog every other day.
Although a challenge for the webmaster it is one that should be discussed with the website owner, if you are a webmaster working on a site that isn’t your own. What is the best way to get high quality content onto a website? The answer will probably be to outsource the content creation aspect to a writer. This might come at a cost, but it is definitely worth the investment given how important high quality content is.
A webmaster might not be a designer, but they are always going to have some knowledge of web design and development aspects, and could be a key stakeholder in the evolution of their clients’ websites in 2014.
If you are already managing a high performing website, then the question is whether you should embrace the latest web design trends in order to take a website forward or leave it be for now. The whole idea of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” will likely come into question here, and there’s no doubt that changing your website can represent a risk.
Will your existing website visitors/customers continue to visit and buy products or services if your site is redesigned?
Does the potential for attracting new business with a redesign make the financial and time commitment worthwhile?
If you can answer “yes” to both of those, then a redesign might be worth it. Clearly, if your site is already underperforming, then a redesign is definitely something you should consider.
As well as needing to be savvy when it comes to content creation, the modern webmaster in 2014 needs to make sure they’re as involved as possible with all of the marketing activities that are going on around a website. While involvement with any SEO projects is a given, webmasters need to know what is going on in relation to social media, PPC, and anything else that is being done regarding a website. For example, a developer making slight changes in website code might not seem a massive issue, but if you as the webmaster aren’t aware who’s to say you won’t take action that undermines the development work?
If you’re your own webmaster then it’s easy, but if you’re working on behalf of someone, you may need to fight to get all the information you need. A website owner might not want his webmaster, social media manager, and dedicated developer having conversations beneath him, which if that’s what they decide, fair enough, but you at least need to be in the loop.
For us, this will be the biggest challenge to webmasters everywhere, whether you’re a small business owner managing your own site or an experienced webmaster looking after a client website. The key to keeping up to speed with the changing face of SEO will be to make it your business each day to read industry blogs, or if you’re running a business have someone you know and trust (and who knows SEO) send you a daily breakdown of any noteworthy news that you should be aware of.
Failure to keep up with developments from the SEO industry might not make a difference to your website, but it could also manifest itself in you being hit with a Google penalty and falling down the search rankings, definitely not something you want to be telling your clients, particularly if it’s down to your own negligence!
As always, webmasters have a big year ahead. Are you up to the challenge?