10 Ways to Keep Your WordPress Site Updated and Fresh

The best way to keep people coming back to your site is by providing them with fresh new content on a regular basis. There are a number of ways to do this, such as blogging, posting tweets, and building a forums section that will have people contributing content for you. In this list, we’ll look at some of the most popular and effective ways to get unique content that have been specially designed for WordPress, and of course we’ll take a closer look at the pros and cons for each. I may cover a few things that you think are common sense to use and implement, but trust me there are still a lot of people out there who haven’t taken advantage of them yet, and you still might get a great idea for something new.

 

1. Facebook

Facebook

This is an option that always been popular, but it’s extremely simple to use with a WordPress site and has become a lot easier since the good people at Facebook made the “Subscribe” feature. People are on Facebook every day talking about all the new and exciting things that are going on in their lives. Why not get them talking about you? Create a Facebook profile just for your company or your site and start posting regular status updates about everything that’s going on in your business. Then entice people to like you and follow along with your developments any way you can think of.

If you sell products through your site, offer coupons or giveaways. If you have a blog, offer special information only available to your Facebook subscribers. Check out this article for more information on grabbing a custom “Subscribe” button to put on your site.

Now, all this is good and well for getting people to your site, but we want to go a step farther. We want to get people contributing to your site, and we can do that by posting your Facebook feeds directly onto the site. There are several plugins that can do this, but I especially recommend Ultimate Facebook. It will allow you to do pretty much anything you can think of that integrates your WordPress or BuddyPress site and Facebook. The best part about this is that not only are your posts going to show up as updated content on your site, but so are any comments you get on them on Facebook.

Pros:

  • Custom content generated by readers.
  • Increased visibility and popularity of your site.
  • People can easily share your content, causing more links to come in from Facebook which has a Google PageRank of 9.

Cons:

  • You must still create custom content.
  • To get the most out of it, you must add content regularly and frequently.
  • Not everyone likes Facebook, though there sure are a heck of a lot who do ;)

2. Twitter

Twitter bird

Another great way to tap into social media that many people are skeptical about, but it’s actually perfectly suited for keeping your site active. The character limitation forces you to cut to the quick of what you’ve got to offer. It’s an excellent way to share small updates of your site or business when you don’t have enough to say in a full post. It’s super easy for people to share. And most people who use it have it on their phone almost as a texting service, so you can still reach your audience even if they’re not at the computer.

As with Facebook, you can offer special deals to people who follow you on Twitter. You can also post your tweets onto your site, along with any replies they get. Take a look at Twitter Tools, a cool little plugin that takes care of all of your WordPress to Twitter integration needs. And if you’re already a Tweet master, you might be interested in turning people’s Twitter mentions into comments on your site. This will search for any relevant mentions on Twitter about your site and post it as a comment.

Pros:

  • Sharing is easy, so it has a lot of potential to increase traffic.
  • Because most people Tweet on a regular and frequent basis, it’s a good way to get a lot of little changes happening on your site.
  • It’s easy, so why not use it?

Cons:

  • Again, you’ll still have to create content initially in order to share it.
  • A lot of people see Twitter as a dumping grounds for all their pent up obnoxious comments, so you may have to comb through all the Tweets.

3. Forums

people silhouette

One of the most popular ways for people to gather together, share and discuss ideas, and generally thrive as a community since the times of ancient Rome is the public forum. This is one of the best things you can have on your site because not only is it an easy way to get new content generated on a regular basis without any work being done on your end, but you will get direct feedback from your audience. They’ll tell you what they like and what they don’t, and you can get a feel for who they are and get a better picture of your target demographic.

There are plenty of options out there for setting up forums with WordPress. BuddyPress comes with one, but if you’re not looking for a full out Web 2.0 site, you might want to try one of the many plugins that are available. Take a minute to meander over and check out the top 5 forums plugins for WordPress. It will be well worth your time to pick one (or a different one if you insist), and implement it right away. Just be sure to keep the trolls in their cages!

Pros:

  • Completely reader-generated content.
  • Can become an excellent source of information for new visitors.
  • Builds a returning community around your site.
  • Serves as a place where people can give you feedback on what you’re doing and how you’re running things.

Cons:

  • Spam prevention technology is getting better all the time, but it’s still far from perfect. You’re going to have to get someone to moderate.

4. User Uploads

upload

This is a super easy way to attract people to your site, get them involved, and keep everything active. Whatever you offer, if you can get people to contribute, do it. There are many successful sites that let people upload art, music, games, and literature. Let your visitors do the same, and allow them to receive comments on whatever they upload. This will make them want to come back to see how their work has progressed.

Through the advent of recent sites that allow people to congregate, share ideas, and express themselves, some have been able to turn hobbies into careers. Wouldn’t it be great to be a part of fulfilling someone’s dream, and in return have their work increase the activity and freshness of your platform? With WordPress, you can already allow your users to upload images, audio, and video, but you may want to take some actions to restrict their abilities.

For pictures, check out Imsanity, which will automatically resize overly large images that your contributors upload. If you’d like to restrict users to just being able to upload pictures, take a look at this neat article that explains how to do it.

Pros:

  • You can build a strong community by allowing people to express themselves and share with each other.
  • The media and descriptions that people upload to your site will help keep things new and active.
  • You don’t have to worry about taking the time to add as much new content yourself.

Cons:

  • Some people spam. You or someone you trust is going to have to monitor submissions closely to make sure everything remains up to your standards.
  • You’ll probably have to work out licensing for people’s uploads. Is it yours? Theirs? Anybody’s? A good place to look for information and options for this is the Creative Commons.

 

5. Contests

blue ribbon

A little competition is always good. It drives people to pursue higher goals and improve themselves. It is at the root of all the greatest accomplishments the world has ever seen. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, the only reason we ever do anything is for some sort of personal goal. Some of us might be working for glory and fame, others for money, and still some are simply working for the satisfaction that comes with achievement. Nonetheless, some amount of competitiveness is embedded within us all, so why not draw on that and use it for your advantage?

Come up with a contest idea related to your site or business. This will attract people to participate in your site and motivate them to do some work for you. However, there’s one thing you’ll need: a reward. Nothing in this life comes free, and so you’ll have to pay your competitors somehow. You could offer a cash prize, featured space on the website, or even a spotlight with their name in the next newsletter. The only question left to answer is what sort of contest should you run? The best and easiest way to implement a contest is if your site is already geared towards user uploads.

Pros:

  • If people have fun competing on your site, they will be more likely to tell their friends so they can play together.
  • Competition can build a community where people work to help each other.
  • Competitive people especially will enjoy their time and feel compelled to return for more contests.

Cons:

  • If a contest is not held carefully with rules expressly stated from the beginning, there could be dissent within your community, resulting in users leaving.
  • Not everyone likes competing, so make sure there’s plenty for others to do without feeling left out.

6. Points System

arrows up

There are more gamers out there today than there ever have been before, and the video game industry is evolving in incredible ways. More and more colleges are offering courses in various aspects of game development, and the tools and technology have become more widely available for people to get started making their own games. While this boom has been happening, it’s gotten a lot of researchers thinking “Why?” The answer can be summed up simply by saying people like fun and games are an awesome way to give people a fun time. One of the ways that they have fun is by competing with other people, and developers of all kinds have recently been looking for any way they can to incorporate that into what they’re making.

For websites, there’s a super easy way to do this. Points. Over the past couple years there have been a few different plugins developed for WordPress that make it incredibly easy to incorporate a custom points reward system into your site. My favorite is CubePoints. It lets you give points for people returning to your site on a specified time interval, for making new posts, for commenting, and for pretty much anything else you’d like to reward people for. Not only that, you can don the public with rank titles based on the number of points they have. Inspire your people to climb the ranks from peasant to knight of the round simply by staying active on your site. It truly is a powerful motivator.

If you’re interested in learning more about this gamification concept, check out this video by GoogleTechTalks on the subject.

Pros:

  • People love to earn things, no matter what the real world value is. Get people addicted to your site by doling out points.
  • Points don’t cost you a dime, but if you develop a stable system that people enjoy, you can probably squeeze some dimes out of theme in exchange for more points.
  • A points system is a relatively easy build, so if you get stuck on the customization, there’s tons of resources to help you figure out how to do something or you can hire a freelancer for a relatively low amount.

Cons:

  • If your points and rewards system is not constructed with great care and some research into game design, it will definitely fail.

 

7. Daily/Weekly Spotlight

spotlight

It may sound redundant, but one of the easiest ways to have fresh content is to keep your content fresh! If you have a lot of posts on your website neatly categorized in their own sections, hidden away for only the people who are actively looking for them to find, you might consider picking some to showcase on your front page. And if you don’t have a lot of posts, why not? Get writing!

Anyway, sure it’s easy enough to have a “latest posts” widget sitting there, but not a “post of the week” or a “daily tip”? Every now and then go through your collection and pick some favorites. Then on regular intervals (best to do daily or weekly) polish them up and put them in the spotlight. It will attract new readers and make your site appear much more active.

Pros:

  • Polishing keeps the content updated.
  • Moving stuff around keeps your site fresh.
  • Can draw in more readers by showing them new things.
  • Gives people reason to check back in regularly.
  • Looking through your old stuff can give you ideas for new things to write about.

Cons:

  • Requires a bit of maintenance.
  • Takes time to re-read and edit.

 

8. YouTube or SoundCloud

YouTube

There’s no better way to reach a new audience than by diving into a new medium. Tons of companies today are taking advantage of YouTube to advertise all the shiny new things they’ve got on the market or even to just show off a fascinating tid-bit from their website and talk about it in a slightly different light.

People are doing much the same thing with SoundCloud, too. With Android and other devices and OS’s become increasingly popular, podcasts are being put by the wayside. SoundCloud is basically the YouTube of audio. You can embed the streams easily into your WordPress site, or download the app and post or listen from your mobile device. Make ads, upload and share cool stuff you’ve run across, or have a series of audio interviews.

Pros:

  • Provides a good mix of content for your site since you can embed either right into your WordPress posts/pages.
  • People can share both easily with their social media of choice.
  • Do either one regularly and well enough, and you can make some decent money off it.
  • You can add links to your site in the descriptions. Backlinking, yay!

Cons:

  • Again, time and effort have to go into both of these options.
  • You should probably be somewhat decent with creating visual/audible content or enlist someone who is.

 

9. External Presence

spaceship

 

One neat way to keep your site new and fresh is by doing nothing directly with it at all. That’s right, keep off your website for a while and go out into the virtual world to visit all the other cool places you might never have seen before. Find a community on another site built around something you’re interested in. It doesn’t even have to be directly related to your site. In fact it might even be better that way.

If you become a regular visitor and active member of another site, the friends and cohorts you associate with there will start becoming interested in what you’re up to. You can get into a public conversation about your latest online adventures in the forums or any congregational area of the site. Then you casually direct them over to what you’ve been working on and ask them to give you some feedback or share their opinions (preferably leaving their comments on your site).

And BAM! Instant internet reputation and more activity on your site.

Pros:

  • Reach a new audience.
  • If you pick a site that you’re truly fond of and intend on staying an active (and responsible) member of, no one can count anything against you.
  • Gets the users of the other site share their new friend’s work with their contacts.
  • We are judged by the company we keep. If a substantial source of your site’s traffic is coming from other reputable and highly ranked sites, your status will grow as well.

Cons:

  • Still take some time and work, but if you pick a good site to be a part of, it will end up being more like having fun with your friends in your spare time.
  • Tread carefully. Wait until you’re actually a known member of the community before you go parading around with a giant banner advertising your site. In fact, leave the giant banner at home, period. Stick to business cards. Otherwise the other site’s moderators could give you the boot, which will end up having the opposite effect on you.

 

10. Partnership

handshake

If you’ve been following along with any of the above suggestions, you’ve probably made some friends along the way or met at least met some people who have the same goals and aspirations for their businesses and websites. You may even be in regular contact with some of them, trading business tactics or just shooting the breeze from time to time. If there’s one or two that you really trust, you might try proposing joining forces.

Go through each other’s content together, pick out things that are related and trade links between the content. Or even trade content itself. Have their Tweets, posts, or other informational snippets show up on your site and vice versa. Quid pro quo is an age old tradition, and it can work to greatly benefit you if it’s with the right person.

Pros:

  • Double the strength of your business and possibly open up tons of opportunities for growth in the future. That’s the power of friendship.
  • Learn and teach new things. Grow your online presence.

Cons:

  • If you don’t choose your partner wisely, it could end as a great loss in a number of ways. Be careful!

 

Pictures courtesy of sxc.hu and stockvault.net.