A web governance plan is one of the crucial ways businesses can ensure rules and policies are in place that keep a site’s quality up to standards. These protocols cover multiple areas of a site’s operation, from the steps a marketing or content manager must follow to web accessibility standards and maintenance.
If your business doesn’t have a governance structure in place, it’s important to consider hiring a professional to put a plan in place that you can follow as your site grows.
What Is Web Governance?
On a day-to-day basis, a web team will follow a strategy, or digital governance, which are rules for what the team will do. Managers or executives will come up with different guidelines that must be followed for the site’s general maintenance.
You can think of website governance as a set of tasks that are important to a site’s operation.
Multiple elements may be included beyond what may have been in place decades ago. For example, it’s not uncommon to have policies in place for all of the important areas of running a site, like:
- SEO governance
- Web content governance
These policies are designed to provide a strategic direction for a site. As an official website grows and branding leads to more sales and revenue, it’s inevitable that your team will grow in size.
Running a one- or two-person agency, for example, is easier because everyone knows what brand standards and web strategy to follow. Add in a few more employees and managers, and it becomes even more important to have a web governance plan in place.
It’s a plan every organization should follow so that there’s a high level of quality assurance followed by your web team.
The web standards that you put in place will include the following team members for a small team:
- Writer / content editor / content contributor
- Social media managers
- Web editor
- Marketing manager / digital marketer
- Developer/web manager
If you’re not sure whether you really need to have digital governance in place, just know that it will matter as your team grows or members are added or subtracted from the group.
Why Website Governance Matters
If your web editor changes or a new content editor is added to a team, it’s easy for miscommunication to lead to a site that has different standards in place.
For example, someone on the web team may choose to use different practices for the site’s navigation. Multi-level dropdown menus may be used for only one navigation header, or you may navigate through a site that has an old page that has different menus than the rest of the site.
Outsourcing digital services can lead to this problem. A site that once had cohesion across its pages starts to degrade in quality when these minor discrepancies occur.
Search Engine Rankings
A prime example of SEO governance is when simple, small mistakes can lead to rankings that plummet. Lower rankings mean fewer leads and less revenue. Multiple people may work on your technical SEO, including sitemaps, server optimization and redirects.
If one person isn’t aware of a redirect to your About page from your Meet the Team page, they can create a redirect loop that leads to lower traffic and a negative user experience.
With proper guidelines in place, anyone who makes changes to your site can avoid these costly problems. Technical SEO guidelines must be followed to ensure everyone is on the same page and following the best practices.
We recommend that you have governance in place for:
- Technical SEO
- Offsite / Onsite SEO
Because SEO can have a direct impact on your site’s revenue, it’s an important part of the overall web governance strategy. Any time that you hire a new team to perform digital services, these policies can lower the risk of oversights that may affect search engine rankings.
Website governance, and the policies that are in place, can help provide a structure that adds to your site’s accessibility and professionalism. Stakeholders in the business will also have a set of web standards to follow.
Structure helps develop a site that is well-organized, easy to search and navigate, and allows for a streamlined management process. The policies that you have in place help create a site that has:
- Consistent branding
- Meets your goals
- Provides strategic messaging
As a framework, you can add web governance to your content strategy, social media, digital marketing and more.
Every web governance model has three main components that you can strategically implement across your organization:
- Policies: Guidelines ought to be in place that are clear, concise and easy to follow. These guidelines may include all informative posts ending with a question to drive engagement or that service pages require a call-to-action.
- Standards: What voice do you want for your site? What about the quality and design of the website? Everyone on your team should have standards, written out and easily accessible, that maintain the highest level of quality throughout your site.
- Process: Once standards and policies are in place, there needs to be a process that everyone must follow to make sure that the governance plan is adhered to across all channels. As the site evolves and grows, the process becomes even more integral and leads to long-term success.
When you have all of these components in place, you can ensure a content contributor follows them, a third-party offering digital services doesn’t deviate from the plan, or a developer maintaining a site adheres these standards.
As your website content grows and your web presence grows, effective web governance can keep everything well-organized and cohesive.
If you work with our team, we’ll help you develop a web governance plan that stretches across your entire organization. We’ll ensure that all of the important elements are in place so that your digital communications will be able to scale as your online presence grows.
Web Governance Principles
A principle is a motivator that can drive a web team to meet the goals of a business. The principles go along well with a web governance strategy and can change from one business to the next.
Determining the principles that should be in place requires communication and feedback from key team members.
For example, principles maybe something along the lines of:
- Websites must have a business plan. A business plan should extend to a website in today’s Internet-based world. The site’s business plan will allow all parties involved to evaluate the site’s success and keep operations moving in a positive direction. The right strategy enables milestones and goals to be set and worked towards.
- Implement accountability and monitoring. Effective web governance requires continued systems in place to hold everyone accountable. There must be someone in place to monitor every function of your operation. If you have a web content team, they should have a content editor overlook their work. Through strict monitoring, you can ensure best practices are in place to strengthen your business today and in the future.
- Follow the latest guidelines and standards. Digital governance must follow the shifting trends of technology. If new standards and guidelines are in place for social media, content strategy, quality assurance or any other tasks your team conducts, be sure to follow them. This is especially important when it comes to web accessibility where users can be impacted greatly for not adhering to new guidelines.
- Invest in training to improve outcomes. Training is an essential part of an organization’s success. Employers need to be taught about your content management system, governance structure or anything that can help your company reach its goals. Invest in training and you’ll ensure that employees follow your web governance model and work more efficiently.
Of course, the plan you choose should incorporate brand standards, digital marketing, online presence, strategic direction, analytics, quality assurance and additional principles pertaining to your business.
Does Your Organization Need a Web Governance Strategy?
If you plan on running and growing a website, it’s highly recommended that you incorporate a governance structure for all aspects of your operation. The structure may change and evolve over time, but it’s a baseline for team members to follow.
Over the long-term, these policies and standards are going to grow in importance because multi-person teams, where one person isn’t following the strategy, can lead to:
- Lack of web accessibility
- Mixed digital strategy
Businesses have to consider public affairs and how the world sees their brand. You want your website to be professional and have a design that’s standard across all pages and areas of operation.
Let’s assume for a moment that you run a company that sells high-end cameras and your blog posts use high-quality images to appeal to your audience. A new web editor comes in and doesn’t realize that the photos are not compressed, so new content is added to the site with low-quality images.
The images may even be added in the wrong place, causing a lack of fluidity across the site.
When organizations grow and expand, and new offices are possibly added, it’s vital to have some form of brand standards and website governance across all departments. Even if you don’t think you need a plan in place today, these are the rules that allow you to have less growing pains.
What a Web Governance Policy May Look Like
The policies that your organization puts in place will vary greatly based on the size and departments you have available. In-house marketing teams may have an SEO governance plan in place along with teams that deal with web content, site maintenance and other areas of your site.
A policy may have multiple points, such as:
- Audience information, primary audience, what actions should be taken by users.
- Guiding principles of the site and overall goals and objectives.
- Roles and responsibilities to ensure governance is followed.
- Content, quality and workflow procedures and compliance.
- Training and education guidelines and technology for all employees and contractors.
- Accessibility requirements and practices for all web content and pages.
- Information on which entities are responsible for updating the policy and notifying parties of these updates.
- Add titles, meta descriptions and other tags to all new posts and pages.
- Update meta tags and titles when changing page content as necessary.
- Recrawl live versions of the site using Google Search Console periodically and correct errors as needed.
- Add any site changes or updates to the site’s update log for future reference.
- Backup all pages before making any key changes.
- Check schema code validity after changes are made to site coding.
- Update policies for CMS, plugins and themes.
- Check site speed after major CMS updates or additions to the site.
- Test site after major updates to ensure proper function.
- Log all redirects on the site and refer to the logs when new redirects are added.
- Scan Google Search Console for errors and make corrections as necessary.
A web governance policy is, in a way, a set of bylaws that everyone on your team can refer to when in doubt. It ensures consistency in your message, voice and tone, which aids in brand building. Creating a web governance policy can be a complex process. We’re here to help.
Click here to speak to one of our Web Governance specialists today.