With the multitude of social opportunities available on the world wide web these days, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of your output.

From your latest Twitter or LinkedIn review to your most recent Facebook update, many of us are striving to be noticed. After all, according to a new study, you only have a small amount of time to be relevant (80 minutes to be exact); so more is more, right? Not exactly. While you may only have a limited time to be relevant in the social media world, in the search engine world, you can technically be visible forever. In other words, that old company bio you had the intern write back in 2004 could still be floating around in 2011.

To illustrate, consider the following: an association decides to go online in 2001 and they have their network administrator put up the site. He or she manages it for a few years, then hands it off to the new internal marketing person. Now here’s where it gets tricky; over the years new versions of the site were created. This means that each time a new version was created, old files were saved online which didn’t link to the newer ones. This can get even stickier if the older files don’t necessarily have anything to do with the current business profile.

For example, let’s say the network administrator (we’ll call him Bob) without telling the web designer, created a few pages from the company’s old site, including his kid’s birthday webpage he saved as a test back in 2002. Sandy (who is looking to do business with Bob’s company) is googling for information and accidentally lands on the 2002 site. She clicks around and leaves, deciding she’d prefer to do business with someone else. All of this can happen without anyone even knowing.

So how can your business avoid the pitfalls associated with an outdated online presence? The first step is to go online and perform a quick check (you can do this yourself or have more tech savvy colleague take a look). Go to Google, type in the search bar your site (site:yourdomain.com) and look at the file names for weird patterns. Another option is to do a search by file type (for example if your new site is aspx and the old is HTML, you would type: filetype:html site:yourdomain.ca into Google). This way you are aware of what data is associated with your company and can organize accordingly.

These types of scenarios are for the most part unintentional, but (depending on how your company’s site is indexed) older or less “polished” versions may show ahead of newer ones, including content which shouldn’t be there at all.This is a major problem for many organizations (and they don’t even know it!) Understanding what your company has online is essential to avoiding blunders like Bob’s and is a great first step.

How do you manage your online content to make sure nothing is out of date?

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