We have written before about the importance of having a separate website for your conference. This is especially important when your conference has multiple speakers and sponsors and you want to promote it to get a good attendance.
When marketing a conference, a separate website allows people to easily link to the conference site without getting confused. It is just too easy for important conference content to get lost when it lives with everything else on your own business site.
Once you have a website for your annual conference, the next problem that I see organizers make is to overwrite that year’s web content to make room for the coming years event.
I know it seems like a good idea but this is not the best practice. Instead, keep the original conference site up and create a new site the next year. Don’t worry, it does not have to be a big ordeal with a whole new design. If you are worried about the trouble and cost of making a new site each year, you don’t have to start from scratch.
It is fairly quick and easy to create a clone of the original site and point to it with its own url, separate from the previous years. For example, create a system of URLs such using the conference name/ the new year (www.yourconferencename.com/2017).
Then you can remove last year’s content on the new site such as programs, speakers, sponsors and attendees, and add current content for the new conference. By changing colors and images the new site can have its own branded look.
We recommend writing a wrap-up post at the end of that years’ conference and write something on the homepage telling people that if they are interested in next years conference sign-up to get notified when the new site is live.
There are several reasons not to overwrite conference sites from previous years’ conferences.
- First, you and many others put a lot of work into running each years’ conference. The websites from the previous years provide a history as to what you did that year, who spoke and who sponsored. You will find yourself and others referring back to these previous sites from time to time.
- If you take down the site all of the links people and organizations have made to the site from their sites will be broken. For example, many times speakers offer to speak at no charge because they will get a link valuable to their SEO, back to their own site. It is nice if that link is maintained. They may have also written about your conference giving you a valuable link and taking down the site breaks that relationship.
- The other side of number 3 is that anyone trying to visit the old site will get 404 errors which makes it look like you are out of business.
- Potential speakers are able to take a look at the websites from previous years to get more information about the type and scope of the presentations you have selected, before they submit their applications to speak at an upcoming event.
- Sponsors like the fact that their listing as a sponsor along with the links stays up past that year, which gives them more visibility than if you took the site down along with the record of their generosity. Keeping the sites up makes it more attractive to sign on new sponsors.