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How can I keep my website with fresh content

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Keeping Your Site Fresh

There are a number of ways to provide new and fresh content on a site. One simple approach is to set up a schedule for news releases. Updated material ignites communication between a company or another kind of organization and the customer. As an alternative, a Web site can freshen its content by developing encouraging ways for customers to communicate with each other from the site.

Using incremental uploads

It is better to have no Web site than to have a site that has not been updated. The Internet is littered with tens of thousands of sites that have not been updated for a year or more. Not updating a site for more than a week should be considered a cybercrime. For a high-traffic site, with perhaps a million page views a week, several changes to the front page of the site should be done each and every week. This applies if your products change often. If you only sell a single product, it’s best to ensure that your information is up to date and that it’s easy to purchase the product. If you release a new version, yes, update the site. But ‘‘tried and true’’ is good, too. Don’t change things just for the sake of change itself.

Your customers’ demands create the need for so many changes to a site. The single reason for the remarkable success of the Internet is that it offers immediate access to knowledge (hence the information superhighway). A site that does not provide a customer with the knowledge they are seeking accurate and updated nearly up to the minute will not keep that customer. Information-rich sites, such as Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com), Barnes & Noble (http://www.bn.com), and CNET (http://www.cnet.com), keep and retain loyal customers not because they necessarily offer the lowest prices but because they are able to provide the most information about a product. At Amazon.com, a user can read reviews of a book. Barnes & Noble provides free education on literature. CNET offers the most up-to-date information and resources for computer users and people in the computer industry.

The online magazine, Slate (slate.msn.com), discovered that the traffic to its site increased when the articles for a month were spread out over the course of a month. Customers could wait a day between fresh articles. But a whole month? It just doesn’t work on the Internet. A site must be designed with the capability for easily and quickly inserting fresh content.

Establishing a schedule

An enormous amount of work goes into the creation of a Web site. That’s why it’s a crime when the owners of a site sit back on their laurels and expect the site to run forever without any changes.

Change is part of the Internet. Thus, change must be part of your site. But unlike change on the Internet as a whole, change on a Web site can be managed. The subject matter and content of a site determines the amount of change.

Often, the key to managing change is to produce a schedule for change. Humans are creatures of habit. If a user knows that a favorite Web site changes content on Monday, the user may make it part of their routine to check the site every Monday. Choosing a schedule is dependent on the type of content on a site; for example, a football site will want to synchronize its schedule with key football games.

In creating a schedule, consider the following questions:

 

- Do you publish a weekly magazine or newsletter? If you do, break the articles up and publish them to the site during the week.

- Do your customers expect information? Not every site requires daily updates. A company that manufactures zippers may only need to update monthly.

- Is your site linked to time-sensitive material? A site dedicated to a political candidate will host a considerable number of news releases prior to any voting.

Finding new material

With a schedule defined for delivering material, the next challenge is to find the content. Again, the material is going to be strongly defined by the type of site you have developed. In creating new material, consider what you sell or otherwise provide on your site. Is your site for a manufacturing company, a medical business, or a financial concern? Each type of site has tools, products, and services unique to that business. Examine each product, tool, and service by defining the what, why, where, and how of each. If your company sells financial services, ask these questions for each service. When a customer’s question is answered before it can even be asked, the customer’s confidence with your product is increased. A great feature for any site is a ‘‘Frequently Asked Questions’’ (FAQ) section. Ask any help desk or support center for the most popular questions asked by customers. Then, list the most popular questions and place them on the Web site. As the site grows, break down the FAQs for each service or product to increase the knowledge base of each of them.

Having your visitors provide material

Creating and generating new material is time-consuming and expensive. While new material is necessary, a site does not need to rely on itself alone for generating content. Unlike magazines and books, the Internet is computer-driven. With this in mind, savvy sites leverage this power to encourage e-customers to add their two cents to a site. Companies such as Amazon.com and eBay learned early that enabling people to comment on products offered on their site empowers the customer. At Amazon.com, a customer doesn’t have to rely on a professional book critic’s review to judge a book. Amazon enables users to add their own comments to a book review. The customer is empowered to tell the world his or her likes and dislikes about a book. And this encourages other people to join the conversation. Before long, the product on sale is a talking point. Amazon capitalized on the Internet’s ability to build a community.

Developing online communities that talk and interact with each is a vital part of the Internet. The single largest Internet activity is e-mail. Why? People want to communicate with each other. Community building can be done on any Web site. Certainly, an excellent technique is to provide an opportunity for any product sold on the site to be not only a selling point but also a talking point. In many ways, acting as a talking point is a litmus test for any product. If the product really stands up to the sales and marketing, the comments posted will be positive and encourage sales. If the comments are negative, the feedback can be used to enhance the product.

Sunday, Oct 25th, 2009