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The word has gotten out on website content.
It has never really been a big secret, really: the only effective way to promote a website is by hosting unique, quality content. Search engine optimization and paid inclusions are a waste of time and money if there isn't a compelling reason for your visitors to come back once they have found you. Website sales only come from repeat visitors and user loyalty.
A business built on expertise must be represented by content - articles, columns, white papers, guides - that meets the most discriminating needs. With your reputation at stake, follow these guidelines for producing the website content that will bring your web visitors back, time and again:
Make it expert. Your clients come to you because they value your expertise, skill and taste; your website content is a reflection of your word, a continuation of the professional client relationship. Never host material from a source that you can't personally vouch for, or to whom you wouldn't refer clients. Assume personal responsibility for every byline on your website.
Make it relevant and objective. Build content that people will trust - unbiased material that directly involves your clients and their needs. Don't roll sales pitches into your articles. Be an advocate for your clients and their interests, and use that awareness to inform the subject matter you include on your website.
Make it timely and researched. Information seekers hit the Web to find the latest, most specific answers to their questions. Don't post outdated or generic content. Make your content rich in accurate information, timely in scope, and authentically useful to Web users.
Make it unique. Website content that can easily be found elsewhere is worse than useless, because it makes your business appear commoditized. Don't recite the same tired advice being given by all your competitors - host unique and specific material on subjects not being covered anywhere else on the Web. Use your background. Demonstrate that your practice is one of a kind, by hosting information that only you can provide.
Make it well written. Your expert credibility can quickly be damaged by poor writing. Be aware of professional writing and publishing standards (found in the Chicago Manual of Style, available in any bookstore), and follow them. Hire a ghostwriter or professional editor if necessary to help make sure that your copy is clean and elegant. Never host any material that calls into question your intelligence or literacy.
A website can build or destroy an expert reputation; the deciding factor is content quality. With the sheer amount of useless, outdated, poorly written material on the Web today, the average Web user is almost desperate for information that can be relied upon.
Robert Warren (www.rswarren.com) is a freelance copywriter in the Orlando, Florida area, specializing in providing for the marketing and communications needs of the independent professional private practice.