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Updating for the sake of updating - Is it worth it ?

As has been pointed out in many previous articles, content is key for website popularity, functionality and usefulness to your public. One item that hasn't been touched on is dates for your articles.

First off, it's a good idea to use them; It gives your readers a chronological reference for relevance to your topic (After all, if you're talking about the dire shape of the economy and the chronic unemployment problem, it's usually a good idea to let your readers know, by way of dating your article, that you were writing this in January of 2009 and not May of 2011.)

Of course, solving this issue creates another: If the last time you wrote an article really was in January of 2009, this creates a stale content issue on your web site. While the rest of your business may be humming along, with all of your customers happy as bees in a field of clover, the negative is the image it projects to prospective customers: No new content in two years creates the impression, to some people that you have done nothing else in two years, causing them to overlook your business, entirely.

It may not seem fair, it may certainly be inaccurate, but to a new customer, who's never interacted with you before and has no other reference with which to judge your company, your site content can - and often is - the make-or-break decision point for many of them.

"But I've got a business to run! I don't have time to write fluff articles!" is the oft-repeated reasoning. Unfortunately, this is a fact of life. If YOU can't write content, ask your staff to do it. If you don't have staff, you've either got to start writing or, at the very least, start linking to relevant content. Custom-written content is always best, however: It's your credibility you want to establish, not some news sites'.

You don't have to be writing War and Peace length novel content; Nor does it have to rank up in the scientific dissertation level of content quality, either; It should, however, relate to your business. Better yet, it should relate to how your customers can better use or benefit from your products or services. This is really where a lot of your content can and should shine: Remember that most of what you take for granted about your own products or services, most of the general public has absolutely no idea. Not only is this beneficial for your existing customers, but for potential customers, as well: Even better: It is this content that will help those same potential customers find you via search engines.

But even if you're not up to writing fresh, new and brilliant content on use of your products, a blog entry on what's happening with your business, in your industry, or with your customers is a great idea (and really: Which of your customers would not appreciate the free publicity given to them by their own service provider ? )

Remember: Worst case scenario is that the oldest content on your site (I'm talking about regularly updated sections, like "Media" or "News" or "What's New" and the like, not your product listings) should be no more than 90 days old - Ideally, however, 30 days between content pieces should be your longest stretch between entries.

And if you're really stuck for ideas, feel free to send me a note: I'd be happy to take a look at your site and give you some suggestions.

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