Enhancing The Credibility Of Your Web Content

    March 28, 2003

It’s vital to establish the credibility of your web content with your reader as quickly as possible. If your brand is well known and respected, then you start from a strong base. Another way to enhance credibility is to provide author information. Where appropriate, dating your content can help too.

People like their content branded. They will watch CNN or MSNBC. On CNN, they will watch Lou Dobbs, Connie Chung, Larry King, Wolf Blitzer. These broadcasters are constantly interviewing experts and witnesses.

The entertainment industry knows the value of stars. Whether it is music or films, having the right personality onboard can be the difference between success and failure. Basically, people like to get content from other people they respect, admire and/or relate to.

In my experience, organizations are reticent about putting names to their content. For certain organizations, such as government agencies, having the authors named is not usually feasible. Much content, such as information about the history of the organization, does not lend itself to having author names.

But some situations are enhanced by showcasing the expert. Bill Gates is the face of Microsoft. IBM has taken an approach whereby it promotes its people in its ads.

If your organization has genuine experts, why aren’t you promoting them? The Web is a very cold, formal medium. Putting faces to your organization is engaging. It can enhance your credibility.

Establishing credibility quickly is key to success on the Web. There’s so much junk out there that people are becoming increasingly skeptical of the websites they visit. In January 2003, a University of California-Los Angeles survey stated that only 52.8 percent of people found most or all of the information online to be credible.

Where appropriate, dating content can enhance its credibility. People are tired of finding web content that is out-of-date. A date at the top of the content can thus provide important information.

It is even more annoying to begin reading something, and to find, half-way through it, that it is out-of-date. Worse still, when you have read content and then try to follow its instructions, finding these instructions are out-of-date can be infuriating. Dating content will not solve all the problems relating to out-of-date content. But it’s a good start.

The brand is a critical way to establish credibility for your content. However, just because you have a strong brand does not mean that people will trust all the content you publish.

Too many organizations got carried away with the Web. They thought they could publish all sorts of stuff. They wanted to become ‘portals,’ meeting all their customers information needs. I’ve found many of these portals to be very expensive to maintain with minimal return on investment.

If people want general financial or industry news, they tend to trust the places where they get this information from already (newspapers, magazines, TV, etc.). Just because a customer trusts your product doesn’t mean that they trust your view of the industry.

Organizations should ‘stick to the knitting’ when it comes to content. General industry content can clutter your webpages, making it more difficult to get your critical messages across.

Content is indeed critical on the Web. Credible content. Trust is the foundation of publishing. Make sure you publish content people can trust.

For your web content management solution, contact Gerry McGovern http://www.gerrymcgovern.com

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