Any professional chef will tell you that a dish is only as good as its ingredients. Quality and freshness often can make the difference between a signature dish at a 5-Star restaurant or your mother-in-law's 'Chicken Surprise.'

A similar edict holds true for you and your Web site. There are many ingredients that go into making a great Web site, including cutting-edge design, efficient site applications and, perhaps most importantly, quality and fresh content.

In my 10 years of managing Web site projects, I can't tell you how many times I've seen new Web sites with the latest bells and whistles - fancy Flash intros and dynamic menu systems that pop and zing at you from every direction – only to fail at getting any significant traffic. The reason these sites ultimately failed was simple. They neglected the most important ingredient of all – good content.

Users scour the World Wide Web constantly looking for something interesting. Once they find it, they need a reason to keep coming back. There is no better way of bringing people back to your site than updating it with fresh, timely content.

So what does that entail?

First, your content doesn't just have to be text. There are many different types of content that you can utilize to make your site special. These might include pictures, videos, software downloads or a variety of other things. Take a look at some of the most successful sites on the 'Net like YouTube or Hulu and you can see that you don't have to have a degree in journalism to provide something that users want to come back to see. Find out what your users want to see and provide that to them. It's that simple.

Secondly, your content needs to be relevant. In other words, it needs to make sense to your audience. If your site provides tips for the average golfer, obviously you don't want to put up an article about the newest advances in bowling ball technology. But beyond the obvious, make sure your content is staying up with the times. You want your users to come to your site to find out the newest information so don't play catch-up with old, irrelevant content.

Finally, your content needs to be organized and well-managed. Fortunately, almost every Web site owner these days has the option to use a content management system to create, organize and display their content. Make sure you take advantage of this. Using a Content Management System, or CMS, allows you or your staff to update and add new content to your site without knowing much about HTML or Web development at all. Most CMS software packages include a simple editing screen that allows you to easily manipulate your content. Additionally, a typical CMS will allow you to post articles from multiple users, approve them and then provide a publish date that might be days or weeks in the future. Work flow is dramatically improved and your users get access to the latest content in a timely fashion.

Creating a successful Web site isn't easy. It takes a lot of planning and a huge time commitment from you. Planning out a successful strategy, including quality content, can play a huge part in that success. If you keep the basics in mind, including variety, relevant and well-organized content amongst other things, you'll see your traffic numbers increase and see your user base continue to come back for more.