What is Content?
Content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of content—written or in other media. (Images, Videos, and/or Audio)
The strategy of content focuses on the planning, creation, delivery, and governance of content. Content not only includes the words on the page but also the images and multimedia that are used. Ensuring that you have useful and usable content that is well structured, and easily found is vital to improving the user experience of a website. “Content” is everywhere.
The goal of content strategy is to create meaningful, cohesive, engaging, and sustainable content that can also be documented and visible to the Customer and in search engines. It is sometimes difficult to find the right framework, design, and wording that not only looks good, but that “web crawlers” can see. A “web crawler” are software’s that are created by business to itemize and categorize your website so that it can be found on the World Wide Web. Content tailored specifically to the user experience is called “Front End Strategy”. Therefore, those who focus on search engine optimization of content is referred to as “back-end strategy,”
Content creation without strategy often leads to incongruent content with no core themes or purpose. This is confusing to your target audience and can negatively impact your brand’s credibility. For many people, content seems to begin and end with publishing. But for a content strategist, content begins with defining requirements, and identifying user needs. Before writing a word, content strategists outline the brand’s message, and the organization’s goals. If the project is a site redesign, they might review the pages currently on the site. If the project includes a new site backend, they might research and develop a conversion plan for a content management system. The ultimate goal? To have flexible, searchable content that appears to the right people, in the right places, at the right time.
Vision – Start with a vision for what you want the company to be in three to five years, and then work toward a plan of how content will help you achieve that vision. That’s the foundation for your strategy. You’re now on the road to developing a content strategy. Your content marketing strategy is a guiding light when questions like “what are we doing?” or “why are we doing this again?” arise. You want a strategy that is specific enough to your company and audience that it can actually provide a framework for answering those questions. But you also want a strategy that is flexible enough to change as your company and audience do.
Research – To develop a content strategy you need to start with research. The research required can be broken into three pillars:
- Company Research: During the company research phase, you need to uncover your brand’s values and core strengths. Some questions you want to answer are: what is your company best at and what does it stand for? Besides making money, why are you in business? Objectively audit the content you already have. Is it delivering versus your objectives?
- Customer Research: During the customer research phase, your goal it to understand the wants, needs, and purchasing journey of your customers. You need to understand more about how, where and when they consume content. Define your audience. You need to know their; 1) Demographic info (age, gender, location, etc), 2) Where they are on the net? (What other sites do they frequent?), 3) What channels do they use to communicate? (Is this a Twitter crowd or an Instagram one?), and 4) Who do they listen to? (Time to figure out who their influencers are.)
- Competitor Research: Competitor research comes in two flavors – commercial competitors and content competitors. You need to understand your commercial competitors’ brand values, unique selling proposition, and how they are communicating them to their customers. You’ll also need to understand your content competitors. These might be different from your commercial competitors. For example, imagine you’re a sports betting company. If you’re going to be creating content related to the sports events you’re offering betting markets on; then you’re competing not just with other betting companies, but everyone else who creates content about these events. So that means you’ll be looking at major news outlets, sports news outlets, fan sites etc. Your content doesn’t just need to stand out from your commercial competitors, but these content competitors too.
Substance – Information Architecture – Information architecture is a field of its own, countless books have been written on this topic alone. Here is a basic summary
- Topic: What is the content about? Does it talk about what you’re selling, or is it more educational? Is it about content marketing, social media, conversion rate optimization, landing pages, A/B tests, or something else? Come up with a list of categories that fairly well encapsulates what you’ve covered through content marketing, and assign each piece a category or two. That’ll allow you to come to conclusions like, “Wow, our audience engages nearly twice as much with posts that are about advertising techniques. I guess we know what they’re interested in.”
- Length: How long is the piece, and does that affect how it’s viewed and shared by your audience? Do your readers prefer longer, more comprehensive pieces of content, or do they prefer things short and sweet? According to google though, every page should consist of at least 300 content text and a minimum of 3 images or media content.
- Tone: Is the content funny? Professional? Full of Jargon? Cutesy? Again, come up with some descriptors that do a good job of holistically describing your content, and apply them to each individual piece for your analysis.
- Relevant: How directly aligned with your actual business is the topic? Does it talk about your products, or is it about something silly and only tangentially relevant to your business, despite its obvious appeal to your audience?
- Timing: Some content lasts forever, and some most definitely doesn’t. Make sure you know where each piece sits on the scale from evergreen to kindling.
- Features: What types of content are included, and how are they delivered? Does it feature embedded videos? Lots of illustrative imagery? An infographic? Does it have proper SEO markup, including title tags, meta descriptions, headings throughout, schema markup, etc.?
Analyze it and adjust: Are all of your posts about advanced niche topics? What if your audience is full of beginners who want to learn from other people’s experience? Looking back through and classifying/quantifying your previous work gives you a bird’s-eye view of where you’ve been in the past and where you have yet to venture. Document your stradegy and plan and write it down on a master plan. Add to the plan as time goes on.
Content audit – A very important step in creating your strategy is a content audit—an in-depth look at the content you’ve already created. Note that a content audit is often confused with a content strategy, but really it’s only one part of building an effective strategy. As for help if you need a fresh set of eyes that come from a different perspective. Of course you have poured your soul into the web page, because this page is an extension of you. However, clients sometimes do not see the emotion behind the words, they just see the words. A fresh set of eyes or an independent company that specializes in content strategy may prove itself very useful. The audit, then, is the qualitative analysis of the inventory. There are many types of content audits, and the right one to perform depends on the goal. A content audit can be compared to competitor sites for a competitor audit, or it can be turned into a content evaluation, where the strategist rates each page according to specific goals. The content audit can then be repurposed as a report with prioritized pages to create, edit, retire, or migrate to a new CMS, all depending on the project. While conducting the audit itself can feel tedious and tiresome, the deliverable is so versatile and valuable it’s well worth the time. Google Analytics is the self–described enterprise-class web analytics solution. What does this mean to you? Google Analytics gives you insight into your website’s effectiveness through a variety of metrics; including bounce rate, keyword frequency, etc. Married with web analytics and measurement, this enables content strategists to gauge content’s efficacy.
Meta-tag it: You content needs to be searchable. Not only with internal key words with your internal search bar. You also need to metatag it properly so that “web crawlers” can see your website and rank you on the search engines. For more information on metatag please click here.
Ask for the sale: Whether you are running a webstore, providing information, or getting paid through advertisements, you are offering yourself to the world. You need to keep this in mind when guiding your customers or viewers. Ask for the comment or the sale. Do not be afraid to offer branding features. Do not assume the user knows certain basics. Be thorough and precise. Add character to the brand and provide a sense of ownership with images, media and words like “Own it” or “your delivery will be on”.
Add more: YOU DID IT. The perfect website…. RIGHT????? Not quite! A website with ever evolving content gets higher ratings than that which has not had any updates in the past year. As your company evolves, so must your content. Factors that can change your content include but are not limited to: 1) New information- updates, new employees, new products, discontinued products, and new technologies. 2) outside influences – competitor changes or consumer perception. 3) Growth of your company. 4) Time has passed and some information has become obsolete and new information needs to be added, and 5) Acts of God that have changed perception or had a direct impact on your industry.
Ultimately, the goal of content strategy is to:
- ensure your content is consistently aligned with your brand message and values
- ensure your content enhances your credibility
- ensure your content helps you stand out from the competition
- ensure that you can be found on the web
If you have any further questions or you would like to talk to us about developing a good content strategy for your business, Please feel free to contact us anytime.