Being a website developer I know that content is important for many different reasons, from my point of view content is important because it is fundamental to a websites success as it directly affects the SEO performance of the website. To others content is important for marketing or for promoting a brand image however most people view bits of content as individual elements and don’t think about how the different bits of content interact with each other and the website as a whole.
For me content has always been something that comes in at the last minute and is often ‘shoved’ into the website as an after thought however I have recently started to read a very interesting book called Content Strategy for the web by Kristina Halvorson & Melissa Rach this book has made some very good points already that have got me thinking and I only a chapter or two into it!
The key point so far is that its important to have a strategy behind your content, this is because without a strategy there is no focus for the efforts people are putting into the websites content, by outlining what the purpose of the content that is being created is you will be able to focus all of the efforts to push forward a single goal.
It also provides other benefits such as the ability to research keywords before starting to write content which means you will be able to write more effective content which will attract more visitors and potential customers.
Another key point they make is there is such a thing as to much content and instead of simply creating more and more content its important to review and look after your current content making sure that it is still as effective as it could be, the type of content that can sometimes be left to go stale are product pages and even content on the home page as people believe once its done that’s all there is to it. However it is important to review and test this content as its the first thing visitors to your website will see and can result in them engaging more with your website or leaving altogether.
So how do you go about testing your content and making sure it does not go stale? To start with a content review of all of the content on your website is a good idea – this can even be done in sections if you have a large website – this will involve looking at product text, examples photos etc to see if there are better alternatives around or if they are inaccurate. With the results of this review in hand you will know what areas of content need looking at so will be able to make a plan to address the issues with the content.
The next step is to test the content and example of this is to have two product landing pages, each using different imagery or copy to attract users to do something (buy your product, sign up to email alerts, connect via twitter etc) then by measuring the numbers of people who perform this call to action on each of the different landing pages you will be able to identify which page is more effective. You can then take the more active page and do a variation of it and again monitor the performance of the pages to see which works best. This process can be continually repeated increasing not only the conversion rate of visitors to customers but also your understanding of what works and what does not.
This means that when you come to add another product to your site you will already have a fairly good idea what will and won’t work meaning you can skip allot of the testing done the first time around.
Alternatively try something new monitoring the results and bring any positive features back to existing landing pages, this process is own going and can make a massive difference in the number of conversions you achieve.
But what if your goal is not to sell but to inform? You can measure the success rates in other ways such as the number of returned items, number of support calls (better web content less need for customers to ring) or the visitor numbers to your site.
The important part of content strategy is to set a target for your content – e.g. Increase sales, reduce support calls, increase newsletter sign ups, increase enquires or even increase brand awareness. Knowing what your target is not only means you produce better more effective content but it also means you can measure your success and adapt to insure the biggest possible impact for your effort.
So what are your next steps? 1) take stock of all the content on your website 2) ensure all content is valid and up to date 3) define your targets for the next 3-6months 4)plan the content changes /additions you want to make to meet these targets 5) test the performance of the content and improve accordingly to maximise the effects
My next steps? To continue reading this very useful book!!
What are your experiences with content strategy? I would live to hear from you in the comments below.