‘Content strategy’ is probably a term that you’ve heard thrown around, but it’s a broad, sweeping concept that web developers, marketers and designers approach from a multitude of equally important angles. Content strategy is the intentional planning of content for a specific audience in order to achieve a specific goal (usually to attract and convert that audience into consistent followers, customers or both).
On a website, this includes everything from the hidden, back-end structure of the site to the words and graphics you see on the page. If you’re doing it right, then your content strategy puts thought and purpose into each and every one of these areas that impact your website’s success:
- Web development: The ultimate structural support and layout of your site, including its look and feel, and back-end descriptions and tagging that leverage SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to tell search engines that your site is exactly what they’re looking for.
- Marketing: Knowing your audience well enough to present information to them in a compelling and relevant way that converts; this includes freshness of content, brand voice and SEO-driven messaging.
- UX/UI: Going hand-in-hand with web development and marketing, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) consider the front-end visual experience of your site to make it as streamlined and effortless as possible for visitors to navigate pages and find what they want.
How content strategy works in three steps
To get the most out of your content strategy, take a three-step approach to developing, implementing and reporting back on its success:
- Discovery: How does your website currently meet the goals of your organization? If your site never seems to show up in search results, your blog has gone unloved for over a year, or your finicky store checkout process is losing sales, now is the time to identify and analyze where you want to see improvement—from as many different angles as possible.
- Implementation: What is your organization’s greatest pain-point right now? Create a list of recommendations, identifying what is most likely to move the needle and what might be easy to accomplish now and get out of the way. Prioritize accordingly and start putting these recommendations into action.
- Reporting: Do you have a way to track the success of the changes you’ve made? It’s critical to understand which elements are working so you can continue to adjust your content strategy. Use tools that can help you see the current status of keywords, sales, time spent on specific pages, and other measurable efforts determined by your organization.
Why content strategy makes websites stronger
For a website, the greatest value of content strategy is to create a series of informed decisions over time in order to improve the site’s standing in search engines and with its users. Intentional, goal-driven web development, marketing and UX/UI can help organizations expand their online presence, acquire new customers and see dramatic growth.
When it comes to creating a content strategy to begin with, the decisions to change, update and add content get their foundations from analytical data about the website. Many decisions are abstracted from this, however, involving attached significance to events, and sometimes hunches and opinions. This is where the data’s interpreter really matters.
Use keywords to make your content stand out
Unlike classic SEO, which focuses on page structure and the HTML side of legibility in order to deliver improved organic results in search engines, content strategy acknowledges that newer algorithm updates primarily favor page content for ranking keywords while structural standards need to be met.
You can calculate how well your pages are doing, in part, from perceived satisfaction metrics, like bounce rate, in top-ranking content. It’s not just a mathematically solid presentation, it turns out, but also whether the user thinks so, too. A solid content strategy should therefore include new and original content that feature a healthy spread of keywords and key phrases, as well as consistent housekeeping and improvements to existing content alongside the classic SEO standards.
While there’s a bit of legwork involved in doing this, doing it consistently has advantages that are well worth the effort:
- Systemic problem-solving: With every bit of content that you tackle, you have the opportunity to address systemic issues that might otherwise impede user function or organic search results.
- Improved branding: Strategic keyword usage improves the association between your brand and those subjects, while unifying your brand voice, mission and identity more and more.
- Cover your bases: Taking a thoughtful and methodical approach from every angle of code, performance and content ensures that no stone is left unturned to improve organic search results.
- Proven wins: Every change you make is an effort you can track with data, proving that small efforts accumulate into big gains.
Why make changes so gradually?
You’ll want to roll out big, strategic content changes to your website gradually. Here are two reasons why:
- It’s impossible to measure the individual impact of any single content change if all of them are deployed at once.
- We expect the outcome of some work to change the overall picture of how the website is doing, so mulling on the next step after completing the first (and not before) is important.
Step-by-step adjustment and modification is how this is done. It keeps your provider sane, and it allows for a story to unfold from what we started with, and where your goals are directing us. First this, then this, then this; without the ability to think about where we are going in a narrative, all we have are disparate, unrelated facts that are unnecessarily difficult to relate and talk about.
Narrative is key to keeping a strategy organized and understood, which is critical for all stakeholders and us to be on the same page.