By Elle Anderson: Client Relations Intern
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Content is king.” This phrase was originally popularized by Bill Gates in 1996 with the publication of his essay of the same name. Since then, this phrase has been a motto in the marketing industry. Then, in 2012, Lee Odden modified this saying and took it one step further in his book Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More By Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing when he said, “Content isn’t king, it’s the kingdom.” In this book, Odden outlined strategy to integrate these tools together, effectively creating a kingdom of content for your readers to reference.
Taking the above points into account, I think it’s still safe to say that content is king, and this king reigns with SEO, social media and content marketing throughout his kingdom to inform his subjects. And where does the king reign from? Why his castle of course. Or for the purposes of this article, from a website. And just as a castle is built with brick, mortar and wood, websites are built with site maps, wireframes and SEO. Understanding how these tools work together when you’re developing content for your website is essential to the success of your overall content strategy.
Before we get to that, however, you may be asking, “Why does content strategy even matter?” Because people read differently online than when they read print materials. In 2008, a group of scholars in Germany published a study titled Not Quite the Average: An Empirical Study of Web Use that found “on average users have time to read at most 28% of the words while on the website, 20% is more likely.” This means your content needs to be concise. No one wants to read a lengthy article and end up only understanding a quarter of it. Nothing disengages the attention of a reader more than when pages become too wordy. To prevent this, be sure you pinpoint your target audience(s) early in the content development process to ensure you are respecting their knowledge base, getting them the new information they need and educating them on industry jargon. As you start to consider what information your readers will be most interested in and how you will present that on your website, think streamlined. Which brings me to the first and second building materials for our content castle: the site map and wireframes.
For our purposes, we define a site map as the plan that outlines which pages will be on your site and how these pages link to each other, which will help your readers find information quickly and navigate your site easily. Site map pages generally include at minimum a Home page, About Us page, Services or Products page, Blog or News page and Contact Us page. Once these pages have been established, each one is wireframed, which is basically a blueprint of what will appear on each page, such as the amount of content needed and the placement of videos, pictures and graphics. Presenting your content in various manners is also more engaging for your readers, so you may need to start thinking beyond just copy writing for your website and into scriptwriting and infographic writing, which will further enhance your brand and key messages… but those are topics for another time.
After you meet with your team of web developers to finalize a site map and wireframes, content development can commence. A few points you need to consider to keep your content streamlined include:
- Develop key messaging that will be consistent, continuous and accurate throughout your site.
- Ask yourself, what is the tone of my brand and how can I incorporate that into my my website content?
- Ask yourself, what benefit statements about my products, services and company history can my consumers take away from this content?
- Develop a hierarchy of information and address the most important items first in your content development.
- Ask yourself, what are the key takeaways your readers should have after visiting your website? Limit yourself to two to three.
- Develop strong calls to action.
- Ask yourself, what actions do you want your readers to perform while they are visiting your website? Limit yourself to two to three. You want your call to action to be short, memorable and actionable, such as “Send Me Specials Now.”
- Write in active voice.
- Ask yourself, are the sentences I’m creating clear and direct (do they follow the subject-verb-object format)?
Such considerations early in your content development process will help your organization create meaningful, customized content designed to convert these leads into customers and brand advocates.
As you begin researching, gathering, organizing, writing and editing information, don’t forget about the power of keywords for search engine optimization (SEO). In general, these keywords are probably a bit obvious based on the industry you’re in, but it’s still a good idea to strategically place them within your site to improve content visibility from the get-go. And often times you can even consider your competition’s use of keywords and find holes in search engine results that your organization’s website is able to fill.
Once your site is launched, you’ll be able to test the analytics of your site and refine your content as needed so you’re not just getting users to your site but also the right users. At the same time, however, beware of keyword stuffing, which means putting as many keywords into your content as you can. This used to work in the early days of SEO, but search engine algorithms have gotten much smarter and are able to recognize this tactic, meaning they won’t reward you in their search results any longer. Not to mention this is plain annoying for your readers.
In sum, you want your website to be the hub of your brand so its the main conversation starter for you and your consumers. To accomplish this, you’ll need to stay on top of your marketing game with a solid knowledge of website development processes, content development best practices and SEO optimization. If done properly, your company can go from not only a conversation starter but also a well-known business with high traffic, reach and popularity.
If you need help crafting your business’s content, please give us a call at 701-478-1111 and ask to speak with a Marketing Advisor or visit absolutemg.com/contact.