We’ve all been known to get lost in our daydreams—conjuring up a sun-filled beach vacation during the latest bitterly cold blizzard or imagining the crack of the bat as the ball heads over the outfield fence. That’s all pretty harmless. In fact, such thoughts might help us get through the worst of winter’s days or connect on a monster grand slam the next time we stand beside home plate.
Hope is Not a Content Strategy
When it comes to our website content, though, we need a little reality therapy. Good content doesn’t happen by magic, which means we actually need to pay attention to it. On a regular basis. With our organizational goals and our users—and their goals—in mind. Even if we’d like to believe otherwise, hope is not an effective strategy for dealing with the vast expanse of website content. We need to make content a top priority—from the time we create it through the time we send it to bed.
So, you say, how do I add one more thing to my ‘top priority’ list? I’m already overwhelmed by all the stuff that’s accumulated on our website. Like watching Hoarders, the thought of digging into the mess makes my head spin. How do I figure out what’s good to go, what’s ready to retire and what’s a hidden gem that simply needs to be dusted off and spiffed up a bit? Well, that takes some research—which means time and effort to dig deeper and uncover the answers to some big questions.
Digging Deep at the Beginning Leads to Success in the End
Every writer understands that a lot of background work, research and preparation must happen before taking any step toward actually creating words and sentences, let alone paragraphs, books or websites. Whether those words end up on a piece of paper or on a computer screen, the preliminary work is the same—and it’s critical to success. Your early efforts will help you answer those questions about what’s good, what can be sent to the archives, what might simply need a bit of polish and what must be created from scratch. That’s actually a plan—both manageable and future-oriented—to help you get a handle on governing your content.
What it Really Takes to Create Valuable Content
No two ways about it. Creating an awesome website with valuable content takes a lot of work. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not easy. Making your website one where visitors return again and again—and also share their love for it with family, friends, neighbors and their social media networks—involves the deep dive of discovery that plays out something like this:
- Understand your goals, who you are (your brand) and how you want to be seen by your audience and in your market
- Understand your audience(s) and their goals, including those of key stakeholders and both current and prospective users
- Understand what’s on your site now and who (if anyone) uses it by performing a content audit/inventory, reviewing the site analytics and mapping the current content/site structure
- Understand how content is currently managed—even if that’s “not at all”—and resources you’ll need to review it, migrate existing pages and develop new elements
- Understand where you want your new website to take you—and why, including how it needs to mesh with both your organizational goals and your users’ goals
- Identify opportunities that can bridge the gap between your “current” and “future” websites
- Understand the content/design connection—how changes in design (and the shifting content of responsive design in a mobile-first approach) affect the meaning and function of content; appreciate the need to consciously prioritize content so it delivers the best user experience on any device or platform
- Create the site architecture and content map that’ll take you forward
- Establish your standards for content creation (style guides, unique organizational treatments)
- Round up every scrap of related source material—from press releases, blogs and social media feeds to internal memos and sticky notes—and prepare it for your writers/content developers
- Expand the site architecture into a deeper page-level content structure that carries messaging, calls to action and the framework for writing
- Write/revise/edit all those pages or content elements—whew!
- Use an editorial review process to catch the pesky punctuation and grammar gremlins—and double-check topic accuracy—before anything can embarrass you on a published page
- Publish! Celebrate! Breathe a (small) sigh of relief…
- Set the dates/time frames and identify the people who’ll be responsible for reviewing each piece of content—the key parts of your content governance plan—to help Google continually show its love for your valuable, fresh content
- Take a short nap, jet off to a palm-shaded beach, climb a snow-covered peak or otherwise renew yourself so you can stay on top of this process for the long haul
What You Gain
If Web searchers are drawn to your site because they find helpful, meaningful, actionable content on the first try, you’re golden. In fact, with that kind of valuable content, you might not need to spend as much on advertising. Or you can put those advertising and marketing dollars to more effective use by supporting your website content investment with targeted marketing campaigns, both online and off.
Get Serious About Content — Even if it Takes Some Effort
No doubt, the process of creating good website content can seem overwhelming. And doing the actual writing is only one part of it. But putting in the effort to develop a stellar website is one of the best investments in your business you’ll ever make. You’d do the same for your bricks-and-mortar facilities, right? Your online presence needs just as much love.
Remember, closing the metaphorical closet door—leaving things as they are, waiting until your shiny new responsive design templates are finished or hoping all your content will “take care of itself” before launch—won’t make the issue will go away. After all, good content is the reason people visit your website. And good content is the reason people will stay on your site after landing there from a social media connection.
That means creating and maintaining quality content must be high on your list or your potential online audience will know it and take their clicks to your competitors. Yes, good content takes work. Yes, good content takes time. But all those efforts offer a greater opportunity for success than simply thinking you’ll get around to dealing with your content “someday.”
Good Connections Can Help
Content. Strategy. Marketing. Everything is connected to everything else. Now’s the time to raise your hand and make good website content your top priority. The content, strategy and marketing experts at Geonetric are here to help you scope out the big picture, identify the details and figure out what works best for you, your organization and your audience.