Creating an Effective Content Strategy for Your Website

by Silva H

Creating an Effective Content Strategy for Your Website

 

It’s pretty much a given in the business world today that content is king. More important, content is critical. It is the lifeblood, the identity, and the value of any company or organization. Online competition is not about dropping links anywhere in the web, of automated contents, duplicate blogs, and worthless information. It is about creating fresh, unique, substantial and informative contents that are useful for a user’s purpose of exploring the internet. Content –“that elusive, gray cloud of words, images, and graphics”– is the soul of any organization, large or small, profit or non-profit (Schakenbach, 2006). Without content, there is no brand, no image, and no value. A construction without substance is like a body without soul. Without proper planning and adequate attention, it’s no surprise that the resulting product is unfocused, dull, generic content that creates no unique brand identity, no interest, and no sales.

 

(Picture obtained from http://www.labnol.org/)

 

Writing for the web is no different than writing for print except for the fact that your online readers are constantly distracted and most won’t read your content word by word. According to Amit Agarwal, “The web is like a battleground where you are continuously fighting against so many factors to grab the attention of the reader” (Agarwal, 2012). Quality and Content Creation have been in demand because it promotes social sharing. As there can be as much as 27 million of contents are shared online, an average of 55% can say that contents through blogs can positively impact purchasing decisions and acquiring new customers. (Maricel, 2013) In order to create effective website content, you need to first understand the content strategy. Below is a list of Good Content Strategy:

  1. Understanding your target audience’s needs
  2. Using interviews or questionnaires to identify content needs
  3. Setting content goals to address those needs
  4. Conducting a content inventory
  5. Creating a content gap analysis

 

Understanding your target audience’s needs

Keep your target audience’s preferences in mind when writing for the Web. If your target audience is inclined to use slang or colloquial language, be sure to consider this when drafting online content. (Hecht, 2009)

Identifying your target audience can help you decide:

–       What reading level to write for

–       What kind of presentation would seem “right” to them?

– What formats to use for content (video, animation)

– What languages to use

 

Using interviews or questionnaires to identify content needs

Create report like who are the company that you want to create website for them? What is important to them? Who are your online competitors? Create some questionnaires like:

–       What are your top goals for the site?

–       What are the most common complaints you get about the current website or content you have online?

–       What are the three most common questions your customers/constituents/stakeholders ask you (online or off)?

–       What has gotten you the best response?

–       What content on your site has attracted the most compliments/appreciation/results?

–       What do you think you are currently best known for?

 

Setting content goals to address those needs

Set large goals first and make them focused on the results you want. “Clear goals are a framework over which your entire site is built”; they’ll help you determine if your content is compelling and if your site design works for you or against you. Try to limit to 3 goals; be specific, measurable, and realistic. (Ozik, 2011)

 

Creating Content Inventory

First of all make a list of all pages in your website. For small websites use excel including: Page URL, Title, Headline, Images, Multimedia, Meta Data, and Author. For giant websites use “online site mapping tool” to generate a site map. Moreover, analyze the content of the website.

– start with a computer-generated list of page titles and URLs

– read or at least skim all of the pages on the website

– pay attention to ALL of the content, not just text

– take inventory of content that’s not on the site but has been created

– categorize content by file type/format/ and other criteria

 

Creating a content gap analysis

Gap analysis is a way to determine what you have on your website and what you need in order to achieve your goals. Content gap analysis categories:

– Topic/Title

– Brief description

– Goal/Objective: how this content serves your top goals

– Idea format: video, animation, etc.

– Timeliness: evergreen, must be updated regularly

– Current state: missing completely, needs to be updated

 

 (Picture Obtained form www.lynda.com)(Picture obtained from www.lynda.com)

 

Furthermore to knowing the content strategy, there are some other factors that will help your website to be more productive and popular. Below are some important tips to help you create more web-friendly content that your online audience is more likely to read and share on the social web. (Martin & Hernandez, 2009)

–       People on the web have short attention spans; they’ll read the headline of your story and probably the first few lines and then zoom off. Thus you should use the inverted pyramid approach to catch their attention. Put the most important parts of the story at the top that can be seen without using the scroll bar.

–       The headline is almost as important as the story because it will be visible in search engines, RSS readers, email newsletters and social shares. Good headlines are like short summaries of the article but free of jargon.

–       Eye-tracking studies suggest that people don’t read web pages; they scan pages in an F-Pattern. Thus you need to present content in such a fashion that important parts don’t go unnoticed. Use short paragraphs and each paragraph should convey exactly one idea.

  • F Shaped Pattern has the following three components:
    • Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F’s top bar.
    • Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.
    • Finally, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eye-tracking heat map. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heat map. This last element forms the F’s stem. (Nielsen, 2006)

–       When you are writing on the web, you are writing for a global audience and therefore you should avoid using jargon or complex language in your content. Also use the Readability Test to know if people who are less fluent in English can easily grasp your writing style.

–       Make sure that all information in your content is accurate and comes from trusted sources.

Using the five-step content strategy process and tips for user friendly web site outlined here, you can develop, create, and maintain better and more effective content. A workable content strategy enables you to build, populate, and maintain a website more efficiently. The purpose of this post was to help you develop a long-term content strategy framework for your site. All industries have the ability to build a passionate community because ultimately, the Internet has become a source for all forms of knowledge and marketing. The difficulty is in finding these individuals, reaching out to them, and building content that they would read, enjoy, and share.

Work Cited

Agarwal, A. (2012). How to Create Web Content that Works. Retrieved 05/11/2013 from http://www.labnol.org/internet/create-good-web-content/21101/

Hecht R. (2009). Writing for the Web: Adapting Online Content to Improve Visibility. 65(31). Potomac: Access Intelligence LLC. Retrieved 05/11/2013 from ABI/INFORM Complete. http://0-search.proquest.com.opac.library.csupomona.edu/docview/204221858?accountid=10357

Maricel S. (2013). Ways and Hows of Effective Content Strategy. DLinkers. Retrieved 05/11/2013 from http://www.dlinkers.com/effective-content-strategy/

Martin J. & Hernandez B. (2009). Key website factors in e-business strategy. 29(5). 362–371. n.p. Elsevier. Retrieved 05/11/2013 from ACM Digital Library. http://0-www.sciencedirect.com.opac.library.csupomona.edu/science/article/pii/S0268401209000024

Nielsen J. (2006). F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content. Nielsen Norman Group. Retrieved 05/15/13 from http://www.nngroup.com/articles/f-shaped-pattern-reading-web-content/

Ozik, D. (08/11/2011). DESIGNED FOR SUCCESS: SETTING GOALS FOR YOUR WEBSITE. Retrieved 05/11/2013 from http://www.sofionik.com/blog/web-design/designed-for-success-setting-goals-for-your-website/

Schakenbach J. (2006). A Guide to Understanding, Developing, and Implementing a Content Strategy For Your Business. Retrieved 05/11/2013 from BigWords. http://www.lofwebdesign.com/documents/pdf/content-strategy-e-book.pdf

 

10 thoughts on “Creating an Effective Content Strategy for Your Website

  • May 13, 2013 at 12:27 am
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    Wow, this was a very well written blog! Good job Silva! It’s very true, I hardly read articles from top-to-bottom unless it’s that interesting. But, I have a question. What’s an F-pattern? You mentioned that people tend to scan pages in an F-pattern. Like, is it exactly what it sounds like?

    I also notice that some journalists sometimes use I guess I would say, “big words” or just vocabulary people wouldn’t use on a daily basis. It’s a big no no for me when I’m reading on the web!

    • May 15, 2013 at 3:03 pm
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      I added the meaning of F-Pattern inside the blog.

  • May 13, 2013 at 4:31 pm
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    Thanks for the wonderful explanation of how a website is best coded aesthetically; I will probably have to use that ideology in the future.
    As with David’s blog post, I find myself again bouncing off Ronald. Why not have big words on the web? Understandably, there is much content on the internet to distract oneself with, but I think that at least some people would be attracted to a website with a good vocabulary use in their editorials etc. Additionally, if I had to hazard a guess at what an F-pattern is, I suspect that means that a user will scan something like the entirety of the first line, most of a line a few lines down, half of a line a few more down, etc. etc. until they are just letting their subconscious scan the paragraph like a cloud of words, and essentially therefore just scanning straight down. That’s just a guess though; I could be wrong. Silva, I am also curious: does my wild guess agree with your research?

    • May 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm
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      This is what F-shaped pattern means: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe. I will also try to add more description inside my main blog as well

  • May 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm
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    Very well written blog Silva! Yes, designing a website is much harder than it seems when factoring these conditions. I guess that’s why you see sites such as facebook and youtube getting a face-lift once every few years. I wonder if there are other patterns besides the F pattern? Maybe a something like an E pattern?

  • June 7, 2013 at 7:11 pm
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    Silva, nicely done! I really like that you noted that “Content is king.” I believe that to be exactly the case! There were so many times I would leave a site all because I thought the content broadcasted on that site was poor. I loved how you discussed how most people read content in an F-pattern. I know I am guilty of that! Overall, this blog made me realize how important it is for a site to be aesthetically pleasing.

  • June 9, 2013 at 2:10 am
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    “Without content, there is no brand, no image, and no value” this is so true. I like the resources you found to support your article. I believe you covered the details how what companies do, to find relevant information, very informative. This only opens up my mind to see this being implemented all around me. Good job.

  • June 10, 2013 at 12:22 am
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    ^^^ What they all said… Great article. I like how this 5 – step plan was broken down. It was a great easy to follow read. Makes me wonder why we wernt taught this at CPP in any of the 200 level Cis classes.

  • June 10, 2013 at 10:36 am
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    Very nice blog, Silva! I totally agree that a website needs relevant content pertaining to the purpose of the site and following the five-step content strategy. The way you broke down the steps was pretty neat as you generalize the step first in bold and then you explained it.

  • March 21, 2014 at 12:34 am
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    Content truly is king. Great content keeps users coming back, regardless of the field or industry they may be in. Relevant content is also important for SEO results. The content on the site helps define the business itself; that alone makes creating an effective content strategy a highly important ordeal. Great job on the article.

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