I bumped into a writer colleague of ours at the Networking Bar as I waited for the first session of the Technology for Marketing & Advertising exhibition to begin. She had attended the previous day, and felt that much of what was being said was about content automation and distribution, and not so much about content creation.
I like to reflect on web trends, and currently there's no shortage of software to make analysing, distributing, and automating your content much easier. It's not uncommon now to have software that can have you call a person within minutes of their being on your site, and have them befuddled by how psychic you are: "that's funny, I was just looking at your site". Those are some powerful marketing tools (which I personally find confronting and a little creepy). But there's no discussion about how great content supports this lead generating journey.
Talk of quality content comes up as an obscure entity that is loved by Google, that you must have and that should be:
- Not too keyword heavy, not too content light.
- Just right
But what is just right? Every content context is different, and should be aligned to both your audience objectives and your tone of voice. It's also important to remember that not everyone can or should write content.
Creating great quality content starts with a plan
If you're refreshing an existing website, the first step -- before wireframes, before design conversations -- needs to be a content audit. What content do you currently have, what role does it play, and what message does it send?
Incidentally, I just read a fantastic example about needing to start the content conversation early: How to convince clients to think about content before they think about graphics. Now, before you start yelling at me that "graphics are content, you fool", the title 'graphics' is referring to the website design layout not graphics as a content asset.
Content stages: Audit, analyse, create, publish
To paraphrase: you need to audit, analyse, and create your content (we'll discuss 'distribute' another day). I would also add that the people who create your content should have the necessary skills to do so, and that a defined publishing workflow should be in place to make sure that there is a forum for questioning and refining.
Your publishing workflow doesn't have to be a formal one, but should be consistent and easy to build around your work life. For example, when we write our Rocksalt blog posts, we always ask a colleague to review before publishing. This catches any typos (we hope), and ensures that the team are on the same page when it comes to our blog content.
I recommend reading Kristina Halvorson's Content Strategy for the Web: a bite-sized book packed with information to get you started on your content strategy journey.
Insights from TFM&A 2014 seminars
Can you speak web? Case study: Bird & Bird
Is your website in tune with Hummingbird? How to ensure your content and SEO don't get in a flap!
The take away from this session was how much search has moved to mobile devices, and the impact that not having a responsive website will have on your search results. If people are bouncing off your non-responsive, non-user-friendly website on a mobile device, how do you think Google will take that? Not well, I assure you. Make sure your website design and content are optimised for all devices.
We were recently asked to quote on providing nearly 100 new pages of duplicate content (adjusting keywords for search). We provide the quote as requested, but we were also keen to provide an alternative SEO solution in line with Google's latest guidelines.
After this TFM&A session, I reviewed the company's website on my mobile and saw that it is not currently a responsive website. I would further suggest that they build an optimised website as a key priority to ensure that they remain relevant in search.