How to set up your website content strategy

Use a publishing calendar to help you with your content strategyAll websites, whether large or small should have a content strategy.

A website content strategy defines how you will maintain the content on your website, specifically: how and when you will create and publish that content, and the content areas and topics you should cover.  In other words, your content strategy is your content action plan for your website.

What is the purpose of your website?

This may seem like an odd question to ask, particularly if your website has been up and running for some time, but it is always worth asking this question, and asking it at regular intervals, particularly as your business and website adapt to meet changing customer demands, new markets or new technologies.

Do you provide a particular type of service?  Are you in the business of sharing information?  Do you sell products?  Be clear about your niche within these broad service areas.  You might, for example be using your website as a selling tool for your aromatherapy treatment business, or to narrow this down further, it may be your selling tool for your daytime aromatherapy treatments for office staff at their place of work – your niche area.

Your website should support your business by not only communicating what your business does, but also by helping your business to achieve its goals.

Returning to the example of the aromatherapy business, if the purpose of your website is to encourage customers to book treatments online, then your content strategy should support this model.

How to set up your content strategy

Set up a publishing calendar for your website – using a traditional or electronic calendar or any other tool that works best for you.  This calendar will cover four main areas: blog content, web page content, functionality and design.  Highlight dates in your calendar when you plan to make content updates across these four areas.

Here are some ideas for each of the four sections:

1) Blog content
Set up and establish your blog posts and blog post frequency – be it daily, five times a week, weekly or monthly – and try to stick to it.  Draw up an ideas list of blog topics you will cover – which ideally will tie in with the services or information you provide as part of your business.

Remember that the main purpose of your blog is to regularly publish information that is useful and relevant to your blog visitors; it isn’t all about non-stop hard sell.

2) Web page content
Define the structure and number of pages your website will have, and plot dates in your calendar when you will revise or update these pages – or the structure of these pages.  While some pages will not need to be updated that often, other pages will, for example event information, new product/services pages or price lists.

As well as your day-to-day publishing, conduct an annual or six-monthly review of all your pages to ensure they are still relevant and are a good reflection of what your business is and the messages you want to give to your customers.

3) Functionality
This broad heading covers a wealth of areas on your website from the publishing tool e.g. WordPress, to the search facility to your newsletter sign-up button, interactive buttons such as social media permissions or feeds and more.

Mark dates in the diary when you will test the functionality on your website, and set aside time for upgrades to new releases.  You may also wish to keep an eye on trends and introduce new functionality to your website, and test it yourself or ask others to test it for you before you release it on your site.

4) Design
Design or look and feel is one of those subjective things that can provoke strong feelings.  But there are design norms that are worth adhering to.  If your website was designed more than a couple of years ago, it would probably benefit from some form of facelift or design refresh to make it look more modern or make it more accessible, for example by using one of the many new fonts, or improving the colour contrasts to aid readability.  Again, schedule such changes into your calendar.

While your overall design/refresh will not be something you will undertake that regularly, other look and feel areas, such as images of the most recent work in your portfolio are worth revising on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.

A few things to bear in mind

To round up, as you draw up your content strategy, bear in mind the following:

  • Make content updates and changes that are relevant to your customers.
  • Include all the standard tasks in your content strategy work, such as adding metadata descriptions and keywords to pages.
  • If one or more people (whether or not this includes you) have access to the publishing tool on your website or blog, make sure you agree who is responsible for which updates, and who will approve new content or content changes before they go live.
  • Always make sure your web pages have a call to action.  If you want your customers to call you for a quote, fill in a contact form or order by a particular date to qualify for a discount, say so, and say so clearly.
  • Regularly revise your content strategy and tweak it as your business goals change so that your website remains in step with the products or services you deliver.

Post written by DEBBIE THOMAS on 22 May 2011.

Image by: Jan Willem Geertsma

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