Implementing a Content Strategy Is Not Just Adding New Pages
There are many ways to define content strategy, but at its core it is about planning, creating, executing and managing one or more varieties of content to help you achieve your business objectives and goals.
Too often, content marketers focus more on the planning and creation aspects of their strategy and less on the executing and managing portions.
An effective strategy isn’t just about identifying content gaps and adding more content. It’s important to consistently revisit and reevaluate existing content on your website to ensure its quality measures up. Confirm that the primary messages continue to align with the business and the current industry climate in addition to serving the overall content strategy.
After all, the web pages that act as the bread and butter of your business must always work toward your goal(s) of finding customers, generating clients, selling products and services, or promoting your brand.
Applying a review strategy to these key pages can take several shapes. It could mean adding new elements (blurbs, photos, graphics and widgets, for instance). Or it could mean removing or consolidating redundant, outdated or trivial content in an effort to improve user experience.
Sometimes less is more.
You shouldn’t focus on adding content until you have a clear scope of what you already have and how you can improve it.
Regardless, it will start with some kind of a content inventory and audit — either of the entire site or just one or two key sections.
Central to the task at hand is understanding that “content” extends beyond the words on a page. It includes images and multimedia (videos and audio recordings) as well as calls to action, the sometimes-simple and sometimes-complex elements designed to make the user take an action (call you, email you or send you a form, for instance).
You must ensure that your existing content is well structured, current and relevant to your target audience.
Four things you should consider before filling content gaps or adding new pages to your website are:
- Identifying subpar key pages and improving them
- Making landing pages more conversion-oriented
- Ensuring your internal linking structure is on point
- Improving navigation and menus
Let’s dive into these a bit and get some ideas on how this step-by-step process can work.
Identify Subpar Key Pages and Improve Them
The important thing to keep in mind here is the phrase “key pages.” Use analytics tools to show you which pages stack up as the best pages for your key site metrics — traffic (user sessions and page views), conversion, engagement and so on.
What these pages are depends on the size of your site and type of content you produce. Your key pages could be five evergreen pages or 200 blog posts.
Regardless, it’s important that you know what pieces of content speak most loudly and clearly to your audience. You should also be aware of whether or not these pages hit the mark that you want with your target users and also that they align with your business goals.
One free bit of advice on this: If you suspect a particular piece of content falls short of matching up with your business goals, chances are you’re right.
Once you identify the pages, videos, white papers, infographics or images that can benefit from a refresh, compare those to similar pieces of content that are doing well in the metrics that mean the most to you.
During this internal content audit, ask yourself some questions:
- What sets the quality content apart from the subpar content?
- Is the topic of the subpar page outdated or irrelevant?
- Could it be better organized or rewritten to more closely match audience intent?
- Does the content lack expertise, authority and trust signals (E-A-T)?
- Could its content benefit from more images, multimedia elements or testimonials?
Elevating existing content to its highest level should be on an equal or higher priority level than expanding your site with new content. Improve what’s already there before growing.
Make Landing Pages More Conversion-Oriented
This sounds like a no-brainer. Landing pages are created to convert — they are made to give customers what they want — but this is easier said than done.
Not only should landing pages look good, they should read well. They should speak clearly and directly to your user. Context is important in all of the content you produce, but it is essential for landing pages.
As a content strategist, you should ensure that your landing pages have all of the proper elements to do their job of convincing your reader to take the action you want. Those elements are:
- A Simplified Pitch: Don’t overload potential leads with too much information. Outline the benefits of your products or services. Make them crystal clear. Even if your business is complex (or just hard to explain to people), you must present what you are offering in an uncomplicated way.
- A Direct Message: Cut the fluff. Potential leads want to know how your service or product can help them. Let them know right off the top, preferably in as few words as possible. A straightforward design can benefit from straightforward writing.
- Clear and Concise Headings: Visitors to your website should know almost instantly what you are offering and how your service or product can help them. In your title tags and H2s, include language that lets users know what sets your service or product apart from the competition. If you compare thousands of life insurance quotes in seconds, say that. If you’re the only dog grooming business in town that offers in-home visits, highlight that. It may be the only thing that makes you unique is price. Whatever makes you better than your competitor, tell that story.
- What Happens Next: This is especially important when users are asked to fill out a contact form. Visitors want to know what their information will be used for and whether they should expect a call or email after submitting the request. If a live representative from your company will be in touch with the user after they fill out the form, be sure to let them know in the copy. If your service offering is more complex or multilayered, consider outlining the process a user may experience in a step-by-step list. This not only shows transparency, it does something more important: It builds trust.
- Testimonials: Including testimonials and other forms of social proof — reviews, ratings, accreditations, badges, etc. — are instant trust signals. Someone has come to your website because they’re looking for you to solve a problem for them. They want something and they think you have the potential to give it to them. Testimonials give them a reason to tell you yes. On the other hand, beware of overdoing it. Don’t overload your visitors with testimonials or reviews that are long-winded or stray from the service offering at hand.
Ensure Your Internal Link Architecture Is on Point
You may think of internal linking — adding links to existing content in your new content and updating old content with new links when they are live on your site — as an SEO-specific responsibility, but it isn’t. Having a defined internal linking architecture is essential to your overall content strategy.
From a content perspective, you should always ask yourself if an internal link and chosen anchor text provides value to the reader. Pages should be written primarily for users, not for search engines.
Set guidelines for which pages should link to each other, creating a natural funnel for the user to learn more about a particular topic, product or service.
Links and corresponding anchor text should be clear and direct. Users should have a general idea of what page they’ll be taken to if they click on a link.
Internal links on a page should be limited to a “reasonable number,” according to Google’s Quality Guidelines. This vague set of instructions will and should be interpreted differently depending on the size and structure of your website and the type of content you produce.
There’s no magic number, but the key is to add as many links as would be helpful to the user. Don’t just link to meet a quota, and don’t overwhelm the user with links that aren’t particularly relevant to the core topic.
Read the page as your target audience. If linking to a deeper page or related topic will benefit the user and increase their understanding — and potentially increase their chance to convert — it’s a good idea to add it.
Improve Navigation and Menus
Here’s another one that you might think would fall outside of the responsibility of a content strategist. But navigation has as much to do with content strategy as it does with design and development.
Navigation and menus are an essential part of user experience. A well-designed navigation system allows visitors to find the content they are looking for — and improves the likelihood that they may take action on your website.
As with internal linking, it’s important to consider and incorporate navigation and menus into your content strategy.
Navigation should be based on the information architecture of your website. It should act as a clear and concise blueprint to help the user understand the relationship between individual pages.
By organizing your content into top-navigation and sub-navigation menus, you simplify the extensive website hierarchy for the user, outlining how and why pages are categorized and interconnected.
As with landing pages and internal linking, the content of these navigation menus should be clear, concise and direct. The menus should act as a roadmap for the user journey that aligns best with your target audience.
Conclusion: Maintenance Before Addition
Adding new content to a website is an important part of any content strategy, but it is essential not to lose sight of what you already have. Don’t be afraid to improve what is already there. Many times it’s easier to refresh a page than it is to create a new one. Plus, you have the added bonus of that page already being indexed by Google.
Plan for periodic auditing, consistently reflect on your company’s objectives and goals, and always strive to better understand how your target audience thinks.
By enhancing your existing content, you lay the groundwork for identifying content gaps and potential expansion.