1. Know your goals and objectives! Make sure you are familiar with the brand, speak to all the stakeholders and ask them for their goals for the website, and if it’s a large company, get no more than three goals off each department. You may need to refine them for different sections of the site. The sales team might want something different from management or marketing, so it’s good to get all the departments behind one overall goal for the site.
2. Use interviews to identify what needs changing or what content is required. It will help you create a better content strategy. Interview the stakeholders involved and research them before speaking with them about their aims for the site.
3. Identify the target audience; the more you narrow it down, the easier it will be to target the most important people in your strategy. Narrow them down by demographics-age, gender, location. Are they highly educated? Tech-Savvy? The more specific the better. You may need to do your own research or speak to the marketing department about their research.
4. Create an inventory. Do an analysis of what is already in your site so you can understand what you already have and how it needs to be changed. Make an excel list of all the pages in your site and their function.
5. Do a content gap analysis to list all the gaps in the content that’s on your website, what needs to be updated and brainstorm ideas for new content. Know the goals and objectives for your content and the formats you want to use for each piece of content. When you brainstorm ideas, ask your customers or different departments about what they would like on the site. Feel free to add to your gap analysis at any stage of the process. Create a comprehensive list of content that you would like to appear on the site, not all of it will make it from an idea to reality, but it’s important to make a wishlist.
6. Do a content matrix by combining your inventory and your gap analysis. The content matrix will be different to other companies depending on your goals. You should also include elements such as: where the content is to be published, due dates, meta-data, languages, testing and the review process-who is involved. Prioritise the most important content and place importance on deadlines. Here is some inspiration.
7. A Style Guide- You can use an official reference and then edit it according to your own preferences. Consistency is paramount, and if you are in a large company, then digital brand guidelines should be used as inspiration for your style guide. Include elements such as tone of voice that reflects your message-is it formal or informal? It may change depending on the subject. Design style guides should also be used as a reference point for things such as logo, fonts and colours on your site.
8. Create and editorial calendar. Think in terms of different events and occasions throughout the year that may affect your business. First, think about the seasons and think about seasonal events and trends such as Christmas and Valentine’s day. Research newspapers and magazines for inspiration. This helps you schedule content in advance and you can use it along with software for social automation to share your content across different platforms.
9. Factor in content for mobile devices from the very beginning of your content strategy. Make sure it will be readable and that your contact details are formatted in text rather than in a graphic. Make sure you include a map and address to your location. If you have a responsive site this can help save time as you only need to make one HTML page respond to different screen sizes. If you have an adaptive site then you need to make sure the most important information will be prominent and easy to read on smaller screens.
10. Write good, useful content that speaks to your target audience. You can write content that is both optimised for search engines and make it compelling and useful for your users. Use you researched keyword phrases in your content and use them in different ways to get the most out of them and avoid keyword stuffing. Use your keyword phrases on your content pages to explain what each page is all about. Use your most competitive keyword phrases on your homepage, and use short succinct taglines. On product pages, you will need to get more specific and detailed and you can use your less competitive keyword phrases. You can use both plurals, singulars and different tenses of the same phrase on the same page.
11. You can optimise your blogs and articles by using keyword phrases and promote what your company is about, use keyword phrases that you would naturally use to make it sound informative and readable without sounding like you are just stuffing them with keywords. Ensure all your articles and content make sense to your users.
12. Avoid using keywords in graphic or flash or use alternative text or alt tags.
13. HTML tags. Use keyword phrases in your title tags, meta descriptions tags, Header tags, anchor text and alt tags for image navigation. Be careful to use your keyword phrases only where they makes sense and don’t just put them in for the sake of it.
14. Make sure your content fulfills your user’s needs by giving them the information they need. Think about what your audience is looking for and write the content for them while keeping the search engines in mind.
15. Get links to your site! What other sites say matters to Google. Having a great website with good content is critical to link popularity.
16. Use social media to promote your content. Social Media Marketing is vital to getting your content shared. You can also use it to monitor what people are saying about your company. Always respond to negative feedback, you might be able to turn it around and give great customer service and manage your reputation at the same time! Be authentic and open to criticism. Start by research competitors and see what they are doing and if your target market is engaging with them.
17. Measure your success. Rankings are not the best way to measure results as they can fluctuate depending on various factors at any given time as Google search results are often personalised. Instead of ranking reports, use Google Analytics to measure your success by looking at website conversions. Make sure each page on your site has a conversion point such as calls to action or just points of action. for example, make sure your contact form, once submitted, goes to a new page with a new url such as a ‘thank you’ page. This thank you page can become a goal in Google Analytics.
18. Make sure all the copy on your site facilitates a good user experience. Write short, succinct headings and summaries and make sure the most relevant pages are easy to find. Research shows users usually scan pages to find what they are looking for, so it is vital that you give them the information as quickly as possible whilst getting them to do what you want. Limit each paragraph to one idea and make it easy to find information. Make your web pages searchable and text should be broken up into easily scannable, short summaries. you can include your keyword phrases where they make sense.
19. Make sure blogs, articles and press releases are informal and enjoyable to read. Use outbound links to credible sources and know who you are writing for. Again, with writing blog posts you want to impart information, so don’t take forever to give this to your readers or they will get bored! You can use your blog and articles to promote your own products and always include a call to action with each one, you can link to old articles, your social sites or different parts of your page. Fast loading times are hugely important when it comes to hypertext links, people will get frustrated if they don’t get where they want in a timely fashion. Use graphics to compliment your story, simple infographics are great and can increase the sharability of your content!