Optimizing Content Strategy for Users and Search Engines

There is an increasing pressure on content strategy these days, mainly because companies and web developers have noticed that there is no point in having the ‘perfect’ website with the most beautiful design when there is no content to stand at the same level. The content from your pages is maybe the most important element from the entire website and therefore it shouldn’t be neglected but optimized for both users and search engines. Content planning is the best way to optimize your pages’ content through creating a website content strategy that guides you towards optimization.

What is website content strategy? 

Content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of informational content. “It plots an achievable roadmap for individuals and organizations to create and maintain content that audiences will actually care about. It provides specific, well-informed recommendations about how we’re going to get from where we are today (no content, or bad content, or too much content) to where we want to be (useful, usable content people will actually care about).”, says Kristina Halvorson, author of the book Content Strategy for the Web.

In this video Mike Linville from Black Dog Education explains in more details the concept of content strategy:

Why quality content matters ?

When users need to search for something in order to solve a problem, they will use a search engine. The search engine’s duty is to provide the most relevant pages that contain the requested information for solving that problem. So the most relevant result will always be displayed at the top of the list, whereas the less relevant will be displayed on the further pages. Now, the difference here lies in the quality of the content displayed on those pages. It’s possible that the pages listed first will contain extensive and easy to read articles with valuable content, while the other pages may contain thick texts with no original content. So you need to remember that quality content is the most important characteristic of your website content strategy and it will help you rank higher in search engines as the best solution for your user’s problem.

How to create a website content strategy?

When creating a website content strategy, you need to consider several factors and steps that need to be implemented in your content planning.

1.    Understand your Brand

First of all, you need to have a full understanding of your brand and its values. Many businesses skip this step but there is a reason why you need to know exactly how should be your voice tone, where do you stand and what is important to say. Remember that you are the voice of your brand and you need to transmit exactly what it means to its users.

There are many tools that you can use to understand you brand. For instance, you can do a simple SWOT analysis, mapping your brand’s strengths and weaknesses along with its opportunities and threats in the marketplace. From this you will understand and align your tone of voice to brand values and get some ideas of what you can write about and how to proceed with your content planning.

2.    Understand your Audience

Now that you know what your brand stands for and what are its values, you need to know who are addressing to. You need to get to know your audience and create specific profiles of users that you could target through your content.

The best tool here is research. So you’ll need to send some surveys via email where you ask general questions to determine where your brand and its products/ service sit in the lives of your target users. Then, when you have gathered some quantitative data, you can focus on some qualitative data by organizing focus groups that will help you understand the tone and emotive pointers towards the brand.

At the end you should have a pretty clear picture of who you are, how is your brand perceived, and what tone should you use in the articles and the overall content strategy.

3.    Brainstorming

Brainstorming ideas will activate your creativity and help you choose a topic to write about. This should be easy if you know pretty well your company, but there are many other methods that could help you decide what to write about depending on your user’s interests.

After deciding on a topic, the first thing is to do a keyword research and choose the right keywords that could help you attract your target audience. You can use Google AdWords Keyword Tool, which can help you find the right keywords that will provide larger audiences, depending on monthly searches and high search volume.

What is most important here is that you use your keywords wisely. Besides using your keywords several times in the article body, there are some other places that should also contain your article most relevant keyword:

  • The title: the keyword should be used as close to the beginning as possible
  • The URL
  • Heading: use your keyword in more than one heading (h1, h2, h3)
  • Images: write the keyword in the file name and alt-tag
  • First paragraph or near the top of the page

Of course, you’ll need to do a little research on the topic and gather several ideas. Many other writers may have already covered your topic, so you’ll need to see what has been written about it and think how can you improve these articles or bring something new to the table. Think about what your users may not understand and question about the topic and use all the information that you found to crate relevant and unique content.

4.    Organize your content

Your content planning needs to be really clear organized, so you might need to segment your ideas and content into different types, such as: blog posts, infographics, case studies, surveys and anything else you might have. This will provide a clear overview of what you currently have written and it will help you with the further content planning.

5.    Create an editorial strategy

An editorial strategy means that you define the guidelines by which all online content is governed, including the voice, tone, values, legal and regulatory concerns. Also, your content strategy needs this editorial strategy in terms of creating an editorial calendar that offers important and specific guidelines on how and where content will be made available to users.

Here is a useful infographic showing the 7 elements of smart content strategy

content strategy

Content strategy - Conclusion

The web is all about quality content so if you take this into consideration when creating your website content strategy and provide valuable content to your users, you will actually do well in the search results. Thus, content planning is a very important part in this process of creating and sharing content and by following the previous steps, you’ll become the most valuable source for solving your visitors’ problems in a useful and unique way.

Article Sources:
Uxbooth.com, Webdesign.tutsplus.com, and Seomoz.org
Video from Black Dog Education YouTube Channel
Infographic from Socialmediarevolver.com

09-05-2013