Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past 5 years, you might have noticed that there’s been a huge explosion in content marketing recently.
OK, that’s a bit of an understatement. Content marketing is everywhere now, and everyone seems to be doing it. (Which is the very reason I hope you’re doing it too, but that’s another story!)
Content marketing is not only the best way of growing your online profile and getting more people onto your website, but it’s also a great way of getting your audience to pay attention to you and of creating brand loyalty. There’s really no down side to content marketing, except perhaps the fact that you need a little bit of patience to pull it off.
But did you know that what you call your content and where you put it on your website are just as important as what you write about? Honestly, so many people think that content marketing is just a case of writing a few blog posts and bob’s your uncle. But it’s not. Believe me, we don’t just throw this shit together!
Making sure your content marketing actually gets you an ROI takes a little bit of thought and a lot of organisation.
So, if you want to make sure your online content starts producing all the wondrous results that we content marketers keep promising it will, pay attention to the following points on how to structure your content for success. Honestly, it’ll change your life. Possibly.
Does It Matter What I Call My Content?
Yes. What you call your content on your website really matters; in fact, it’s crucial.
One of the easiest ways of doing content marketing and regularly uploading content to your website is by publishing a blog, but what is a blog?
What Is A Blog?
According to Google’s own dictionary definition, a blog is “a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.” Surprisingly woolly. However, according to Wikipedia, slightly more indicative of the popular opinion amongst modern web users;
“A blog (a truncation of the expression “weblog”) is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (“posts”).”
Hence, a blog seems to be commonly understood to be an expression of an opinion – a sort of off-the-record diary. Or, as we frequently tell our clients, your blog should be your conversation between you and your customers; it’s an informal piece, to be written as you would say it and to express your own thoughts and ideas.
Modern blog readers expect familiarity and unpretentiousness. They want to know what you think and feel; they may even expect you to sail a little close to the wind. What they are not expecting is a formal piece of journalistic writing. Your blog is not a news article that will be published in a print newspaper, nor is it a legal factsheet, nor is it a comprehensive, fact-packed guide. Instead, your blog needs to strike that tricky balance between proving your position as an industry expert whilst still being slightly fun and frivolous. It needs to inform, but it also needs to be easy to consume.
OK, I get that you may have compliance issues that you need to, well, comply to, or that you have a lot of legal information you need to make your customers aware of, or that you have an absolute wealth of knowledge that you want to show off about, but a blog can still be compliant whilst also being entertaining. Remember, if it’s a blog you’re writing, then make sure it’s a blog you’re writing.
When Is A Blog Not A Blog?
Of course, that’s not to say that there isn’t a place for other types of content on your website.
If you want to share regular news updates to your website, either about your own company or about the industry you work within, then publish a blog, but call it ‘News’. If you want to share detailed legal information, then call your regularly updated content ‘Knowledge Bank’ or ‘Legal Factsheets’. If your chosen type of content marketing is to produce step-by-step guides to help your customers, then call the content section of your website ‘How To Guides’.
Basically, human beings – and therefore algorithms – like to know what they are getting and like to be able find what they want quickly, so the more sensible your content naming is and the easier your content is to understand, the better it will be received. And if people navigate and consume your content better, this will show in your analytics data and your website will consequently rank better. It’s win win.
Having said all of that, however, please remember that, on a personal note, I don’t really care what you call your content. All I want is for you to create content and lots of it. Call it Colin if you wish, but just write it, publish it and promote it. It will be one of the best things you can do for you, your website and your business.
Does It Matter Where I Put My Content?
Yes. How you structure your content on your website is just as important as what you call it.
For several years now, we content marketers have been talking amongst ourselves about how content should be structured, how we should build our ‘content pillars’, what we should call our content and where it should go etc. etc. To cut a long story short, I could write you a very detailed exposition on all of this but, frankly, it would both bore and baffle you. So I’ll give you the short version.
What Type Of Content Should I Have On My Website?
As we’ve already established, what you call your content is important, so don’t call it a blog if it’s actually a news article. However, the ideal scenario is not an either or, but a both. If you genuinely want to succeed at content marketing, you should be producing ALL these types of content, not just choosing one.
Hence, in an ideal world, your website should contain a range of content that provides your customers with all the type of information they need, regardless of who they are, how they consume information and what stage of the buying process they are at. You should have a blog that expresses your opinion as a fellow human being and breaks down that invisible online barrier; you should have news that tells your customers about the latest developments in your company; you should have articles that explain your products or services in great detail; you should have guides that answer your customers’ frequently asked questions. You get the picture.
What’s more, you need to have content that covers everything you do, not just one aspect of it. You need to provide information that is helpful to those potential customers who don’t yet need you; you need to provide content that is helpful to those people who are your current customers, and you need to provide information to those people who have used your company in the past, but with whom you want to remain friends to maximise your chance of getting their repeat custom.
You need to have content on what you do, how you do it, why you do it, why they need you to do it and why they need you to do it and not someone else, and if you have all of that, the search engine algorithms will know and will reward you with rankings.
However, you also need to make sure that all of that content can be accessed quickly and easily, to maximise the chance of it being found and used, both by people and by algorithms.
Why Should I Structure My Content Marketing?
As a result, how your website is structured – your site architecture, as we call it – is important both for your visitors and your SEO, and for a number of reasons.
Unfortunately, we’re constantly amazed by how little attention people pay to the organisation of their website; if they think of it at all, it always seems to be an afterthought, considered either once the new website has been designed, built and set live, or once the old one has become so cluttered with content that no one knows what to do with it. In reality, your site structure should be the first thing you think of, if for nothing else than for the fact that prevention is better than cure.
From a purely SEO point of view, a good site structure – with all your content organised in an easy-to-navigate content hierarchy – helps the search engine algorithms to crawl your site more easily and find your content to return it in search results. Also, a good site structure will get your site sitelinks, which is where your website gets laid out like this in the search engine results pages (SERPs);
However, a good website architecture is not just pleasing for algorithms, it’s also good for people too. If visitors can easily navigate their way around your website, if it’s laid out logically and systematically, and if they can find related content easily, then they’re much more likely to stay on your website for longer and browse more pages. They’re also much more likely to then come back again, increasing the chances of your website being classed as a resource and therefore returned in more search results.
It’s also been proven time and again that people who have engaged with your content online, especially those who do it regularly, are not only statistically more likely to buy from you, but they’re also statistically more likely to remain loyal to your brand and your company in the long run..
How Should I Structure My Online Content?
That’s why, from whichever angle you look at it, it just makes good common sense to arrange your content properly on your website – and to do it from the very beginning – although how you chose to do this will very much depend on your business and what your products and services are.
One thing to remember is that you want as many different types of content as you can get, to enable different customers to consume only the content they want in the way they prefer, and that this needs to be laid out as logically as possible. Hence simple is usually better, and for most people a common content hierarchy, like the one below, is sufficient.
However, if you operate in a really niche market and produce a lot of content about your specific products, you may prefer to have a sitemap that looks more like this;
Either way, the key is to strike that fine balance between multi-layered, in-depth, well segmented content that is at the same time simple and straightforward to navigate and provides a great user experience. Simples, eh?! Oh, and don’t forget to do it sooner rather than later, as it’s far easier to do it at the beginning of a website’s life than once you’re a few years into your content marketing strategy!
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So, whether you’re just starting out on your content marketing voyage or have been doing it for a while, now might just be the perfect time to take stock and put some organisation into your content. Have you called it the right thing and have you put it in the right place?
Believe me, if the internet carries on the way it has been going, you’re going to be doing this stuff for quite some time yet, so it makes sense to get a proper structure in place now, or you’ll be cursing yourself later on.
A good content structure will help you, it will help your customers and, most importantly, it will help the SEO of your website, so it’s well worth putting in a little bit of effort now.
And don’t forget, if you’re stuck or have no idea where to start, then we can always offer practical advice or even do it for you. After all, this is what we love to do; in fact, we’re a little bit obsessed with it! (I’m not even joking…organising content is literally what I dream about at night!)
Why not drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a bell on 0161 706 0012 and we’ll ease all the pain for you.