Yes, of course, you can just slap any old content up there, and hit the ‘publish’ button…
But if you want the site to actually get traffic, and then convert that traffic into engagement and sales for your brand, you need something a lot more strategic.
You need, in fact, a Website Content Strategy.
I firmly believe that any website project needs a Content Strategy to ensure it ticks all the right boxes. Otherwise, it’s just not worth investing the time, money and effort into creating or updating the site in the first place.
But what IS a Website Content Strategy? And how do you create a Content Strategy for your brand’s website? Lets answer those questions in this article.
“A Content strategy is a map to your most cherished goals. Without it, you’re a rudderless ship sailing into the abyss.” – Kathi Kruse
Perhaps Kathi’s quote is a little on the dramatic side, but it’s still a good way of explaining a Content Strategy and its benefits.
Put slightly less poetically, a Content Strategy is a document that sets out the ‘what, who, why, when, where and how’ of achieving business success through content. Of course, what exactly constitutes ‘success’ (the “cherished goals” of Kathi’s quote) will depend on your unique business goals. The ‘what’s, ‘who’s’, ‘why’s, ‘when’s, ‘where’s and ‘how’s are then all the details you map out as you deep dive into how you’ll reach those cherished goals.
Ideally, you’ll already have an overall Content Strategy for your brand. If it’s done right, that strategy will cover your entire online presence – from your website to your social channels to your internal communications and more.
But some individual projects can benefit from having their own Content Strategy. And that’s particularly true for something as major – and often as complex – as a new (or updated ) website.
Creating a Content Strategy for your website involves taking general Content Strategy principles and applying them to a specific website project. This is vital, because it helps the whole website team, both internal and external, understand what your brand is trying to achieve, and how you’ll measure success.
You need to complete a Website Content Strategy at the very beginning of your website project. Then you need to ensure that everyone on the team – copywriters, copy editors, website developers and internal teams – refer back to it constantly. Otherwise, you risk getting off-track and ending up with content on your website that has no strategic value and won’t help you to achieve your business goals.
- Who’s coming to your site?
- How are they finding it?
- What are they actually doing once they’re there?
If you already have a website, do a deep-dive into your Google Analytics and Google Search Console tools. Start by looking at information about your audience and the behaviours of your existing site visitors by analysing your Google Analytics data.
Next, use Google Search Console to check your current search engine ranking positions. This will help you to identify what any new content you create should focus on. (Hint: don’t reinvent the wheel! If you’re already ranking well for a relevant phrase, capitalise on that.) Checking your existing rankings will also help you to decide how you’ll measure success. Note down your current positions for important keywords, then set a goal to either improve or broaden them.
After that, you need to conduct a competitor SEO analysis, using a tool like SEMRush. This will help you to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for, and compare their results to yours. Once you have this information, you can look for opportunities to outrank competitors by either optimising your existing content, or strategically creating new content. This kind of analysis will also help you to understand your backlink profile.
Finally, if you’re creating a new website, research your direct competitors’ websites to pinpoint industry trends. For example, look at site navigation: do all brands in your space use the same navigation format? Also consider running some domain analytics (like those in SEMRush) over their URLs to find out what keywords they rank for and what their backlink profiles look like.
(And if the research step sounds WAY too complicated, don’t panic. Help is available!
Just get in touch to book a FREE 15-minute chat, and we’ll be happy to talk you through all this stuff in more detail.)
No matter whether your website already exists or not, clearly defining its goals is essential. As you think about possible goals, consider:
- What you want your website to achieve
- Who you want to visit it (and whether they’re already doing that)
- What you want those visitors to do once they arrive
- What goals you want to set up to track, and what key metrics you’ll put around those goals
- What keyword phrases you want to rank for
Answering these questions, and more, will create a set of goals that you can work towards. This is vital: you can’t measure your website’s success if you don’t know which goals you want it to achieve.
Next, create a detailed profile of exactly who you want to come to your site. When you do this, steer clear of standard, basic demographics like age, sex, income levels, etc. While these kinds of characteristics are all quick, easy ways to group people, they tell you almost nothing about the person behind the statistic. They don’t give you any insight about what’s important to your visitor, or what makes them most likely to need what your brand offers.
Instead, focus on who your visitors actually are as people. Ask yourself:
- How do they spend their days?
- When are they online most?
- How do they find most of their information – Google? Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? YouTube?
- What questions do they have?
- Are they likely to just visit your website once? Or many times?
If you’ve got a site already, ask yourself whether the people you WANT to visit it are already visiting. If not, consider which other websites they’re visiting instead, and ask yourself why.
If you already have a website, it’s now time to cast an objective eye over it (and if not, feel free to skip to Step 5).
Start by running a Content Scan/Audit using SEMRush over your site to check exactly how many pages you currently have. You may be surprised to discover there’s a lot more in there than you realised.
Next, list them all out in a spreadsheet, and do a full content audit of each page. This involves asking yourself:
- Which pages are fine to keep as they are?
- Which pages are mostly still relevant, but perhaps just need a little strategic polishing?
- Which have some useful content, but need radical improvement?
- Which are old and irrelevant, and safely can be deleted/redirected?
Map your analytics data from Step 1 to each page, and see which are the most visited. Then make a note next to each URL to decide whether you’ll keep it as it is, delete it (301 redirect) or edit it.
Once you’ve done that for every URL, prioritise the pages you need to edit in order of importance to your brand and your goals.
This will help you to determine how much work you have ahead of you.
Regardless of whether your website already exists or not, a key part of creating/updating it is planning your site map. (A site map is a visual representation of all the pages in your site, showing which pages relate – and sometimes link – to which others.)
To do this for an existing site, start by using a tool like Gloomaps to map all the pages you’re planning to edit and keep. Then think about the journey you want your visitors to take once they land on your site, and fill in any gaps. Or, if you’re creating a new site, simply start with the ideal journey you want people to take.
As you’re plotting out their journey, ask yourself:
- What do you want your visitor to do first when they land on your site?
- Where will they actually land when they’re coming from each marketing channel – organic (SEO), paid ads, referral (newsletters, social media), direct, etc?
- Will the most important information for them to know if they’re going to buy be there on the pages where they can convert?
- Will those pages be accessible from the main navigation?
- Will you have pages in the site map for all the keyword phrases that you discovered in your research that you wanted to rank for?
- Will every person in your ideal audience be able to easily find what they’re looking for?
This is your chance to apply all the research and ensure you’ve crafted an effective, robust content plan for your website.
Whew! That’s all the research, planning and preparation for your Website Content Strategy done and dusted. But the work’s not over yet. It’s now time to put it all into practice.
The best place to start is by outlining the project deliverables and dates to your team. Then get everyone creating the content for each page. Run it through a single copy editor for consistency, and then hand it over to your website developers to visually craft the pages.
It may also help to decide on your basic wireframes and some design elements before you create any content. Whichever way you decide to tackle it though, focus on writing and designing for humans first, and for Google second. Make your content high-quality, focused, engaging, and above all, geared toward conversion.
Now, depending on how many new pages you need to write, and how many existing pages you need to edit, you might be happy doing this work internally. If so, we have an in-depth guide to tackling large, complex content projects that we know you’ll find helpful.
However, many smart brands decide at this point to engage a Content Strategy agency (like us) to help them to quickly, cost-effectively create the high-quality content their brand deserves.
If you’d like a bit of expert support with creating your Website Content Strategy, we’d LOVE to help! It just so happens that they’re our absolute favourite type of Content Strategy here at Content Copywriting. We find it so satisfying to help brands clearly map a path toward a website that brings in more of the right kind of traffic (and sales!)
And right now, we’re offering a FREE 15min consultation – with a customised research report for your existing domain, no less – to give you a head start.