Content strategy is a substantive and practical approach to modern web development. It offers you the opportunity to examine your current business goals, find out who's really using your site, create content and delivery systems that serve your needs, and develop a framework for adapting to new objectives in the future. In this series of posts, we'll cover some of the most salient benefits of incorporating content strategy into your development process.
Benefit I: Your web will actually support your business goals
First, a little bit about content strategy. Many smart things have already been written, but at base content strategy encompasses the creation, delivery and maintenance of content designed to support users' needs and your business objectives. Content strategy isn't about producing documents. Though it includes concrete actions like auditing, planning and writing, it's also a philosophy that puts the substance of your message squarely in the driver's seat.
Once upon a time, naughty web developers used to be able to slap down some limp content lettuce, cover it in keyword cheese and call it a salad. Users may have been mightily disappointed once they actually got to a site, but hey, as long as the page was ranking well, who cared? Well, in the age of Google Panda, when the new words are reputable and reliable, we've all got to care. Google's newer algorithms aim to bring quality content to users.
Far from being an insurmountable obstacle, this might be the best thing that ever happened to you. Ask yourself why you would want your content to be anything other than useful for users. Answer: you wouldn't. Not ever. And if you're sighing over the prospect of wrangling copy yourself instead of having your 19-year-old intern string some words together, know that content strategy mirrors something you already have (or need to get) a handle on: your business plan. Yes, it begins with questions like:
- What and where is your target market?
- What are your business and sales channels?
- How is your organization structured?
- What is your competitive environment like?
- What are your short-term business goals?
This last question is crucial. You don't need to think about your business in the long term; you need to think about your business goals right now. In a world in which competitive advantage has given way to transient advantage, what works today may not work six months from now. In other words, think carefully, think well, but also think fast.
What makes content strategy such an effective approach is that it's as agile as your business needs to be. Good content strategy will adapt to your changing business needs because it not only produces great content now; it puts an information and maintenance structure into place that allows you to prioritize your goals at any point in time, establishing a framework for future change in your organization. Content aligned with your overall strategy and higher rankings? That's a win-win.
Stay tuned for our next post in the series, Benefit II: Find out who your users really are.