Your ultimate guide to website content production
You took the plunge. You finally have a website to call your own. Your domain name has been purchased and your layout is set. There’s just one minor problem: You have no idea what to put on it.
Sure, you know some kind of message needs to sit there but how does one even go about creating good content that will draw people (and search engines) in?
The language that Google uses to crawl, understand and index your web pages is a combination of on-page copy and structured data. While the data side of the equation requires a certain level of coding experience and a CMS, on-page text is something you can easily control.
By crafting authoritative and strategically sound copy, you have the power to turn your website into a real business asset.
In this article, we will explore:
- Who should be creating your content.
- Some of the different types of content.
- Content workflows and how to define them.
- Processes for content creation.
- Some useful tools for content management and research.
- How to market your content.
Who Is Responsible for Creating Content?
So who can you trust with this essential task?
It’s a big discussion for businesses today. By and large there are two main options at your disposal: Hire an in-house team of content writers and strategists or outsource the work to a content marketing agency.
As companies invest more into their content strategies there’s a good case for both options. When funds are available, having an in-house team of writers, graphic designers, strategists and even video producers can be a major bonus. However, for many companies having the full spectrum of in-house creatives isn’t financially realistic. That’s where content marketing agencies come into play.
In fact, research from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), found that 59 per cent of Australian marketers outsource at least one element of their content marketing strategy. It’s a recurring theme for companies throughout Australasia: in-house content marketers are looking for help with particular campaigns or strategies. Agencies are here to top them up or fill in the gaps.
What Are The Different Types of Content?
While written assets are the backbone of any strong strategy, you’re going to need various types of content to satisfy human searchers as well as the search engines in which they query.
This means things like infographics to support blog articles, branded design to accentuate high value research or video content to showcase new product offerings.
Here’s a brief overview of the most common forms of content (written or otherwise):
Blog and copy writing: Effective blogs address the intended audience, leverage optimal keywords and address questions that users are asking. Optimised copy like search landing pages and email content provides a great entry point into your sales funnel.
High value content: Assets like whitepapers and e-Books play a huge role in lead generation. These long-form, data-rich pieces of content are invaluable resources for readers throughout your sales funnel and tend to be accompanied by top notch graphics.
Graphics work: Custom illustrations, branded infographics and creative UX designs play a big role in how much your customers will engage with your brand. When your content stands out, your brand stands out.
Video marketing: Whether you want to create a motion graphic to illustrate your services or are keen to showcase your newest product, video is a medium that everyone can enjoy.
What Is A Content Workflow? (And Why Should You Define It?)
Clearly there’s a lot to choose from and depending on your strategic goals you’ll probably require a variety of these assets. Coordinating how and when they are produced and who is involved in the process is critical to ensure an even spread of content for your website.
This is where a content workflow comes into play.
Defining a content workflow
Defined as a set of tasks that a team needs to complete for a given content type, these workflows determine how content is requested, sourced, created, reviewed, approved, and delivered..
A well-defined content workflow lets people across departments know where a piece of content is within the process at any given moment, helps them understand when it’s their turn and gives them the criteria for delivery.
So why use one?
When you leave your content workflow undefined, you risk bottlenecks in production and general confusion regarding individual responsibilities. By having a designated process in place, it gives your team the tools they need, so they can:
- Distil the content process into manageable tasks.
- Pinpoint each piece of content’s stage of development.
- Identify each step for the content to receive approval.
- Understand who is responsible for each step and when.
To create a content workflow that works for you, follow these three steps:
- Identify who is involved (the roles).
- Identify what each role does (the tasks).
- Identify when the tasks get done (the flow).
Once you’ve determined the above, assign someone to oversee each content project, tracking the progress through the workflow to ensure timely completion and quality assets.
What Is The Process for Content Creation?
We know content is the cornerstone of any good brand but how do you go about creating it?
Before we begin our brainstorm we’ll need to understand the wider strategy at play (more on this later) but once we have the relevant background information, it’s time to get creative. The idea is to combine what we know about our target audience with what we know will be most interesting. As a rule of thumb, it’s always better to have three to four ideas for every piece of content you create.
Once you have the initial ideas down you’ll need to do some research on how feasible they are. You can get an idea of how good of a chance you have of ranking by simply searching for some key terms related to the subject. If the search results are all extremely authoratitative sites or if things like image carousels and knowledge graphs pop up, it’s a good indication that the topic will be tricky to rank for.
Your research will help you refine your ideas to make them more viable. The refining stage is where you solidify your idea before beginning creation and should involved outlining your plan for the content at hand. Refining process can happen as early as the strategy step and as late as the creation – marketing moves fast and content creators need to be able to adapt and react.
At long last, it’s time to create. From custom images to long-form blogs, you’ll use all of the steps above to create a piece that is aligned with your ultimate strategy goals.
The last step before approval involves editing. Whether you have a team of editors on hand or you entrust your marketing managers with revisions, it’s critical to put content in front of fresh eyes. This helps avoid silly mistakes and ensures the content is the highest quality possible.
Speaking of which, It’s important to remember that quality is the name of the game in 2019. Old content marketing strategies placed an emphasis on volume, but that isn’t a viable strategy anymore.
If the time and resources being put into modern content strategies are any indication, today’s marketers are well aware that producing relevant, valuable content is the key to demonstrating thought leadership, establishing trust with targeted audiences and improving conversion rates.
A 2018 Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs report found that nearly 80 per cent of businesses claimed that creating higher quality, more efficient content contributed to their success.
Stats like these are why a strong content production process is so critical to the success of your website.
Top Tools for Website Content Production
Content creation doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark. There are plenty of tools that can help guide you on your journey.
Here are just a few of our favourites:
Research is the starting point for all good content. When you’re at the beginning stages of your strategy, these tools can lead you down the right path.
BuzzSumo enables you to pinpoint content with the most interactions. With the help of this content performance analysis tool you can better understand what users tend to interact with and employ similar tactics in your pieces.
That’s right, you can go to the search engine directly for help. Google Trends provides a great platform for diving into trending topics and researching relevant queries. With the help of this data you can think up new content ideas or pinpoint popular keywords to center your content around.
You can’t have a good content strategy without understanding SEO and keywords in your area of interest. WIth the help of these resources you can find the right terms to win Google’s favour.
Driven by artificial intelligence, MarketMuse analyses your content and highlights where keyword gaps exist. Detailed reports indicate which keywords can help your optimise your content for better ranking and can even help you see how you stack up against competitors.
If you’re looking for ways to improve SEO on your website, BrightEdge is a great tool. It can measure all of the content on your site and give you recommendations to up your ranking.
For Content Planning
You’ll want to keep an eye on your content at every stage of the marketing journey These options will help you stay organised and on deadline.
If you’ve been researching content marketing, chances are you’ve clicked on a HubSpot resource of some sort. As leaders in the content marketing industry, HubSpot offers an array of services that help businesses develop strategies, create content, manage campaigns and analyse performance. These tools can help you centralise your efforts and optimise the content you’re producing.
Seamless collaboration is a major bonus of using the G Suite for content planning and management. From Gmail and Google Docs to Calendars and Sheets, it’s hard not to lean on Google for day-to-day tasks. The best part? Google Drive auto-saves your work so you don’t have to stress about losing everything you worked on. Google Docs also provides a great platform for collaborating on content edits via tracked changes and comments.
How Do You Market Your Content?
Content is only one piece of the strategy puzzle. Good content always starts with understanding the strategy. What are our user personas? Who are we targeting with this specific piece? What are our core objectives? Understanding this framework informs every step of the process.
Effectively marketing your content comes down to having a cohesive content strategy in place. You can read up more on this here. But for the sake of this article we’ve condensed the process down to five key steps:
- Establish your goal
Why are you creating content? What is the goal of your content marketing strategy? What do you want your audience to do? Answering these questions is critical to defining your goals and these goals will inform all of the steps you take. For example, if your goal is brand awareness your strategy will probably be different than if your goal is converting users.
- Build your user personas
User personas provide a research-based profile of your intended audience, allowing you to create more targeted content that serves a purpose. A user persona should contain key demographic information like age, gender and income levels alongside more nuanced factors such as needs, goals and observed patterns of behaviour.
Most content strategies will incorporate a number of user personas to give a detailed understanding of who various content pieces are intended for. Once these personas are created you can build a strategy and amplification plan that will be more likely to reach your chosen group.
- Create a content audit
Auditing your current content and making well-informed planning choices for your future content should come well before you start creating. This means doing market research into what your users will be searching for, getting an idea for what kind of strategies you’ll need to increase your chances of ranking and pinpointing your main keywords for the pieces.
This stage of the process will also involve deciding which types of content you want – whether it be videos or gated assets like white papers and e-books. Content audits are an extremely useful tool that helps ensure all of your content is serving a strategic purpose while setting it up for maximum success.
- Create, publish and promote your assets
The actual creation of content will involve writing, producing, editing and approving. But once these steps are taken, you can publish and promote the work you’ve done.
Promotion is critical here. While high-quality, relevant content is the crux of any successful marketing strategy in 2019, it still isn’t enough to elevate your brand and produce tangible ROI. You need strong promotion and distribution as well.
- Analyse your results and refine as necessary
Tracking and analysing the engagement and conversions gained from your content is a critical step in any strategy. If the content is working, use that to inform future ideas. If it isn’t, refine your strategies accordingly.
What Have We Learned?
Content is a powerful tool. It builds a brand voice, it compels your users to invest in your product or services, and it assists in reaching your strategic objectives.
When created in conjunction with a strong content marketing plan, the possibilities are nearly endless.