Gerry McGovern says we shouldn’t talk about content strategy, because it’s not the content that should be the primary focus but the task a user is trying to do. The content, he says, supports the task, so we need to frame it in that context.
I like how he looks at it and I do agree that we should focus our work on understanding the reasons why a user comes to a website and what tasks they are trying to achieve. But I also understand that within that task identification evolves a solid content strategy. And I understand that a solid content strategy must include how we are going to reach out across social media and search to get people to find us and come to our site to complete their task.
Krista LaRiviere, of GShiftLabs calls this an optimized content strategy, which she defines as follows:
Optimized Content Marketing is the art of understanding exactly what your prospects and customers need to know and deliberately producing optimized content based on keyword phrases that are driving organic search traffic and conversions. Then delivering that optimized content to them in a relevant and compelling way to grow your business by socializing the content through your organization’s social networks.”
So how can you write optimized content? Here are three suggestions:
1. Analyze the content that people are reading & keywords people are searching on and clean/write more content to meet those needs
This is not a new idea. It’s been around for a while now, but many organizations are still living with the “write it and forget it” mindset. Content needs to be fresh and continually updated. But not all of it. Some of it is crap and needs to be treated as such (crumpled up and thrown in the proverbial garbage can).
So how do you know what’s working, what needs to be better and what’s missing altogether? Analyze your website traffic stats. What are people looking at now, how much time are they spending on that page? What are they searching for? What pages are sending them away?
If you are focused on the task(s) a user comes to your website to do, then your content needs to be written in such a way as to help them achieve that task. The more (and better) content you write that focuses on key areas visited and key search terms, the better chance you have of helping that user achieve their goal.
If you have implemented any social features, like Tweet This, Like This, Comments, etc.. you can also use that information to help you understand what content is most helpful to people. Build more of that. Or improve the stuff that’s not if it’s critical to the task at hand.
2. Track trending topics/keywords in Google for your product/service and make sure you are including them in your content.
Not only should be you analyzing the traffic and social popularity on your own website, but you should also be tracking on the web overall. Google Trends is great for identifying popular keywords and phrases on the web right now. If you track the terms you think are popular, you’ll get a good feel if you are right. You can also track terms used by competitors and through Google search overall.
If a competitor is constantly coming before you in the Google Search results, find out why. Work to understand what they might be doing better to make them more popular in search. But before you make changes to your own content to reflect the popularity of a competitor, decide if it’s the right thing to do based on the tasks your visitors might be trying to achieve. Maybe you’ve been focused in the wrong area all along and need to refine your content.
3. Incorporate Google+ into your sharing options
Easy enough to understand that Google Search would pay close attention to content being recognized via the +1 button. And although there has been much discussion about whether it’s fair or not, the reality is Google+ is becoming an important place to be. So while you are ensuring that you have that Tweet This Button and Like This Button (Facebook), make sure you also have that Google+ button available.
You might also want to spend some time in your Google+ account discussing the content the you have written and also searching out what others have written on the same topic to see how well their content is received.
These are just three ways to improve your content and get it into the hands of the people who need it. The key is that the content must support a task a user is trying to do, and it needs to be fresh and relevant, not just stacked with keywords. If a person comes to your website and is able to complete their task successfully, your work is done right.