“Content strategy” is a hot buzzword in job postings these days, but most often you’ll find in-house content strategists at organizations like universities and companies with sprawling, thousand-page websites. Does that mean you don’t need to think about content strategy for your small, 20-page website? Sorry, nope! Let’s get into why.
Content Strategy. What?
What are we even talking about when we say content strategy? There are many definitions to choose from, but I recommend this one from Brain Traffic, which uses these four pillars:
- Editorial strategy: What is your website about and whom is it for? What language/keywords will you use to speak to them?
- Experience design: How will users navigate your site? How will you deliver the content they’re looking for?
- Content structure: How will you organize your content, both publicly and behind the scenes, so that it’s intuitive for users and easy for you to keep track of?
- Process design: What platform(s) will you use to power your website? How often are you going to publish or update? Who is responsible for doing that?
The questions in each of these categories are just a sample of the MANY decisions to be made as you build and maintain a website – even a small one. It’s a lot of work, it’s time-intensive and it may not have a direct, tangible connection to revenue, so you can imagine why some companies decide to “wing it!” and sidestep these decisions on their way to site launch.
Why Your Website Still Needs a Plan
I’m here to advise you not to wing it. While you may not need the same scale of resources as larger sites, you should invest the time and effort to create a plan that addresses the topics above. Here are just a few reasons:
- Even a single bad page or poor user experience can cost you.
I recently opened my own Individual Retirement Account almost solely because I was infuriated with the user experience on my old company’s prescribed 401(k) website. Now, I’m abnormally vengeful when it comes to bad websites, but the point is that some version of this happens to businesses all the time when their sites make it hard for users to get what they want. It’s all too easy for customers to click over to a competitor’s site and find answers to their questions there.
- Your small site may not stay small forever.
Are you launching with just a few pages, plus a baby blog you plan on updating once a week? That’s a great, manageable plan, but in a year those blog posts will have expanded the scope of your site several times over! If you’re not organized about it, search engines could get a very fuzzy picture of the core purpose of your site, leading to poor SEO performance and potential missed leads.
- Upfront organization can save lots of headaches down the road.
Putting some content strategy fundamentals in place gives you a more effective site at launch, creates a roadmap for your site’s future, and also makes it easier to adapt if things change for your business. Even small changes like tweaking a product name can have ripple effects throughout your site, but you can efficiently catalog and conquer the necessary tasks when you’ve done the right content strategy work.
I could go on, but hopefully this short list gives you an idea of why content strategy is such an important part of the care and feeding of ANY website. If you’re saying to yourself, “But I just want to sell my dinglehoppers,” the good news is we’re here to help. Send me a note and I’ll be happy to chat about what content strategy can do for your site.
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