You want people to find your site, learn from it, and keep coming back. That can make it tempting to use your content team to create more content for your site. And more, and more, and more…
Eventually, you may find yourself staring at a content audit of your site, asking, “Where did all this content come from?” It turns out, all that content may be hurting, not helping, your site and your audience.
Before content production turns into a runaway train, stop and ask yourself a few questions.
Do my readers actually want more content?
Your readers’ attention is a limited, valuable resource. Creating more content can draw readers back to your website, but if the content isn’t helpful or useful, they’ll stop coming back. Rather than creating content just to capture your readers’ attention, consider how it can help them solve a problem or answer their questions in a moment of need. All the content in the world won’t help them if it’s not the right content.
Is my content in-depth enough?
In the past, creating a high volume of content gave your site many opportunities to show up in search results for different keyword searches. But these days, search engines are more interested in quality content that demonstrates your authority on a topic. Consider how you can expand on or consolidate existing articles or pages on your site to give readers both broad and in-depth knowledge about a topic.
How do readers find my content?
You may have a writer on your team dedicated to writing for your blog, but if your audience gets all their content through podcasts or spends most of their time on social media, your content will not reach them. Find out where readers go to find content and meet them where they are. That could mean a shift in the types of content you produce or publishing it on a platform other than your website.
For example, many financial advisors prefer listening to podcasts over reading blogs to stay on the cutting edge of their industry.
Are we making use of old content?
Sometimes, we write a blog post or article for a campaign or event and find that it continues to get traffic or good feedback from readers. If the short-term content on your site has long-term staying power, give it some attention to make it even more useful for your readers. For example, if it’s a page about a past event, update it with information about next year’s event. If it’s a page about a service you offer, add links to related services and a helpful call to action.
This prevents old content from cluttering your site and shows search engines that the page is still relevant.
Wirecutter, a product review site, systematically revisits old content and informs readers when something changes.
What to do instead of writing more content
There are many ways to provide value to your readers, and writers and content strategists have the skills to do it. When your content team isn’t spending all their time creating new content, they can improve your content and support business goals in other ways.
Information Architecture and Navigation
When we audit sites with large amounts of content, we often discover that teams are more thoughtful about the words on the page than where the content lives or how it fits in with existing content on your site. Have your content team audit your website to look for connections between existing pieces of content.
One simple way to create more connections between pieces of content is by adding crosslinks to related, relevant content. First, pick out key words or phrases in the body copy that relate to another page on your site and add an inline hyperlink. Next, add a short list of descriptive links to articles or other media that readers would find helpful (aim for one to five links). This process can help surface more questions, such as, “What do I want my readers to do after they read this content?” or “What do my readers need to know next?” The next step for your team? Talk to your readers!
The pages of content on your site are not the only written words your readers see. As people interact with your site or use your product or service, they click buttons, fill out forms, see error messages, and complete other tasks. Your content team may be able to contribute to this copy by working alongside designers or providing input to a product team. Dig a little deeper and find out how these tasks incorporate content, such as emails, “About” pages, and help sections.
Fitbit is a great example. They send a series of welcome emails with links to in-depth help articles that teach new customers about how they can use their device to improve their health.
In our work with content teams, we find that it’s more challenging to wrangle large amounts of content when the teams that produce it are distributed across the organization. If there are multiple teams producing content in your organization, find out how each team handles content creation and publishing. Talk with each team about who their audience is, what their needs are, and how the content they produce meets (or doesn’t meet!) that audience’s needs. Many teams find it helpful to set up an editorial calendar to show all the content being created within the organization and identify overlapping or conflicting priorities.
For content teams that have historically worked on print media, it can be a shift to think about your content as something that’s never really “done”. Revisit pages on your site that were published six months ago or more. Move content higher or lower on the page to reflect business priorities. Update your crosslinks to fresh, relevant content. Add information about upcoming events. Remember: even if you forget about a piece of old content, a reader may still end up there through a search engine or the navigation on your site.
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April 2nd and 3rd, 2019
Royal Sonesta, Boston MA
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