Producing relevant content is important for site optimisation, both for pure SEO benefit and to improve the user experience and drive conversion.
This post looks at how you can make the most of four types of web content (information pages, images, videos and blogs) and move away from a flat view where content is isolated in one place.
Much of this is common sense but I know many web teams who don’t fully appreciate the value of their content.
Articles, guides & static information pages
Added value content should be carefully watered to let it grow.
- Through CMS and catalogue management tools, create a logical architecture that will automatically include related articles and guides on product details pages (and vice versa).
- Consider creating a “knowledge centre” that acts as a central source for all added value content (B&Q does this well with its Inspiration and Knowledge hubs).
- Integrate this content into site search so that when customers search they can access relevant non-product content as well as product results.
- Add download versions of content for customers who like to read offline – pdf is a convenient format.
- Provide RSS feeds and multi-layer opt-in to enable customers to subscribe to receive different types of information, helping you segment content distribution by interest.
- Post articles to article submission sites. There are plenty of free options like Buzzle to get you started but take the time to find those relevant to your brand.
- Drop links across your social profiles telling people about what’s new and ask them for feedback – don’t just push, try to build conversation.
- If you have multiple content creators and produce a lot of news, look at the potential for a Google News Sitemap.
A picture paints a thousand words, but only if you let people see it. Images are an important element of search optimisation as well as a powerful visual trigger to use in your customer communications.
- Use your XML sitemap to give Google additional info on images on each page (you can list up to 1,000 images per page but make sure they’re relevant) to help you increase in image search results – you can set geo-location tags which can support your local search efforts.
- For PR activity, set-up a Flickr account and create photo sets – Free People in the US do this nicely with customer photos to increase interaction.
- Add posts on new product ranges and collections on social profiles and link back to the relevant pages on your website.
- Add the photos to albums on your social profiles - perfectly suited to the likes of Facebook (Accessories Online embrace this) and MySpace and you can host selected images for Twitter via TwitPic.
- Use your blog to share image content with your customers – image blog posts can be a welcome change from written posts..
- Create a “News” page that you update frequently to provide images & copy for your new products and services – deep link into product & conversion pages.
Not only is video proven to increase ecommerce conversion, it’s also great for getting people back to your site between buying cycles to keep them engaged with your brand.
- Create a content component on your product details page to enable dynamic insertion of related video content.
- Set-up a YouTube branded channel, upload videos and use the embedded URL to syndicate the content via your own website(s).
- Create a central video library on your website where customers can browse all your video assets.
- Integrate video assets into site search results so customers can view multiple data formats relevant to their search.
- Use your blog to share video content with your customers.
- Add links to new video content in your email newsletter (video playback is not supported by all email clients but if you’re brave you could test this - read this case study by Campaign Monitor).
- Submit a video sitemap to Google.
I’m not a fan of blogs for blogging sake but if you’re got something of value to say that will be useful or interesting to customers, establishing a blog is one way of maintaining a relationship with some of your customers.
- Use an RSS feed to drive content publishing to registered users.
- Make sure social bookmarking is available on every blog post.
- Drop links on all your social profiles for every new blog post.
- Distribute relevant blog updates to your PR contacts and get them to link back to your website.
- Encourage influencers and loyal customers to share your blog and talk about it via their social networks.
- Register your blog on Technorati – not a golden ticket for SEO but I’m still a fan of ticking this off the list.
- Ensure your sitemaps (html & XML) are dynamic so they automatically update to include the URLs of new pages.
- Optimise each new page you create based on relevant search keywords to help improve search engine visibility (though don’t stuff them with keywords and kill your customer experience).
- Provide social bookmarking (use a free tool like AddThis) to encourage customers to share your content.
- Use your email channel as much as possible to get your content out to customers and target individual segments with the most relevant content – even if you’ve updated a policy page such as Delivery, clear communication is worthwhile and may save you the headache of handling customer enquiries further down the line.
- Ensure site search indexes non-product content as well as product pages – open up search to all your content e.g. customer searches for “delivery” and they land on your Delivery page - Halfords is an example of how to bring in Advice Centre content to search results - see left hand at bottom.
- When posting content on external sites, embed tracking parameters to URLs to enable website traffic to be tracked via analytics (use a URL shortener for sites like Twitter).
I haven’t touched (deliberately) on the importance of measuring content impact by tracking clicks and interactions via web analytics; this is something that every web content manager should be thinking of when they add content. If you measure you get insight into what content best supports your online goals and this will help focus resource going forward.
So what do you think? This isn’t an exhaustive list, so how else can you improve the impact of your web content? I’d be interested to hear your experience of the above as well as other techniques you have used.