How to plan out what content you need for a new website
Many factors can impact a website's performance, but none are as critical as the content. It is the job of a website to present content in the best way possible. Great content can shine through an otherwise poor website, while poor content can render a great site useless. For this reason, it should be top of the list when either launching a new website or reviewing an existing site.
Defining what content your website needs is not as straight forward as you might expect. The content your website needs can be influenced by a wide range of factors. In this blog post, I'm going to walk you through how to plan out what content you need for your website.
Who is your target audience?
To start with, we need to identify your sites primary target audience. These are the people we most want to reach with our website. In many cases, this will relate to your business's target market, but not always. If you already have marketing personas for your business, they will be an ideal place to start. If you don't have any marketing personas, this may be a great time to create some.
In some cases, you may have multiple target markets, in which case it may help to identify any common traits. You may also benefit from sub-categorising your target audience.
Once you know your primary target audience, you need to start identifying any secondary audiences. Secondary audiences consist of people who are likely to use your site but are not in your primary audience. Suppliers and potential job applicants are common examples of secondary audiences.
What content are your target audiences looking for?
Once you know the audiences your website needs to cater to, you can start to plan out the content your site is going to need. To begin with, you need to understand what content is going to attract the audiences we want to attract. For example, content about a service you provide will attract someone looking for that service.
What actions do you want website visitors to take?
Once you know what content will attract visitors to your site, you can start to look at what actions you want those visitors to take once they are there. When a visitor takes the desired action, we refer to it as a conversion. Conversions are important as they will be how you measure the website's performance. Some types of conversion are easier to track than others, but for the time being, you just need to define what actions we want to consider a conversion.
Secondary points of conversion
No matter how good your content is, you will not convert every visitor. Not every visitor will take the action you want them to take. However, there may be other relevant actions that are still desirable you can use as well.
Not all conversions are created equal. Actions such as getting in touch or ordering a product are considered high-value conversions. Signing up to an email newsletter or following you on social media are examples of lower value conversions. Your website content should direct visitors to the most valuable (primary) action first. However, visitors who do not convert by taking the first action may convert via a different secondary action.
Taking visitors from A to B
Once you know the audiences you want to attract and the actions you want website visitors to take, you need to connect the two. Content exists to attracting relevant website visitors and guiding them towards a desired action.
Barriers to conversion
When creating content, think about all the reasons someone may not take the action you want them to. In the case of generating enquiries, what information are they likely to need before being willing to get in touch? Could you potentially give them too much information, removing any incentive to get in touch? Understanding how your content can impact conversions will help you map out the content you need for your site.
The different types of content you could create
Categorising the different kinds of content can help you plan out the structure of your website pages. If you are a service-based business, you will no doubt want content on each of your services. If your website needs to demonstrate your expertise, blog posts and case studies may be beneficial. Testimonials can be great for building up credibility.
Content can also come in different formats. Text and images are by far the most common, but video and audio can have a far more significant impact. That said, the best format to use will depend on what works best for you. Videos might sound great, but they can be challenging to do well and are certainly not for everyone.
Mapping out the website structure
Once you know what content you need, you can start to map out your website structure. The easiest way to do this is to map out a tree structure of all the pages you think you are going to need, starting with the home page. Give each page a name, and label what type of content it is (e.g. service page, blog post, case study etc). Some pages, such as your terms of service, may not fit in your tree diagram. Anything that doesn't have an obvious place should be noted down and left to one side. Just because it doesn't fit in the tree diagram does not mean it shouldn't be on the website. The tree diagram helps you map out what content you are going to need.
Not all types of content will need a page of their own. Some categories of content can be grouped and presented on one page or integrated with other types of content. Testimonials, for example, often appear on the service pages they are relevant to, and on a separate testimonials page.
Once you have your pages mapped out and know what content you need for each page, you are ready to start creating your content.