Ahava Leibtag • 2 minutes
Our content isn’t really useful or valuable unless people can find it.
I’m going to say that again: Our content isn’t really useful or valuable unless people can find it.
Search is becoming more important as voice search starts to take over our users’ behaviours. Gartner predicts that, “258 million U.S. consumers will have access to smart speakers at the end of 2020. That sounds like the definition of mass market adoption and mass audience reach.”
That means, as content strategists, we need to be highly sensitive to search and search engine optimisation (SEO). Designing, structuring and tagging our content is a priority when creating our content.
Throughout the entire content lifecycle, we must wrap SEO into our best practices. Findability is important whether creating content for software, websites, apps, portals and skills.
Let’s look at three rules that will help you put search and SEO at the front of your content strategy:
1. Always be researching
This is a take on the “Always be closing” from Glengarry Glen Ross. But in reality, if we’re not in touch with our data on a daily basis, we can’t measure and we can’t iterate. Since iteration is the key in an ever-changing digital marketplace, take a look at your analytics as much as possible (weekly, or even daily is key) to continue to align your strategy to how your users are behaving. It’s not easy, takes a lot of work, but is very rewarding when you see how your search functionality improves.
2. Create language boards
Very often the vocabulary and glossary you use may not be the jargon your stakeholders use, nor the terms your readers use. Since the goal is to pull your users into your search funnel, or help them use your software as efficiently as possible, find out what their terms are. This is a trick I learned from Steph Hay at Capital One. Here’s how it works:
- Approach your stakeholders with keyword phrases you’ve already gathered from research
- Show them that these are the terms your readers, or potential customers, are using to find information
- Ask them what they call these terms
- Match them all up
- Agree on how you’re going to proceed with creating the content
This will alleviate confusion in the future when your stakeholders are reviewing the content. Upfront agreement of vocabulary will save you a lot of headaches in the future, and will improve your search functionality, as you can build in synonyms for different audiences.
3. Make friends with your technical colleagues
So much of search has to do with the technical basics: site loading, programming, design, images, etc. I once had a teacher who told me, “You need to know something about everything and everything about something.” Learn the vocabulary of your technical partners so that you can speak their language. You’ll gain their respect and you’ll also create a better product in the long run.
Paying attention to your search is more important than ever. Adopt a search-first mindset for your content strategy so you can satisfy business objectives and help your users accomplish their tasks. That is, after all, the North Star of content strategy.