Success Series #5 – Content Architecture
Green Host It recognizes that our success depends on your success so, as part of our core corporate culture, we provide all the tools you need to build, launch and manage a successful web-based business – including the information you need to do it RIGHT!
So welcome to the fifth in our series of “how-to” articles on topics related to web success. We’ll keep it simple, eliminate the techno-babble and provide, not only the tools, but the know-how to achieve web success.
Your success is our success.
#5 What Is Content Architecture?
Pretty simple, at least in theory. Content architecture is how you arrange the different types of content within the totality of your web site. Sounds easy enough but get it wrong a KABLOOEY! There goes your vision of web site success.
In our last piece, we discussed web site navigation. Navigation does a couple of things: (1) it directs visitors to the specific information they’re looking for (a real time-saver) and (2) it creates a hierarchy of information – a rank of what you (the site owner) consider the most important text, the next most important text, right on down the line.
So, by definition, the most important web site content appears on the navigation bar as separate links to different zones of the site. By clicking on one of these primary links, visitors know they’re going to learn about A or B or even C.
Types of Site Content
There are three basic types of web site text used by almost every well-designed, successful web site:
the appeal (including sales copy, order information, etc.)
informational content (a good will builder and search engine spiders love straight up informational copy)
informational copy used as sell copy (a hybrid that provides practical information but is ultimately designed to push the visitor to perform the most desired action.) Typically, this hybrid type of content provides just enough solid information to equip the reader to determine that he needs help. Call the web site owner. Call you!
Contact information is critical.
Most web sites (pre-’08) use a single “Contact” or Contact Us” link off the home page navigation bar, placing contact as a high priority, de facto. However, why limit contact information to a single page. You never know when or what is going to flip the switch and convert a visitor to a buyer, so make it easy for them to contact you. Provide contact information on every page. (This is also essential for local search through search engines.)
What Web Site Content Goes Where?
You never know who’s going to show up at your digital doorway. It could be a third-time visitor ready to make that purchase or it could be a first-time visitor just doing a little comparison shopping.
So, let’s start with the home page – the first page visitors often see. Think of it as the front door to your web site. Therefore, it should be :
simple (real simple; one recently viewed web site had 19 links off the home page, requiring site visitors to decide among 19 options. Too complicated.)
informational (if all they see is page after page of hype, like a Glazier-Kennedy long-form sales letter, a lot of visitors are going to bounce.)
client-centric (it’s not about you; it’s always about the visitor. What can you do for her? How does your web business meet his objectives. Take yourself and your site objectives out of all content. It’s never about you.)
curious (good site text piques the curiosity of the site visitor and pulls her deeper into the web site)
Any page of your web site (there are exceptions, i.e. search engines don’t index “contact pages” as a rule) can be the first page a visitor sees, so consider each landing page a mini-home page.
Landing pages are often the first pages visitors see when they click on a navigation tab. Ask you programmer to add HTMLtags with relevant keywords to each landing page within your site. These pages will be spidered and will appear in search engine results page.
They also create more doorways to your web site.
Even elephantine search engines have limited resources. Even Google gets so much bandwidth to access and index millions of web sites daily. So, the placement of certain content in upper-tier locations “tells” visitors AND search engine bots that this is important.
Submit a site map to the major search engines inviting them to visit your site and see all of that wonderful information content on your site blog. Search engines are designed to deliver the most relevant results to their users, so good, solid informational content (like this content) makes a web site look good to search engines. And to humans.
Create a flow chart that shows where each piece of content goes. Your home page might contain the strongest sales pitch, listing visitor benefits and freebies in bullet lists for easy scanning.
Include an on-site blog to update content easily. (No programming required. Blogs use WYSIWYG editors making uploads a breeze.) Make sure to link the blog off the home page and all interior landing pages.
Avoid squeeze pages. SEOs disagree on this one but you think about it. A squeeze page is often the first page a visitor sees. It contains an opt-in module that requires site visitors to submit an email address to gain access to a site – often without knowing what they’re opting in for.
Why create a stumbling block by requiring visitors to log in before they even get to page one of your web site. It doesn’t make any sense.
Use embedded text links to pull visitors deeper into the site. The main text, often informational, is used as bait to pull the visitor deeper into the site. It’s simply another means of navigation to take visitors where they want to go fast.
It’s not just what you say, it’s where you say it. For example, place a strong call to action on the Contact” page even though this page will never be indexed by a search engine. Why? Because if you got a visitor to click on the ‘Contact Us” page, you’re half-way to converting that visitor to a buyer of your products or services.
So, by placing a strong call to action on the contact page, listing benefits and every means of contact you can think of (including telepathic), the visitor is more inclined to reach out to contact you – even if it’s just to answer a question.
You start with a flow chart or three-stage outline to create a content architecture that provides a little well-placed sizzle and a whole lot of informational content.
Fresh content, too. Bots like it and so do repeat visitors.
How you position site content is just as important as what that content says. So, before you even start planning the structure of your web site, plan the content architecture and build the site around your content. Choose a green hosting provider to demonstrate your company’s responsibility.
On the world wide web, words say it all.