Content design allows you to showcase your website content in a simpler, clearer, and quicker way. You can do so by taking user stories as your basis: as (who) I want to (what) so that (why). Recently, we wrote about the origin of and the reason for content design. In this article, you’ll find a few practical tips to get started on your own website content.
Reading tip: The importance of content design
#1 Start your thought process with user stories
You might be used to considering your website’s content based on pages, with the homepage as your logical starting point.
But actually, that is no longer the way people find your website. Google and voice search are increasingly popular ways to discover content.
The content you present should originate from a starting question, a user story: as (who) I want to (what) so that (why).
It’s entirely possible that these stories are already scattered throughout your website. Identify this content and group it into individual stories.
#2 What is the follow-up action?
Next, for every user story, consider what a user’s next point of action might be. It could be a response to a call-to-action (submitting an e-mail address, liking something on social media, buying a product, getting in touch), or a completing a related action (clicking through to a next user story).
For each user story, think of minimum 3 possible follow-up actions.
TIP: Sometimes it helps to visualize all stories offline. For example, on colored post-it notes. It’s an easy way to keep a clear overview.
This is where you’ll discover the benefits of considering user stories (modular content) instead of pages:
- User story W might actually belong with subjects X, Y, and Z
- If you only add W to page Y, the user will be forced to search around for it
- If you add W to all pages, you’ll end up with duplicate content (which Google doesn’t like very much)
The solution: include W as a click-through option on all related stories.
#3 Differentiate between main themes and subtopics with short paragraphs
As a writer, you often know quite a lot about any given topic. It’s tempting to show off all your knowledge in a piece of content. But that’s not helpful to a reader who might be scanning your text. It also makes it harder for your designer to turn your article into an attractive page.
For those reasons, stick to the main topics first. Ask yourself if any subtopics might be better suited to their own user story. An easy way to do this is by limiting paragraphs to a maximum of 6 lines. That makes it much easier to focus.
#4 Consistently use H1 to H3
A user story will often have some kind of hierarchy. Make that structure clear by adding descriptive titles and subtitles. Don’t forget to add the H1 to H3 tags (H1 is for your article’s title). That makes it a lot easier for the designer to incorporate the hierarchy in the design.
Are you noticing that a story needs even deeper layers (H4/H5/H6)? In that case, it might be better to split your content into multiple stories instead.
#5 Images aren’t required
One of the benefits of using content as your starting point is that you won’t be bound to a specific topic. On many web pages, you’ll find an image at the top that doesn’t really add any context or value, like a generic stock photo of smiling people.
As you write, take the time to decide whether your text needs visual support, and if it does, carefully consider what that should look like.
#6 Incorporate SEO best practices in your copy
Well-formulated user stories and Google search queries have a lot of overlap. This is precisely the information your target audience is looking for.
It would be a shame if your (potential) clients and users can’t find your website due to poor search engine optimization.
That’s why you should keep SEO best practices in mind while you’re writing. Are all the writers in your company knowledgeable about (the latest trends in) search engine optimization? If not, consider using a system that will give you real-time advice about your content’s SEO as you write.
READING TIP: Everything you need to know about writing easy-to-discover SEO text
#7 Step away from your content for a while
Content design is all about finding the essence.
That’s why it’s helpful to let a few other people (coworkers, but definitely also your target demographic) take a look at your user stories.
Also a good idea: step away from your written content for a week or so. Looking it over again for the second time, it will be easy to notice any missing points or areas that need some clarification and cleaning up.
On September 12th and 13th webtexttool will be present at the DMEXCO conference in Cologne. We are very excited that we were invited to participate as one of the most innovative startups.
It would be great to meet you there! Our booth is in the Startup Village (Hall 5.2 Aisle S No: U-50).
Join us for a live demo, a quick chat about content marketing and enjoy the tasty Dutch treats that we will bring 🙂
Google has come a long way from being that boring list of blue links. Search any random topic, and you’ll get the information presented in a variety of ways: cards, statistics, lists, numbers. Many of those results are connected to structured data. In this article, you’ll read exactly what structured data is, how it’s connected to search engine optimization (SEO), and how you can apply it to achieve a higher search ranking in Google.
How structured data shows up in search results
Although the search giant’s algorithms become smarter every day, they still don’t quite understand exactly what the information on your website means. With structured data, you can lend Google a helping hand. It uses the data to present rich snippets and knowledge graphs. So, what does that look like?
Consider product information: what is the cost of an iPhone X?
Or the prep time for a recipe. Do I have enough time to make that quiche?
What’s going on in Atlanta this week?
What do consumers think of this vacuum cleaner?
How did the Yankees do today?
Who is the director of the MoMA?
A desktop search for the Los Angeles Zoo results in general information about the zoo, including ’notable animals’ like the gorillas Rapunzel and Jabari, orangutan Berani, and Alfred the seal.
Google gleans all this information from the structured data provided by websites. For general information, that info often comes from Wikipedia. For questions that are quick to answer (like sports scores), that can mean that people no longer need to click through to a website. This is also partially true for the featured snippet (or position zero) that we’ve written about before.
Check out: How to reach Google’s Position Zero [7-step plan]
Is structured data good for your SEO?
Generally, providing structured data can be a huge help in terms of search engine optimization:
- Google, Bing, and other search engines get a better understanding of what your site is all about and will rank it higher as a result.
- Visitors are more likely to click on rich snippets than on plain, dry text. That higher click-through ratio will also lead to a higher ranking.
Looks like it’s time to get started with structured data.
What is structured data exactly?
Maybe it’s a good idea to take a closer look at some structured data:
Source: Google – Intro Structured Data
This example is a piece of structured data from a recipe post on Grandma’s Apple Pie, which specifies the carbohydrate content and the preparation time. The kind of information that Google can easily include in its rich snippets.
Structured data is written in a number of different ‘languages’. For anyone who isn’t a tech nerd, it’s enough to know that the use of schema.org (the vocabulary list – for example: ‘ReviewCount’ stands for the number of reviews) with JSON-LD (the grammar rules that dictate how the vocabulary should be used) is currently the most popular combination.
How do I apply structured data to my website?
Do you need to become an expert in Schema.org and JSON-LD before you can add structured data to your online content?
No, thank goodness that’s not necessary.
For popular content management systems like WordPress or Joomla, there are a ton of plug-ins available to manage your structured data.
Even Google has created a Structured Data Markup Helper, which allows you to add data in different categories (articles, book reviews, datasets, events, movies, local businesses, products, restaurants, software applications, tv episodes, job postings).
Once you’ve tagged all the relevant data, simply click on ‘Create HTML’ to create the code that you can add to the head section of your page.
It can be quite interesting to poke around in this tool for ideas on which types of data to classify on your website pages.
Schema.org also has a handy overview of sector-specific lists with structured data tag suggestions.
This Google tool is designed to test whether you have correctly added structured data to your website.
When can I expect SEO results?
Please don’t expect an overnight change in your search results ranking after applying structured data.
It can often take multiple weeks before Google crawls your website again and registers any changes.
It’s also important to note that structured data won’t do you much good if you’re not paying attention to the basics of search engine optimization – a process that is easy to automate using webtexttool!
But in the long run, systematically enriching your content with structured data will improve the chances of having your content appear as ‘rich snippets’ or ‘knowledge graphs’ in search results. That is great for your ranking as well as the number of visitors clicking through to your site.