Whether you are creating or culling website content, the best place to start is with data. Data provides hard evidence to justify decisions, instead of making content decisions based on “feeling” or “opinion”.
For this let’s turn to the digital marketer's trusted ally: Google Analytics (GA).
We’ve put together a few scenarios you might find yourself in when refreshing content on your site and how, using analytics, you can make better, data driven decisions.
Scenario 1: You’ve been tasked to audit a large website with hundreds of pages. The site has had numerous pages added to it over the years which has damaged the Information Architecture of the site considerably.
Start by checking Google Analytics to see what content people are searching for, what they are reading and more importantly, what they aren’t reading. You've now got the ammunition you need to start drastically reducing (or changing) the content on your site. If you're in the position of completely overhauling the site, or if no one is even sure how much content exists then you might want a full content audit. Having the data to back up your work will turn this messy website, into a sleek, simplified and high performing website. For more tips, you might also want to check out our Google Analytics Cheat Sheet.
Help is here: this article on the Webtoolkit blog provides some useful tips on completing an audit. Hint: if you've got a site map then that's a great place to start!
Scenario 2: You’ve been tasked to create content for a new website with the option to migrate existing content from one beast site to another.
Let me save you a world of pain: Don't take all your existing content and blindly copy it across to your new site! While it's more work up front to perform a content audit, cull, rewrite and invest in usability and design, trust me it's worth it. For a content migration you might like to consider a host of tools as well as Google Analytics - particularly in the discovery and usability stage. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with a digital agency that will be able to help you with refining your content.
Help is here: check out our network of SilverStripe Professional Partners if you're on the hunt for a talented agency.
Scenario 3: There are no beasts to tame, just creating fresh, new content for your site.
The SEO gods crave new content and this is where you can really start to have some fun with data. Data can drive the type of content you write, as you look at topics people are searching for and what has already performed well on your site. You might also choose to create content around specific long or short tail keywords that you are targeting for SEO. (More on short and long tail keywords here).
Once you've written your content there's also a host of grammar and accessibility tools that you could consider using to ensure that your writing is short, concise, in plain english and is accessible to everyone.
It's also a great idea to A/B test new or existing content, for example you might like to test different headings, calls to action or even images. If you already eat A/B testing for breakfast, lunch and dinner then you could move to multivariate testing which lets you experiment even further.
Help is here: the Hemingway App helps you edit your web content as you actually write it! It will give you word count, readability grade and best of all will highlight areas for improvement like long sentences or using the passive voice.
Like to know more about testing? Have a read through testing 1, 2, 3 for a great outline of some popular testing tools and how the marketing team at SilverStripe uses them.
Scenario 4: Maintaining the beast. Polish, polish, maintain.
And of course lastly, the majority of any web/content editor's role is going to include maintenance of your lovely beast (which you've hopefully transformed into a sweet pet). How your friend GA can help here will really depend on the goals of your site. For example are you transactional (show me the money!) or informational (show me the crucial content) then your analytics tracking will change. Setting up any kind of regular dashboarding and metrics to help you maintain your content can be a daunting task as there are SO MANY data points you could potentially look at.
Here's a few basic tips for getting started (and hopefully not completely overwhelmed):
1. Only track data that is relevant to your organisation and audience
2. Avoid overwhelming yourself with data and only track a few pages or actions to start with
3. Identify what is being searched for on your website to identify missing information or content visibility
4. Use A/B testing to measure the effectiveness of your content
5. Use Google Analytics Conversion Tracking to identify when desired actions are made on your website