Editor’s note: This post was originally written in 2019 and, while the best practices remain as relevant as ever, the article has been updated to include even more insight into how to create the perfect website content plan for your business. Dig in!
Countless small business owners struggle to answer the question: “What should I say on my website?” Sure, you may understand that you need a basic “About Us” and “Contact Us” page, but what else? This is why it’s so important to develop a website content plan.
But how do you develop a strategy that caters to the needs of your audience and helps you grow your brand?
In this article, we’ll demystify the process of creating a content management plan and offer a step-by-step process for how to conceptualize and create all the content that you’ll include on your website. We’ll also cover topics like goal-setting, hierarchy, optimization, and scaling production.
A website content plan is an overarching strategy that governs all the content published on your site. It ensures that all your content is cohesive, addresses the needs of your audience, and is on-brand.
A good website content plan will:
Identify what content already exists.
Outline what new content is needed.
Establish rules and guidelines for new content to ensure your quality remains consistent.
Oftentimes, the toughest part of creating content for your website is simply knowing where to start. However, once you have your plan in place you’ll have a clear roadmap of what needs to be done, making the process a lot easier.
What content should I include on my website?
As you prepare your website content plan you might also wonder what type of content you need for your site. This will differ from one business to another, but generally speaking, you should have the following content:
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Hidden pages like a thank you page, 404 page, and landing pages for special offers/lead magnets.
Start with your homepage, then move on to your top-level pages like your about page, products/services, contact, etc. Once all your web pages are complete start creating blogs to increase your content library and establish your authority.
Luckily, creating a winning content plan is easier than you think. Just follow these nine steps.
1. Establish your content goals
When creating your plan you need to start by setting goals for your content. Pose the following questions as you get started:
What do you want to achieve with your content?
Is your goal to convert new customers into clients or drive awareness?
How can your buyers’ journey inform what content your site needs to contain?
What objections do you need to proactively address?
Will your content educate/ inspire/ entertain? Where? How?
How will you measure your success? (and know whether or not your content is working)?
What is your target date for developing a content marketing plan?
These goals should be tied to key performance indicators (KPIs), as well as tactics to make them a reality. Select a series of three to four KPIs based on these goals. These should typically include conversion, referral, and/or share of voice-type metrics.
For example, let’s start with the question “what do you want to achieve with your content?” You might have a few different answers, including:
Awareness: Introducing prospects to your brand and helping them recognize the need for your product/service.
Research & education: Providing prospects with the information they need to make an informed decision.
Comparison & validation: Showing how your solution compares to your competitors’.
Sales: Converting prospects from leads to sales.
Once you have your answer you can choose a KPI. For example, if your goal is awareness, you’ll likely look at how much traffic your content generates. If it’s research you may look at something like email subscriptions. And for sales, well you’ll obviously want to track how many sales a piece of content leads to.
You can see a page's traffic, conversions, and conversion rate within your Leadpages dashboard.
2. Define your audience
Study your audience in microscopic detail. Gain customer insights through obvious sources like social media channels, digital monitoring, third-party websites, and customer support or sales inquiries.
Another foundational part of your content creation strategy is defining your audience. Every one of your pages or posts should speak to your core audience—both literally and figuratively.
Then step outside of your own mind and think like a website visitor. As you do so, consider the following questions:
What are the demographics and psychographics of your core audience?
What information does your audience need?
What information does your audience want?
What information does your audience need to convert into customers?
Targeting the right audience is key, so take your time with this step and ensure you have a firm grasp of who you’re creating content for.
3. Audit existing content
Hooray, you’ve reached the most boring part of this process—auditing. While kind of hum-drum, it’s actually super critical. In this step, you’ll want to list every single type of content piece you currently have and what you think you’ll need moving forward.
If you already have an existing website or other marketing collateral, it’s good to take a pulse of what content you’ve already produced. The goal is to gather, organize, and identify opportunities to repurpose existing content.
For those that don’t currently have a site, start with a competitive analysis. Look at what other marketers have created on websites and in print to help you generate ideas for your own website content plan.
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4. Map key content to a website content map
Once you’ve audited your content, create a visual website content map. Believe it or not, it’s quick to develop and easy to change as you go.
A website content map is a diagram that shows your website content’s hierarchy and structure. It helps to identify the relationships between pages—specifically where they reside and how they interact with other pages. It's also critical for creating a good user experience (check out these UX statistics for more insights on how to create a strong user experience).
You can start by bucketing your content by theme and importance. Stem top-level pages from one homepage, and then more robust and detailed content will fall under each of these top-level pages.
5. Create content for your website
Now to the arguably most important step—creating your content. Before you begin it’s a good idea to establish a website content template. This will help you maintain consistency and hit all of the essentials of each page.
Ensure all your content is on-brand, with the same tone, voice, and style throughout. Repeat your key messages often throughout each asset and always have a call to action, even if soft.
It’s also important to mix up the types of content you create. Blogs are great, but maybe your audience prefers podcasts or videos. Experiment with different mediums to see what performs best, or use all three so you have something for everyone.
Most importantly, your content needs to provide value. If you’re not answering questions or providing solutions for your audience, they won’t stick around. So, make sure everything you publish is bringing something valuable to the table.
6. Upload and optimize content assets
Once you have every page created, it’s time to upload your content to your website. This used to be the hardest step and would often require you to learn web design or hire an expensive developer. However, thanks to drag and drop website builders like Leadpages, this part of the process has become incredibly simple.
Once your website is published adding new content is easy. Simply create a new page, write or paste your copy into the text box, and upload photos or videos. You can return to the builder at any time to make updates and changes to your content as needed.
7. Consider SEO
While creating and uploading content you need to think about search engine optimization (SEO). Following SEO best practices will give your content a better chance of appearing in search results, allowing you to reach more of your target audience. 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine, so this is the best long-term strategy for generating traffic
Here are a few tips:
Aim for at least 300 words per website page and over 2,000 words for blog posts. Give people something to chew on and let search bots crawl enough words to index your content.
Focus on optimizing each page of your site with one primary keyword per page, using a different keyword each time and incorporating it throughout your text.
Make sure you also include your primary keyword in the following locations:
Metadata titles and descriptions
Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
Image alt text
Within the Leadpages Website Build select "Settings" and "SEO" to edit your meta title and descriptions.
Just remember that SEO takes time to have an impact. If you want to get eyes on your content right away then you’ll want to pay close attention to the next step.
8. Promote your content
Publishing a content asset is no small feat. In fact, it can take hours, days, and sometimes even weeks to ideate, research, draft, design, and optimize your page. So, don’t make this a wasted effort. Get more eyeballs on your website content by taking the time to promote it. You can do this in a number of ways, including:
On your site: Promote content assets within your website with pop-ups and alert bars.
Internal linking: Build links from other web pages and content on your site to your new content. This is also good for SEO.
Social media: Share your content across all your active social networks. You can also seek out groups, communities, and forums where you can get your content in front of the people most likely to benefit from what you’ve created.
Share internally: Have a team of employees, contractors, or collaborators? Invite them to engage with your content and help you amplify its reach online. You can make it easy for them to share your posts by providing pre-written swipe copy.
Email: Share your content with your email list through regular newsletters and updates.
Paid advertising: Use Google and Facebook ads to promote your content and grow your audience.
Long story short, just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come. Use the tips above to create a content distribution checklist that helps you create a standard process for promoting your work to ensure all your content is properly promoted.
9. Maintain and scale content
Just because your content is published and promoted doesn’t mean your work is done. For the best results, you’ll want to update your content regularly so it stays fresh and relevant. Check on your content at least once a year to see if the information is still accurate and make changes accordingly.
You’ll also need to keep planning for future content. Pay attention to the questions your audience is asking and do keyword research to learn what people are searching for. Based on this, create an editorial calendar to map future content, track ideas, and avoid duplicated topics.
Try to maintain a steady stream of content throughout the year. Adding new articles and videos monthly or weekly will ensure you stay top-of-mind with your audience.
Ready to create a website content plan?
Use the steps above the create your website content plan, then put it into action. Remember, building the plan is only the first step. You need to act on it and stick with it to make it work.