A Checklist for Content Work

by Erin Kissane

20 Reader Comments

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  1. bq. Factual content must be updated when new information appears and culled once it’s no longer useful; user-generated content must be nurtured and weeded; time-sensitive content like breaking news or event information must be planted on schedule and cut back once its blooming period ends. Perhaps most importantly, a content plan once begun must be carried through its intended growth cycle if it’s to bear fruit and make all the effort worthwhile. I love this, but can’t help wrestling the common sense of agriculture against the typical concerns of consulting. We’ve all seen how politics, finite budgets, and the pressure of competing deadlines get in the way of post-launch maintenance when companies outsource their web initiatives. It’s a problem with codependent enablers: clients send RFPs for new websites, blog templates, or content; consultancies respond with ideas to relaunch anew, with sparkling new content—and too often, the timeline stops there. Some agencies are starting to move away from the launch-and-leave model, but their efforts are misguided at best: maintenance contracts that focus on posting press releases and governance documents that live more in documentation than culture are no substitute for the model of vigilant care you describe. Here’s my question: how do you think consultancies need to evolve their offering and how they sell it in order to educate their clients about governance, community management, and ongoing content cultivation? Is it a cultural shift that both agencies and clients need to embrace, or more of a trend that’s already happening? (And if you answer that in full in the book, well, “RTFM” is an acceptable answer.)
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  2. Many websites are primarily focused on conversions and thus speed visitors through a funnel. Good content will let a user jump in to whichever step of that process via search engine results matching highly targeted keywords on the page. Sometimes, sacrificing clarity for some SEO is necessary.
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  3. I wholeheartedly agree with the premise that “good content is supported.” In my arguably limited experience I find that without a support plan, i.e., someone to keep the web site fresh and relevant, the web site does more than become stagnant. I find the owner of the site, not getting the value out of the presence on the web in the form of page hits, search engine rank and overall response to content, can not fully realize the value of the web as a medium for existing and potential customer communication. In other words, the site to him or her becomes nothing more than a yellow pages ad.
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  4. quantity is important. i’m unable to concentrate if there’s too much happens on a single page, ie. adsie, retweets, fb likes, etc..
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  5. Thank you for content on content that is witty and insightful. While some say “content is king”, I think the ruling power comes form context - that of the user, the task(s) they come to our sites to accomplish, and our business goals. Without context our content often turns into a madlib of marketing and SEO terms. One of the root causes of my company’s content challenges comes from distributed authorship - which is akin to awarding road construction projects to the lowest bidder. Any thoguhts on how to create/manage good content in this type of environment? Like Margot’s comment above “(And if you answer that in full in the book, well, “RTFM” is an acceptable answer.)”
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  6. Very good article… as usual! What a great site
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  7. How do you see adaptive content working with more traditional strategy models in terms of planning and execution? We’ve been experimenting with providing different content from a CMS based on organic/paid search keywords, which ties in nicely with the idea of context. The problem is that it compounds the effort it takes to create content for multiple scenarios. Not sure if you’ve had experience with this but I would be curious to hear your thoughts. PS - Mods might want to take a pass at the spam posts above.
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  8. Bought your book a week or so ago. I just skimmed this article, but it’s making me more excited to read the whole book. Looking forward to it. As soon as I get a free minute…....
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  9. Content about content…it’s about time. Thank you for an insightful article on the use, timing and nurturing of content!
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  10. Thanks for the response on governance, Erin. My feeling? This is a classic teach-them-to-fish opportunity for consultancies to assess culture, train on tactics, and help their clients maintain over time. But it’s a tough issue: while I see many agencies pitching their clients on long-term maintenance and best practices (whatever THOSE are) they’ve seen in other organizations, it seems like many shops don’t take the time to focus their user research internally and build a sense of empathy around day-to-day content cultivation. That is, they may not understand their clients’ internal processes, existing content culture, and current workflow well enough to help them graft on governance techniques that are designed to succeed in specific organizations. That’s where best practices fail: as consultants, we need to show our clients that what’s best may not always be right for their particular, peculiar needs and culture. But all experience (and corporate culture) is specific, and that’s not always easy to estimate and sell. In many agencies, the vague but vital governance component is tough for both account managers and their clients to accommodate.
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  11. Margot Bloomstein was recently out working with us and I got a chance to flip through the new book. Definitely planning on ordering a copy of our own. Working in the web development/design industry for over 15 years it’s great to see content strategy getting a well deserved focus these days. Anyone who’s been in the game for a long time will tell you that one of the top reasons a project will fail is when content and message architecture is ignored or minimized. This is a really useful checklist. Thanks!
    Nice work!
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  12. I sometimes find it difficult writing website content myself, especially when SEO is involved, as it can be hard to write several pages of varied content, having to fill a word limit and without repeating yourself.
    Good, clear checklist here, definitely something to keep in mind for future projects. I agree that there is nothing worse than going on a site and seeing streams of content, it really puts me off reading any of it, and I would probably just leave the site if what I was looking for wasn’t clearly marked.
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  13. That I find is one of the hardest things to get across to clients. They can be so self absorbed in their business that they never stop to put themselves in their clients shoes. Their content can be technical, bland and as interesting as watching paint dry. Once they see their content from the clients point of view you can almost see the light bulb go on in their heads.
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  14. I think the value of content depends on the author/site owners goal. Blogs are written for retaining a reader audience, while press releases are intended for making an announcement. It can be difficult to make a product announcement interesting and viral, but thats not the point. This is just one example of how none interesting content can also be valuable.
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  15. The concept of usability occasionally takes a backseat in web design, sadly, but not as often as it does in content writing. Making content user-centered really goes hand in hand with good site structure and navigability. It can be difficult to write content that is functional (useful) when there isn’t a clear concept of what its purpose is in the scheme of the site. This article is an excellent resource for generating usable content for usable sites and preventing content bloat.
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  16. In this fast paced world I an very aware that being concise is right on the money. I also liked the venn diagram of physical, emotional and information. I exclusively write for my dog walking site. This means that my target is one third of families in my local area. I constantly struggle with topics that might be of interest to me but have too much detail for the reader. So what does my reader want? They probably will view the articles now and then if I walk their dogs, but maybe not even then. It seems my content is to expand my reach into the long tail of google and for article sites (which now I have found I have to re-write an article so I dont get caught in the duplication trap. My biggest trick is researching facts and presenting them as interesting, and even tied back to my dog walking. I found by reading scientific journals that dog behavior is a real ‘rabbit hole’ of information that most people have no idea about. So in a way I am lucky that I have such a deep interest in my topics. Do I make them concise enough, or do I provide enough detail to support my (and others) theories? That at the end of the day is the question for me, as well as, did I entertain my reader ...  I truly hope so.
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  17. I would like to add some useful tips to your wonderful article on how to write content for your website “Make sure that your website works for your business. A website that works must have the following characteristics: otherwise it is nothing more than an oversized electronic business card. It must be appealing and professionally designed. Mare sure that the first impression a potential customer gets from you is a positive one
    It must allow for better communication channels between you and your customers or prospects. Your contact information shouldn’t be more than a click away
    It must give visitors a good reason to return to your site. Here, content is king
    Do not make a sales pitch in every paragraph ...”
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  18. As a burgeoning copywriter all this brain food is brilliant. Cheers
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  19. I could not agree more with your retake on the old “Content Is King” maxim - it’s all about delivering relevancy.
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  20. When I first started my blog, I was obsessed with SEO and putting up content as quickly as possible so that my pages could be indexed by the search engines. This practice resulted in a low conversion rate and an extremely high bounce rate. This article hits the nail on the head. Without good content your blog will not be successful, no matter how many visitors it gets.
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