We've all heard the mantra: Take the time to write a solid business plan before you start a business. Most of us would never think of trying to skirt that advice, as it always pays off. A well-thought-out business plan provides the blueprint to your success as an entrepreneur, whether your talents are in financial planning, architectural design or freelance writing.
The same advice can be said about the content strategy you apply to your website. The most successful websites succeed because they have a well researched, credible content strategy, a blueprint that helps them ensure that the goals of their website stay in step with the goals of their business.
For example, it might make sense for a writer who provides content writing to feature a writing marketplace for on her site, but she would want to make sure that she had a long-range plan that complemented the goals of both her writing business and her website.
So what is a content strategy?
Author Richard Sheffield, who has overseen content strategy for top companies like Hertz, and Home Depot and is now the managing editor for UPS, identifies five key parts to an excellent content strategy: a) structure, b) business, c) creative, d) process, e) technical.
In other words, content strategy isn't just what you write and how you write it, but reflects how you use the structure, creative and technical aspects of your website to ensure the success of your commercial business.
For example, say I want to start a website for my flower business, which has been in existence for 10 years. I am going to need to take into consideration not just how I want the website to look, but how I promote my business through social networking, the creative but carefully planned use of my blog, and the keywords I use in that content so I can drive customers to both my site and my physical business.
Steve Bradley of Vanseodesign.com, expands on this point by noting that content strategy:
- Helps provide consistency in your message.
- Helps ensure better content by ensuring it is on track with your business goals
- Utilizes search engine optimization skills effectively
- Intelligently and efficiently uses content
Whether your goal is to provide a writing marketplace that merges the visibility of a website and your own personal skills in content writing, or to give you a way of selling more of your company's products online, a well thought out and researched content strategy is today's digital version of the perfect business plan.