Content operations (CO) can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. CO encompasses the technology, process, and people that will be involved in content creation across an organization. CO is concerned with everything between Content Strategy (CS) and Content Management (CM). CO is like a librarian keeping all of the content, tools, and people organized. Content Operations manages the whole process, but it is not a content management system (CMS) itself nor the content strategy (CS).
One of the most important steps to get organized is to gather all of the content available. Then, there is a need to analyze the content to determine what content can we keep vs what needs to be restructured? If the answer is no, there doesn’t need to be a complete restructuring but it will still make sense to analyze data and determine if any design needs updating. (Not sure if I should say something like we’ll address this separately, or actually go into it? Just don’t want to make this too long)
If the answer is yes there is a need for new content and restructuring old content, then there needs to be a clear process. Two important factors in the process are systemic and human. Falling under systemic you have: SEO, Design, Copy, Linking and URL Structures (among many other possibilities). On the human side, you might deal with: who creates content, who designs/redesigns content, who needs and uses content, and who approves the content.
Where to Begin?
You may be wondering where do I start? A good place to start is to gather and analyze all of your content. Of the content you currently have - what is of a higher quality and lower quality? You will of course want to keep higher quality content and update anything that falls in the middle. If there is content that is lower quality and is only taking up space, it is better to get rid of it. The ultimate goal is customer experience; it would make more sense to get rid of any content that does not serve that end or detracts from the customer experience in any way. Once it is determined what needs to be changed or added in terms of content, the next step is to figure out the process of creating, implementing, and distributing that content.
To determine the process it helps to know:
- Who is creating the content?
- Who redesigns the content?
- Who approves the content?
- Are stakeholders a part of the approval process?
- Who needs and uses the content?
- How will the content be implemented and then distributed?
SEO - Search Engine Optimization
In regards to the systemic side of things, it’s important to consider SEO (think: keywords, meta tags, referral links, URL structure), whether it is something people will read or watch, is the content conversational, and what impact will the content have on design? With SEO, you don’t want to over stuff your website with keywords or meta tags that you think will bring traffic to your site. Google is much smarter than that and will be able to determine if keywords and meta tags don’t match with the overall content or purpose of the site. Furthermore, with keywords and meta tags you want to go with something that is relevant to your content but also obtainable. Going for something like “women’s shoes” might not get you to the first page, but you also might not get anywhere with a more obscure keyword phrase. Something might be easy to rank for, but if nobody is searching for it then it really isn’t doing anything for you. Your content should also be conversational. If your copy (or whatever the content) comes across stilted or unnatural, it won’t really resonate with customers.
Copy and Design
Copy and design are two aspects of content that should complement each other. It is better for copy to be developed first, to help guide design and keep what they develop on par with the needs of the company and customers. Copy should fully communicate your message and design should help bring that to life. With linking, it helps to have link backs or referral links which indicate to Google that your site has pertinent information to which others refer. While it may seem good to have a large number of referral links, it won’t do as much as you think if those sites are lower-ranking than yours.
The goal is to have higher-ranking sites that can eventually link back to yours to improve your ranking. With URLs, you want to make them human-friendly and computer-friendly. People are more likely to click links if the link accurately describes what they will be getting. Keywords in URLs can also have an impact on rankings with search engines. This impact won’t be as significant as the impact from the content on the page though, so the URL shouldn’t contain keywords that aren’t pertinent to your content.
Helping Your Team
Concerning the human side - how the content serves external growth is vital, but also how content serves internal teams is just as significant. Do your marketing and sales teams have the content that they need to effectively market and sell your product or service? Marketing and sales may not utilize content in the same way as other departments, but they still need access to content to do their job. Other departments may interact with content only on occasion, but they still need and use it. It is important to consider everyone who will need to utilize the content no matter how they interact with it.
Your creative team will need copy to effectively produce their work. CO should be available to help facilitate that process and other interdepartmental efforts. For any project, it is incredibly important to fully understand the approval process. What teams does the content need to go through for approval? Who gets the final say? Are stakeholders a part of the approval process or are they at least taken into consideration? It will help significantly to have this planned out in the beginning in order to prevent possible delays over any confusion on who approves what and where in the process that happens.