Successfully Launching A New Website - Part Two

Sam Rose - Head of Content

Sam Rose

6th May 2021

Part Two: Preparing content for a website build

This is the second instalment of our four-part blog series on best practices for successfully planning, building and launching a new website.

Our first article in this series explained how to execute the research, planning and specification stage of your website build to ensure launch success. This time, we’re taking a look at the content phase. We’ll cover some best practices for planning and creating new content, as well as migrating existing content from your old site to your new one.

At SilverDisc, we have a comprehensive plan to follow for each website we launch. We’re very thorough in terms of ensuring a good SEO architecture, strong cybersecurity and robust testing. But another huge part of your website is, of course, the content. And before going any further with designing or building the site, it’s important to have an idea of what you want to say and how you’re going to say it.

 

Outlining your content to inform website design

Your content should inform the design of your website – not the other way around. If the website is built before you know what content you want to include, it becomes something of a guessing game and you could be left with not enough room to say all the things you’d like to, or more space and text blocks than you need.

That isn’t to say that you must have all of your content written up and ready before the site is built. But ideally you’ll be able to plan the pages you’ll need and how much text you will want on each one.

To start with, think about the key pages you need and can populate before launch. Then, consider how much text you might need on each page.

A brief content outline for a lead generation site might look like this:

  • Homepage (100-200 words, plus links/pods linking to other pages)
  • Service listing page (100-200 words, with list of services)
    • Service page one (300-400 words)
    • Service page two (300-400 words)
    • Service page three (300-400 words)
  • Blog listing/category pages (2-3 sentences introductory text)
    • Blog post pages (600-2,000 word articles)
  • About us (200-300 words)
  • Contact (50-100 words plus contact form)

If you already have a website, it will probably be easier to figure this out than if you’ve never had one before. This is especially true if you’d like to keep a lot of your existing content. But as you can see above, you can start to outline your website and its content quite easily by thinking about the products or services you provide, how many of them there are, and what other basic pages you will need such as the homepage, about page and contact page. It will also help to think about which pages you would like each page to link to, and how you will direct people to them. For example, if you would like to have your latest blog posts or testimonials on your homepage, this will begin to help inform the design of the page.

In terms of word counts, you’ll need to consider how much you will need to say on each page. What do you want to tell people about your services? How much information do they need to know in order to contact you or otherwise convert? A rough estimate will be enough – even knowing that a certain page will just need a couple of sentences, or another page will require a large block of text or several paragraphs, will help with the website design.

You may even be able to take this a little further and start thinking about splitting your pages up into different sections. For example, if you have product pages, you may want a section for the product description, one for technical specifications, one for delivery information, and so on. Once you know you need these three sections, you can plan how to display them at the design stage. Would it look better with one section below the other, or should you put each one within a tab?

What if you skip the content planning stage, then design and build product pages with three tabs, without giving any consideration to the amount of content you will actually have? When it comes to populating your site with content you may find that you don’t have enough information about your products to fill all the tabs you’ve created and you’re left with a lot of unused, unattractive space. Alternatively, what if you have lots of information to add to your product pages and tabs would have helped to divide it cleanly, but instead you’ve had to jam everything into one small space that looks messy or even stretches the page and changes the intended design? Content informs design to give you the best outcomes in terms of user experience and aesthetics.

 

Writing content for your new website

When it comes to writing content for your new website, always bear in mind two questions Luke posed in his planning phase article:

  • What do you want the website to achieve?
  • Who is the target audience and what will they hope to get from the site?

Throughout your website design and build, every decision you make should contribute towards helping you meet your business and digital marketing goals. However, keeping your content customer-focused is key – it’s not about what you do, but what your customer does, what their pain points are and how you can help them. The customer is the hero of the story, not your business, and building relationships with this in mind is how you can gain more sales.

To expand on this, I fully recommend the book Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller. He teaches that essentially, any content you write should tell a story. This may not be in the conventional way we tend to think about stories, but it does mean that your content should, in some way, feature the following story components:

  • A character (your customer)
  • Their problem
  • A guide to help them (your business)
  • A plan to follow, with a call to action
  • What success or failure would look like
  • The character's transformation

And yes, you can convey all of this in fewer words than it may seem. Miller’s book goes into this in more detail and is a very useful read.

You should also consider user intent for each page. Customers who land on a blog post page are likely looking for information, while those on your product pages may be more ready to buy. Each stage is important, so ensure you’re catering for customers at all points of the decision making process, while encouraging them to make a conversion or micro-conversion where possible. You can read more about user intent in my blog post “How To Align Your SEO Content With User Intent”.

For more advice on writing content, take a look at our content marketing articles.

 

Consider your content plan and wider marketing plans

When you’re thinking about the pages you will need, you should also consider any marketing plans you have for the future and how your content will need to support them. If you run PPC for your business, you may be planning a campaign that requires a specific landing page. This may be a temporary page that users won’t find in your menus, but that performs an important role as it’s optimised to encourage conversions for one particular campaign – so don’t forget about this requirement during your planning.

You’ll also need to think about aspects of your content marketing plan, such as blog posts, case studies and testimonials. What information will you need to display for each of these, such as authors and category pages? Where do you want them to appear? What about email marketing – do you have a newsletter, and will you need a signup page for this? Perhaps you send out press releases and would like a separate section for this or for mentions of your brand in the media.

 

Help users understand your new website

If your website is undergoing a big structural overhaul, your regular users may be surprised and unsure how to get around when they first arrive on your new site. But there are ways to mitigate any confusion, and this is something to consider when planning your content. You may need to explain new features or help with navigation – perhaps an introductory video on the homepage could be useful. Plus, there’s plenty you could do in terms of letting people know what’s happening and keeping them up to date with your plans through social media or email so that they feel involved and not taken aback when everything changes. This won’t be something every business needs to do, but it could be useful for large, high-traffic websites undergoing big changes. My blog post “4 Ways To Help Your Customers Get Used To Your New Website” covers this in more detail.

 

Keep track of content you haven’t migrated

There will come a time during the development stage when there is a cut-off point for your content. If you are migrating content from your old website to your new one, you’ll need to decide that any content uploaded between this date and the launch of your site won’t be included in the migration. This means you’ll need to keep track of anything you add to the site during this time and save it elsewhere so that you can add it to the new site at a later date. Alternatively, you could avoid adding any new content to your site until the launch is complete, to avoid needing to upload it to the old site and again on the new site.

 

Proofreading and testing

Once the site is built, it’s vital that you proofread and check all of your content. Is the spelling and grammar correct? Is the tone right for your audience? Does the content make sense where it has been placed? Is there enough information to help your users navigate the site and ultimately make a conversion?

 

Complete basic on-page SEO tasks

Before your website launches, you’ll need to complete some basic SEO tasks. The first job is to carry out keyword research so you know which keywords are important to your business and will drive the most traffic to your site. You can do this at any point, even before you begin developing your website, and the sooner the better.

Once you know what keywords you should be using, the following will need to be optimised on every page:

  • Page titles
  • Meta descriptions
  • Headings – H1s and H2s
  • Main page content
  • Image alt tags

Most of these will need to be done at this late stage once the website is built, but it’s also a good idea to keep SEO in mind when writing your main page content. You could wade in and start writing what you think is right, but try to fight the urge – instead, do the leg work of keyword research first and save yourself time in the long run.

Here are some on-page SEO tips, taken from Jason’s blog post “What Is On-Page SEO?”

  • Ensure your H1 heading includes your target keyword or search phrase
  • Make your image alt texts descriptive whilst including your chosen keywords
  • When linking within content, use keywords in anchor text rather than “click here”
  • Focus on content that enhances the user experience – avoid keyword stuffing

We have a mountain of other SEO advice for once your website is up and running, but the above tasks will be enough to optimise your content initially.

 

Join us for part three

As you can see, it’s important to consider your content all the way through the website building process, from planning, to implementing, to testing, through to launch and beyond.

Next time, we’ll look at preparing and implementing visuals for your new website.

If you would like to know more about SilverDisc’s web development or content marketing services, please get in touch.

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