Content Development and Strategy

In the online world, the mantra of "content is king" continues to hold true. The key to building a successful and long-lasting website is to create top-quality content that draws in viewers, improves online visibility, and establishes your site as an authority within your industry. How can you ensure that your website content is achieving these goals? Tom Elliott, CEO of Content Kings Media Group (www.ckmg.com), was kind enough to answer some burning questions about content development and strategy.

Q: What factors should a developer consider when planning and creating Web content?

TE: "Listed in order of precedence:

1) Demographic Identification - Who are you targeting?

2) Content Channel Creation - What are your navigational tabs going to be?

3) Content Acquisition - How are you going to get your content?

4) Content Management Solution - How can you manage your site with minimal time and staff?

5) Daily Content Maintenance - How are you going to update your site on a daily basis?"

Q: Are there any elements that are more important than others?

TE: "The proper identification of demographics is the most important piece as it will be the basis for all content decisions. Similar to how a television network targets a specific audience. Take Spike television for instance; the majority of their shows have a common theme with a target audience in mind. By honing in on demographics, it allows you to provide optimal real estate opportunities for select advertisers. If you've ever watched the television shows within Spike TV, you will obviously recognize it's a network geared towards men, and when you see the commercials that are chosen, you will also recognize how intelligent the advertisers are with their placement.

Once you've identified your target audience, you can develop an intelligent group of content channels that will serve as your primary and secondary navigation links within the portal. Each channel will contain subcategories which will intern provide the base for unique articles and content."

Q: Content developers need to strike a balance between satisfying user needs while still generating great search results. How can content developers balance SEO and user needs?

TE: "Great question, and one that long deserves clarity. First things first, you can develop all the content in the world, but if you are integrating this content into a site that hasn't been properly architectured, your efforts will go down the drain. What I mean by that is this: there are basic fundamentals that must be applied to each page of your website from the top level down. Each page must be unique and easy for the search engines and users to differentiate. Once you've learned the fundamentals of how to architecture a website, there are golden rules I recommend you follow when achieving balance with Content and SEO:

Rule No. 1: Users Come First - I hear people say this all the time and I feel like people say just because they've heard it somewhere else... (the buzzword phenomenon). The reality is putting your users first will in return provide you with long term success. Think about this; why do you think companies like MySpace or YouTube developed such a large following so quickly? They put their users first and constantly asked their users to assist them with making their online brands better. You may not have the lofty goals that a YouTube or a MySpace had, but treat your business with the same respect and you will see results.

Rule No. 2: Develop Themes - Each page within your site that is optimized for a keyword or two should have a theme, right? Once you've identified the theme for each section, search the web for the most relevant information that you can consolidate into your web page without over-cluttering. The goal is to make that page the most relevant for a keyword. Just because you have a unique article with the proper title and meta information doesn't mean you deserve to rank number one for that keyword. Ask yourself this question: How else can I help the user gain the information they are looking for when typing this keyword phrase in?

Rule No. 3: Content Housekeeping - Always be improving your web pages. If something happens in the industry you are involved in that directly affects your users or your business you need to cover it. There is always something to write about and if you don't do it, someone else will. By doing this you are showing that you are one of the most up to date and relevant resources of information on the Internet, which will in turn assist you with achieving top organic rankings."

Q: How does content development affect online brand recognition?

TE: "Brand Recognition and Content Development go hand in hand. The quality of your content and the frequency of your unique content creation affect how users, publishers and advertisers see your brand. Think about it like this; if a user visits your site and doesn't find your content compelling, why would they bookmark you, buy something or share your site with a friend? Why would a publisher want to link to a stale site or a site that doesn't at least provide weekly updates?

If you look at the publishers that generate the largest amount of volume for their advertisers you will notice they are updating their online brands with information on a daily basis."

Q: What do developers need to do to create a content strategy to enhance their online branding?

TE: "The quickest way to refresh a content strategy is to gather your team together around a white board and brainstorm. Have people throw ideas out for new content channels; as many as possible. Don't disregard any idea until you have the white board covered with topics. You'd be surprised how much of an impact a simple brainstorming session will have on your content strategy. Too many publishers and affiliates attempt to copy their top competitors rather than develop their own unique strategies."

My advice: Break the mold and be bold. Forget about what your competition is doing and target your audience with information you know will attract new searchers. Think about how you can separate yourself from everyone else and develop your own niche."

Q: Are there any content development tools or resources that you would recommend?

TE: "Yes, and they are all over the place. I get ideas from TV, Radio, Newspapers, Restaurants - any form of media that captures my attention. Think about why it captures your attention and what advertiser is placing their brand in front of you. The faster you catch on to understanding the human psyche and how it works the quicker you'll understand how to develop an online brand that not only generates revenue but attracts the eyes of advertisers looking to get a piece."

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Tom Elliott is the CEO of Content Kings Media Group (www.ckmg.com). CKMG is a full-service online marketing solution offering content development, search engine optimization, search marketing, and lead generation services for various competitive industries.

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