What is Structural Content Strategy?

Structural content strategy supports content goals through the appropriate use of structure to improve the user and authoring experience, and to support business goals. Content structure can include metadata, taxonomy, knowledge graphs, content models, and site maps.

Definition of content strategy: “Content strategy guides the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.” (Thank you to Brain Traffic for the enduring and succinct definition of content strategy.)

When we look at strategy, we look at defining the issues or problems, coming up with a solution to those problems, and then designing those solutions.

In content strategy, we focus on content:

  • What problems or issues are happening around the creation, delivery, and governance of content?
  • What stands in the way of having useful, usable content?
  • How can we improve the creation of content?
  • How does content delivery need to change?
  • What will enable better governance?
  • What is useful and usable to the reader?
  • What supports can we put in place to improve creation, delivery, governance, usefulness, and usability?

When we use the term structural content strategy, we ask, “What structural elements are needed to support creation, delivery, governance, usefulness, and usability?”

Structural content strategy supports content goals through the appropriate use of structure to improve the user and authoring experience, and to support business goals. Content structure can include metadata, taxonomy, knowledge graphs, content models, and site maps.

Structural content strategy researches the issues or problems and comes up with a solution to the problems with a special focus on structure. In a content management system (CMS) or digital asset management (DAM) system, it:

  • Looks at the controlled vocabularies (or taxonomy) needed to drive personalization and dynamic content display.
  • Tackles how content types and a content model can help a site standardize metadata.
  • Structures the page hierarchy of a site and details the pages may be related.
  • Evaluates how users expect or anticipate pages to be related and how they think they should be able to navigate through a site.
  • Anticipates the metadata needed to take content through workflow and governance.
  • Considers the backend user experience of the authors or content contributors to support and improve their work.
  • Maps metadata across systems should any asset or content sharing be necessary across systems.

In an enterprise, structural content strategy would focus on business needs and goals, then evaluate which structural elements are needed to support those goals.

To further illustrate this definition, let’s take an example. A client of ours had 4 websites they needed to overhaul. They were combining three websites into one and maintaining the fourth as an independent website.

However, they were unsure how to approach this restructuring work and they also had some more basic challenges such as using dynamic content display and related content suggestions.

In evaluating this work, we interviewed internal employees and stakeholders to assess their current work and their current knowledge of how their CMS platform worked. We also looked at the content and the backend configuration and a few things came to light:

  • The websites lacked a common, shared vocabulary for talking about their topics and their projects. They used different terms for the same topics across websites and they used different names for the same projects.
  • Insufficient metadata on their content prevented dynamic content display.
  • Web pages were built by hand instead of taking advantage of metadata, tags, and page hierarchy.
  • Content was duplicated across websites, making it hard to keep it all up to date.
  • Personas and user research were not clearly articulated. Even though this organization knew their user well, the lack of agreement and prioritization around personas prevented targeted and purposeful content structure to support these personas.
  • Splitting content across multiple websites decreased their SEO effectiveness.

In this example, we effectively combined three websites together and restructured the fourth. We built out taxonomy and metadata based on website and user needs. They implemented a common, shared vocabulary for all their content and were able to support dynamic content display and related content suggestions.

There are many content strategy angles from which to address these issues. In structural content strategy, we highlighted problems with the structure and created an approach to how the structure could be improved to support their website business goals.

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2019-02-26T09:31:18+00:00