The content gathering process is one of the most important steps in planning a website. We at Emarkable are firm believers in a ‘content-first’ approach to planning websites. Allowing your content to drive your designs and layouts not only saves time and increases production efficiency; it also optimises information for your users and lets your designs support the content, not the other way around. The gathering content process takes place during the planning phase and is key to getting organized – especially when your site will include many pages or content of a complex nature.
What Does it Mean to Gather Content?
The phrase ‘gather content’ means bringing together content elements (including text and media) that will be presented on a website and organising them so that they can be easily edited, evaluated, and staged for development.
Content gathering may take place in slightly different flavours at different points in a website’s production lifecycle including new websites, website redesigns, and existing active websites.
Depending on how deep you want to dive into your content planning, there are several recommend key pieces of information as well as some helpful additions and optional recommendations. Take a look at some of the types of content we recommend gathering below. Most of what we highly recommend are elements that drive design, but we also include those that drive search engine optimisation and general workflow support as well.
Here are some recommended content gathering elements.
|Page Text||Page Titles||HTML ID and Class|
|Page Images||Meta Descriptions||Existing page visits, conversions, social shares, and bounce rates.|
|Page Video, Audio||Page Headings||Outbound Links|
|Files for Download||Image Alt Tags|
|Tabular Data||Internal Links|
|Keyworded URLs||Keywords for Optimisation|
An essential part of the content planning and website pre-planning strategies.
Define and create content before any designs or layouts are created.
Optimal for development efficiency and crafting great user experience.
Gathering Content for a New Website
Gathering all of your content before you start the design process is critical to the ‘content-first’ strategy. It is not enough to have an idea of what content you might want to include; you should also have at least some of the actual content to use as a reference for design.
Centralizing content makes adding, ordering, editing and removing content much easier than if you were making those kinds of decisions when reviewing design mockups or even coding pages. Maintaining content in one place also makes collaborating or sharing with stakeholders and clients much easier during the feedback and approval processes.
Content Gathering for Website Redesigns
A key part of evaluating current website content.
Compile a content inventory to better understand what content exists on your website.
Perform a content audit to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each piece of content.
Create a Content Inventory
A content inventory can be a list or chart of all the pages and associated pages contained within an existing website. A simple inventory may be in the form of a spreadsheet containing key pieces of information. We recommend a visual sitemap in the form of an organisational hierarchy which allows you not only to see what pages are included on your site but also how they are linked together to form your website’s architecture. You may want to use a site crawler to discover pages, and page data about your website automatically – trust us, this saves huge amounts of time – especially on big sites.
Your content inventory may also include:
- Page Information: page titles, meta descriptions, and URLs
- Page Stats: organic visits, total page views, landing page conversions, bounce rates
- SEO Information: primary and secondary keywords for optimization, inbound links
- Associated Content: links to actual page content or a content organizer for easy viewing
Performing a Content Audit
The next step is to perform a content audit which is a process of evaluating your existing content to determine its strengths and weaknesses. This exercise also provides insight into where content gaps might exist, as well as where optimization opportunities might exist, and where outdated content needs to be refreshed. Most importantly, it can identify high-performing content that you need to be very careful with when performing any redesign. Once you have completed your content inventory, it is time to be performing some operations on the data to tease out some important learnings. You may find that you need to merge the content inventory list with exported data from an analytics system such as Google Analytics.
Rank by Landing Page Conversions
Rank pages to see which had the most user entrances that resulted in a conversion. Be cautious when editing high converting pages as not to remove or edit them too much. Identify non-converting pages that might be rewritten, optimized, or removed.
Look at Social Engagement
Understanding which pages have been shared on social media will help you further identify which content is playing the most important roles on your website. This can be very helpful for determining whether your site’s blog is a success or not. You can also decide later on which pages to spend more time promoting on social media.
Identify Pages with High Bounce Rates
Pages with high bounce rates need to be fixed or possibly removed altogether. Compare individual page bounce rates to the site averages to determine where to put your attention. High bounce rate landing pages can actually hurt your overall SEO.
Review SEO Elements
Review your page titles and meta descriptions. Ask yourself, do they match the page content? Remember this information is what people see when they perform a search engine query. Your title and meta description needs to be compelling and also reflective of the underlying content, or you could suffer low click throughs and high bounce rates. Think of these as a text ad.
Compare Time on Page
You may find that visitors are looking at one type of page much longer than others, which could indicate where to put your focus. Don’t waste time and money building out sections that don’t hold readers attention. Look for trends.
Identify & Evaluate Inbound
You may want to identify which pages have the most inbound links by using additional 3rd party tools. You might be hurting your SEO if you decide to remove a page with lots of inbound links. Always remember to create 301 redirects if you do remove a page so as to preserve the link equity from those inbound links.
Gather Content for Existing Active Websites
Gathering content for existing and actively developed websites can aid in workflow and process management. We recommend active content gathering especially in situations where content is being created on a regular basis such as a blog, press centre, or help desk. When content is on a deadline, keeping an ordered process is key to releasing on time every time.