As a content marketer or a content marketing team, you produce an incredible amount of content, daily, weekly, and monthly. The traditional thinking about this content has been that it is created, published, and, in most cases, forgotten, as the marketer moves on to new topics and types. Some content writers go back into content history and “resurrect” an older piece by re-writing it, adding updated information, and perhaps turning a piece of text into an infographic. This is known as re-purposing.
The problem is that it is hard to re-purpose or update content if you do not even know how to find the content you crafted in the past. Short of pouring through previous posts and recycle bins, there is no way to find and to know what content you produced, when you produced it and what type of content it was. It’s time to develop a system of structured content so that it is managed, adaptable, and reusable. Here are some examples:
- A team in a B2B enterprise has written thousands of pieces of content. Part of that content has included education and discussion of regulations about health and safety in the workplace. Now a regulation has changed. There’s a lot of content out there that included the old regulation – how do you find it and get it updated? Even if your content is organized by title and stored safely in the cloud, how do you find every piece that mentions that regulation?
- A visitor is on your site, navigates to your blog, and is looking for posts related to a very specific topic. S/he is pouring through your posts and getting frustrated. Structured content will allow the visitor to search by keywords and pull up posts that relate to that topic only.
- A content writer is ready to craft an e-book. S/he knows that there are valuable information and data s/he or another team member has written before that can be re-used. Now to just find it.
The Solution – Structured or “Intelligent” Content
The idea behind the structured content is that you can find your content easily, no matter where it may be and by way of multiple means. All content is organized and tagged by factors that you set up in advance so that you may search for it and find it in various ways. And the more structure you add, the easier it will be to find it.
The format you choose to structure your content should be whatever works best for you or your team. You model might be a database, a spreadsheet, or a diagram. Each piece of content is categorized according to several tags you have pre-determined, categories which might include:
The concept of structured content can be overwhelming, because, let’s face it, there are almost limitless categories you can add to your model, and there is so much content to categorize. Think of structured content as a process, not something that will just be accomplished quickly and then left to stand. Here are a couple of examples for a start point:
- A FAQ section. You may have a FAQ page on your website. Each question and answer relate to a particular You may also have written a blog post or two on that subject, perhaps a Facebook post, and even an e-guide or a video. What you want to make certain is that when that topic is searched, either by you or a visitor, or someone conducting an organic search, that all of the content you have created on that subject is automatically brought up. This not only allows searchers to get everything you have produced on the topic; it allows your internal team to gather it all, re-purpose it, update it and spread it across other channels.
- Recipes are another good example. They can be categorized in so many different ways like cold weather and hot weather meals, quick meals, preparation and cooking times, ingredients or by ethnicity (Italian, German, American, etc…).
Structured Content Analogies
For “powers that be” who have difficulty with the concept of structured content, and who may thus be unwilling to allocate the resources to set up the model and assign content according to categories, there are some analogies to use to explain the importance.
Val Swisher of Content Rules crafted a blog post on structured content which compared it to a walk-in closet. You have a server with only a very basic structure. Likewise, you have a closet with the only couple of hanging rods. What you have to add are more organizational features so that everything is not just sitting in there in a jumbled mess. You have to sort and organize according to categories so that you can actually find what you need when you want it.
Others have compared structured content to organizing a garage, basement or kitchen. Any of these analogies will work well if you, as a content marketer, are attempting to explain why structured content is so important to business goals – how it can promote that business by the smarter use of content.
And Speaking of That Content
Just as you add more clothing items to your closet, you continually add new content to your structure. As you do this, you will see that there are clothing items and content that you literally need to throw out. Having structured content allows you to seek and find this old stuff easily and to get it out of your model. Do you really want a piece of content from 2002 that explains how to make a video showing up in a 2016 search? This “dates” your business content as being irrelevant and no longer a valuable source of information.
Final Words of Encouragement
Launching the process of the content structure may seem overwhelming. There are lots of layers to this initiative, and you may not even understand them all at this point. And that’s okay. Your task is to start small, create a model that works for your “small” start, and learn more as you proceed. As your colleagues and superiors begin to see the value in content structure, you will gain support. As well, you will learn more about all of the possibilities and then add those layers as you become more expert. The point is to get started. Doing nothing just means more content chaos.
This article is written by Malia Keirsey. She is a young web designer for the Flash Essay and ambitious guest contributor from Chicago. You can find a lot of her articles on the different topics, such as digital marketing, blogging, and self-development. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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