Welcome to part 2 of our series on owned media where we walk you through the wonderous, wild world of websites (read part 1 here)! Admittedly, that might be a bit of an oversell, but websites are a great opportunity for your overall media strategy. Before we get into it, let’s revisit exactly what owned media is.
Owned media is an umbrella term referring to any form of content you have full control over. This could mean any creative graphics, written content, building signage, audio (like podcasts) or videos on your website or social pages. This form of media is valuable due to its ability to let you customize your customer experience and brand identity to suit your overall vision. Besides, it’s the only form of the three media's (owned, earned, and paid) you have total control over.
One of the most complex collections of owned media that any organization will have can be found on their website. This content could come in the form of design, blog posts, testimonials, staff profiles, sales platforms, and more; all working together to tell a cohesive story and represent what makes that brand unique. Websites offer a lot more real estate than social media, meaning that you have more capability to communicate and market to your audience.
Owned media and your website
Why does web content matter?
We would argue that your website is the most important form of owned media due to its ability to shape your audience’s perception of who you are and what you do. Your web content allows you to control how you’ll be remembered and how your audience interacts with your brand. For these reasons, it’s imperative you have a plan in place for the development and management of web content to remain competitive and current.
Building the right foundations
If you think of web content as your brand’s home, your web design could be described as the bricks and foundation on which it is built. Although not as exciting, the space you worked very hard to establish could crumble without. In the digital age, consumers rarely have the patience for a site that has a poor user experience. Slow processing speeds, outdated graphics, and difficult navigation all place you at risk of damaging your brand reputation and audience engagement. For your web media to shine, you must first build a platform where it can thrive.
Building a great site starts with the basics:
Get familiar with the tech
Get to know your hosting platform and ensure that items like processing speed, security, and DNS settings are correct. When choosing a Content Management System (CMS), it's also important to understand the trade-off with performance some of the more popular, drag-and-drop platforms offer. At such an early stage, it's a good idea to consult with a trusted developer or someone with experience in this area to help make some of these decisions.
Become an SEO expert
Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical in helping your audience find you. Poor SEO means that you will appear lower on search engine results and be less competitive in your space. Good, organic ratings rely on your owned media for things like great content and backlinks, so stay up to date on these and keep an eye on your analytics to make sure everything is in order. Getting the basics of onsite SEO is easy. Mastering it is hard. Luckily, there are great resources online along with Tools like Semrush, Screaming Frog, and Moz can help you make sure you’re on the right track.
Use your analytics
Your website will need to adapt and change regularly in order to remain competitive. Closely monitor algorithm changes happening on the big search engines and adjust your strategy accordingly while also gauging audience engagement to see what works for your consumer base. Google Analytics is generally the go-to tool here. They have great, free certification courses online that are always good to revisit each year.
Making content that sticks
Once the basics are good to go, crafting quality content is your next step. Your website is the central hub of your brand and business; all other forms of owned media should lead your customers here to engage with you. Are you using industry terms? Do your pages have a call to action? Are you asking people to do something? Make sure that these answers are clear and discoverable so as not to lose those valuable conversions. Consider the following before creating your content:
Quality over quantity
There is a fine line between worrying about Google's rules around thin-content (min 1500 words) and designing content for readability and scanners. Overloading your audience with information can lead to confusion and a loss of key messaging. According to Google’s John Mueller, word count no longer matters in Google’s rankings anyways. Recent changes to Google’s algorithms put more weight on the quality of your content rather than the quantity of words. Focus on creating content that’s truly meaningful, concise, and easily navigated.
Don't build an informational labyrinth
Attention spans are short, and competition is high; you may only have a few seconds to make a good impression and encourage future engagement. Your web content should be easily found and concise; having too many links, navigation options or tiers buries your great content and hinders your ability to make that genuine connection with your audience. Keep navigation simple and don’t overthink it.
Listen first, create later
A common mistake in web strategy is creating content that you want to share, instead of what your audience wants to see. Make sure you are continuously monitoring your analytics and visitor feedback to ensure that the stories you’re telling aren’t falling on uninterested ears.
Have fun and get creative
Web content is a great place to be topical and creative with your messaging, so try to create content that is rich, on-brand, and relevant to visitors. This will help you create a connection with your audience and ultimately get engagement.
Enough small talk
It takes time and effort to cultivate a successful web content strategy and make connections with your audience. Thankfully, creating good, owned web content is also incredibly rewarding. It lets you show off to your customers and competitors by telling them what makes you special. Good SEO can help make new connections that may have otherwise gone unfound, and analytics help you see where the chinks in your armour may be so that they can be repaired. Your website can be your brand’s biggest cheerleader, leading the charge in building your brand and meeting your consumers’ needs. Have fun out there.