I like to imagine every website as a container—it’s the keeper of your content and the bearer of your brand. And this container holds a whole lot of power. In fact, 75% of consumers admit to judging a company’s credibility based on their website; while 88% of consumers are unlikely to return to a website after a poor experience. This means that providing a top-tier digital experience is vital to forging lasting relationships with consumers.
As marketers, it’s our job to fill websites with content that drives engagement and incites action. But in order to do this, you’ll need a 360-degree view of the brand’s digital ecosystem. How are people finding the website? What is it encouraging them to do? How do users flow from one page to the next? What’s the ultimate goal?
These questions have complex answers that can’t be fully defined by one person or department. Instead, a joint effort is required from UX, SEO and Content specialists to obtain a holistic approach.
The Siloed System
The problem is that today’s Marketing teams, whether in-house or digital agencies are often siloed. It’s as if each specialty has walls built around it—allowing each expert to focus on their work to the detriment of collaboration. Typically, the UX team conducts user research to develop the sitemap. The SEO team does its own digging, recommending technical tweaks that’ll boost rankings. And the content team fills the website pages with a copy.
At the end of this fragmented process, you have a weak website. Your sitemap doesn’t align with lucrative keywords, your SEO strategy has no meat behind it, and your content lacks impact. This is the problem with the siloed system—and it’s why we need to break it.
Marrying UX, SEO, and Content
A successful marriage of UX, SEO, and content require strategic collaboration. It’s not about holding hands, but it’s not about silos either. Instead, it’s a healthy balance between the two. First, each expert must maintain a clear understanding of the project KPIs. Whether it be increasing lead generation or building thought leadership, ensuring that everyone is on the same page is key to success.
From there, your UXers, SEO specialists and Content strategists should branch off to work their own individual magic, continuously converging at key milestones to share their learnings and agree on the next steps. So what are those key moments for collaboration?
During our discovery process, we use a scorecard approach to assess our clients’ websites against those of their competitors. We grade them based on their unique brand goals—and they can get pretty granular. (Think criteria such as approachable tone on the homepage, showcasing process as a differentiator, etc.). This helps all three teams—UX, SEO, and content—to understand where they should be focusing their attention to drive the client to success.
SEO and Content experts must attend UX’s stakeholder and customer interviews. Sitting in on these meetings allows them to hear feedback through their own lenses, rather than that of a UXer. This leads to greater insight and a more holistic view of digital opportunities, such as keyword prioritization, content formatting, and web page topics.
Once UX has drafted the first pass at the sitemap and the SEO specialist has conducted thorough keyword research, they converge to solidify the sitemap.
The UXer will have everything bucketed from a usability perspective, while the SEO expert will have data on how people are searching for related keywords. There’s often tension between the two teams at this point, but it’s necessary tension. By melding differing points of view, you can develop sitemaps that are fluid and impactful.
Now that the sitemap is complete, it’s time for the SEO and Content experts to collaborate on a content strategy. By working together to define tone, topics, and structure, you’ll be sure to infuse the right keywords into your website copy and drive the right users to your site. In this way, your website will act as a magnet, drawing visitors through your funnel to conversion.
Synergy Over Silos
The digital landscape is becoming more crowded every day. In fact, there are nearly 2 billion websites on the web today. As the numbers continue to grow, it becomes increasingly difficult for brands to stand out online.
In order to compete, you must make sure all aspects of your website are working in unison to achieve the same goals. The deliverables of this synergistic process are an SEO-rich sitemap and an SEO- and brand-driven content strategy. It’s there—within that cohesive experience—that you create a deliberate and impactful digital presence capable of moving bottom lines.