Originally posted on Curated Medium.
With Google announcing that “page experience” will now become an organic ranking factor for web pages, it’s got us thinking more widely about the importance of user experience (UX) when it comes to online content. But how does UX play a part in content strategy and at what stage of the process. We sat down with Gabriella Mascia, Curated Digital’s Senior Content Consultant, to delve a little deeper into the importance of UX when developing content, and what an experiential content strategy might look like.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘content is king’ — is this still true?
There’s still merit to the idea that content is king in that it’s the most direct and effective way to speak to your customers — but the thinking behind this philosophy is really outdated. That’s because it implies that content comes first, is untouchable, and can function successfully without considering any other marketing channels or factors. It also neglects the fact that users are much smarter at searching, and want more from content than just information on a page. So while the content strategist in me loves to believe a good article is the be-all and end-all, it shouldn’t be. Put simply:
If content is king — it shouldn’t sit independently and without direction. A good ruler is guided by an advisor who tells them what the people want and the best way to deliver it. This is UX. Good content strategy should therefore be guided by an even greater consideration of your customer.
Why is user experience so important when creating content?
When it comes down to it, content is really just a specific part of user experience. Everything we do as content strategists supports user needs by providing them with useful information that answers their query or helps to meet their end-goal. And that’s exactly why you need to think about content as more than just a way of ranking for a specific keyword or improving organic visibility in Google.
As my colleague Ify points out in his piece debunking SEO myths, “many still believe rankings are everything — let’s get this page to rank #1 and we will be swimming in cash”. Of course having your content rank #1 on Google is useful for making your site more visible, but this is just one of many stages in the customer journey. And even if rankings are your main goal, building content around a specific keyword topic just might not cut it anymore, as Google now considers “page experience” as a ranking factor. In the words of Google itself:
“Page experience is a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value.”
Content created without considering user experience then is no longer enough. How the content is delivered, and what comes after the information has been consumed, is just as important. So, before you write anything, it’s essential to consider the user intent behind a specific search or the purpose of the web page, and then shape your content around it. And this is true for all kinds of content — videos, visuals, customer reviews, product pages are all places where UX plays a role.
What’s the difference between CX and UX?
User experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) are often used interchangeably to describe the way that a person interacts with your website. But the real difference between the two lays within the site visitor’s intent and level of interaction. UX can refer to anyone navigating a website for any reason, but CX indicates a deeper level of engagement, with the end-goal here being to guide this potential customer down the conversion funnel. More often than not, it’s the role of content to help transform a user journey into a customer journey.
So, how should UX inform content strategy?
There’s no use in having decked-out, shiny content if it doesn’t take your user anywhere. Likewise, building high-tech experiences that ultimately say nothing are equally ineffective. UX should be the path that guides users through your content topic of choice.
For this, a good internal linking strategy with strong calls to action are key. Keeping in mind the bigger picture of where you want users to end up onsite not only shapes how your articles will be constructed, but also how you prompt users to engage with your site once they’ve found the information they came looking for.
For instance, if you’re a wall art brand with the overall goal of driving sales, can you link from blog content to an interactive tool that helps users to virtually visualise the artwork on their walls? Or a page that lets them build a moodboard for inspiration? Here, the key is not to push users straight to products, but to guide them to pages that are most helpful for achieving the end goal — making them more likely to convert in the long-run.
UI design (i.e. how your user interface looks and feels) plays an important role here too, as the way your content is presented largely depends on the user’s goal. Interactive formats might work for sleek fashion content where users are looking for an immersive experience, but feel disruptive for to-the-point, educational content. In short, it’s not the role of a content strategist to hand-off articles to a development team once complete — they should be actively involved in every stage of the process.
What would you advise brands do to improve the content experience for their customers?
Here are my top 5 tips for developing content that’s both informational and experiential for users:
- Before you start a project, ensure that you have the right infrastructure to do the content justice — think about where it will sit onsite, how users will find it, where it will link to and whether you have the manpower to execute this properly.
- Page experience is key — this includes technical features like load-time as well as the look and feel of your content. UI design should act as an extension of the information on the page.
- Always consider the user’s end goal when developing your internal linking strategy — where do you want them to end-up, and what’s the most helpful way to get them there? Remember that this will not always be the quickest route to conversion, but what’s most useful to the user.
- Don’t just “hand-off” articles once they’re ready to be built onsite — work alongside your dev team to ensure internal links are in-place and any creative considerations are outlined beforehand for streamlined implementation.
- Once an article is live, think of it as an asset, not a finished product. Keep upcycling your page with new internal links, assets and information as your website and services — and Google — evolve.
If this has got you thinking about your own website, content, and UX, and whether it’s all working hard enough together, we’re more than happy to support you. To chat all things content and user experience, reach out to our team here.