Web Content StrategyA common challenge with building a brand new company website is getting started with a web content strategy.  How many pages?  What should they say?

Oddly enough, getting past the first blank page for a new site owner can be a daunting task and we see it enough that it’s worth reviewing.

Many new site owners can be overwhelmed by the average size of same industry competitor sites, especially when they are starting with nothing more than a blank page.

The average client websites we build and/or maintain are around 30-50 pages, but many times these sites start much smaller and grow naturally over a period of time.

Web Content Strategy & Analysis Paralysis

So, how did they all get started?  Well, unless you are building a 30-50 page site from the get-go, I wouldn’t worry too much about web content strategy with 5 pages.

web-content-strategy-thoughtsA site this small really forms the very basic, core information about your business that help your visitors get to know the basics.  These very initial pages are simply not generic enough to compete with most industry specific, competitive phrases.   These pages will simply play into phrases that are more specific to your company, like the name of your company or perhaps a unique product or service name.

Such a small site at this point will likely not pull much weight in terms of optimization for more general terms that your potential customers might be searching for unless you have an abnormal amount of back links (which is also unlikely for a brand new site!) or social media buzz possibly.

I’ve seen fairly small website projects take months….many months longer than necessary due to over planning and perfectionist syndrome.

There is no perfect blueprint to be honest, some clients deliver a precise Word Document with each page accounted for. These documents contain all the pages by title that they would like, all the copy they want on each page, and even references to the graphics they have either picked out or would like us to locate (people talking on a bench or in an office, etc) using stock image resources.

Many other times though, clients with no existing print materials or other marketing collateral have no idea where to begin.  They are ready to begin building their site pages, but ‘blank canvas syndrome’ is actually more common than one would think.

So, here are some sample ideas for a quick and easy framework to get started with copy.  Of course, these outlines can change wildly from industry to industry and company to company.  However, here are some common ones to at least get the wheels turning.

The 5 Page Site, Getting To The Point

Web Content Strategy In 5 Pages?The 5 page site is a very small business site, and it’s the smallest site we generally build for clients with smaller budgets.  As I’ve mentioned, you can stop losing sleep over a web content strategy until the site begins to grow.

Five pages is a step above a 1 page brochure introducing your company.  However, we have to remember that websites are fluid.  They should change and grow over time, so getting started with ‘something’ will generally form a solid base to build on.

This website (SissonMedia.com) was only 5 or 6 pages on day one all those years ago.  It has expanded and contracted through the years but today it’s over 200 pages and growing.  Today, there is a web content strategy in place to achieve rankings and organize information since we moved it into WordPress for optimal content management.

Here’s what a common 5 page starter site might look like roughly for a service based consulting company:

[message_box title=”5 Page Service Based Site Sample Outline” color=”yellow”] [list type=”check”]
  • Home Page
  • About Us
  • Case Study or Testimonials
  • Our Services
  • Contact Us
[/list] [/message_box]

The home page copy is often times a combination summary or ‘teaser copy’ for the expanded content found in the other pages.  Think of the home page as your one page introductory brochure, your ‘elevator pitch’.

From here, visitors (assuming they start on your home page of course) can quickly gather a bit about who you are, what you can offer them, what others have said about your services perhaps and how to contact you.

Each of these sections will likely link to the other main pages in your site so they can ‘meet the team’ or learn more about your service details, sub services, etc.

The 5 page site would look very similar if you offer a product rather than a service (very little if any web content strategy):

[message_box title=”5 Page Product Based Site” color=”yellow”] [list type=”check”]
  • Home Page
  • About Us
  • Case Study or Testimonials
  • Product(s) Details
  • Contact Us
[/list] [/message_box]

The big difference here would be that you will want folks to know how to buy your product.  Is it available online?  Is it something you have to call and custom order over the phone?  Do you have to come to a physical location to ‘test drive’ before making a buying decision?

The 10 Page Site, Expand & Rank

Web Content Strategy in 10 Pages?The 10 page site (or anything above the 5 basic pages above) is still in the beginner realm when it comes to website size for most companies, but it does offer some advantages over the tiny 5 page site.

First off, a company can begin to ‘silo’ content (web content strategy is beginning to make sense for ranking as well) so that it makes more sense to visitors.  A dentist website might expand by adding pages to address specific procedures he offers so that patients are more clear about the details of each procedure, how it works, recover time, pain relief, etc.

It’s difficult to get to this level of detail in a single page when combined with 4 or 5 other procedures that he may offer.   The search engines will love this site as well because pages are after all ranked based on content themes, so breaking content across more and more pages offers more targeted search focus and higher potential rankings.

For instance, doctors often want powerful search results for people searching their name since this is what many patients tend to use to find their websites.  Moving the primary doctors from one ‘About Us’ page to one page per doctor allows for Google to latch on to each page with more authority about the topic covered (that one doctor for instance).

Here is what the 10 page site might expand (web content strategy begins) on the 5 pager mentioned above:

[message_box title=”10 Page Product Based Site” color=”yellow”] [list type=”check”]
  1. Home Page
  2. About Us (company summary/history)
    1. Key Person 1 Bio (specifics about team member)
    2. Key Person 2 Bio (specifics about team member)
  3. Case Study/Testimonials
  4. Product(s) Details
    1. Product 1 Details
    2. Product 2 Details
    3. Purchase Online
  5. Contact Us
[/list] [/message_box]

The Branching Diagram, A Visual Tradition

Another way to generate ideas for content and page layout is to draw boxes either on paper or in an image editor, creating a diagram called a Branching Diagram.  This can help people who are more visual by nature, really gain insight into what they want to convey with their site’s pages.  Below is a sample we actually used with a client many years ago to help create some dialog for initial site copy forming the base for a longer term web content strategy.

Web content strategy can build visually too!

Don’t Over Think It, Just Do It!

One of my favorite ways to generate a new site structure is to outline my basic main pages using the 5 page framework, then build and expand there depending on what areas I want to expand on in order of priority.  As we expand from the initial core pages, we might ‘tweak’ or optimize those initial pages to move in the direction of a true web content strategy.  We all have a message to share with our sites, and we want to be helpful with our content.  However, sites are usually built in phases in most cases, so start with the core message first, then expand later with additional pages.

Once I have an outline, I can simply pretend that someone just asked me to verbally explain each of the page titles.  For instance, for the ‘About Us’ page, imagine you were asked to ‘tell us about your company’ and simply record your response into a smart phone note application.  This will generate lots of solid, raw text that can be modified to flow once you see it on the screen.  It can be a much easier approach than staring at a blank page!