How to gather website content

How to gather website content using Slickplan's content gathering tool

Your website is only as useful as the content you provide your audience. Content gathering tools like Slickplan's Content Planner expedite that process by allowing you to collect everything in one place – particularly helpful for big projects with lots of pages.

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Why content gathering strategies matter

Content gathering is more than just corralling the various types of content you plan to use into a single, well-organized workspace. Remember, we're living in a content-first world now, or at least the companies and websites that win are. So, on top of optimizing your site for users, this content-first approach actually increases production efficiency too by allowing the content itself to inspire your designs and layouts. Gathering the right content is where it all starts.

What is the content gathering process?

The content gathering process involves bringing together all the content elements – the text, media and more – that you intend to put on your website and organizing all of it so it can be easily edited, evaluated and staged for development.

Content gathering and the web design process are going to look different depending on where you are in a website's production lifecycle, be it a new website, a website redesign or streamlining content creation for existing active websites.

What is the content gathering process?

Examples of the type of content that could be gathered for a website

Gathering content for website use goes from the more obvious, like text and images, to the more subtle, like image alt tags. There are certain types of web content you'll almost certainly want to include in your website content plan as well as some helpful additions and optional recommendations. Most of what we highly recommend are elements that drive design, but we also include those that serve SEO content planning, seo content management and general workflow support too.

Highly recommended

  • Page text
  • Page images
  • Page video and audio
  • Files for download
  • Tabular data
  • Keyworded URLs

Recommended

  • Meta descriptions
  • Page headings
  • Image alt tags
  • Internal links
  • Keywords for optimization

Optional

  • HTML ID and class
  • Existing page visits, conversions, social shares and bounce rates
  • Outbound links

Our guide to gathering content for websites

Your website is most likely going to have a lot of content, or at least more than you might expect. Making sure it's effective content and relevant content for your audience though, requires some planning.

How to collect content for website use that ultimately leads to better results for your site and its visitors is all about organization and research.

Our guide to gathering content for websites

Create a content inventory

What do you have already? A content inventory helps you understand where you stand with content and can just be a list or chart of all the pages and associated pages contained within an existing website. A simple inventory may be in the form of a spreadsheet containing key pieces of information as seen in the example below.

To make things easier, we recommend a visual sitemap which shows all included pages and their links to give you a sweeping view of your website's architecture. Using a site crawler adds more convenience by automatically discovering pages and page data about your website. A gamechanger and time saver, especially for larger sites.

Your content inventory may also include:

  • Page Information: page titles, meta descriptions and URLs
  • Page Stats: organic visits, total page views, landing page conversions, bounce rates
  • SEO Information: primary and secondary keywords for optimization, inbound links
  • Associated Content: links to actual page content or a content organizer for easy viewing

Perform a content audit

Is your content good? Does it serve its purpose? A content audit is the process of evaluating your existing content to determine its strengths and weaknesses. This exercise also provides insight into where content gaps might exist, where outdated content needs to be refreshed as well as optimization opportunities that lead to better content. Most importantly, it pinpoints high-performing content that you need to be very careful with when performing any redesign.,

The next steps are where you dive deep to tease out important info that helps cater your content to user needs.

You may find that you need to merge the content inventory list with exported data from an analytics system such as Google Analytics.

Note: if you've created a content inventory as a visual sitemap in Slickplan you'll need to export as a CSV or Excel document to perform some of the content audit exercises.

Rank by landing page conversions

The more conversions a page has the more it's helping your business goals so you need to be cautious when editing, be careful not to remove or change too much. On the flipside, ranking by conversions helps you identify non-converting pages that should be rewritten, optimized or even removed entirely.

Look at social engagement

Understanding which content has been shared most on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the rest of the lot will help you further ID the content that plays the most important roles on your website. It's also helpful in pinpointing the types of content to promote on social media in the future.

Identify pages with high bounce rates

People vote with their clicks, so pages with high bounce rates need to be fixed or possibly removed altogether, starting with the worst offenders first. High bounce rates are more than a bad stat, they highlight pages that users are ignoring and can cause real headaches by hurting your overall SEO.

Review SEO elements

Review your page titles and meta descriptions and ask yourself, do they match the page content? Remember, this information is what people see when they perform a search engine query. Your title and meta description needs to be compelling and also reflective of the underlying content, or you could suffer low click throughs and high bounce rates.

Compare time on page

Your visitors may well be looking at one type of page much longer than others, prioritize those when thinking about your content. Don't waste time (and money) building out sections, blog posts and the like that don't hold readers attention. Find the trends and build upon them.

Identify & evaluate inbound

Inbound links, or backlinks, are links from other sites back to your content. They create trust, add authority and demonstrate you have good content to offer. Identify which pages have the most inbound links so you don't hurt your SEO by removing a page with lots of them. Create 301 redirects if you do remove a page to preserve the link equity from those inbound links. No need to give yourself a penalty after all.

Gathering content for a new website

In a nutshell, an essential part of the content planning and website pre-planning process is to define and create content before any designs or layouts are created. This strategy is optimal for web development efficiency and crafting a great user experience.

Audit

Audit

A content-first strategy means content comes, well, first, so gathering all of your content before you start the design process is critical. It's not enough to have an idea of what content you might want to include; you should also have at least some of the actual content to use as a reference for design.

Centralize

Centralize

Gathering content is really an exercise in centralizing content which makes adding, editing and removing content much easier than if you were to do those things while reviewing design mockups or even coding pages. It additionally helps you make precise content requests to close any information gaps.

Approve

Approve

Maintaining content in one place facilitates easier collaboration with different members of the team and makes the feedback and approval process with stakeholders and clients much smoother. When your content is centralized and organized, you can also avoid unnecessary confusion and delays.

Should I gather content for a website redesign or an active website?

Short answer: yes.

For a redesign, content gathering is a key part of evaluating current website content with a content audit serving to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each piece of content as well as where a lack of content may exist.

Gathering content for existing and actively developed websites can aid in workflow and content management strategy, helping clear bottlenecks in the content pipeline. To that end, we recommend active content gathering especially in situations where content is being created on a regular basis such as for a blog, press center or help desk. When content is on a deadline, keeping an ordered process helps avoid chaos and allows you to release new material on time, every time.

Learn more about creating a content planning workflow

Should I gather content for a website redesign or an active website?

How Slickplan’s content gathering tools can help

Tools for gathering content are an integral part of curating the right content for your audience. Slickplan's Content Planner is another piece of our all-in-one website planning suite, a website architecture tool that fits right into an information architect’s workflow. Building websites is a fluid process and information architecture is constantly changing; page locations shift, menus disappear, blogs emerge, etc. Content gathering keeps you flexible and adaptable.
gather-content-1

Organize, plan and architect

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Collaborate & work with team

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Refine, edit, set due dates & timelines

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Complete & publish to website/CMS

What can perfecting client website content collection do?

There's really only one type of client; one that wants a website that produces results and a pain-free experience getting there. Effective content gathering is something that not only helps you meet those client expectations, but exceed them. Here's how:

Clear bottlenecks

Content gathering is one of the biggest bottlenecks in finishing a project. Prioritize it with a dedicated content gathering solution.

Maintain project flow

Bring all those disparate pieces of content under one roof. Keeping content flowing from clients to you keeps a project moving forward.

Increase conversion

With less hold-ups on quality content, you're not just delivering a great website; you're handing off a site that connects with, and converts, visitors.

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