Don't hide your content
By Lorraine S. Green
It doesn't matter what content you are publishing on your website – you want your audience to find it and engage with it. How you structure, layout, and publish content is key to its findability.
For most of our clients, digital content is published on the corporate website as static content, campaign pages, blog posts, press releases, and so on. There are several ways to help your visitors find the content – here are a few of the areas that you need to consider:
Website structure & page layout
The structure and navigation of your website needs to be logical and build on naming that is at least moderately familiar to the user. This way, you can use your knowledge of what a regular user journey looks like to make finding content intuitive, rather than a chore.
Furthermore, do not underestimate on-page elements. When structuring a page, the layout of text and imagery/video can easily focus user attention to the content you want to prioritise.
Quick tip: Hand-draw a wireframe for your site, including the existing navigation. Ask a couple of colleagues where they would expect to find specific information and use this exercise to fine-tune your website structure and naming conventions.
Pro tip: Ask a user experience and content specialist to review your website structure and suggest ways to improve your on-site findability.
PDFs, corporate magazines, reports, and other assorted documents should supplement your website, not replace it. In other words: create spaces that can accommodate important information in an HTML format. Directing users to specific pages in your annual report gets old fast and does not make for an engaging user journey.
Pro tip: If your website does use these formats, work with a data analyst to set up evaluation criteria and check if your visitors are actually engaging with this content. If they aren't, start converting information to HTML.
People tend to assume that this is limited to search engines, such as Google, but you shouldn't understimate the benefits of improving you internal website search.
When visiting a website, users attempt to locate content in different ways: some use the navigation menu and click their way through the website, others are less patient and want to go straight to their destination. For this second type of user, an internal search with built-in goodies like autofill, result categories, filtering, and suggested results is a must have.
Pro tip: Ask an analyst to dig deeper into your website analytics or use a content improvement tool to fine-tune this functionality.
Having your digital content that is accessible and findable for everyone is becoming a standard practice. For example, users with vision impairments might use a screen reader to view your site or might have difficulties navigating designs with low contrast. The way you design findability solutions will need to account for these differences in use.
Pro tip: Use a site improvement tool to test your website's accessibility score.
And above all: think mobile
If you want your content to be findable, both across search engines and on your website itself, it needs to be structured and designed in a mobile-friendly way. This is especially relevant if you are currently building a new website, as it is best to address this now than to go back and correct errors. For a good read on why this is important, have a look at our article on Google and mobile-first indexing.
Quick tip: Ask your colleagues to use their mobile device to look for a specific piece of content. Did they find it easily?
Pro tip: Go straight to the source. Google offers a tool that can help you test how mobile-friendly your website really is.
Spread the word
There's a lot you can do with your website to push important content, but don’t forget your other channels! Your intranet, social media, spokespeople, brand ambassadors, newsletters, blogs, podcasts, partners, etc. can all be a good resource you can use to increase the findability of the content you want your audience to discover.