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On a recent trip to New Orleans, I found myself enjoying many of the delights that people venture there for: the parties, the music, the food, the culture and history. From the French Quarter to Frenchman Street, the trip was filled with great memories with friends and family. However, there was one side of New Orleans that perhaps most people overlook: the amount of garbage on Bourbon Street at 7:00 AM after a night of festivities.

As a father of an eight-year-old, I tend to get up rather early, even when staying up late and found myself waking up early on this trip. To shake off the grogginess and grab a cup of coffee, I started strolling around. What I saw was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Endless piles of garbage in the streets, being swept into trucks and the sidewalks and road literally being hosed off. I asked someone about it, and they informed me that this happens every morning so that when the party starts again around noon everything is fresh and ready to go. This is what it looked like at 7:00 AM:

A New Orleans street with masses of garbage in the gutters.

Here is a shot of that exact same location I found on Google Maps, clearly after it was all cleaned up:

A New Orleans street that has recently been swept.

Which version would you rather stroll down?

Just like we need to clean up our trash after a good party or event, we also need to think about making sure you have clean content on your website. For example, content that is stale, underperforming, or no longer relevant, forces people to sift through the garbage to find what they are looking for. “Cleaning” up your content will improve the user experience. This doesn’t happen by itself and requires upkeep and thought. I’m not suggesting that for people to enjoy your website you need to do a content clean up every day at 7:00 AM, but just like Bourbon Street, it’s important to clean up the garbage so that people can enjoy their experience.

So, how should you get started with cleaning up content on your website? There are a few key activities that we would recommend and can assist with:

  1. Look at the data. Using your analytics platform of choice, see what articles or content is performing well. This could be through strong engagement, time spent on the page, or other metrics like conversions or click throughs. What’s important is that you generally want to keep content that people are engaged with. Remember, in this case older doesn’t always mean bad, but you need to use your judgement on if the content is still accurate. On the flip side, content that is generally being overlooked should be reviewed and either updated or removed. If you don’t have one already, this would be a great opportunity to create a measurement so that you know exactly what success looks like and have a guide when reviewing overal content performance.
  2. Leverage keywords and SEO strategies. Often, a piece that is perhaps underperforming isn’t necessarily ready for the ‘ol Bourbon Street hose down, but just needs some love. Keyword research and an overall SEO audit and tuning can help your content perform better and delight users – but they need to be able to find it.
  3. Revamp your overall content strategy. While this is a key step in any major website redesign or digital transformation, it can also be done outside of large projects, and it doesn’t have to be done all at once. Content strategy starts by taking a step back and thinking about the goals of the website, website sections, and eventually looking at the page level so that the priorities and purpose are defined for each page. As part of a content strategy exercise, we can help you with a current state content inventory, a future state vision, and guide you through a keep, remove, modify, create, exercise so that we are elevating your best content, tuning the rest so that it doesn’t get tossed out by accident, and finally removing the content you no longer need. Also, keep in mind that content strategy can go beyond the website, whether that is on your social channels, or the assets being housed in your DAM. Either way, its important to take a wholistic look at your overall messaging and content.
  4. Create new content. Out with the old, in with the new. I’m sure that new places are popping up all the time around New Orleans and taking the place of an establishment that just didn’t make it. As sad as it is, that is the way it goes both digitally and commercially. Coming out of a content strategy exercise it is highly likely that you will want to create new content. Or even without a content strategy exercise, it's important to keep new content flowing into your website to keep up with trends, news, insights, educational material, or products. When writing new content, think about SEO and try to leverage keywords that will enhance the findability of your content. Create a content calendar and review it regularly with your team. This is something we are doing more and more and can help you with. We can also help you write SEO friendly content for your website.
  5. Lastly, if you really are in a pickle about what content you should keep or put in the trash, don't overlook A/B testing as an option. With A/B testing you can keep the content on your site but test updated language, new imagery, a different call to action, or even a whole new page so that you can hear directly from your site visitors what they prefer and what will make them stop and smell the roses., or maybe gumbo if you are in New Orleans.These are just a few of the recommendations we would suggest to keep your website sparkling and enjoyable for your audiences.

Take Care of Your Website Content so it can Better Serve You

While it’s fun to joke around and share stories about New Orleans at 7:00 AM and draw analogies between physical trash clean up and digital content, the reality is that all websites need care and feeding to stay fresh and enjoyable. If you are thinking about a redesign, make sure you are taking a close look at your overall digital goals and ensuring that a content strategy phase is built into the project plan. Or, if you are looking to simply improve the performance and experience of your website without a full redesign, it’s important to start by developing a content strategy, removing the trash, cleaning up your roads (navigation), storefronts (landing pages), and places where people spend most of their time (detail pages). You see what I did there?

Please reach out to me or Velir to learn more about our digital marketing, content strategy, and copy writing services so that we can help you with your website and keep that content party going!

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