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Our Guide to Tagging and Structured Content Management

What is tagging and structured content management?

Many people equate online content with web pages, but the two are not the same. Online content covers a wide range of written material, such as blog posts, case studies, news articles, tweets, Facebook posts and white papers, each with its own unique digital properties.

These properties may include the date the piece was published, the author and its subject categories. The information itself may be further broken down into chunks, like heading, introduction, body copy, call to action.

A regular web page, on the other hand, is a static block of information and cannot be broken down or assigned properties. It is, in effect, immobile.

Structured content (sometimes called "intelligent content") is managed through software called content management systems, or CMS. Older CMS, such as WordPress, only allowed users to change how their content appeared on a certain page. But a new generation of CMS, like Umbraco and Sitecore, give you much greater flexibility over how and where your content is used.

Once content has been effectively structured, it can be easily published across a number of mediums simultaneously. For example, you may be launching a new product. You want to include this information in a press release, your new brochure, in a blog post and a tweet. What’s more, you want it to be equally accessible on smartphones, tablets and desktop PCs.

Traditionally, you would have to re-write or cut-and-paste that information for each different channel. With structured content, your CMS can use the pre-defined properties of that piece of information to re-use it across as many different mediums as you want, with no additional input from you. This process is referred to as “Create Once, Publish Everywhere”.

Structured content management provides sites with the ability to organise and manage their content more efficiently. It reduces content down into basic criteria and subject fields. Storing information in this way in effect turns it into data, which is much easier for a CMS to manage.

Successfully managed content also performs better on search engines, as it is easier for search engines to recognise what the content is about, and it’s easier for users to find and use it. Tagging content provides search engines with a synopsis of your content, enabling better descriptions of your content to appear in their search results.

Structured content is also much more suitable for the plethora of devices that people use to access the internet these days. You cannot rely on web users to view your site via a desktop anymore. The rise of smart phones and tablet devices means that more people are accessing your site through smaller screens. Content which has no structure does not usually perform as well on these mediums, leading to decline in the number of site visitors. Structured content, on the other hand, ensures your content can be easily viewed and accessed by anyone, on any device, anywhere.

Why do we need structured content management?

Increasingly, structured content management is becoming a necessity, especially for larger websites. Without structured content management, once a website extends beyond a certain point, say 20-30 pages, it can often become difficult to manage efficiently unless it is organised around specific content criteria.

Organising content around specific criteria provides both internal and external benefits. Internally, it makes it much easier to maintain consistency, flexibility and quality across all the content you produce, as everything follows the same specific structure. Externally, it guarantees you maximum versatility in shaping your content to meet the demands of web users, making it easier for them to find and engage with the content that is most relevant to them. 

It also allows you to gauge the success of individual content types. For example, which type of content is attracting more visitors, case studies or blogs? And a clearly defined content management system makes it easier to provide copywriters and other content contributors with a brief, as they can be provided with a structured, consistent format to follow.

What’s more, with an effective content management strategy to rely on, you can ‘future-proof’ your content.  Confusion often arises when content “no longer quite fits” a site that has evolved over the years. Traditionally, companies would undergo expensive site overhauls and start everything from scratch, often abandoning the previous content. But this is a mistake and totally unnecessary.  Rather than spending money needlessly on a site overhaul, we advocate hiring the services of a content strategist to help you re-use and repurpose your content to suit your new demands.

How Blueprint can implement a structured content management system for you

A significant proportion of our work in structured content management has been on behalf of large businesses, universities and health care organisations – sectors that routinely deal with large amounts of information that needs to be effectively managed, stored and displayed.

When designing and implementing structured content management systems for our clients, we insist on a data-led approach based on hard facts and up-to-the-minute evidence. We use Umbraco, the world’s leading open sourced structured management system. Umbraco offers simple yet powerful content management abilities, placing you in total control of your content.

We also have specific expertise in designing content taxonomies, ontologies and domain modelling, expertise that enables us to build effective content management systems from the ground up. Each system we design is tailored to the specific needs of that particular client. And we continually measure and review their performance to ensure the optimal system is implemented and that it evolves as your needs change.

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