Richard Ingram recently published an extremely fascinating infograph about the various approaches to web content strategy. One visitor to his site commented that the lower right-hand purple area should represent the corporate approach to content strategy. The comment frightened me as it immediately exposed a direct disconnect between the Search team and the Message Map.
I appreciate that for the sake of the graph, it would be impossible to get all of the ‘dotted lines’ in place. Regardless, after a lot of years as an SEO, these dotted lines are critical to consider for coordinating the implementation and governance for sustainable content strategies. Especially in a corporate environment.
3 notes on Message Maps…
- Don’t confuse a Message Map with Message Architecture. Though related, they are separate things.
- Message Maps are designed to provide your visitors with answers to their most likely questions (relative to the offerings of your site).
- Message Architecture is designed to keep those answers on brand.
A Message Map most often runs on the rule of 3. 3 key points. 3 supporting points per key point. Repeat the key points 3 times. Being considerate of your time starved visitors, you should never require them to try to uptake any more than 3 points. Reinforcing your key points 3 times helps get your point across. The big point for you; a Message Map should be developed to help define how you will overcome the primary obstacles to a visitor’s potential purchase / engagement. The easier it is for a visitor to connect with and process your content, the more likely and quickly they are to engage with you.
Back to the Dotted Line
This is where the dotted line between Brand Strategy and Search comes in. The Search team is working hard to help attract qualified users to your site. The Search team should already understand your brand (i.e. Message Architecture). With this in mind, its critical that the Search team does not have to spend time reconstructing the site’s/product’s Message Maps. These key value statement should be discussed with and accessible to the Search team from the start. You aren’t going to run a company and not tell the staff what the overall goals are! (right?) So, don’t leave the Search team out of the loop on this (commonly) traditional marketing team function.
The Search team will be able to use the Message Map to positively influence their keyword research, competitive analysis, link analysis and general strategic planning. Part of their success is evaluated by being able to attract high quality visitors to a site. Knowing what your site is answering – selling – expecting etc, allows the Search team to spend their time working to attract the right kind of potential visitors. Being able to attract quality visitors translate to greater success. And, at the end of the day, being successful is why we do this in the first place.