Without a content governance model in place, your content marketing efforts can seem scattered and chaotic, opening the opportunity for your audience to replace you with a competitor.
Content governance keeps your relationship with your customers thriving, and allows you and your team to more effectively focus on your content goals.
In this post, we’ll cover the topic of content governance — what it is, why it’s important, and how you can create a model for your business.
What is content governance?
Content governance is the framework and processes your company uses to manage its content and determine how you create, publish, and maintain it. It defines priorities, provides guidelines, and assigns ownership to people within an organization to execute your company’s content strategy.
The goal of a content strategy is for your company to create meaningful and engaging content that aligns with your business objectives and drives consumers to a particular action. Content governance ensures that you have a definitive way for this content to reach them. Who creates the content? On what platform is it published? How will it be updated in the future? While these questions and their answers help shape content governance, its framework involves more.
Content governance is more than consumer-facing content. It requires preliminary and behind-the-scenes work seen in an asset like an editorial content calendar. Consumers don’t have access to your company’s content calendar; however, this is an irreplaceable tool to keep your company on track with its strategy. Style guides and content audits are other tools that assist with content governance but are unseen by consumers.
Content governance encompasses content sent to consumers and content that waits for them. It is not only reserved for social media posts that land on their feed or emails sent to their inbox. It includes banner ads or frequently asked questions on your website. It’s your Instagram bio or the answering message you have for phone calls. In a business, content is everywhere, and content governance allows your business to manage all of its avenues.
Why is content governance important?
To illustrate the importance of content governance, let’s look at an analogy.
Content marketing is like a first date. You wine and dine with visuals and information and hope it builds a budding relationship. If it does, how do you move forward and keep building?
After that initial interaction, you publish two emails, one blog post, and four social media posts during week one. You drop the ball in week two. The amount of content decreases to one email and two social media posts. Week three is worse, but during week four, you’re able to publish three emails, two blog posts, and five social media posts. While the increase in content seems remarkable, your potential long-term customer has unsubscribed from your content after a month. Why?
Content needs to be governed by procedures and systems. Procedures mean consistency, and consistency is key to the success of any business. It shows effort and demonstrates to customers that you care.
Content works as a cycle. Although the number of steps might differ for each organization, content life cycles typically follow this process:
- Develop a strategy.
- Create the content.
- Store the content.
- Update or repurpose content.
The content cycle never ends. There is always work to do. Use the steps above. If you finish strategizing, focus on content creation. If you’re not creating, your company can work on storing, editing, publishing, and more.
Content governance is important because it ensures that your company maintains an efficient process in its continuous content cycle. It can prevent delays, inconsistent messaging, or even legal issues. Content governance helps:
- Provide structure
- Establish clear roles and responsibilities
- Create detailed processes and workflows
- Outline company standards and policies
A comprehensive content governance model creates a standard for effective, consistent content, resulting in continued success.
Content Governance Model
A content governance model is a plan that helps your company execute its content strategy. It is a combination of people, processes, and policies that allows you to guide your content.
The online world is fast-paced, and to keep up, businesses need to make sure that they’re covering all avenues. It used to mean website and email content; however, the growth of social media has expanded the number of channels businesses need to account for. Companies have had to shift gears and adjust their content strategies to accommodate social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
While content grows and changes, its governance models help companies scale, sustain, and recreate their content.
Creating a Content Governance Model
You’re ready to create your content governance model. While each step might require extensive work, the process isn’t complicated. Building your content governance model requires four steps.
- Establish and define the roles and responsibilities of the content team.
- Design content workflows.
- Create policies, standards, and procedures for content.
- Document guidelines and ensure company-wide compliance.
Let’s go over these one-by-one.
1. Establish and define the roles and responsibilities of the content team.
Good content doesn’t exist without people. While you could argue that the most vital person in the content experience is the consumer, you could also contend that content would not exist without the team.
To create a content governance model, decide on the roles and responsibilities of those within the company. Content roles include strategists, writers, editors, and analysts. When defining the obligations of the people in these roles, think about their function. Team members typically have a strategic, operational, or specialist function.
A strategic function, usually seen in roles like a content strategist, is for those who plan long-term strategy. Staff, who are operational, implement the content strategy daily. This work is carried out by writers, editors, photographers, and more. Lastly, members of the specialist function provide expert data to other team members. This could be an SEO specialist providing analytical information to strategists or writers that shape how they fulfill their role.
When establishing the roles and responsibilities for your team, you might find it necessary to create an overlap in function. For example, it could be beneficial to have your content writers specialize in SEO. As long as there is a clear distinction in role and responsibility, there should be no issue in team management.
2. Design content workflows.
How does your content go from Point A to Point B? Point A is an idea while Point B is publication. Consumers cannot see this process, but multiple steps are necessary to reach publication.
Content workflows follow these stages:
While the list is short, the process isn’t. Content takes time. Once you’re aware of what it takes to create your content, use this to shape your policies, standards, and procedures.
3. Create policies, standards, and procedures for content.
Once you have the proper people in place, it is time to focus on your policies, standards, and procedures. Content policies are the values and goals of a company. Standards are targets used to make sure that a company upholds its policies. Procedures are a step-by-step breakdown of who is involved and what steps are needed to achieve the ultimate goal.
Consider this example. An online company has the policy to be a leading source of global news. The company enforces this policy by setting a standard for publishing at least 10 daily articles. Members of the content team, like the writers, editors, and publishers, have procedures to guide them through the content process and ensure that 10 articles are shared with the public every day.
Once your company creates policies, standards, and procedures for content, finish the process with documentation and compliance.
4. Document guidelines and ensure company-wide compliance.
There is no use in creating a content governance model if no one knows about it. The most significant element of content governance is ensuring that the entire company has access to it and complies with it.
Create documents for your company policies, standards, and procedures, and put them in a central location. Hold a meeting to walk through content processes and workflows. And lastly, regularly review and update your content governance models.
Content never ends.
Content lives on a lifecycle. You might think a blog post is complete after it is published and distributed, but its cycle continues with updates and redistribution. Managing one blog post without a system is most likely doable, but imagine an additional 20 content assets in one week. Scary, right?
Without any checks and balances, creating and managing your content can become chaotic. Content governance prevents this. With a content governance model in place, your company will have the framework and processes in place to successfully execute your content strategy.
The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.
Nike.com uses infinite scrolling to load more products on its category pages. And because of that, Nike risks its loaded content not getting indexed.
For the sake of testing, I entered one of their category pages and scrolled down to choose a product triggered by scrolling. Then, I used the “site:” command to check if the URL is indexed in Google. And as you can see on a screenshot below, this URL is impossible to find on Google:
Of course, Google can still reach your products through sitemaps. However, finding your content in any other way than through links makes it harder for Googlebot to understand your site structure and dependencies between the pages.
To make it even more apparent to you, think about all the products that are visible only when you scroll for them on Nike.com. If there’s no link for bots to follow, they will see only 24 products on a given category page. Of course, for the sake of users, Nike can’t serve all of its products on one viewport. But still, there are better ways of optimizing infinite scrolling to be both comfortable for users and accessible for bots.
Unlike Nike, Douglas.de uses a more SEO-friendly way of serving its content on category pages.
They provide bots with page navigation based on <a href> links to enable crawling and indexing of the next paginated pages. As you can see in the source code below, there’s a link to the second page of pagination included:
Moreover, the paginated navigation may be even more user-friendly than infinite scrolling. The numbered list of category pages may be easier to follow and navigate, especially on large e-commerce websites. Just think how long the viewport would be on Douglas.de if they used infinite scrolling on the page below:
Let’s check if that’s the case here. Again, I used the “site:” command and typed the title of one of Otto.de’s product carousels:
As you can see, Google couldn’t find that product carousel in its index. And the fact that Google can’t see that element means that accessing additional products will be more complex. Also, if you prevent crawlers from reaching your product carousels, you’ll make it more difficult for them to understand the relationship between your pages.
To find out, check what the HTML version of the page looks like for bots by analyzing the cache version.
To check the cache version of Target.com’s page above, I typed “cache:https://www.target.com/p/9-39-…”, which is the URL address of the analyzed page. Also, I took a look at the text-only version of the page.
When scrolling, you’ll see that the links to related products can also be found in its cache. If you see them here, it means bots don’t struggle to find them, either.
However, keep in mind that the links to the exact products you can see in the cache may differ from the ones on the live version of the page. It’s normal for the products in the carousels to rotate, so you don’t need to worry about discrepancies in specific links.
But what exactly does Target.com do differently? They take advantage of dynamic rendering. They serve the initial HTML, and the links to products in the carousels as the static HTML bots can process.
However, you must remember that dynamic rendering adds an extra layer of complexity that may quickly get out of hand with a large website. I recently wrote an article about dynamic rendering that’s a must-read if you are considering this solution.
Also, the fact that crawlers can access the product carousels doesn’t guarantee these products will get indexed. However, it will significantly help them flow through the site structure and understand the dependencies between your pages.
It’s impossible to fully evaluate a website without a proper site crawl. But looking at its robots.txt file can already allow you to identify any critical content that’s blocked.
This disallow directive misuse may result in rendering problems on your entire website.
To check if it applies in this case, I used Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. This tool can help you navigate rendering issues by giving you insight into the rendered source code and the screenshot of a rendered page on mobile.
But let’s find out if those rendering problems affected the website’s indexing. I used the “site:” command to check if the main content (product description) of the analyzed page is indexed on Google. As you can see, no results were found:
The layout is essential for Google to understand the context of your page. If you’d like to know more about this crossroads of web technology and layout, I highly recommend looking into a new field of technical SEO called rendering SEO.
Lidl.de proves that a well-organized robots.txt file can help you control your website’s crawling. The crucial thing is to use the disallow directive consciously.
Having a large e-commerce website, you may easily lose track of all the added directives. Always include as many path fragments of a URL you want to block from crawling as possible. It will help you avoid blocking some crucial pages by mistake.
Will users get obsessed with finding that particular product via Walmart.com? They may, but they can also head to any other store selling this item instead.
To fix this problem, Walmart has two solutions:
Implementing dynamic rendering (prerendering) which is, in most cases, the easiest from an implementation standpoint.
IKEA proves that you can present your main content in a way that is accessible for bots and interactive for users.
When browsing IKEA.com’s product pages, their product descriptions are served behind clickable panels. When you click on them, they dynamically appear on the right-hand side of the viewport.
Take care of your indexing pipeline and check if:
Your content actually gets indexed on Google.
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