Structured Content: What It Is and Why It Matters
By Content Bloom
For modern enterprises, there are several different channels where content can be published, both externally for their customers and internally for employees. Content also takes a variety of forms, from blog posts, videos, and webinars to user guides and training manuals.
In order to manage everything for customers and staff alike, businesses need a way to ensure that content can be organized and adapted to fit different tools and published to different channels — that’s where structured content comes into play.
In this article, we’ll explain what you need to know about structured content, why you need it, and the benefits of implementing structured content.
What is structured content?
Structured content is content that is planned, developed, and organized so that it is predictable and can be adapted to any interface or technology. Content gets broken down into small components so that it can be separated into easily identifiable pieces that can be reassembled.
For example, take this blog post. It can be broken down into individual components, containing fields such as the title, subheadings, author, and others. Structuring content and separating it into components in this way enables content to be easily understood by another system and repurposed accordingly.
Structured content treats content like data, facilitating easy repurposing and enabling content to be easily modified for as many channels and platforms as necessary. In addition, structured content is often more searchable and discoverable, enabling organizations to deliver consistent, meaningful, and engaging information to the right people in the right context from a single source of truth.
What is unstructured content?
Structured content follows a clear path and is organized, allowing it to fit into content models. On the other hand, unstructured content is often disorganized and doesn’t follow formal standards, making it harder to manage, personalize and enable search.
Whereas structured content leverages the context of content so that it can function across multiple channels, unstructured content typically creates ad-hoc components for very specific purposes, which can be less reusable
Unstructured content places restrictions on how content must be read as it is usually found in containers such as PDFs, .doc and .ppt files. As a result, reading and editing content can be challenging. This is acceptable in certain situations, such as when content only needs to be used once or for a specific use case. However, in today’s multichannel environment, this can be damaging to brands in several ways.
Why do you need structured content?
Improve Content Organization
The biggest challenge is actually standardization and effective reuse of content for single sourcing. Additionally trying to identify a specific chunk of text, a table, or a graphic among mountains of content assets is almost impossible if it isn’t formatted correctly. By leveraging structured content, content tagging and taxonomies make content creation much easier, and way more organized.
Growth of Headless CMSs and Omnichannel Publishing
Many enterprises are also adopting headless CMS platforms that enable them to publish content to different front ends. Content is stored in a repository and can be adapted to different channels and delivered via APIs. Whereas traditional CMS platforms typically rely on unstructured content, many headless CMSs leverage structured content to create an omnichannel experience.
What are the benefits of structured content?
For enterprises that incorporate a structured content strategy, there are several benefits that can be realized.
Rather than having to recreate or copy and paste content every time, content teams can create content once and then reuse it again. This is because structured content enables a single source of truth for all content, allowing components to be reused in multiple places.
Structured content is often more easily searchable and thus improves the discoverability of content. This reduces the time end-users need to spend looking for information.
Structured content helps increase the productivity of content teams and reduces the amount of duplicate content created. Instead of having to create a piece of content from scratch every time, content teams can easily view the content they already have available and see what can be repurposed and adapted for another channel. Furthermore, there are reductions in content approval and translation times as a direct result of reuse.
Help with personalization
Today’s customers demand a high level of personalization across all channels. Facilitating this personalization requires content teams to produce content at scale. With structured content, accomplishing that becomes much easier, allowing marketers to create the personalized experiences their customers demand. Personalization at scale is achieved through standardization, and in turn, structured content fosters a high level of standardization.
Structured content makes it easier to future-proof content so that it is readily available for new channels and campaigns. For example, if a new social media platform suddenly surges in popularity, brands can quickly adapt their content to publish on that new channel with less effort.
Another key benefit of structured content is that it can help with search engine optimization. Search engines like Google crawl websites for data to respond to search queries. When content is structured and broken down into components, it’s easier for search engines to understand what content is present on a website. This way, the most relevant information, such as a snippet or product description, can be quickly displayed to customers searching for it.
What happens if your content isn’t structured?
While it can be tempting or yield short-term benefits to start building unstructured content, in many cases it’s best to take a step back and start from a fully-formed structured content strategy.
Here’s what can happen without structured content:
Content teams will struggle to personalize content for audiences without structured content. That’s because adapting content components for different consumer interests or demographics becomes more time-consuming. Also, effective personalization requires standardization of content, which is more easily achievable through structured content.
Inefficient Content Management
Unstructured content can lead to inefficient content management. Content teams need to spend more time creating new content each time and are unable to benefit from existing content assets. Approvals and translations become redundant, wasting even more time.
Spending more time creating new pieces of content each time new content is required means businesses will have difficulty scaling as they need to use more time and resources to keep up with demand.
Content Bloom and structured content
The demands placed on content teams today can sometimes feel overwhelming. Omnichannel publishing and personalization at scale are necessary for any enterprise that wants to compete within its industry. Thankfully, structured content makes things easier.
Content Bloom can help your business create a unified content strategy that eliminates content silos and allows you to control your content lifecycle. As an enterprise digital consultancy, we combine our knowledge of content strategy with our expertise in various headless content management solutions to help you get the most out of your content.
Learn more about how Content Bloom implements structured content management on our services page.
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