How to use structured content

During our studies at the Content Strategy Master programme of the FH Joanneum Graz. we talk a lot about structured content and how this enables us as content strategists to turn “regular” content into intelligent content. After learning more about why structured content is so important for the future, it’s essential to know how to use structured content in detail.

The importance of structured content

In general, structured content allows machines to process content that conforms to certain structural and semantic rules. This content should usually meet specific business requirements in order to be able to meet business goals which were set by the management

The highest level of structured content is often described as intelligent content. To create such content, copywriting is not enough. Copywriting is just writing the words you want to use in communications. There is a huge difference among the disciplines of copywriting, producing content and producing structured content you should keep in mind:

  • Copywriting: paying attention to words & messaging
  • Content production: putting copy into content
  • Structured content production: build semantically marked up content

The benefits of structured content

According to Rahel Anne Bailie and her article on “What’s the deal with structured content?” at GatherContent, there are three areas where you can mainly benefit from structured content:

  • smart work, instead of hard work
  • the possibility to do more with content
  • better analytics

In the following table which is based on Rahel’s blog post, you’ll find all the dedicated benefits of those areas.

Smart work Single-source Having (tagged) content in a central, single repository whereas sophisticated systems may even include multiple variants of content (for example for various audiences)
Efficiency Structured content is more efficient at the production end, which translates to more effectiveness in delivery.
Do more Personalization In marketing, personalization is still a big challenge. To create highly segmented, personalized content, structured content is needed.
Multichannel publishing Structured content enables organisations to publish their content to various channels and devices from TV screens to smart watches.
Omnichannel delivery To get the right content to the right customer at the right time, structured content is needed.
Synchronising channel Structured content helps organizations to synchronise content between various channels (i.e. knowledge base, website, email campaigns, etc.)
Automated processing Machines are fueled by semantically marked up content.
Better analytics Granular tags After publishing, structured content can be analysed on a more granular level.
Better decisions By generating more detailed data about the performance of content, you are closing the reporting loop and eventually can make better decisions.

Implementation of structured content

There are several ways to create structured content. Choosing the right path is essential but highly dependent on your specific case. You could use a consistent style within word processors, use a database or even run a power editing environment. Driving change in organizations could lead to some performance anxiety in the beginning. Eventually, you will have an agile, efficient way to create and deliver highly-semantic content.

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