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I am a web developer and often get involved in projects where there is no person on my team who is responsible for content strategy and no one within the client's team who knows much about it either - all they know is that they need a website!

What approaches can I use to inform or guide clients about the importance of web content and strategy?

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I'm a content writer and I feel your pain about "content as after-thought" or sometimes "not important." So glad you posted this question.

Sometimes it helps to show clients what their competitors are doing -- who shows up first in search results in their business categories, what those websites are saying, how user-friendly the sites are, and especially how they use content to set themselves apart and weave in SEO keywords in a smooth, ethical manner. Those are the sites using content that works.

Every now and then I show these things to my clients and they get it. They want to rank better in search and set themselves apart as the best solution for their audience. When they understand the difference, my job becomes a lot easier and we all win.

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There is a very nice paper for Information Architecture (which is only a module of what you're probably asking) here

If you feel that, that is what you're looking for, you might want to take a deeper look into Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites

Although IA doesn't solve the problem directly, you'll find that it provides you with a solid ground for requesting the content strategy.

Furthermore, when you're ready you want to have a closer look into the content of the content strategy, I read Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (New Rules Social Media Series) book and I found it very clear, nice and helpful.

I'm pretty sure, you'll find both reads (and the paper) compelling to your case. If you don't have the time to read the whole thing, take a look at the summary and search google for the topics, you'll find plenty of information.

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Hi, thanks for the answer - some useful tips here. I'm currently reading Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, but your last link doesn't seem to work. –  mdresser Apr 5 '12 at 9:02
    
Hey @mdresser I updated the link. It should be working now. –  edgarator Apr 6 '12 at 5:50
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