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#80 The Content Cornerstone: Pillars, Page Load, Personalisation, Mobile and more!
Episode 804th September 2023 • Jonny Ross Fractional CMO • Jonny Ross
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Episode 13 of the "90-Day Website Mastery Podcast"

Introduction

Welcome to the '90-Day Website Mastery Podcast,' your go-to source for actionable tips and advice on transforming your website into an online destination your customers will rave about! Your hosts, Jonny Ross and Pascal Fintoni, bring you decades of experience in website design and management.

You Ask, We Answer 🙋‍♀️


Question: What are content pillars, do they work, and how can I get started?


Dive into content strategy with Jonny and Pascal as they tackle your most pressing question about content pillars. Learn how to use them effectively and the common pitfalls to avoid.


Key Takeaways


  • Content themes and topics
  • Star content: What makes a good eBook or lengthy article?
  • How to use content series to supplement your pillars


Website Stories 📰


Featured Article: Medium is for human storytelling, not AI-generated writing by Scott Lamb, VP, Content @ Medium


Medium insists on human writing that deepens people’s understanding of the world. Jonny and Pascal discuss the merits and pitfalls of AI in content creation. Should your website disclose AI-generated content?



Key Takeaways


  • Human stories vs. AI-generated content
  • Responsible use of AI-assistive technology
  • Business needs and search engine considerations


The Website Engine Room 🛠️


Pascal's Pick: Squoosh.app

Optimize your image files without sacrificing quality for quicker page loading.


Jonny's Pick: FullStory

Get invaluable insights into real user experiences on your site, find bugs, and offer better customer support.


The Website Call To Action 📣


Jonny: Test your website on mobile. It’s not mobile-first anymore; it’s MOBILE, full stop.


Pascal: List your memberships, awards, and certifications. Make sure you're showing them off on your website to build credibility and trust.


Stay Tuned: We'll be back with another episode soon. Send in your questions and share your website changes for a shout-out!


Contact Us

Jonny Ross

LinkedIn

Website


Pascal Fintoni

LinkedIn

Website


Further Learning:


Hashtags:

#WebsiteExcellence #ContentPillars #DigitalTransformation #WebsiteMastery

Thank you for tuning in, and remember: your website's evolution starts here!


Timestamps:

Content Pillars Explained [00:02:38]

Johnny and Pascal discuss the concept of content pillars and how they use them in the 90 Day Website Mastery program.


Confusion around Content Pillars [00:02:46]

They address the confusion caused by different interpretations of the term "content pillars" and how it can mislead users.


Medium's Stance on AI-generated Writing [00:08:13]

They discuss an article by Scott Lamb, Vice President of Content at Medium, about the importance of human storytelling and Medium's decision to prioritize human writing over AI-generated content.


The importance of human storytelling and limitations of AI-generated writing [00:10:57]

Discussion on Medium's position on AI-assisted content and the need for clear labeling. Debate on the value and limitations of AI in writing.


Debate on the use of AI in content creation [00:12:00]

Discussion on an agency's decision to not use AI in content creation. Exploring the benefits and potential of AI in writing and content creation.


The need for clear guidelines and best practices in using AI-generated content [00:13:17]

Exploration of the role of AI in content creation and the importance of clear guidelines for businesses, organizations, and social networks. Mention of AI-written content ranking well in Google.


The importance of mobile experience [00:22:19]

The speakers discuss the need for websites to prioritize mobile experience and ensure it is perfect, as Google bases its decisions on the mobile experience.


Recording and showcasing achievements on websites [00:26:48]

The speakers recommend recording and showcasing awards, certifications, and memberships on websites to build trust with customers.


Content pillars and focusing on customer needs [00:29:31]

The speakers suggest considering what products or services to sell more of and what customers need to understand better when developing content pillars.

Transcripts

Jonny:

Hi and welcome. You're right, Pascal. Very well. Thank you very much. It's episode 13 of the 90 day website Mastery Podcast. Today, it's unlocking website excellence, unleashing the power of content pillars and tons more. We're celebrating the launch of our new program and completion of the website Best Practice Webinar series. We wanted to find a way to continue to share more advice and insights about making your website work harder for you and for you to feel proud about your website. Again, each episode we have four segments. We've got the answer we have where we're going to be today exploring content pillars. We've got the website stories looking at AI generated content. Today we have the website Engine Room where Pascal comes up with an app or a piece of tech that might help you as a website creator and come up with one as well. And finally, of course, we have the website call to action where we give you something that you could do right now, maybe this afternoon, maybe this weekend on your website to start feeling proud of your website again.

Jonny:

So without further ado, let's get started with. You ask, we answer.

Pascal:

So, Johnny, let's get into this. The question for episode number 13 is as follows What are content pillars? Do they work and how can I get started? And this is born out of some some research I was doing for something else altogether. I have this app called Flipboard, which is kind of a content curation application, both mobile phone and kind of laptop desktop. And you can create your own online magazine, share the magazines on specific topics. And I saw this article and it had a very strange title about content pillars. And then when I read the article and won't mention it because it was a mess, he was so confused and confusing. And I think what we have in a situation where the term content pillars has been used to represent so many different things that thought perhaps we should go ahead and bring about a bit of clarity and a bit of simplicity. So, I mean, in terms of your own work and then I'll use that to explain how we do it.

Pascal:

With regard to the 90 day Website Mastery program, how do you approach content pillars? Do you use the expression to begin with and how do you support your customers?

Jonny:

Yeah, it's interesting actually, because you've got tools like Rankmath, which is an SEO plugin and it talks about content pillars within that. And if you've got users that aren't familiar with SEO or really understand the structure of how content should be, they're using this phrase content pillar and using it within the back end of rankmath and not using it in the right way and getting sort of misled by the tool and taking down rabbit holes that just aren't going to actually work from a sort of fundamental way of ranking. Well, for content and, and engaging content. The way typically that I would use content pillars is around coming up with a theme or a topic or perhaps a product or a service and having a star piece of content as the sort of as the pillar. So that's, that's the center of your then content series or lengthy content, other additional content around it.

Jonny:

So you have this pillar in the middle which is based on a theme or topic. And as I said, it could be that could be a product page, it could be a service page, it could be an e-book, it could be a lengthy article, something where there's a lot of real resource, lots of value, but based on a topical theme that that is going to engage with your audience, that you're going to rank that you want to rank for. And then it's about creating supplement content, a series of content around that, all linking to the pillar. So all talking about the pillar and in all the different angles of that naturally would you'd start talking about that particular piece of topic or theme and then linking to it more importantly as well. And I think that's what we teach on the, the the, the course, Is it not personal?

Pascal:

Oh, absolutely. And just to go back to what you were saying about the use of the term, and I think people should, you know, on occasion be just in a suspicious enough thinking, why do we have a new phrase that comes out of nowhere? Because my position and use would be that what we do, content marketing, website experience and so on would be born out of good sense of marketing practices, but also journalism, media production and so on.

Pascal:

And therefore there we talk about central themes or core themes. That's what you would adopt and that could be a born out of the sales function. So a core offer products and service, or it could be actually you want to, to educate and inform your customers about something they need to understand better or do better. And the confusion comes. Sometimes you'll talk about the pillars of which is more about a mindset. Then they talk about content as being examples of so content. Pillars to them would be testimonials or a blog post and so on. And all this I think, create just confusion. What you need to understand is that for you to stimulate your imagination and to engage your audience, you have to have committed to investigate in depth, particular challenge or issue for your customers, and that could be actually your own product or that could be a question. And what we teach on the program is to create what we call the star content star content that would shine on your website at all times, even when you visit to do more content or you take a break.

Pascal:

Rightly so. To your point, that could be an e-book, that could be long form articles, that could be a podcast mini series, but something that really drives the attention. And then what you do, you supplement the star content with content series. So smaller size articles to dig into some facets that you've explored in the star content and you create essentially the hub, which is your star content supported within, if you like, surrounding it with shorter form that could even be social media and so on. So listen, I'm not saying that people should not use the term content pillars, but we need to agree on its meaning and definition. And at the moment, at this moment in time, there's just far too many definitions and far too many. Meaning so content pillars for me and Johnny is you adopt a theme and a topic that could be a core offer or a service or a key question and the challenge and you are seen and heard being helpful by investigating it in quite a bit of details.

Jonny:

And and it's the sort of strategy that can really, for example, power you up the search engine rankings to be found.

Jonny:

But not only that, when someone lands on your website and is exploring that topic or that theme, they can then see the resources around it as well and can see the the the immense amount of content you have around the subject that sort of backs up that you know what you're talking about and that you're the right people to be buying from or working with. I should remind you we are live on LinkedIn. We are live on YouTube. You might be listening. We're on as a podcast on your favorite platforms. Please make sure you subscribe. Make sure you hit the bell to make sure you don't miss these episodes. We're always amazed with how much we pack into them. We just love doing this and so please make sure that you're subscribing to the content and more importantly, comment. Ask us questions, tell us what you want in future episodes. Get involved, get part, you know, be involved in the conversation. Tell us what you want to hear more about. Do you agree with content pillars? Do you disagree? What are your experiences? We want to know and it's time for the next segment, I think.

Jonny:

Pascal, would you agree?

Pascal:

I agree. Let's move on to website stories. I'm really, really excited about this one. For episode 13, we have a very special article written by Scott Lamb, vice President of content at Medium. And this actually is one that I just can't wait to get your reaction to the reaction of our viewers and listeners as well. The title goes as follows Medium is for human storytelling, not AI generated writing. Updating our approach to AI. And so we've got a link in the in the show notes. I would encourage everybody to go and have a read of the full version, and I hope Scotland won't mind, but I'm going to, on occasion quote what he's written. But this was written as a result of Medium, which is this kind of destination for written form, primarily, although you can embed, of course, media content where people can share their expertise, their life experience and so on, and find a community of supporters and core writers. And what it's interesting about Medium, it's also a place where everything seems so much calmer and simpler than the other side of the Internet.

Pascal:

I think they've done very, very well. But this is an update from their reflection from January of this year around the impact of AI in people submitting content on medium, this kind of ultimate blogging destination. And what I'm going to read out is a couple of sentences from this article and get your reaction journey. So first one today I want to give an important update that Scott writing Scotland. I want to give an important update and clarification to one key part of Medium's approach. We are at home for human writing. Full stop. Now, while we understand that AI technology can assist writing in many ways stories that aren't generated entirely by I don't fit with Medium's mission. And that mission is being a place of high quality human stories that deepen people's understanding of the world. And then the article goes on Journey to Really speak the Truth about what is happening currently, which is essentially medium. And they have real people curating the content and checking the content. This is not even kind of done just via data saying the obvious one, which is that people are at best shoving paragraphs done by AI to essentially make the article look a bit longer and therefore more credible or quite simply copy and paste straight from ChatGPT and the others and plonk it on medium.

Pascal:

And what they're saying is, we know, we know this is what's happening. So you will not be successful in attract the attention of a new audience using this method on on medium. It finishes by saying that, you know, really we currently allow the responsible use of AI assisted content on medium. Here's a thing, Jonny, but we require that any story incorporating assistance be clearly labeled as such. So the reason why I chose this article is to simply ask you the question do you know what's your reaction to obviously the position taken by Medium and what Scott is doing, which I think is actually the superb example of clarity and simplicity in terms of how you express your position. But do you see this actually being then followed by social networks? Do you see this followed by search engines and importantly, by businesses themselves?

Jonny:

This is a really interesting debate. It's I even saw an agency coming out only yesterday saying that they are not going to be using AI whatsoever in any of the content they supply for. They write blogs for clients.

Jonny:

They write blogs, they write white papers, they write ebooks. And they've said, you know, we've got amazing writers and we are not using AI. I, I'm I struggle with this. I think I think Medium are making a really good point. I think that you know what's the point in is just reading a story that AI's written. I mean there's clearly no point in that. What's the value that it adds? You know, there's no value, really. We want to hear human interest stories. We want to hear the real story. We want to hear. We want to hear the we want we want the personality to shine through. However, in my experience and what I've seen so far, I can really step up your game of writing. It can help you think about the structure. It can help you think about how to create more engagement within the in the text. It can help you think about the English that you're using, the grammar that you're using, the sentence structure, all sorts of different things.

Jonny:

And I think from a point of view of best practice and making you consider different elements, I think AI has a huge place. And so it's about how it's used and it's about and you know, my take on this is the agencies that come out and say, you know, we're not using AI at all. I sort of see this as they're going to get left behind. And actually, I think you need to embrace this and move forward and move forward with technology. Now, mediums point of view, I think is a is a powerful PR point of view. It's sort of like, you know, come and keep reading because this isn't AI content, but they do make a point. And I think businesses do need to consider putting guidelines in place. I think they need to consider search engines. The danger that an AI written piece of content, if Google sees that as purely written, it's not going to rank it. But then at the same time, I've seen some AI written content that rank them well in Google.

Jonny:

So it's about applying like always, like always with these things, it's about applying common sense and it's about having clear guidelines so that staff within the business or the organisation or from the social network's point of view, that users have very clear understanding of how and when can be used.

Pascal:

And interestingly, you know, the article that people should read, you know, from from Scott does say, we get it. You know, it's a wonderful way to get the structure ideas, to get some stats or to even ask the platform, Can you check my article and can you make suggestions of how I would improve it? Because if I take it back to a business setting and back in my younger days of a marketing young marketing officer, the bizarre situation for me to to actually email to my boss a draft press release that I didn't write at all that I wrote, you know. So but the point is, I could have said, well, I've researched this, so I've come up with this or these are suggestions to have this digital assistant, you know, I've covered this plenty of time on this podcast, I think is where I think that if the agency says because to the point, I would say, well, we don't even use Google then because Google now all such resource I powered.

Pascal:

But think back to the logic and the the the honesty as well. I mean do you see, for example, a near future where it would be expected for a website who has a blog and a business website with a blog where we need to have at the start or by the way, this was co-created using AI because that's essentially what Medium asking writers to do. Yeah.

Jonny:

I mean, is that the same as, by the way, this blog was co-created using a dictionary or, you know, this blog was co-created by my English teacher when I was doing English A-level. I, I think think there's, you know, being a bit facetious here, but I think there's an element of, of, of openness in terms of, look, I have written this, we've edited it and, and I've seen websites going as far as that and saying, look, this was written by AI, but our editors then edit and fact check and, and everything else. But I think if you find a good dare I say the word medium but a good in between.

Jonny:

Um, I, I'm not convinced that you have to then say you've had a digital assistant help you structure it. So I think there's a I'm not sure the balance it's a, it's up for debate.

Pascal:

It's up to debate. So viewers and listeners over to you have a read of this address to the medium community and beyond from Scotland. And let us know what are you going to do about it yourself as a professional, as a team leader, as a business? It'd be absolutely fascinating. But I reckon this debate is going to keep going for at least another 12 months, which is roughly where I reckon things are going to start to settle as always. But we must move on. Time is against us. Can we please get on with the website Engine room? So generally I going to present to you two app software solutions, maybe a kit that can make life easier as a content creator and website owner. So Jonny, what is your selection for episode 13?

Jonny:

For today? It's full story.com.

Jonny:

This is a tool that records and reproduces real user experience on your website, whether that be on mobile, on desktop, even on an app as well, helping you support customers, helping you understand how they use the website, where they've come from, how they click, giving you different Heatmaps it helps you understand and identify bugs across the website and ultimately helps you understand how to increase conversion, understanding the journeys that people go on. And the more data you have, the more you can collate that data to give you truer pictures in terms of things that you should be changing on the website as well. So this week it's all about full story, helping you understand real user experiences on your website.

Pascal:

I really like that we don't do it enough on reflection, myself and my customers, but excuse me, if you take it back to the content pillars as well, you know, you put all this energy into creating information and group them in ways that are sensible and meaningful. And it's good to know whether or not your your effort is paying off and or whether you need to kind of rethink the customer journey, how you might direct them through the website with the hyperlinks or create actually more engaging form of navigation using images and icons to take them to where you want it to be.

Pascal:

And what is interesting about full story.com, if you take it back to a time before the Internet, you would have had days of stores and particularly people just looking at what was happening with a clipboard and trying to measure, you know, the traffic of of people in the aisles and whether we're picking and so on. So this observation of of behavior of the consumer, in our case, content consumer has been going on for decades. We're just now applying digital solutions to it.

Jonny:

Yeah, I remember the days of walking into Marks and Spencer and, you know, being clocked in. How many people are walking through the door? Totally, Totally. It's the digital solution that really gives you much better eyes and ears on your your website. Pascal, what do you have this week for us?

Pascal:

So this is an oldie but a goodie as this say, this is actually a perhaps one of those little known Google solution called squash dot app squash, the other being perhaps with the sound of squashing things, reducing the size of your images.

Pascal:

And I was reminded of the tool which I have actually on my as a bookmark on my browser when recently have been uploading a lot of YouTube videos and you get busy using Canva in my case with a YouTube thumbnail and for reason that I cannot understand and fathom. And you can upload, you know, a 4K videos on YouTube and for them to last forever, but the YouTube thumbnail image cannot be more than two megabytes. Can you explain this journey? Because it's just doesn't make sense, does it?

Jonny:

So and are you telling me I didn't realize this screw up owned by Google as well?

Pascal:

Yes, that's right. Have they.

Jonny:

Have they not thought of integrating into the YouTube whilst you upload the thumbnail or the simply.

Pascal:

Forgotten that they own it, you know, because it's so rich and big. So I found myself recently with a YouTube thumbnail image, a number of them and something was 2.1MB or 20 thoughts. Surely that's going to be a match. And no, it was rejected for being too big, which is real pain in a day.

Pascal:

Yes, I said where I come from. So anyway, swoosh. You can drag and drop. You can upload the image. But what is lovely, you have a whole dashboard system and dial system to avoid losing too much of the quality and and really you can reduce it from several megabytes to sometimes just kilobytes and to the naked eye it doesn't look that much different. So just a nice want to have up to sleeve or certainly as a shortcut on your on your browser screenshot app.

Jonny:

And interestingly, I've also got it as a shortcut on my browser as well. I think it's I think it's a brilliant app. I never knew it was owned by Google though.

Pascal:

And but there we go.

Jonny:

They owned so many things, don't they?

Pascal:

They do, yeah. Yeah. Absolutely crazy. It is time to ask for our friends and listeners to take action. Let's move on to our final segment, the website Call to action. This is about the one change, the one small adjustment you should be making on the website right now to make a difference to you and to your visitors.

Pascal:

Johnny, what is your recommendation?

Jonny:

So it might not be one small change, but it's one quick thing that you could do, but it might open a lot of tasks potentially, but it's so important. When did you last load your website on a mobile device? Sounds daft. But we can no longer think of mobile first. We have to be thinking of mobile only. The experience of a website has to be 1,000,000,000% perfect on mobile. We then need to consider desktop in most cases. If you look at the majority of websites, more than 50% of users are mobile. Google the in fact, sorry. The bigger point is irrelevant of whether your users are mobile or desktop. Google is basing its decisions and its data on the mobile experience. It's as simple as that. So if you look at I'm working with some big Google ads accounts at the moment, and one of the reasons that some of them are suffering is because the mobile load time load for content is really slow compared to desktop, but that's penalizing them in terms of the ads, even though they've turned off.

Jonny:

They're not serving ads on mobile, but Google still using that date, that mobile data so irrelevant of what you think your users are using even based on Google Analytics. When did you last have a look at the experience on mobile? And it needs, I'm afraid it needs to be really, really good for it to work.

Pascal:

No. Yes, you're right. Strangely enough, today feels rather special because one of my customers is launching their new website, which I've been helping to create over the summer. And the amount of time we spend on mobile phones to give feedback to the designers is quite significant. But it also takes me back to the very, very first time you and I worked together. And so we're going to go back many, many years now. It was not far from you, I'm going to say Harrogate, maybe York. And we had a website mastermind, a brand new format for the problem we're working on. And remember, we ask people who organise a little mastermind groups to actually check each other's websites on different mobiles, Android iPhones, if people had a BlackBerry, we have used it as well, because actually this is also true.

Pascal:

You know, they behave very differently on different screen sizes and different operating systems, too.

Jonny:

Yeah. And I can't reiterate the point that irrelevant of your your users and your traffic Google only cares about mobile. So pick up your mobile, load your website and have a really good play and any bugs you find, get them fixed. If things aren't working, Google is not going to be liking it. Really important to to have a look at that and that ultimately is the only way you're going to start feeling proud of your website again, because that's what we're trying to achieve. We're trying to help you feel proud of your website. We the reason that we put this programme on the podcast together, if you remember, we've talked about this a number of times, is that so many of our clients have that pang in their stomach. When when I say, I say clients mean before we get involved and before we help them. Let's be clear and have that sort of horrible feeling when someone turns around to them and says, What's your website address? And they instantly think, Oh no, I don't want you to look at my website.

Jonny:

I'm not proud of it. And we want to take you into the position of being proud of your website again. And these little call to actions can make some huge differences. What an episode. Pascale We've covered everything from content pillars to whether I should be used in writing content. We've given some insights on some apps, so we've got screws up to reduce the file sizes. We've got full story to gain valuable user experiences you've just mentioned. In fact, we've not talked about your call to action, have we not?

Pascal:

And that's fine. I was going to squeeze it in in my final introduction.

Jonny:

I just realised because I'm like, hold on a minute, what was Pascal's call to action?

Pascal:

I was waiting for my recap and then squeeze it in. Don't you worry about it. So my call.

Jonny:

To action was the mobile experience. Before we do the final round of and recap, let's just hear Pascal's.

Pascal:

Call to action. Now, this one is interesting because it was once again inspired by recent work with a client where they're going to launch.

Pascal:

They have a business website. They want to launch what we call a personal brand website about just the CEO of the organisation. And we did an exercise actually as an individual and he's a member of so many kind of bodies and associations. He's got so many awards certifications, he's got so many accolades as well. And we thought, well, we need to put all this into the website. And it literally said, Don't take me all weekend because I've not I don't have a system to record all of that. So warning to all of you, whether it's for the business or for the individuals, get in the habit of recording. That said, the award of membership, the transportation, the badges, you have to have the certification and then look at whether or not it's appropriate to have those logos as part of your validation process on the website, but would go beyond that. I would also make sure that you run what I call the Spotlight article explaining the values to your customers about why this membership should be of any interest to them or whether or not this award is meaningful to them.

Pascal:

That's a very good test as well, because if you can't find a reason to talk about the value of you having this award or belonging to this tradition, then you should just skip it. But that's my call to action. Get into the habit of making the list for all those very meaningful things that you take for granted.

Jonny:

Well, this comes back to trust, doesn't it? And what you know, what a great idea. I mean, you know, when someone's making a decision whether they're going to buy something, whether they're going to work with you, one of the elements that comes in there is trust. And those badges, those memberships, those awards, those certifications all make the difference. And it's about how you can incorporate them across the website and not forgetting them. So I love that call to action and perhaps that really helps our round up and reflection of this episode because we were talking very much about AI and content and whether we can use AI written content, whether we trust it, whether we like it, and what a great call to action that Pascals brought there in in terms of trust.

Jonny:

So I think that rounds up nicely The very much of the focus at the earlier start of the episode was about content pillars though. And and I think certainly that's what I would like to leave people thinking about that people are watching or listening right now in terms of their content strategy. So just your thoughts on the reflection and round up of this episode and and just bolster any anything we should be thinking about in terms of the content pillars.

Pascal:

Thank you. For me get together as a group. If you are a solo preneur, get together with your connections. You've got two questions to consider to help with the content pillars. Should you choose to use the term we prefer. As you know, as part of the program, Star Content and Content series, what do you want to sell more of for the rest of the year and beyond? Question number one, and what do your clients need to understand better? These are the two questions, and the answer to those questions will give you some of the clues and hints about where your content effort should focus on.

Jonny:

I like it. Very actionable. That's what we like. We like byte sizing this down, making it easy and giving you things that you can do this afternoon, tomorrow, next week. Having something to do every day for the next three months to make you start feeling proud of your website again. That's it for today. This was episode 13 of the new podcast series, The Audio Companion to the 90 day Website Mastery Program. Pascal, can you believe how much we've packed in yet again?

Pascal:

It's incredible. You know, and for us a challenge because we're not really short form content type of people. So this is pretty good actually.

Jonny:

For more information, please visit 90 Day Marketing mastery.com and you'll be able to book your discovery call with either myself or Pascal. We'll be back with another podcast episode. In the meantime, feel free to send your questions, share your preferred app and links to your website once you've made the changes we've spoken about because we'd love to give you a shout out. Bye for now, everyone, and we'll leave you with a fun video and audio montage whilst you go through your notes and actions.

Jonny:

Take care.