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The power and potential of structured content

Why does structured content matter in content production and delivery? And how does it affect marketing results? Let’s dive into it.

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Lucie SimonovaPublished on Jan 10, 2024

A deep dive into the essence, importance, and use of structured content

Many writers may likely have never come across the concept of structured content. However, skilled content strategists and professionals who know their sauce understand its integral role in navigating and manipulating the vast content ecosystem. 

At its core, structured content is simply content that conforms to a distinct pattern. It refers to content organized into individual components (fields or chunks) in a manner that makes it compatible with any interface or delivery channel. Using a blog post as an example, the headline, subheaders, publishing date, meta description snippet, and keyword tags are all categorized in separate content chunks within a content management system.

Create once, publish everywhere (COPE) is the slogan for structured content. This is because it is principally used to maximize resources such as time by optimizing and repurposing dynamic content across a multi-channel experience. Content marketers swear by structured content because it is vital for an efficient workflow, increased scale of quality content, and improved search rankings. 

Looking for results? We will deconstruct the intricacies of structured content and explore its functions to revolutionize your content strategy

Understanding structured content: Its nature, benefits, and limitations

With the evolution of communication technology over the years, the world of content creation has been challenged to develop a system that makes content delivery simpler and faster. As people have begun to embrace differing channels and platforms for content delivery, it has become increasingly important for developers to find a way to service these channels as efficiently as possible.

The desire to alleviate this need led to the invention of structured content. Structured content is a method of content creation involving organizing content predictably by categorizing each section based on its purpose. It is designed to make it easier for users to access and develop their content without the help of specialized data scientists. 

To understand the benefits of structured content, let’s compare it to the alternative of unstructured content. What does each offer, in what situations should you prioritize one over the other, and what are their limitations?

Structured content vs. unstructured content: An in-depth comparison


Structured ContentUnstructured Content
  • It takes the form of numbers and text in standardized, readable formats.
  • It follows a predefined relational content model.
  • It is stored in a relational database in tables, rows, and columns with specific labels.
  • It is easy to search and use with the available analytics tools.
  • It is quantitative (with countable elements) and easy to group based on attributes and characteristics.
  • It comes in various shapes and sizes that do not conform to a predefined data model and remain in its native form.
  • It does not have a data model, though it may have a hidden structure.
  • It is stored in unstructured raw formats or a NoSQL database.
  • It requires complex search, process, and analysis before placing it in a relational database.
  • It is qualitative; subject information must be split, stacked, grouped, and patterned to analyze it.

To understand the relationship between two forms of content, we must first understand what makes them different. First, structured data may include content like names, addresses, credit card numbers, lists with bullets, images, etc. Typical use cases for structured content include website landing pages, articles, blog posts, and spreadsheets.

On the other hand, unstructured content includes text, audio files, mobile activity, and social media posts. It lends itself well to use in cases like determining how effective a marketing campaign is or uncovering potential buying trends through social media and review websites.

The structure is important in content delivery because it provides information about the content type. It explains what a piece of content is and in what situation it should be used. For example, a content type could be classified as a header or body of text. Each of these content types can have precise information associated with it, like dates, addresses, or names. The information available in a content structure largely dictates how effectively that content can be used in a body of work.

What are the components of structured content?

Structured content comprises various components and systems that work together to make the content creation efficient. Every extra layer of information improves the content structure, making it easier for users to develop content and for consumers to use the content.

The components of structured content are easier to understand from the ground up. First, we have the content building blocks called content types. These are independent small pieces of content that combine to form a larger content body. These small pieces of content are adjustable and can be repurposed to form new content or to deliver the same content on a different channel.

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Metadata is another component that is vital to structured content as it aids content organization and categorization. Metadata can be described as information about the information. For instance, the author’s name and the creation date of the content. It could also have information on how and where the content type can be used.

After content types are created with detailed metadata, they can be classified and organized with content taxonomy. This list of terms helps you manage all your online assets in your content repository. Structured organization makes finding what you’re looking for easy without getting lost in a digital jungle.

Defining these parameters dictates the interplay of different content types to produce new forms of content or deliver relevant information to the audience at a glance. Users need to understand the terms required for content to properly appear on the intended channels so they can set effective metadata that facilitates content creation anywhere.

Structured content – perks and limitations

Key benefits of structured content

  • The biggest benefit of structured content is that content is easily discoverable, reusable, and expandable across multiple channels. It makes content more portable and enhances its interoperability with additional tools. 
  • Also, machine learning algorithms can use structured content without complications. With specific and organized content, it is easy to manipulate and query the content.
  • In addition, structured content does not require an in-depth understanding of different types of content and how they function. Users can easily access and interpret data with a basic understanding of the relevant topic.
  • Because structured content has been used longer than unstructured content, more tools are available for analyzing and implementing structured content.

Limitations of structured content

  • Due to a predefined structure, you can only use content for its intended purpose, which limits flexibility and usability.
  • Structured content is generally stored in data storage systems with rigid schemas. This means that any changes in content requirements need an update on all structured content, resulting in massive expenditure of time and resources.

Empowering structured content: Kontent.ai’s pioneering contribution

Structured content is a content creator’s best friend. It allows creators to organize the same content in the most understandable and readable way for consumers on various platforms and devices.

Structuring your content allows you to define the purpose of every section within a content body, giving it a unique identity separate from the other elements of the whole. Doing this allows the sections to be moved around or repurposed to fit the specific need of the platform on which they are being displayed or information trying to be passed.

Unlike the average CMS, Kontent.ai’s headless CMS provides the perfect blend of creative freedom and efficiency when structuring content. Whether you’re writing a press release or an event announcement, designing a web page, or simply creating an online list with headless CMS, how content is displayed is unique to the platform it appears on and for the purpose it is being used.

But what makes headless CMS superior to most CMSs in creating structured content? Let’s break it down.

Kontent.ai is inherently designed for structured content

Content tends to come in one of two types: structured or unstructured. Content strategists have often referred to these types as chunks (structured content) and blobs (unstructured content). 

To better understand the differences between these terms, we will use the analogy of a building. In this analogy, a blob is a fully built house that cannot be restructured but merely painted as a whole. However, a chunk is a collection of building blocks that can be painted individually and customized.

When blobs are transferred to different platforms, it results in inconsistencies and errors in the content as it can’t be broken up and optimized to fit the platform’s requirements. On the other hand, chunks are easily broken up and repurposed when content is viewed on different platforms, and any changes made to each content type will reflect on the used platforms.

Within Kontent.ai, the structuring of all the content types is managed by a content model. Content modeling is designing the content structure by carefully defining each content type and explaining how all the content types relate. It is essentially a map of all your content types and their interconnectivity.

With headless CMS, carefully designed content models are used to enhance the quality of content across various platforms, allowing you to display the same content in the best possible way for the platform being used while presenting the most relevant portions of information for users of that specific platform.

Kontent.ai features that promote structured content

Various nifty features make structured content the go-to for content creation, most of which are designed to make creation as flexible as possible. And, as is typical with headless CMS, the more detailed the creation process, the more precise the end product.

Content types and components are the main features that champion the flexibility of structured content. The ability to define each piece of content allows the user to specify exactly what elements are needed depending on the platform where it is being displayed. As such, when defining articles that will appear on a website and a mobile app, you should create an ‘article’ content type with separate elements for long and short texts. 

You can also use components, which are single-use pieces of content added to a rich text element, that allow you to embed and incorporate external content into your rich text.

Adding external content to text gives your content an enhanced and credible feel. Unlike content items, components are integral to their rich text element. They don’t have a separate workflow status and don’t appear in your content inventory.

Kontent.ai allows you to filter content by taxonomy. You can group content that should be put together into subprojects, categorize content items, label assets, and create sitemaps. With taxonomy elements, you can tag and label your content items, allowing you to use filters to find the right content faster.

The combination of features that Kontent.ai’s headless CMS provides delivers a plethora of dynamic content linking and relationship options in content creation. Defining how each content type and element that make up a content type relate to each other gives the user more freedom to dictate how they can use content compared to other content management approaches.

Structured content in Kontent.ai facilitates multi-channel delivery

Distributing content on various channels poses multiple issues, as channels and platforms typically have differing processes and are supported by specific tools. Different channels are often treated as independent projects managed separately from existing operations. With every channel becoming a separate entity, design and content operations can’t scale.

Since the development of smartphone apps, channels have expanded and multiplied as users seem to favor these newer, more convenient app channels to websites for certain kinds of content. This is where headless CMS comes in.

One of the most notable advantages of a headless CMS is its ability to deliver content to any channel or platform. Since the elements of a content type are independent of the design, the content can be repurposed in various ways across different channels. With the emergence of APIs that give way for content structured by a content model to be delivered to multiple endpoints, multi-channel content delivery has been made easier than ever before.

Headless CMS benefitted from the emergence of APIs using COPE: Create Once, Publish Everywhere in content management. When used properly, COPE enables you to create content available for publishing to different channels whenever needed. However, it does not mean that the same version of content will work automatically in every channel.

Creators or teams must know the differing processes and tools required for content to function optimally on any specific channel. All content types and elements necessary to work on any channel must be available. COPE will coordinate all the details to make the right information and messages available when needed.

With the features available to content creators in Kontent.ai, it has never been easier to create innovative and engaging content that can be translated to various platforms and channels without losing the essence of the information being passed.

Match made in digital heaven: Structured content and headless CMS

There’s no doubt that structured content has changed the landscape of content creation. Its very nature has introduced more flexibility and adaptability to content creation than ever. But as we analyze structured content to resemble building blocks that can be placed in any form or combination, we must acknowledge that any eventual building is only as good as its builder.

That is where the union of structured content and headless CMS creates a digital power couple. Headless CMS maximizes the possibilities manufactured through the use of structured content with the aid of unique features, a precise content model, and efficient taxonomy. Let’s examine how headless CMS gets the best out of structured content.

The perfect union of headless CMS and structured content 

Structured content helps you create blocks of content called content types that are independent of the overall layout and can be detached and combined with other content types to create new forms of content. 

Unfortunately, with a coupled CMS, repurposing these content types is a manual and tedious task, which can be particularly troublesome when a user intends to display the content across multiple channels.

However, headless CMS specializes in delivering content to multiple channels simultaneously, making it the ideal driver for structured content. With clearly defined elements within a content structure, a headless CMS can create a repository, allowing users to create, manage, and publish content without relying on a separate application or service.

Within the headless CMS, the content model handles the process of structuring chunks of content. With the help of APIs, consumers can view the content that best matches their needs.

Unlike most CMSs, headless CMS understands that there is no one way to present content, and as such, the CMS does not decide how content is displayed. Instead, content is structured specially for the channel it is displayed on using parameters such as consumer behavior, trends, and preferences.

This ensures that consumers get the content that appeals to them no matter what platform they may be on. This level of customization means that the same piece of content can be displayed in multiple ways on different channels simultaneously. This helps to deliver the best possible content to consumers while giving writers the much-needed creative freedom. 

Finally, through API-first content delivery, content chunks are free to move around on the front end while preserving the structure of the content. This means that you can repurpose and reuse content easily while conserving time.

How does Kontent.ai uphold this union?

Kontent.ai has leveraged the advantages of structured content to create a platform that helps creators deliver personalized content experiences to consumers. By paying close attention to consumer habits and the evolution of trends, Kontent.ai can help users deliver the most relevant content to consumers on any platform in a way that best suits their needs.

With the flexibility and efficiency offered, it is no surprise that structured content is the go-to for modern-day content creation. As a headless CMS, Kontent.ai supports structured and modular content. Even better, it doesn’t need to rely on external integrations to deliver omnichannel experiences. 

Furthermore, Kontent.ai’s capabilities can be leveraged for knowledge management or to build a knowledge base from scratch. Properly structured knowledge bases in a central content hub provide a unified source of information for both customers and employees. For example, YIT has leveraged Kontent.ai’s content taxonomy to create a meticulous customer portal that delivers relevant content based on location and interests to more than 10,000 European residents. 

What about the React-based, GraphicQL-powered static site generator (SSG) Gatsby? When combined with a headless CMS such as Kontent.ai, you can create and manage even large volumes of content for your website. Bear in mind that the new version of Kontent.ai’s source plugin for Gatsby is currently the fastest among all headless CMSs’.

Kontent.ai provides an easy-to-use editing interface and excellent collaboration features. Editors can make changes in seconds without wondering how everything will look once published using the preview function on Web Spotlight—a core feature available to all tiers of subscribers. 

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Even a translation application such as Phrase combines with Kontent.ai to simplify publishing multilingual content across all your channels and customer touchpoints. The Kontent.ai plus Phrase integration enables content managers, developers, and translators to collaborate and publish localized, tailored content on any channel easily. The whole translation process can be managed within Kontent.ai, so content managers do not need developer support to manage content.

With integration and extension features at your disposal, Kontent.ai’s headless CMS and structured content are a perfect match. Regardless of the fact that our robust headless CMS is fully equipped to facilitate the creation and delivery of structured content, users can integrate other niche tools for specific tasks.

Kontent.ai’s step-by-step guide to implementing structured content

Structured content is generally accepted as the future of communication technology, and it’s easy to see why. The ability to create building blocks of information that can be structured, arranged, or repurposed at a moment’s notice and can be viewed or used on multiple platforms and devices has revolutionized and enhanced the way even the world’s biggest companies and organizations approach content creation.

The tools available to users in the process of making structured content have made the job of content creation considerably more flexible and efficient, and the delivery of concise and detailed content at a glance has made it easier than ever for consumers to digest relevant information as quickly as possible.

But what does the process of implementing structured content entail? And what are the underlying features that set Kontent.ai’s headless CMS apart from the rest within the process?

Content modeling for success

The trademark of structured content is having a group of building blocks known as content types that are independent of the general layout of the content and can be rearranged and reused in any way by the user. These content types can collaborate with other content types to deliver content different from the original but more relevant to the platform or channel in which it may be displayed.

Elements of these content types are clearly defined by purpose and identity to ensure that these collaborations are carried out properly and involve the right characters. This definition is integral to determining the functionality and effectiveness of a content type.

When designing content types, it is important to consider all possible platforms to which the content could be published and define the format. Teams must understand the nature and purpose of the created content and set the parameters of each content type to reflect the desired purpose.

With Kontent.ai’s headless CMS, well-defined content types are interpreted and combined optimally to enhance the content produced. Updating or changing certain elements is quick and efficient as it mirrors the changes made to the model content type connected to all platforms.

Best practices for metadata and taxonomies

Let’s go back to our building analogy. Remember that structured content is a bunch of Lego blocks, each representing a single content type. The blocks could be grouped on a loose basis of similarity called categories, for example, all yellow blocks. 

But, although relatively related, that wouldn’t provide a very detailed grouping system. Now, imagine that all the blocks are sub-categorized based on features like size, shape, and height. This detailed categorization of each block is called metadata in this context. 

Further, the overall grouping system of data containing categories and sub-categories (metadata) is known as taxonomy. As previously described, it is a scheme of classification used to organize and categorize content. Moreover, it is very important to the overall functionality and discoverability of the content, the user experience, and the management of the content.

Kontent.ai

With headless CMS’s ability to detach content from its layout, allowing it to be delivered to any device on any platform, the process of taxonomy is made far more adaptable. Specifically, with Kontent.ai, categorizing, finding, and accessing content is much easier. 

It allows you to assign taxonomies to assets, which sort and organize them, making it easier to search and find what you need. You can also tag assets with multiple taxonomies, keeping the right assets in the right place.

Now, the million-dollar question is, “How do you create an effective taxonomy system that scales with Kontent.ai?” We’ve got answers for you!

Strategy

The first step towards creating a top-notch taxonomy system is strategy. Structured content is all about proper strategy from the onset. The content strategy should form the basis of your taxonomy strategy. Understanding what kind of content you are making will help you accurately pinpoint the necessary factors to ensure appropriate content delivery. Whether it’s a recipe list, interview guide, or video script, having a set content strategy will dictate the eventual taxonomy.

Know your audience

Who are you making the content for? What message are you trying to deliver to them? And what platform is that message being received on? Some types of content are received better by an audience on certain channels, and it’s important to understand it from the consumer’s perspective. Knowing your audience’s search habits, preferences, and languages will allow you to categorize your content most attractively.

Stay flexible

The digital world evolves, and so do trends and consumer habits. Keeping your hand on the pulse of change is important to ensure content taxonomy remains relevant and effective. Constant observation and regular user feedback are great ways to ensure your taxonomy stays ahead of the curve. Don’t be afraid of change.

Utilize the benefits of Kontent.ai’s taxonomy management

One of Kontent.ai’s strengths is its native robust taxonomy management. This provides users with a reliable taxonomy management system, without having to rely on external integrations—though this is still an option. By automating the process, users can save significant amounts of time, which can be utilized for more demanding tasks. This foments consistency and accuracy and reduces the risk of error that comes with manual processes.

The impact of AI capabilities and effective governance 

You cannot undermine the impact automation has made in managing structured content and internal operations. Taking routine tasks out of the hands of the user leaves room for concentration on other aspects of the content cycle. AI helps to bear the workload of generating texts, summaries, translations, and variants, allowing creators to implement more strategies to draw out the full potential of their work.

Effective governance is essential to delivering consistent content. Kontent.ai optimization techniques ensure that the creation process is moving along as efficiently as possible. User roles, permissions, and workflow management help organizations adhere to strict compliance standards and alleviate risks. With the features available on Kontent.ai, users can create, edit, and publish content much faster without the help of a developer. 

What lies ahead

Exploring the world of structured content is like uncovering a hidden gem that plays a vital role in the dynamic content landscape. It’s astonishing how much of a difference it can make in your marketing efforts, and it’s something that the marketing teams should definitely get excited about.

And what’s more – when you combine structured content with the magic of a headless CMS, it’s like a match made in heaven. We are confident that its importance will only grow over time as it’s built on such versatile and enduring principles. Looking ahead, structured content is going to offer a touch of personalization in AI-driven algorithms, making experiences even more tailored and enjoyable for everyone.

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Written by

Lucie Simonova

I’m a Creative Writer at Kontent.ai. In other words, I draft and craft stories that people enjoy reading.

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