Why add a glossary to your site?

A glossary can be a powerful feature for your website by adding value for visitors, enhancing search rankings, empowering keyword marketing and increasing engagement. How you add a glossary depends on your platform, your business and your goals. Let’s look at an example of a service company that wants to leverage being an authority in their industry as part of their marketing plan. This example is for a WordPress based site. There are glossary modules or plugins for most CMSes.

For our service company, a good way to add glossary functionality is to start with a plugin. I like, and recommend (as an affiliate) the CM Tooltip plugin for WordPress by CreativeMinds. This plugin let’s you define your terms (or import them from a CSV file with the paid version) and will generate a glossary index page with letter selectors. Each term gets a post of type “glossary”. You decide whether to add tooltips for defined terms on all pages and posts or only on full posts. You may not want the tooltip glossary functionality on a very visual home page, for example.

By itself, the plugin gives our service company a way to add value for site visitors that may not understand all the terms used in their posts. It also has SEO value in that the pages now have the text of the definitions, or shorter excerpts, in context and the glossary index page adds organic search value in that it is pretty relevant to a lot of relevant keywords.

If this was all a glossary made possible, it would be a valuable addition to any site that needs to convey or reinforce subject matter expertise. You’re probably thinking “but wait, there’s more”. You are correct. With a little work, we can ratchet up the value from a glossary / tooltips solution. If our service company is doing paid search and buying keywords that match terms in their glossary, they might want to show the definition from the glossary on the landing page to increase relevance and raise conversions. By adding a simple function in the functions.php file for their child theme (everyone is using a proper child theme, right?), they can establish a WordPress shortcode that displays the post content for a term based on its post id or title. Using the shortcode in the landing page adds the definition to the page alongside the call to action or other content. Better yet, build a landing page template (in the child theme) that includes the function to show the definition based on parameters from the paid search or ad click and you have a dynamically relevant landing page for a slew of ads or paid search results based on the terms in your glossary as keywords. While you’re at it, why not add the terms the visitor searched for to their cookie and or your CRM system for future sales or marketing use?

Our service company knows that a visitor that landed on their site because they were searching for a definition of a term isn’t necessarily shopping for their services that day. In order to engage the visitors and nurture them as potential future prospects, our service company can leverage the glossary itself. A “term of the day” or “definition of the week” mailing list can be an effective offer to capture an email address. If the program emails the excerpt version of the definition with a call to action to “see a real example of this term in use” that leads back to the full definition on our service company’s site, they get on-going engagement and a reasonable chance of a recipient coming back to the site. Whether this leads to a visitor eventually raising their hand as a lead or increasing brand awareness with a novice in their industry, the services company is establishing themselves as an authoritative source of information and promoting their services in a scalable, measurable program.

Lewis Studios built such a program for a client recently. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, we found this approach to be valuable for clients that are just starting to do content marketing. By mapping out the development of the glossary content over time, the beginning of an editorial calendar was in place and more content ideas started to surface. A little structure and the spark of an idea can catalyze a general feeling that “we really should be doing content marketing” into the start of an actionable plan. Hopefully sharing stories like this one help you move to specific ideas and actions!