SEO is one of those areas in marketing where we are constantly challenged: We must please the search engines and follow their rules, yet we also want to appeal to our customers. The tasks required to achieve success with SEO are many, but the foundation still centers on content. So, how can we write great content that satisfies both search engines and humans?
Here are three guidelines for tackling SEO content:
- Find out what your audience cares about.
- Be an educator.
- Keep a relevant keyword focus.
Find Out What Your Audience Cares About
Everything should start with your audience, the people you want to reach. After all, your goal is for most of your website traffic to include people who would actually want to buy your product or service.
Let’s assume you have a good idea of who your typical customer is, and what challenges they are facing. What are their pain points? What are those burning questions that they need answers to?
A simple brainstorm about your customers’ needs will result in a list of topics that are relevant to your audience. Make this list of topics into an outline for your content calendar.
Then, as the blogs or landing pages focus on that specific list of topics, the website will be relevant to the desired target audience.
Here’s a side tip: Remember your FAQs. Many of the questions that end up on the content calendar list will likely make a great addition to a Frequently Asked Questions page. The FAQ page is a great way to add relevant content to the site that also efficiently serves people with good answers. Just remember to write a new version of those questions and explanations that are not an exact copy of your other content. It’s important to keep every piece of content on the website unique.
Be an Educator
Everyone searching online is looking for answers.
So, why not be the one to give people the answers?
Instead of trying to sell something, focus on educating. Taking this approach shows off your expertise and builds your reputation.
If a blog that someone is reading solves an important problem that matters to them, that content feels very personalized. That will increase the amount of time the person spends reading it and improve your user engagement, which positively impacts your SEO.
If you already use this approach to populate your website and blog, congratulations – you are writing content for humans!
Great educators have empathy for their students. When you are crafting your message, put yourself in the reader’s shoes and appreciate their struggle with the problem. Give them instructions that help them overcome that struggle. Show them you care.
Sometimes the information that you need to convey is complicated. Maybe explaining the answer seems too technical. Here are some ways to help with that:
- Make your article more approachable by using common metaphors. For example, we sometimes compare building a website to building a house.
- Include diagrams and fun illustrations alongside your descriptions. Check out Tableau for some cool data visualization ideas.
- Add a short video introducing the same kind of information with a friendly face and voice.
- If the content is about a product, show photos of that product actually being used by a person.
Long articles that give away a lot of free and helpful information with an empathetic tone combined with supporting visuals are “unicorns.” They build great trust with both search engines and humans.
Keep a Relevant Keyword Focus
Keyword phrases are important for your SEO. They define your goals for digital marketing, and everything you do is inspired by those goals.
However, keeping the keyword relevant to the audience is even more important.
If your target keyword list is strong, it includes phrases that your audience – the people you have determined are looking for your solution – cares about. (Remember the first guideline – Find out what your audience cares about?) These are the words that prospective customers are actually typing into search engines, hoping to find the perfect answer. Google, Moz and other sources offer us tools to research keyword ideas and estimate how many people are using them.
So, it must be important to include these keywords inside the content that you write, right? Yes, it is. But, it is not a great idea to force a keyword into your content. It is especially not recommended to over-repeat the keyword too many times in an article. This will just cause the content to feel unnatural and “spammy.”
This is where writers often struggle, but there is a balance. Simply go back to the basics, and think about humans.
If the writer focuses on the audience and education first, and the topics they are striving to cover are associated closely with the business, the content will naturally be relevant. Keywords will probably naturally show up in the content.
Quality comes first. Then, you can follow up with some optimization.
Go back and read over the content, notice what keywords are already present, and highlight them. Then, notice what similar phrases were beside them. If there are at least a few instances of quality keywords in the piece, it might be ready. If there is only one mention of a keyword, there is probably a similar phrase in a paragraph or two that can be slightly edited to transform into the keyword.
Read over the content again, and make sure the sentence you edited still sounds natural and helpful.
Again, relevancy is the focus. If the keywords are relevant, and the content is relevant, it should be pretty easy to make simple changes that do not sound forced.
Audience, Education and Keywords Are Your A-Team
These three simple guidelines will lead to better digital content. By thinking first about your audience, you put people first. By thinking like an educator, you build trust and deliver good information. By incorporating keywords in the right way, you keep the content in line with what search engines and humans are looking for.