SEO many be a three letter word, but it spells enough havoc to get the world dancing to its tunes! 2013 saw the face of SEO transform completely. From being a link building mechanism, to a content display tool; from being an “I have this to offer” approach to being a “How may I help you” mechanism.
It may sound cliché, but if we take a close look at all the three Google updates launched since last year (Penguin, Hummingbird and now the new Panda), each had one thing in common–content issues. But why is there such a ruckus surrounding content quality? As Julia Mc Coy of Business2Community puts forward, “Previously, keyword density was everything in SEO content writing. In fact, keyword density was so important that it was upheld over quality writing standards. Then, in 2013, the standards changed. Today, keyword density means practically nothing.”
The New Look of SEO
As Forbes puts forth, content marketing is now, the new “SEO.” Niel Patel, the noted search engine influencer states, “Content marketing is the cheapest and most effective way to do SEO these days. Not only does writing high quality content produce links at a quicker pace than building them manually, but it’s also cheaper. Plus, your content will naturally get shared on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.”
Post-Hummingbird update, where the emphasis was laid on ‘conversational search’, the approach to writing for SEO has changed completely. The focus is now on long tail keywords and natural use of them, which essentially means, writing for your audience, no matter how broad or niche.
But what does writing for your audience mean? Is writing for your audience search engine friendly too? Can it be leveraged to achieve my business goals?
Reid Bandremer of Lunametrics defines the best content writing strategy to follow is one that aligns your reader’s needs, your SEO needs and your business needs. He names it the “SEO writing Sweet Spot”. However, he mentions that the reader’s need should be given the prime importance since the rest of the needs are completely dependent on them.
The logic he puts forth is simple: If readers are content with what they have to read, search engines would be happy with the apt results they were able to provide and as a result give you higher visibility in the search engine. This, in turn will help attract more visitors to your site and your business grows.
Writing For Your Audience– The Best SEO Advice
It is of utmost importance that each business first recognize, and establish its audience, before beginning writing for it. There’s no point shooting arrows in the dark!
- SERP prefer audience-driven Content:
Google’s prime aim is to get its searchers the best results that can provide its visitors help, information and value. It will always give higher priority to a content piece that is able to deliver all of the above mentioned criteria, than one that doesn’t. You may have the best of products or services that could send your competition scampering for survival. But what good is it worth, if you’re not able to communicate it’s value to your audience?
Put yourself in the shoes of your audience, and you’ll understand that as customers, we’re always on the lookout for better products and services. If you think your products have the innate ability to satiate your consumer’s needs, you need to let them know! There’s no longer lasting way to communicate your product’s unique selling position, than in writing.
However, communicating your product’s scope is not enough anymore. Content should be written in a way that can win your audiences’ trust and convert them into buyers.
- Algorithms embrace high-quality content
There is ample evidence to show that the biggest of websites have gone down the search rakings due to content quality, when the algorithm updates hit.
As per Brafton’s infographic, 92% of marketers have admitted that high quality content has been either very effective or somewhat effective for their SEO. The infographic also reveals noteworthy facts like:
- 52 percent of consumers acknowledge blogs impacting their purchasing decisions
- 57 percent of marketers admit acquiring new customers through their blogs
- 42 percent of consumers search for blogs and articles to aid taking their purchase decisions
These figures speak for themselves on how important it is, to be writing for your audience.
- Endless ways to get your Content across
Stagnant content or content that exist on an island is never really helpful. The more its shared, the more people know you.
There are innumerable ways to market your content and bring it to the eyes of your audience. The major facilitators are:
- Social Media: It’s the best way to reach out and it’s growing by the day. Expand your content’s reach through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and others and encourage commenting, social sharing and other forms of engagement.
- Public Relations: Sharing content through the conventional PR releases in general interest and trade publications still provide good results.
- Outreach: This is by far, the best way to reach out to a bigger audience with established worth. Requesting eminent bloggers and influencers to write about your products and services not only helps you get eyeballs but also helps instil trust about your brand in the minds of your audience. To find out who are the influencers ho can write for your business; refer to help sources like BlogDash and Buzzstream.
- Paid Ads: Investing money in paid advertisements can elicit great results at affordable prices. You could opt for Facebook and LinkedIn Ads, Paid Search, StumbleUpon Paid Discovery, Outbrain, Promoted Tweets or the widely used Paid Search.
- It will always engage your readers
Henneke of Enchanting Marketing says “Stuffing bland text with a few extra keywords doesn’t work. You need to be engaging. You need to be human.” So how do you make an article or blog post engaging? Outbrain effectively illustrates the essentials of an engaging content where he highlights the following checkpoints:
- Understanding your audience
- Citing Concrete Examples
- Give the piece a voice, funny or professional, without overdoing it
- Assists in obtaining quality links
Undeniably, the quality of your content influences the kind of inbound links you receive. And yes; quality links still matter. Thanks to sites like Digg, Ma.gnolia, Reddit and De.licio.us, readers now have access to sharing your content on platforms that have millions of readers. That said, it’s only plausible to say that a good piece of well written content that is specifically targeted to a particular audience, has potentials beyond measure. It would only be foolish to compromise with quality here.
- Uniqueness can be established
Kelsey Lundberg of EDUniverse writes, “When we get specific about what we offer that’s different than our competitors, we have a great opportunity to reach a right-fit audience. When we produce genuine content that serves the needs of our users, it becomes more valuable than nearly any other SEO strategy.” To facilitate writing for our audience, we have to first understand who are audience is. While for a Thai restaurant, the entire world could be the potential audience, writing for Thai cuisine lovers would help them connect better with the audience. For someone who hasn’t tasted Thai food, its recipes wouldn’t make much of a sense!
- Google loves Bloggers
Oh yes, it does. For a number of reasons which include:
- They write frequently for their audience
- They write useful and helpful stuff
- They don’t run after keywords!
- Their work is fresh and original
Kelly Exeter of Swish Design rightly says, “Your business blog is first and foremost about the reader. Every single blog post you write should have something in it for them be it information, entertainment, learning etc. Sure you can use your blog to beat your chest, but this should be the exception and not the rule.” So blog for your audience and blog your way to victory!
Lack of Knowledge about Your Audience: The Problem
Niel Patel has beautifully sketched out a problem-solution scenario of why its important to know your audience you’re writing for. Here’s the excerpt:
The problem: Failure to Know the Audience
The Period of Occurrence: Prior launch or during nascent stages of content marketing plan.
The Way Out: Think about a single kind of person rather than thousands. It will help make your planning process simpler. He also helped understand the thought better by using the example of a created persona and how writing around it, works the best.
For instance, the model below can help you find out the necessary details you need to write for your target audience.
One of the biggest considerations that businesses and marketers need to make is the Google Authorship feature. So what is Google Authorship? And why is it of such importance? Search Engine Land defines Google Authorships as “a way to link content you create with a Google+ profile“. It helps provide an insight into the popularity of the author along with a headshot image.
Google authorship helps in more ways than one. It:
- Creates a verified content present on the web and its creators
- gets the author noticed through the by-line
- Adds value to content and search results
- It helps small businesses gain its audiences’ trust
- Google attributes more credit to content with authorship tags.
In fact, as per Google’s Eric Schmidt, Google Authorship is the new way of search. Here’s what he had said about it, a year back:
“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance. “
Schmidt: “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification”
— Chris Ainsworth (@chrisains) February 4, 2013
Technorati and Forbes writer, Jayson DeMers, also mentioned that Google Authorship helps give content a professional touch making them more authentic expert advice. He quoted Google’s Matt Cutts, when he said, “If we could be able to tell, Danny Sullivan wrote this article, or Vanessa Fox wrote this article, that would help us understand, this is something where it’s an expert in this particular field.”
Search is evolving, and sooner than later we will be searching Google using our voice. Google is preparing for that day, and it’s ideal we try to keep up with the pace.
I’d wrap up with a synopsis about writing for your audience, inspired by a blog by Crazyegg: Know your readers, talk their language, and focus on consumers rather than sales. Create quality content at all stages of the sales cycle.
How important do you consider writing for your audience? Have you tried practicing it? How did it fare? Share your thoughts and experiences with me; I’d love to hear them!