Let’s not talk about SEO content per se. The SEO of time immemorial is pretty much scrubbed down and modified to a point of non-recognition.
These days, when we’re writing content for SEO, writers and content producers have to think beyond that. No more blatant plugging of keywords and self-serving links. No more bot-written content with the single mission of deceiving search engines. No more blindly stringing sentences together just to make up the minimum word count.
So, what do content writers have to do in order to be recognized by both search engines and readers/customers?
1 – What’s the Purpose of the Content?
Before writing the first word, the first sentence, a direction and purpose have to be determined. For one, what purpose does it serve?
- Functional – to be indexed and found by search engines and internet users when they are searching for services or products. We’re talking about commercial pages where you’re free to talk about what you’re offering and your value proposition. Please be crystal clear about this one. People are either confused or pissed off by hidden messages.
- Informational – The primary purpose of the content is to educate the readers and NOT to blow your own horn. You want it to be discovered and indexed by search engines but the focus is to educate and inform readers. Think about evergreen content.
- Transactional – This is a page where you want readers who are already INTERESTED (somewhat) that will lead them to quickly take action or purchase.
- Navigational – This is the kind of pillar content page that may change over time. You may cover a wide topics but it is structured to lead readers to find what they’re looking for. There’s not much real estate for words here because it acts as a portal to other pages or sections on your website.
What writers write on those pages is also dependent on the state of awareness the readers are in. For example, are they already aware of your brand?
If not, they’re at the TOFU level (top of the funnel). Have they heard of you but don’t really know what you’re about? Then they’re at MOFU (middle of the funnel). Or are they already interested in what you have to offer and all it takes is a few convincing words to make them pull the trigger? Then they’re at BOFU (bottom of the funnel).
2 – The Value of Knowing What People are Searching For
I would like you to think of the social media accounts that you either manage now or the ones that you scroll through every day. These are the best of the best that every user of these accounts are showing to the rest of the world.
Now, imagine if you were allowed to look through the search history of the users. What do you think you’ll find?
Every single search the user performs – Amazon, Lazada, Google, Opera, or wherever – indicates a deeper interest not presented to the world.
In fact, the search keywords, terms, and questions recorded in their search history probably indicate where they need help the most.
Are they looking for directions to a remote town? Is someone in their family in need of medication? Are they looking for a school to enroll their children in and if yes, what are their best options? What are the opinions of people everywhere else about adopting a vegan diet and is it healthy for children?
It tells you where, what, how, and why internet users need help to either find or understand, or obtain something.
When writers are producing content, we need to think about that. And then decide on how we want to answer their questions, help them, or lead them to the right resources. Are you, in fact, authoritative and genuine enough to be there for them? Will they be able to trust you? Is the information you produce accurate or are you just looking for the clicks?
I can’t emphasize this enough but we should try to not to lose focus on trying to help the readers solve their problems or provide answers to their questions.
3 – Telling People About What Your Brand is About
So maybe people have already heard of your brand or company but they may not know exactly what you’re offering and how you can help them.
This is the kind of content that tells them in GREAT DETAIL about what your brand is about.
None of those obscure, general information. You’d want to deep dive into each of your services or products and detail them out, give them examples, tell them in pictures or videos, whatever it takes.
You can do this by performing keyword research and analysis. Search keywords like “your brand name” and “your products” or “user problems” or “popular question”.
You can do such research on Google Analytics or Adwords itself or use tools like Ubersuggest, Trends, AnswerThePublic, or AHREF. If you have a sales and marketing team or a call center, they would be able to give you an even better insight into what people are most curious about. Utilize that information too!
What I would do is to compile the information into a worksheet and start answering them one by one, in great detail. These will be the pillar points for your high-quality, SEO-optimized content.
This is where you can be pretty shameless about self-plugs because internet users are actually searching for your brand name and what you have to offer. They’re meant to answer questions about your company or brand that are optimized to be discovered through organic search.
The good news is that it is easier to rank for these content because they’re brand-specific. The tough part is identifying their curiosity, what they need or want from you, and then creating top-quality, actionable content for them.
Generally speaking, it’s usually relatively easy for brands to rank organically for their own brand-related terms, so the focus of this content should be simply about identifying what people want and need, and then creating best-in-class practical and actionable content which meets those needs.
4 – Grouping Topics that Establish You as an Authority
In 2018, Google released notes about what they called the E.A.T algorithm and it was a time that most content creators spent time re-thinking their content strategies.
For those of us who wrote about anything and everything we could think of, we had to make sure our content did not stray too far from what we stood for.
If I were a handbag maker and marketer, it would not have been a problem before for me to write about fashion in general. But with E.A.T, we had to form clusters of content that complemented and lent weight to each other.
It was a time where content writers, producers, and marketers thought more about relevance. E.A.T. remains important to this day so, I encourage you to think about the clusters of topics that you think your brand has the absolute right to be regarded as a trustworthy source for.
Perform regular keyword and trend research and group them all into semantic clusters. They may overlap each other in some areas, but that’s alright because you’re going to start analyzing them and decide on the most winnable battles.
5 – Focus on Your Customers
As a digital content developer and strategist, I know there’s an itch to plug yourself everywhere. I know that all too well!
It makes us forget the readers and users after a while and we start pushing things into people’s faces in content that is meant to be informational.
Let’s not forget that when we start out writing content that is meant to help users answer their most burning questions, keep it focused on meeting THEIR needs. It should be 100% so!
This is not to say that there’s to be completely no advertising or self-promotion at all. A couple of inbound links, a banner, a pop-up box, or a feedback form…those are all fine when strategically placed. But they should be supplementary.
What I would do is to spend a lot of time deep-diving into the topic to produce one of the deepest, richest, and most authoritative content piece I can think of that answers users’ burning questions.
We can sometimes get carried away by trying to answer every question we think our readers may be looking for. What I suggest is to leave that to the long-form posts. You need to pick your battles by choosing the right target and focusing on answering them genuinely.
What I would do whenever I create content is to do a quick check to see what’s ranking well in the SERPs for the keywords I am targeting. It would be a decision to either:
- Go head to head with them for the same keywords by being better
- Find alternative keywords or a combination of longtail or product-defining or geo-targeted keywords to rank for
When you think like your readers or customers, they’ll find you easier and faster on the internet. That’s what I call ‘being there for your customers with the content you produce.