After Google rolled out its Panda update, Hummingbird, and most recently the RankBrain AI learning machine, it became obvious to content creators and SEOs that Google is driving towards user-centered content. Sure, keywords are still very important, but they’re not the ultimate focus. Even though users may be searching with different keyword phrases, you should understand their primary goal – “to get relevant search results.” In the same vein, the reason why prospects read blogs and online publications isn’t because they love reading per se, it’s because they have a need; a challenge that requires an immediate solution. Over the years, the “content is king” mantra has been tossed around the web like a coin in the collector’s desk. According to Curata, content marketing investments increased by 76%. In a bid to track and effectively measure the impact of content on users, marketers embraced content performance marketing, too.
Consequently, there is more content online that doesn’t appeal to the user. This explained why Google penalized a lot of article directories in 2013. On a side note, bloggers made the difference, because they adapted to the new trend and starting creating in-depth and more valuable content. However, there is still a missing ingredient in this content. It doesn’t stem from an understanding of the core audience. Therefore, if you want to create user-focused content, you need to define your core audience. Let’s begin from there:
Define your core audience
You’re not required to reach everybody. As a content creator, it’s your responsibility to determine at the beginning the audience you’re reaching out to. Many people incessantly push content, with the hope that people will like it. But it doesn’t work that way. It’s been the wrong approach so far.
Some questions that will help you understand your core audience are:
- Who is my potential buyer?
- What are their pain points?
- Do they spend money to get relevant solutions?
- What questions are they asking?
The earlier you understand your core audience and answer these questions – the better you’ll be able to target your content specifically for them. One of the ways to know the language that your core audience speaks, and how desperate they want answers to their questions is by checking out Quora. Quora is a Q&A social site. It’s highly targeted. Each question is segmented, and people pour out their hearts when looking for relevant answers. More importantly, you’ll see the “number of people currently viewing” a particular question. Trust me, this is one of the best ways to know the strength of your core audience.
Understand your audience’s pain points
Not all content is created equal. If you want your own content to appeal to a specific group of people (e.g., people who want to make money through ecommerce), then you should understand their pain points. Look around, if you find content that went viral; and generated thousands of social shares, then you have found a piece that focused on the pain points. Get this: nothing persuades people more than content that ‘hits them where it pains them the most.’ When you address the pain points of your audience, it gives them an assurance that you’re an expert, who not only creates content but goes the extra mile to study, understand and help people. You’ll be applauded for it.
Let’s see an example: When someone goes to Google and inputs, “help me lose weight,” what are the pain points? Well, it’s obvious the person…
- is tired of weight loss programs and needs urgent assistance
- wants a solution desperately (maybe he/she is preparing for a wedding)
- is confused, scared, and indecisive.
Now that you know the pain points, what do you do with them? Well, you integrate them into your content. You no longer have to focus on the main keyword (i.e. how to lose weight), but on the pain points.
In Google’s eye this content is relevant and flows naturally. Better yet, the user is excited, because finally the writer who understands what they’re going through has come forward.
Make it interesting, answer questions
The final piece of puzzle when creating content that will appeal to users is how you structure it. And the personal touch. Does it flow from your heart? The whole essence of starting a blog or site is to answer users’ questions. Make no mistakes about it, keywords are questions. You have to provide answers. Your audience will quickly click away if your content doesn’t answer their questions specifically. According to Jain Rain’s Survey, 74% of respondents get discouraged when content, ads, promotions, offers, etc are irrelevant to them. The purpose of your copy, titles, images, and so on is to answer the user’s question. The truth is that if you’re passionate about your topic & core audience, writing for them wouldn’t be difficult. When you develop a content value proposition (the reason why people should read your content and not your competitors), craft attention-grabbing titles, open your content with a bang (e.g., hook the reader with your introduction), then you’re ready to reach thousands of people who will amplify your content. Don’t forget to bridge the divide between your audience’s keywords and user intent. Keep at it. Your content will be powerful and user-focused.
Relevancy is the ultimate key to engaging your audience. It’s better to be relevant when producing content for your users, than being clever. Sure, there is a place for that, but not when you want to prove to users that you’re the go-to expert they have been looking for. I started blogging in 2011, but a lot of changes have taken place till date. But one thing remained somewhat static – what the audience needs. It might sound surprising to you, but hear this: Tools, Platforms, Style, Channel of Distributions, and more will possibly change, but ‘what the audience’ needs WILL never change. A person who wants to “start a blog using WordPress” will forever look for that solution until they find it. So focus on what the audience needs, and don’t be distracted by the latest tools, platforms, content distribution channels, etc.
What other proven tips have you used to create user-focused content?