For many involved in digital marketing, there appears to be a battle between content creators and the SEO camp. One wants search engine-friendly keywords, the other wants engaging content that resonates with the audience. But the fact is we are long past the time when the two were seemingly irreconcilable. Without an effort to optimize, well-crafted content may never be found. And poorly written messaging rich in keywords will never get read. The marriage of SEO and compelling content is necessary to the success of your digital strategy.
It is possible to craft content with a unique, engaging voice within the confines of SEO. Each opportunity for optimization is also an opportunity to make an impression on your users. From blog posts to web pages to meta descriptions, you’re on the hook to reach both types of audiences: robots and people. It’s much easier to write for a particular audience when you know who that audience is. Fortunately there are plenty of tools available to help us define both audiences.
By defining your target audience through personas, you will more easily be able to write your content as though you are speaking directly to them. These personas embody the motivations, demographics and behaviors of your customers. Keep in mind, each company or even each product or service will likely have more than one persona. Build as many as you need to create an accurate cross section of your entire customer base.
Consider these questions when developing your audience personas:
Both Experian Mosaic and Nielson PRIZM can help you answer these questions and further define each persona.
Keyword tools define the search engine audience, but they can also give you insight to your human audience. With these tools, we’re able to determine not only what search engines are looking for, but also what users are saying and how they are saying it. This insight will help you avoid jargon and speak to your audience in their language. Google Analytics can tell you how people are finding your site and you can compare this information with data from the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to find related keywords and figure out how most people are searching for products or services in your industry.
Your industry expertise and market research should be factored into the insight gleaned from these stats. In some cases Google may suggest an errant keyword that has little to do with the conversations you actually have with your audience. An understanding of your industry and user personas will give context to your keyword search so it can logically shape your content.
Successful web content is about balance. Take the time to understand how both your search engine and human audiences think about your digital messaging and leverage that understanding as you write your content. In doing so, you’ll be able to create effective copy that attracts and engages users.