With Google cracking down on AI-generated content and blogs written strictly for search engine optimization (SEO), it’s more important than ever to put the users (a.k.a., your audience) first. Gone are the days of telling users what you want them to know. Now, you must tell the users what they want to hear.
Creating user-driven content might seem challenging, especially if your content strategy is focused solely on keyword generation. However, at Agital, our content and SEO strategists work together to generate user-driven pieces that also drive SEO. To them, it’s like baking a cake: every facet of the content strategy is an ingredient that, when implemented correctly – creates a beautiful treat that readers enjoy seeing, and, more importantly, want to buy.
Here’s Agital’s recipe for successful user-driven content marketing.
Imagine this scenario: you’re online and searching for a new pair of running shoes. You expect to see Google’s result page filled with Top 10 lists, brand names and big box stores. However, the first result on the page is for best running shoe inserts. Based on your expectations and your intent to find a pair of great running shoes, you’ll probably ignore that first blog altogether. That is user intent – your audience doesn’t want to see a blog about shoe inserts when they’re researching running shoes.
Google picks up on that too. In this hypothetical situation, Google would likely drop that blog from its first page entirely. Content strategists need to understand what their target audience is looking for, what they want to see and how to meet and satisfy their intentions.
For example, users may expect to find copy speaking to comfort, sizing, durability, and breathability in a blog about running shoes. Ideally, you should include all these points in your content to satisfy user intent. You can even take it another step further and compare shoes that have similar features or add videos of the shoes in action with real testimonials from people in your company who tried the shoes themselves.
Remember, just as flour is one of the main ingredients in a cake, user intent is one of the key elements to consider when writing content. Don’t bury it. Put a spotlight on it and the user’s pain points first to satisfy their intent. Doing this will increase time on page and position yourself as a trusted source of information.
To learn more, Agital released a blog dedicated to identifying and utilizing user intent in your content.
Just as protein in eggs (or an egg substitute) binds ingredients together, providing strength and stability, knowing your audience strengthens your content and stabilizes your users’ journey, guiding them to make a purchase. Without a binding agent, a cake will fall apart. If you’re writing for the wrong audience, your user-first content strategy will also fall apart.
You can’t know exactly what your audience wants unless you know who your audience is. Let’s take a look at Google’s predictive search for running shoes.
As you saw above, searching for running shoes brings a variety of very different options; your SERP could be filled with running shoes for women, for men, for kids, for wide feet and so on. This is why it’s crucial to know who your audience is before you can truly answer their pain points and satisfy their intent.
On top of that, you also need to know what stage of the sales funnel they are in. In other words, you need to know if they’re looking for a quick answer (top of the funnel), if they’re looking to research options available to them (middle of the funnel) or if they’re looking to make a purchase (bottom of the funnel).
Understanding who your audience is and where they are in the sales funnel will help you outline the journey you want to create in your content. For example, if a user is researching their options, you may create the following outline:
This outline won’t only answer user intent but also entice the users to make a purchase at the right time. Showing them a discount or pop-up coupon too early may cause them to click away because it signals to the user, “This page is designed for you to spend money.” This outline instead naturally leads them through the sales funnel by answering their questions – thus satisfying their intent – and then offering them the next step of buying the shoe at a discounted rate.
If your cake isn’t sweet or if it’s missing a key flavor-balancing ingredient like salt, then you’re turning away potentially hundreds of customers. If you want people to trust your baking skills and buy from you again, your cake must look appetizing and taste good.
With content, a good design is that extra sweetness that makes your customers want to read more. In fact, Google has been pushing for good content design since their Panda algorithm update in February 2011. This update helped push low-quality content off Google’s first page and boosted the ranking of pieces that were designed with the user in mind.
Content needs to be more than text on a page to perform well. It needs to have multiple points of entry, such as easily identifiable headers, lists, key takeaway boxes, and infographics. To make it even sweeter for the reader, you can include relevant videos, podcasts, tables, graphs, interviews with industry professionals, case studies and more. All of this will add value to your content, increasing your brand’s credibility and your users’ trust in you.
Make the language smooth as butter to help your readers understand your content.
The Nielsen Norman Group found that using simple and easy-to-understand text is preferable because it’s accessible to every audience. According to a study they found, “even highly educated online readers crave succinct information that is easy to scan.”
Construct your outline using simple language that avoids jargon and regional slang. This will ensure that your content provides readers with the smooth and rich experience they expect. After all, no one wants to open a blog about running shoes only to have to open another tab to Google what “the best kicks” mean.
Keep your language simple and your readers will thank you for it.
Once your cake is out of the oven and has had time to cool, it’s finally ready to decorate. Once you’ve identified your audience, their intentions and formatted a strong outline that incorporates good design and media, then it’s time to finally write the content.
Make the content useful, unique, trustworthy, and interesting to read using the right tone for your target audience. As you present your data, do it in a way that makes sense and flows with the piece.
However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Every cake will look different, just as every piece of content will look different. For this reason, Agital creates a wide variety of content that puts the user first, whether they prefer red velvet cake or carrot cake. For us, the user has always come first.