How infuriating is it when you Google something, land on the first few pages, and the content you find only gives you half-answers for the thing you were searching for?
Or when an article is so poorly written, it’s hard to understand and you feel bamboozled?
Or, my pet peeve: when an article goes on and on about a topic but never actually provides any actionable advice until 1,000 words in. Like food bloggers who love their long-winded backstories before coughing up an actual recipe.
This kind of content is frustrating to read and doesn’t reflect well on the writer’s (or business’s) expertise. And according to Google’s “E-E-A-T” principle (which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness), it’s not likely to get you good results (pun intended) – or at least not for long.
In the wild west of today’s internet, it seems like everyone’s constantly trying to “hack” everything marketing-related so they can get a head start on their competitors.
But if you think about it, isn’t that a huge misdirection and waste of energy?
SEO does not equal your target audience
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is a marketing strategy that aims to improve your website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) using targeted keywords and keyphrases.
The idea is to get your website to rank as high as possible on SERPs so that when someone searches for a keyword or keyphrase related to your business, your website appears on the first page of the results.
So far, so good. But here’s the issue: when you write for SEO, you’re essentially writing for Google’s algorithm. And that’s a problem because Google’s algorithms change all the time – literally thousands of times a year, according to the Search Engine Journal.
SEO is a bit like playing the lottery. You aim for an optimum – mostly arbitrary – word count, stuff in any old “high volume, low competition” keywords or keyphrases that might be relevant to your audience, cross your fingers and hope for the best, and then wait… and wait… and wait for someone to eventually turn up a few months later, maybe.
That tactic can work in the short term but, in the long term, it can damage your website’s ranking whenever Google decides to roll out a major update.
The algorithm doesn’t like websites that try to trick it – and in the past decade, several large websites have found themselves up the creek without a paddle after suddenly losing all their traffic overnight.
Your potential clients are human beings, duh!
If you’re looking to get more out of your online presence, it’s far better to write content that appeals to your target audience – not Google’s algorithm – because then your target audience is much more likely to convert into paying customers.
The Google team even says it themselves: the search engine ranking system is “designed to present helpful, reliable information that’s primarily created to benefit people, not to gain search engine rankings, in the top Search results.”
So, how do you write for your target audience without trying to pull a fast one on the algorithms?
When aiming for human-centred writing, you:
- Create engaging content that’s easy to read
- Write in an approachable, conversational tone – even if your business is selling something technical
- Use straightforward language that your target audience “gets”
- Help your readers find the answer they’re looking for without taking them on an unnecessary journey through irrelevant waffle
Start by digging into what your users are searching for and what they’re specifically trying to find when they land on pages like yours. Then, instead of keyword stuffing, write appealing content that answers your visitor’s search intent succinctly. That way, they’ll stick around long enough to learn more about what your business has to offer.
Who cares about website traffic stats?
Maybe your competitor who’s keeping tabs on the traffic to your site. But not your potential clients, that’s for sure.
This leads us to another big mistake that marketers and business owners make, which is obsessing over traffic stats and views rather than focusing on converting the right customers for your business.
You can track, test, and tweak all you want, but if your sustained efforts aren’t resulting in new business within a realistic timeframe, it’s a complete waste of your time.
Sure, more traffic means more eyeballs on your content and more chances to make a sale or gain a new follower. However, your potential customers are real people with real questions, real concerns, and real goals – if you jump on the marketing “hacks” bandwagon just for the sake of increasing your website traffic, you’ll soon find yourself spinning your wheels and wondering what the heck’s happening to your visitor count.
Good content – that is, content that resonates with your target audience – is more likely to bring your target audience back again and again, until they’re ready to buy or subscribe. So plan your content strategy with that in mind – not for the bots or your spying competitors!
Your key takeaways
When writing your content, make sure it suits what your target audience is looking for, not the whims of a constantly changing algorithm. Stop trying to game the system with keyword stuffing and start focusing on helping real people instead.
Write for humans first, and search engines second, and you’ll be doing much better at building trust with your potential clients and partners in the long run.
Your bottom line will be all the more thankful for it.