by Richard Rowell, Staff Writer
Awhile back, I decided to give up on SEO. However, this doesn't mean that I don't care about optimizing for search anymore. I decided instead to focus on searcher intent, not the search engines themselves. Trying to write for a moving target like an ever-evolving search algorithm is really counter-productive, except for those that are making a lot of money trying to "crack the code" and get "instant results." However, true sustained success doesn't work that way. Instead, it makes the most sense to find what your audience is searching for and how they are searching for it. But it's not just about finding the trending topics and keyword phrases. There's a lot more to it than that.
There are services that claim that they help you chase the "long-tail" keyword phrases that deliver valuable traffic. Actually, some of these services are quite reputable and there's a lot of research involved in finding these golden opportunities in search. But actually, you can do a lot of this work on your own with just a bit of critical thinking. Think about the questions that your audience have asked you or might ask you. You write about those. Then if you do find something trending, there's no hurt in writing about it, but try to spin it in a way where that information will still be useful down the road.
When it comes to business blogging, there are many different perspectives on how to create content in an organized and systematic way. Probably one of the most predominant of these methods is about understanding "buyer personas." By this method, popularized by marketing giant Hubspot, a business would go through an entire process of researching where these fictional characters are on the "buyer's journey" and what they are asking search engines at various points on that journey. The common interests and habits of these people are often also considered as supplemental content to lure in people not even realizing they're being led to a landing page to a sell a product that's actually unrelated. While the latter part of that strategy I'm not terribly fond of, understanding the buyer's journey is actually a good idea.
The buyer's journey essentially consists of three stages: identifying a problem, researching and seeking out solutions for that problem, and making a decision on purchasing or otherwise acquiring that solution. Obviously, depending on which of those three stages a potential reader or client may be in that journey, different questions would be asked. This is the part of the "buyer personas" that I like. I don't like to categorize people past the questions they are asking, although understanding your audience through market research certainly doesn't hurt, either, of course. But for purposes of web writing, answering people's questions and positioning yourself as a thought leader on a given topic is better than leading visitors through landing pages. I'm not a fan of "capturing leads" and "marketing funnels." Perhaps, they work but that's not my style.
I'm more interested about the topics themselves, and why people ask certain questions at certain points in certain ways. Possibly, the psychology is more fascinating to me than trying to create this perfect "persona" that you're marketing to. You're not marketing to personas. You're marketing to real life people. I know the persona concept sounds really good and all, and well-researched personas can lead to a lot of successful content being created. But you don't need a big marketing company and a huge staff to be successful in knowing what your audience wants. You just have to ask the right questions and have valuable answers for them.
If you can't answer the questions, it's possible there are other expert sources out there that can. While it sounds counter-intuitive to lead people to other people to answer your questions, as long as that someone isn't a direct competitor of yours, it's actually a really good idea. Some people will remember that you provided the link to that information. That's good for you. All you have to do is be sure to curate the best content that you can. The best way to do it is type a question into a search engine, and if it's not clearly answered without some work, and you have a way to answer it, then by all means do it.
The problem with building personas and all those sorts of things is that if the plan doesn't work, it can take a while to come up with another plan. But if you just naturally come up with content through everyday questions that you can provide timely and useful answers for, you may find that while your "hits" may not be as high as some marketers can promise you, the interaction and organic traffic will be a lot better than you might expect.
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Lyn Lomasi & Richard Rowell are life & business partners. Owners of the Write W.A.V.E. Media network, they are your content superheroes to the rescue! Running their network, tackling deadlines single handedly, and coaching fellow writers & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is their top priority. While rescuing civilians from boring content and marketing, they conquer the world, living the RV life and making Crafts For A Purpose with their awesomely crazy family while recounting The Nova Skye Story, along with Kymani’s Travels. They also strive to one day cuddle with lions and giraffes. Until then, they’ll settle for furry rescue kitties and doggies.
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