SEO 101 Part 2: Writing great content for your website

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7-9-2013 7-19-39 AMThe first step in writing content for the web that’s SEO-friendly is learning who your audience is. You aren’t writing web content just for the exercise, and you certainly aren’t writing just to make the search engines happy. You should have a specific purpose in mind for the content, and a specific type of reader to write for. This is an optimization-friendly approach; if people like your content, the search engines will notice.

If you’re new to writing for the web or are trying to reach a new audience, it’s worth going through a formal process to define your reader personas. Begin by assessing your best customers, the ones you’d like to replicate. Determine the characteristics they have in common, and then create a persona that exemplifies them. (Note: catch an on-demand webinar about personas here.)

The aspects to define will vary depending on your industry, but for a B2B company, you might wish to determine whether your ideal reader is…

  • In a specific industry
  • In a specific department
  • In a specific size of company
  • At a particular level of responsibility
  • In a specific geographic location
  • Using a particular tool or program

For a B2C company, the characteristics of your ideal reader might include factors like:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Owner of a smart phone
  • Plays sports
  • Travels for work 12+ times annually

If you already have a strong, validated understanding of your target audience, do just a brief, informal persona review before beginning to write content for your new web page or your next blog post.

The second step in writing content is to understand what your audience wants. Said another way, it’s why people would search for your content. It’s the pain they feel or problem they need to solve, and it completes the persona.

This step will help you refine your thinking, create content that connects with your target audience, and select the appropriate words and terms that have resonance for your audience. The content that you create to meet the needs of your persona is also likely to rank better in the search engines. Nice benefit!

People search for a variety of reasons. Common reasons in the B2B realm include searching to…

  • Understand a product category
  • Learn about a product or solution
  • Solve a specific problem

Common reasons in the B2C realm include searching to…

  • Find the best deal
  • Find the closest location
  • Locate a product or service that’s advertised

The third step in writing content is to map it to the stages of the buyer’s journey:

Awareness > Interest > Consideration > Purchase > Post-Purchase > Re-Purchase

The same content will not work for all stages. Is your persona:

  • Looking for a general category of information? (Awareness)
  • Looking for a solution to a specific problem? (Interest)
  • Looking for an enterprise solution? (Awareness-Interest)
  • Identifying and comparing specific products or vendors? (Consideration-Purchase)
  • Looking for help with one of your products they already own? (Post-Purchase)
  • Looking to replace or upgrade a product, and planning to remain loyal to you? (Re-Purchase)
  • …A college student writing a research paper? (Awareness)

In general, your home page and higher level pages should contain content that’s appropriate for the early steps in the buyer’s journey, when the contact is refining their understanding of their problem and sniffing out possible answers. Make sure you offer increasingly detailed, specific, lower-level pages on all your products so your website can keep satisfying the buyer’s need for answers as they dig ever deeper and progress toward a close.

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