Why Even Your Best SEO-Driven Content Strategy Will Fail You
Instead, use a customer-friendly approach that welcomes customers and makes them feel welcome.
It’s hard to build a relationship with customers without search engine optimization. After all, if people can’t find your content, is it really that good?
When I hear the expression “content is king,” I cringe for two reasons. First, it has become a catchphrase overused on memes as frequently as the Mona Lisa appears on mouse pads. Second, content that only reaches the right people isn’t really content at all—it’s simply a court jester. If you wish to have a stronger digital presence, If you wish to have a stronger digital presence, buy website traffic and increase your visibility.
Your SEO-driven content is in a row, your technical foundation is solid and your best keyword strategy has been implemented. But if you don’t have an off-site focus aimed at achieving a flawless backlink portfolio, all of this hard work is meaningless. What does that mean? Be buyer-focused first and foremost, and stick to a plan that still produces content Google will love.
Your content needs to think with an inbound brain
Our customers have changed the way we sell, because buying habits have changed. Technology and search capabilities have been a big part of this change. There are thousands of studies that indicate between 80 and 90 percent of all American consumers engage in online research before making a purchasing decision. These statistics also apply for physical in-store shoppers. According to a study by Synchrony Financial in association with Forbes Insights titled ‘A Split Screen: Online Information and a Human Touch’, the majority of shoppers prefer to mix technology with their in-store visits when making a purchase. The old ways of closing a prospect are dead; prospects have access to a wealth of information, and they love it!
A study by Synchrony Financial in association with Forbes Insights titled “A Split Screen: Online Information and a Human Touch” shows that shoppers prefer to mix technology with their in-store visits when making a purchase. Rather than relying on the old way of closing a prospect, sellers have access to a wealth of information and love it.
If you focus only on ranking as you write your content, you are not on a winning pathway to increasing sales and gaining new customers with high lifetime values. Instead, identify your buyer personas, create a persona for each cohort and write optimized content designed to trigger their needs according to each stage of the inbound marketing buyer’s journey model: awareness, consideration, decision.
Creating content for buyers in the awareness stage
This is the stage of the journey where a buyer recognizes their pain point and understands that they need to solve the issue at hand (they just don’t know what it is yet). This is why typical SEO-friendly educational content fails: buyers don’t know what solution to use, so they require more area-specific focused educational information before they are willing to consider solutions.
Before customers make a purchase, they experience pain points that may have led them to research your products and ultimately buy. By talking to your sales team and collecting customer surveys (even surveys from people who didn’t buy), you can better understand their pains by pinpointing what led them to making an informed purchase.
Once you have a general idea of what your customers are looking for, it’s time to create content that will inspire and move them forward.
Your keywords should include short form and longtail varieties that focus on the following:
Word variations of their symptoms
Word variations of their pain or problem
Common questions buyers ask in the awareness stage
Your company sells sports medicine products, and you want to create a strategy to market elbow braces? You could use the keywords:
Elbow pain, elbow strain and painful elbows can be caused by many different things, including:
Stiff elbow/can’t bend elbow/elbow hurts
Causes of elbow pain include repetitive strain, arthritis, injury, and poor posture.
People who are searching for your brand or product still need to be educated about it. By creating content that uses these types of keywords, you will help your consumers in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey while simultaneously ranking for the right audience.
Creating content for the consideration stage
Let’s assume your reader has determined he has tennis elbow. He met most of the symptoms mentioned in your content, and because the reader is a school teacher who makes repetitive movements on a classroom whiteboard and plays tennis on the weekends, he is satisfied with his identified challenge. Now he needs a solution, and this is where the consideration stage comes into play.
By the way, this is one of your buyer personas: a mid-30s, middle-class male with tennis elbow who uses repetitive elbow movement in his job and in an athletic hobby. Your content needs to speak to this persona and go over the common solution options he would consider. This is a vital stage in the buyer’s journey because it is when he gets serious about making a purchase decision.
Keywords for content about this buyer type, at this stage in their buying journey, might include:
How long does tennis elbow last
How to cure tennis elbow
Does tennis elbow require treatment from a doctor
Affordable tennis elbow treatments
Braces for tennis elbow
Best tennis elbow treatments
Doctor recommended elbow braces
What are the best braces for tennis elbow
Your content can help buyers learn about your products and their benefits. Let’s say a buyer has determined that, since going to the doctor is expensive, he is going to buy an elbow brace and take Tylenol for two weeks to see if the pain goes away. He has considered several options; your content has helped him finalize the best approach for his needs.
Creating content for the decision stage
In the decision-making stage, your buyers have made a decision about your offering. They may have created a pros and cons list comparing your elbow brace to that of a competitor and selected the option that provides the best solution.
When you’re creating content for the decision stage, focus on hitting the criteria points that consumers use to evaluate offers. For example, interview your sales team and collect data from customer questionnaires and surveys; this will help you tremendously in crafting content for the decision stage.
Make sure your content covers the things that most buyers like about your products compared to alternatives, and any general concerns. If you find out through research that buyers have expectations based on trying out the offering before making a purchase, create content that amps up the trust factor by projecting an outcome they can personally identify with (a narrative approach works well here).
By crafting clever content that helps take down the “what ifs” and “buts,” you will compose a robust foundation for each stage of the buyer’s journey that translates into compelling verbiage (and it will organically rank, too).
Successful SEO depends on buyer-centric content
Whether you have the most optimized content on the first page of Google or not, you won’t be able to stay up at the top very long if your content isn’t favored by the people initiating the search queries. If your content isn’t optimized to rank the right keyword phrases within buyer-journey-specific strategic verbiage that resonates with the relevant pain points, your audience will click right out to seek educational information elsewhere more appropriate to their awareness stage.
As the search engine Google uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help pair the best search results to specific queries, this is why any successful SEO strategy relies on buyer-centric content. It also illustrates where digital marketing has been headed — to a stratagem where search engine optimization and buyer-centric content go hand in hand.
In-store buyers rely on technology to make a purchasing decision. These are the people who prefer a more human experience by being able to touch and physically engage with a product before making a purchase, but they still rely on online education to pull the trigger in the decision stage.
The decision stage of the buyer’s journey is when you’re most vital to your business’s success, so mobile optimization is especially important for your content. It also makes it clear why SEO and inbound marketing should be tightly integrated to provide an agile digital marketing build for clients seeking aggressive strategies that transcend anything offered by cookie-cutter agencies.
Avoid content that chases bots and customers
If your SEO strategy is focused on chasing bots by trying to rank for Google’s algorithms while also striving to capture buyers, you are destined to fail. Instead, use a well-optimized customer-oriented approach that pulls people in and nurtures them.
To attract people in the early stages of the buyer’s journey and lead them through the funnel, you need to use search engine optimization to get your content seen by prospects and convert them into delighted buyers. Without search engine optimization at the helm of your inbound ship, your efforts will chalk up to “theory-driven dreams” at best.
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