The idea that content isn’t king might feel a bit sacrilege to marketers today but stick with me here...
Yes, for content creators and SEO specialists alike, content is the lifeblood of our programs, but when we take a step back it’s easy to see that content is the “us” and user intent is the “them”. For content to keep its place in the kingdom it must lean into a user-first approach.
SEO has changed: The days of keyword stuffing are behind us.
We’re part of the problem: We're drowning in content and we're also creating more of it every day.
SEO matters, like, a lot: Google handles 75,000 queries per second and moving up one spot in Google’s search results can increase CTRs by up to 30.8%.
Today, content is no longer king because “the user’s goal is royalty”.
What can digital marketers and content creators do to adjust their strategies and implement a user- (or "them-") first approach?
Stop Selling, Start Helping
Use Images to Connect with the User
Stick to One Topic Per Page (or Post)
Stop Selling, Start Helping
How many times have you sat down to write copy for a landing page, a blog, or an email, and the outline you created looked a little bit like this:
OLD MODEL: Us First
What we’re trying to sell.
Who we’re trying to sell it to.
How we’re gonna prove they’d be crazy not to buy (because our product or service is SO [throw in some buzzwords that really don’t say anything at all here], right?!).
Probably more than once. And why wouldn’t you? That’s basically marketing 101. But we need to flip the script…
NEW MODEL: Them First
Who are we selling to?
What are they looking for?
How can we help them?
The new model of helping not selling makes it much easier for us (the seller) to focus on them (the reader, the user, the buyer). When “helping” is front of mind allows us to consider,
Who is the reader and how are we uniquely poised to change them or their experience?
What actions will they take if we’re successful, and
What impression of us will they be left with?
In the new model, we use features and benefits to support to story that we’re telling, and we take the time to tell it in the users language. The result is that we “help” by creating content that solves for search intent and our keywords start showing up in a more natural way.
Window Dressing is More than a Pretty Face (Use Images to Connect with the User)
A user-first approach to content creation and SEO focuses on a great user experience post-click. The power of quick-read visual content like memes and GIFs isn’t limited to social media, these visuals can improve landing page UX by cultivating an emotional connection with the audience.
Images help us to connect to the human side of user goals in a way that keywords can’t, they allow us to:
Go beyond telling by actually showing outcomes
Connect on values, behaviors and interests
Give the user those “you get me” warm and fuzzies
On the technical side of SEO, images break up content and provide a better experience for humans and bots. Just make sure they are sized and formatted correctly (images are .jpg’s, illustrations are .png’s and GIFs are .gif’s.) and that your memes or GIFs are work-safe and on-brand.
One Topic Per Page
Sticking with a single focus doesn’t just up your chances of the reader responding to your desired call-to-action, it also helps search engines understand and rank your content.
One topic per page is good UX: targeted content leads to targeted traffic, meaning the user gets what they expected and site crawlers and humans alike leave happy. Getting clear (and staying clear) on what each page is about leads to better SEO by allowing you to incorporate that super-specific topic into your title tags, URLs, image alt text, and of course, on-page content.
The Bottom Line:
Write like a human, for humans. As digital marketers you work way too hard on creating and promoting your content for it to get buried in the SERPs. Keeping a user-first focus will help you better solve for search intent and provide stellar UX post-click.