Content Marketing: How to Write for SEO and User Intent
Words are the backbone of the Internet.
By understanding what makes a great piece of writing, you unlock a major component of today’s search engine optimization (SEO). Engaging, well-written content is the best way to compel users to stick around, read, and hopefully be motivated to take action.
Search engines strive to provide the most relevant and helpful content possible for the web user. In fact, 93% of online experiences begin with a search. This means that SEO is critical to the success of any website. And the primary force for ranking in in search engines is content.
Today, I’m not going to explain to you how linking building works, or tell you why keyword research is an important thing, or list out any other essential SEO tactics you should be doing (although those are all good practices).
Instead, I’m going to help you anticipate what questions your online users have and then determine how to provide the right answers for them using content marketing.
What to Ask Yourself While Improving SEO
Every piece of content you write for the web should have the user’s intent in mind.
Writing for the web, like writing on paper, is all about the audience. If you’re working on improving SEO for a blog post, a landing page, or even an entire website, ask yourself the following questions to understand your users’ intent:
- What are they looking for?
- What motivates them?
- What’s going to help them?
- How are they going to feel at this time of year?
The days of straightforward promotional material and brand announcements have ended. Over-promotional tactics are becoming more and more discouraged.
Instead, you should explain the value of your brand, product, or service — a concept we inbound marketers refer to as content marketing. (Don’t get content marketing confused with advertising your brand!)
Users go to search engines to efficiently find quality information that provides the answers they need. Search results are based on the questions they ask and how they ask them.
People want to find solutions to their problems on your site. Once they’re there, they want to read good content.
Why not give them both?
What to Write to Attract Searchers
How do you know what to write? Idea generation for creating worthwhile content is hard, but it’s crucial to your SEO strategy.
Remember that you’re not writing for every customer with every post. Each individual piece of content should have a specific audience in mind in order to rank well.
After you determine the audience you want to write for, brainstorm specific topics that will help them most. At 9 Clouds, we often perform keyword research and pay close attention to keywords with ranking opportunities, then use that information to add fodder to topics we want to write about.
Here are a few of our favorite resources for conducting keyword research:
Remember that short keywords are difficult to rank for, so think about long-tail variations that you can combine with short keywords to create a stronger impact in search engines.
The most powerful thing you can do for your SEO is create heaps of useful content that solves people’s problems. By helping your readers out, and by spreading that helpful content on your social media platforms, you make it more likely for your web pages to show up on those coveted search engine results pages (SERPs).
Think of how you find information and inspiration, and explore that process first. Put yourself in the shoes of the audience or buyer persona you’re writing for, and then determine your needs and pain points from that perspective.
Bottom line: Answer your customers’ questions before they ask them. And make sure they can find your answers while they’re searching.
Writing for SEO Is Just the Beginning…
SEO is never-ending. You will be rewarded for your efforts if you provide great writing that’s helpful, relevant, and informative.
This is just the beginning. A great SEO marketing plan takes a lot of time and planning. Learn more by taking our complete Guide to SEO course, or let 9 Clouds help you create a successful digital marketing plan.