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Creating Content for People First: Why Keywords are Only Part of the Story

Dec 16, 2019
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Have you ever spent hours researching the perfect keywords for a piece of content? Then after creating that content, it didn't rank or drive views? While research is an essential part of digital marketing, there is one factor that often gets overlooked. I always say "on the other side of the computer screen is a person." If we want our content to produce, we must focus on the needs of the end-user. We need to write for the person first and optimize second.

Video Transcript: 

Hey, thanks for checking out this video. If this is your first time watching, or maybe you've been watching a while and you have not yet subscribed, please do so now. We would love to have you join our community. So like I said in the opener, we're going to be talking about creating content for people.

A lot of times in this data infused culture, we can become obsessed with the data. While the data is very helpful, sometimes it allows us to lose touch with what really matters, and that's the person on the other side of the screen. A lot of times when we're developing content strategies or SEO strategies, we're very focused on keywords. There's nothing wrong with focusing on keywords and using those. Those are still very important, as you've seen in a number of videos that we've done on this channel. But what can happen is if we focus too much on data, we can lose that human connection. So I want to talk about how we can really approach this to make sure that we're doing it the most effective way.

What we do with our content strategies typically is you have a term that you're trying to rank for. This term can be a number of different things. It could have a number of different niches. It could be a number of different intentions for this term. But really what we need to find out first is, why do people search for this? Why are they interested in this term? Is it a transaction? Is it a purchase? Is it education? Most of the time it's going to be education. That's just the way search engines work. What we tend to do is then build a topic cluster or content strategy, we take this term and we start to use variants, right? 

We have to do this one right, that way I don't have to fix everything there. Term. And these are all related, right? Interrelated terms. Then we go around and we kind of push it into this content, and we have this really pretty picture with all of our data around it, making sure that we're targeting the right content, targeting the right concept.

There's nothing wrong with this term, nothing wrong with the strategy. But what it can do, like I said at the beginning, is we can begin to just become kind of robots and focus on, I have to have this keyword in, I have to have this title tag in, I have to have this in. And what happens is we lose connection with the feeling and the touch of things. Like I've talked about before, people do things because of the way it makes them feel. That's the number one thing we do. We have emotion, right? We have a feeling. And this feeling drives action. So for instance, I look at my car, my car is dirty. It makes me feel like I'm not taking care of my stuff. It makes me feel frustrated and maybe the lack of responsibility. This is a real thing. My car is very dirty outside right now. Now, what that feeling will do once it gets intense enough, it will push us toward an action.

So what's that action? Me washing my car, or me taking it to a car wash place and letting them wash my car, whatever it is, this lever begins to push down. Now, there's no amount of data out there that's going to be able to really get under my skin and know what I'm feeling. You're just not going to find it. You're going to find other pieces of data. Maybe search behavior, search history, and we can use all that to kind of interpret this feeling. But what we need to do as content marketers, as SEOs, as business owners is begin to really focus on this. What is the pain point that my customer's feeling? What is that lever that's being pressed now on them day in and day out, but yet may not be pressed enough for them to actually take an action. And we've got to figure out what that is. And then we need to write content to help address this, so that they do take the correct action.

Now, this is not about manipulation. This is about helping people find that right action. I really need to wash my car. My car is very dirty right now, and it would look better, it would keep the paint healthier, it would make it last longer. There's a lot of benefits to washing my car. But until I feel that pain, I'm not going to take action. And so, what somebody could do is, is create content, 10 reasons why to wash your car. Obviously make it maybe a little bit better than just a boring listicle, but how washing your car can make your paint lasts X amount longer, things of that nature that might actually move me into taking the desired action. Now, you're going to need keywords, washing cars, things of that nature. But that's basic. You can find keywords anywhere. There's tons of tools, whether you're using Moz, whether using Google Suggestive Search, whatever you want to do, there's tons of tools you can get keywords from.

But what you can't always just pull from and you never can find this online is how people feel. And that's really something I want to drive home, is finding that correct balance between data and humans, really. You have to be human. If you're not human, it doesn't matter what your content is like, it doesn't matter what your ranking position is. If people get to your site and it's not approachable, they're not going to stay. And here's the cool thing, Google is now using technology to allow us to detect if you're being human or not.

Does this content provide value to the end user? That's not perfect. RankBrain and Burden, all these other things going on. There's tons of signals. But really what they're trying to find out, does this solve the end user's problem? And if you don't do that, you're not going to earn that position. You're not going to earn those rankings.

You're not going to earn that visibility. If you focus on people first, and then you use the right data to validate that and back it up and inform your strategy, that's what's going to help you move forward. You don't want to do it the other way. You don't want to just look at data and then try to be human. You need to start from a place of empathy. Start from a place of understanding how people feel. Put yourself in their shoes. Create content that's going to speak to their emotions, that's going to lead them to action. If you do that first, you're going to see much better ROI on the content you're creating instead of just creating a bunch of content for the sake of ranking.

So, I hope you learned something today. If you got any questions, if you have any rebuttals, anything you want to talk about below, please comment, we would love to continue the conversation with you. And until next time, Happy Marketing.

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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