When someone asks me to look over the content on their website, more often than not I end up asking two questions:
“Who is this written for?” and, “Why are they going to read it?”
Effective content offers value to the reader. But before you can deliver value to someone through a blog post, infographic, video, etc., you need to know who, specifically, will be looking for and engaging with this type of content.
The first step in your content strategy should be putting together a detailed buyer persona using first hand knowledge of your target market (you’ll hear them called “marketing personas” as well; same thing).
To keep yourself in check and make sure you are writing for your audience, classify potential buyers based on characteristics such as demographics, pain points, and where they go for information. After grouping certain characteristics, a composite of each target market can be created to help identify the characteristics and personality of a realistic potential buyer.
At 20spokes, we take it to the point of personifying our composites so we know exactly who we are writing for. For instance, “Mary the Marketer” has very different characteristics from “Steve the Small Business Owner”, and therefore we target and speak to them differently.
Why go through the trouble just for writing content?
By creating personas, you are able to write content that is customized for each group of potential viewers, narrowing your focus from the masses to the individual. Two benefits for creating buyer personas include:
1) This technique guides a more efficient writing process for you to effectively communicate with each persona based on the specific values. Buyer personas make your life easier in the long run.
2) Your tailored content will provide a personalized experience for your targeted reader. Ideally, they should feel connected to your content as though you are speaking directly to them.
Once you have selected a persona to target, consider what that person values and how you can help alleviate any problems. You can connect with a reader by showing your understanding of what they value and any problem they may have. This connection encourages the reader to engage with you.
No Assumptions! (A Case Study)
When I first began writing content for clients, I identified the buyer persona before writing a particular client’s content piece. After it was ready for review, the client had one issue: the tone was too informal. However, the content was written for a specific persona and my tone was carefully crafted with that in mind. While discussing this with the client, I discovered the issue. The buyer persona that I got from the client was created based on assumptions from people who were not client facing. The characteristics I had were not accurate.
1) Personas should be in place prior to generating content.
2) Readers want to feel like you are writing specifically for them.
3) When creating personas, assumptions do not suffice.
4) This will serve as a guideline for creating genuine and individualized content.
Creating a living, breathing persona that you can refer to is the first step to generating content that attracts and engages your target market. Writing for “Megan the Stay-at-Home Mom” or “Chris the College Student” will help you keep your target audience in mind. What are your strategies for creating an optimal persona? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
We get this question all of the time. Potential clients want to know if we have the magic formula that will help their site reach the top of Google’s rankings. It’s a shame, but we have to burst their bubble and tell them that we can’t and no one can anymore.
There are some companies, unfortunately, that will indulge requests like this and say that they can still “hack” the rankings to boost your site’s SEO. So to help save you from them, we wanted to share why there is no magic formula to hack Google’s rankings and what you actually can do to get your site found through SEO.
The shady side of the SEO world is about to take another major hit to the jugular in a couple of weeks as Google is set to release its Penguin 3.0 algorithm update.
To give a brief history to those of you who may not know, Google has had 4 recent updates to try to rid the world of poor search engine results that are acquired by in-genuine links. Back in the day, SEO companies did anything and everything to get more links to their sites.
Wrote comments on other blogs with back-links to the site
Anything they could do to get the number of inbound links up!
And, as is always the case when people try to “game the system”, they took it too far. Way too far. The result was poor quality search results for users on Google as it wasn’t the quality of information that made it to the top, it was whomever had the most “spammy” links.
On February 5th I discovered, and wrote about, how to get your pins to the top of Pinterest searches. It’s a relatively simple process and one that has given our clients a TON of new followers, likes, repins and, best of all, traffic to their site!
In fact, since the day I wrote the post, our clients have seen a 228% increase in traffic from Pinterest! And this wasn’t an increase from 100 to 228 people coming, this was thousands and thousands of more people coming to their site simply because they optimized their pins for “Pinterest SEO”. But they weren’t the only ones who got an increase in traffic. We, too, saw an increase in traffic for that exact blog. But we did it by making it to the top 3 search results on Google for “Pinterest Search Algorithm”.
We’re a small business. We don’t have the authority to be blogging on subjects like this in the eyes of Google the same way Moz or Hubspot does. Yet, we were able to make it to the top and become an authority for 3 main reasons.
It’s finally done. That blog post that you spent so much time writing, mulling over, and re-writing. And you send it out into the great ether of the internet, not truly knowing if it will be the next trending article on Facebook…or a total dud.
As you’ve probably seen, the latter scenario is far more likely to occur – meaning the time you spent writing, mulling over, and rewriting your blog post to essentially be wasted.
So how do you turn the odds back in your favor?
There are, of course, several answers to this question, but one of the ways we make sure to maximize our content creation is by creating what we call our “Content Optimization Sheet.”
Almost everyone I talk to on a regular basis: entrepreneur, small business owner, marketer, etc. all have seem to have their priorities straight…well, at least on paper.
They know what they need to do, they know how it ties into their vision, and they how it will help them succeed in the end.
But over time, it seems like their most important priorities remain consistently on their “to-do list” and not their “done list”.
I couldn’t help but think, why is this? Why is it that these ambitious, hard-working and visionary professionals, who knew what they needed to do, weren’t getting the most important things done?
In trying to answer this question, it didn’t take me long before I looked at my own to-do list and realized the same phenomenon took place with me on a regular basis. For us in small businesses, we know we need to market, but right now we HAVE to service our current customers. We know we need to make a personnel change but right now we HAVE to meet our numbers and keep the doors open for another month.
It is so important to companies, in fact, that they will spend thousands of dollars on what is essentially a bet that an SEO agency will be able to help them move up the rankings by “optimizing” their site. A process that will take months and months before any results are seen.
Due to this combination of importance, expense, and time there becomes a perception by a lot of companies that SEO needs to be a complicated process. It needs to be this complex beast full of algorithms, webs of links, and deep understanding of HTML in order to make it all work. While this is true, focusing on these things would be like a highschool quarterback, who’s never picked up a football, starting by trying to memorize Peyton Manning’s playbook…Let’s get the basics down first.
Here are 3 basics that every site needs for SEO before they move on to the more complicated stuff.
Every day companies across the country launch products and marketing campaigns without realizing that they have blindfolds on. These days, it’s becoming easier and cheaper to create a product or marketing campaign. And with that, companies are producing them much more quickly which leads to missing some crucial steps to creating a quality, compelling, marketing message. And the most important thing that people miss is creating a marketing persona.
A marketing persona is a representation of the person that you are selling your product or services to. It helps you “get into the head” of your customers to empathize and relate to their decision-making process when it comes to buying your product. By going through the exercise of creating a persona, you will discover new ways of communicating with your customers, and be able to engage with them on a deeper level.
We live in a world of 140 characters or less. As much as any content writer would love to believe that every word that we write in our blogs is read and understood by our audience, deep down we know that most of them skim it. This short attention span of our readers, who want to get the most information possible with the minimal time invested, has led to the rise of quick-read articles and Buzzfeed.
But to those who want a little bit of a change-up from the Top 10 List, there is another way to engage your audience with quick, easy-to-digest content: a video.
In a previous post I mentioned how you can use keyword research as a way to determine what posts you should be writing. But, doing this alone will not tell you the whole story. By doing keyword research you will learn what the average monthly traffic is for a certain keyword but, obviously, not all months will be the same.
For example, the keyword “Spring Break” is going to be searched much more often in February than it is in June, “NCAA tournament” is goin to be searched in March than in November, etc.
These are the obvious keywords, but what about the ones that aren’t so obvious? Are raincoats more likely to be searched in the Spring (when it’s rainy) or the Winter (in preparation for the rain)? Are basketball shoes more likely to be searched during the NCAA tournament? Perhaps the NBA playoffs? Or before the season begins? To answer these types of questions, we can turn to the information found in Google Trends.