Writing for an Audience, not search engines
In the wide world of blogging and content creation, it’s easy to get caught up in chasing search engine optimization (SEO) at the expense of creating high-quality, engaging content. While SEO is certainly important for driving traffic, blogging solely for search engines leads to sterile, impersonal content that doesn’t connect with readers.
The brands that succeed with content marketing take the opposite approach – they write first and foremost for their target audience, with SEO as a secondary concern. This audience-focused approach leads to more meaningful blog posts that provide real value to readers while still appealing to search engines.
This comprehensive guide will explore why writing for an audience is critical for successful blogging and how to craft unique content your audience will love.
Know Your Audience Inside and Out
The foundational ingredient for audience-focused blogging is an intimate understanding of your readers. You need to identify:
– Age range
– Income level
– Family status
– Shopping behaviors
Goals and Challenges:
– What motivates them
– What’s frustrating them
– How you can assist them
Granular audience insights like these allow you to address reader needs and craft resonant content directly.
Conduct user research through surveys, interviews, customer data analysis and forums. Map out audience personas with distinguishing attributes. This precise targeting enables you to fulfill expectations rather than taking shots in the dark.
Understand Their Problems and Pain Points: Write For An Audience
With audience basics mapped, the next step is understanding readers’ problems and pain points. What challenges are they facing? What issues do they struggle with regarding your area of focus?
These could include:
– Lack of knowledge/understanding
– Difficulty getting started
– Overwhelming options
– Time limitations
– Budget constraints
– Comparison and decision paralysis
– Lack of support
Uncovering these pain points allows you to create helpful, healing content that directly answers their open questions and concerns.
You can learn these through:
– Customer Questions
– Forum commentary
– Social listening
This pain point research spotlights content opportunities with built-in audience appeal.
Here’s some more great content:
Establish Trust and Rapport: Write For An Audience
People only fully engage with and apply advice from sources they know, like and trust. That means establishing strong rapport and credibility are essential.
Some essential trust-building best practices:
– Avoid excessive hard sells
– Disclose any potential conflicts of interest
– Share personal stories and details judiciously
– Reply to comments individually
– Participate actively in social communities
– Share positive press and testimonials
– Post images/videos of actual team members
Also, emphasize expertise through demonstrable experience and tangible outcomes for past readers.
This rapport makes readers feel understood and supported versus sold to.
Entertain and Captivate Readers When Writing For An Audience
Of course, no one will stick around without enjoyable, stimulating content. So once basics like trust are covered, focus on captivating readers by blending education with entertainment.
Some proven entertainment tactics:
– Lead with intriguing questions
– Start with challenge scenarios
– Use allegories/fables to teach concepts
– Share fascinating factoids
– Include inspirational quotes
– Use humor judiciously
– Vary sentence structure
– Break up text with images
Full-length videos and podcasts also change the format.
Thoughtful entertainment choices like these retain reader attention amid abundant options while imparting key messages.
Provide Practical, Relevant Advice: Critical when writing for an audience
At its core, great content solves readers’ dilemmas with concrete, tailored advice. Ensure ultimate utility by adhering to core value tenets:
– Specific step-by-steps
– Implementable tactics
– Tied directly to reader goals
– Responsive to pain points
– Up-to-date best practices
– Responsive to recent issues
– Credible expert testimony
– Real-life examples
– Adaptable frameworks – not rigid mandates
– Alternate options for variable scenarios
Delivering high-utility solutions earns audience loyalty better than generalized fluff.
Structure Content for Scannability: Writing for an Audience Means Catering to Them
In our blink-and-you’ll-miss-it info era, strong scannability is non-negotiable. Chunky paragraphs are scanned or skipped outright by time-pressed readers.
Boost scannability through:
– Short paragraphs of 2-4 lines
– Liberal section headers
– Numbered/bulleted lists
– Bolding/italicizing key terms
– Generous white space
– Contextual links to extended resources
These structural strategies allow readers to dive deep piecemeal or quickly glean critical insights and reevaluate.
Optimized scannability means your advice is consumable even for busy readers.
Optimize Content for Social Sharing
Today’s hypersocial web means content can spread like wildfire through shares and links. These social signals also build brand visibility and trust through third-party advocacy.
Boost sharing potential with:
– Intriguing headlines
– Emotive lead visuals
– Pull quote callouts
– Embedded click-to-tweet boxes
– Strong conclusion takeaways
– Direct call-outs encouraging shares
– Social follow/share button visibility
Track referral traffic sources to identify winning combinations. Headline/visual tweaks can also test social appeal through A/B testing experiments.
Promote Audience Engagement
Beyond just broadcasting your content outward, it also encourages two-way engagement in response. This feedback loop continually refines your reader’s understanding while building community.
Some proven engagement boosters:
– Ask direct questions
– Solicit feedback Surveys
– Run contests/giveaways
– Promote hashtags
– Monitor discussions
Make engagement frictionless by:
– Keeping comment fields accessible
– Answering queries promptly
– Sharing reply highlights
Recognizing audience voices beyond raw traffic metrics reveals a more profound engagement impact.
Measure Audience Satisfaction
While traffic and social numbers provide helpful content feedback, don’t lose sight of quality indicators like audience satisfaction. Metrics estimating reader happiness reveal actual resonance beyond surface-level clicks.
Valuable appraisal metrics include:
– Time on page/site
– Pages per visit
– Bounce rate
– Repeat visit rate
– Email list sign-ups
– Comment volume
– Survey ratings
– Net Promoter Scores
Proactively seek quantitative web data and qualitative direct reader feedback to confirm you’re hitting the mark.
Adjusting approach based on satisfaction levels distinguishes truly audience-attentive sites.
FAQ: Common questions about Writing for an Audience
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about creating high-quality, audience-focused blog content:
Why is writing for people more important than writing for search engines?
While SEO delivers traffic, only precious content earns ongoing readership and loyalty. What matters most is not appeasing algorithms but assisting readers. An audience-first focus addresses real needs, building trust.
How much keyword targeting should I still do?
Keywords remain helpful for discovery by interested readers. But obsessive keyword stuffing degrades writing. Use a core target phrase per piece organically, supported by related keywords. This balances optimization with readability.
What if my audience seems too broad? How specific must targeting be?
Having a heterogeneous audience is OK, but avoid universally bland content trying to please everyone. Think through segments with distinct needs within your overall readership. Then, cycle content tailored to each niche – they’ll feel more addressed without alienating others.
Won’t targeting a smaller audience restrict my growth?
Counterintuitively, the more niche your content, the wider it can spread if made broadly relatable—extensive targeting risks thin substance. But quality, insight-driven writing for one core need can enlighten countless readers with that problem.
How much should I rely on audience feedback to guide topics?
While you shouldn’t be push-polled into mediocre content, do periodically reanalyze for direct requests, questions, and ratings around resonating topics. Be ready to test new formats/focuses revealed as intriguing gaps. Just ensure the education-first substance isn’t watered down.
The essence is simple: Put people first. Balance search visibility with reader value, trusting that search traction will follow quality content. Spend less energy reverse engineering keywords and more understanding and assisting the humans you create for. By making audience joy and enrichment your guiding light, your content will capture hearts while still catching searches.
Writing for Your Audience: FAQs for Beginner Bloggers
Q: How do I determine my target audience?
A: Identify demographic factors like age range, location, gender, interests, pain points, and values. Create imagined reader profiles called “buyer personas” to represent your ideal reader segments. Refer back to these constantly.
Q: Why is understanding my audience so important?
A: Writing specifically for those you are creating content allows you to provide true value. Catering directly to their preferences, questions, needs, and curiosities is crucial for crafting content that resonates and builds loyalty.
Q: How much should I interact with my audience?
A: Encouraging comments, questions, feedback, and requests is vital for strengthening connections with readers. Reply personally when possible and ask for suggestions on future topics. Make it a two-way conversation through comments and social media.
Q: What are some tips for writing compelling content?
A: Use a conversational tone and natural voice while avoiding overly formal or stiff writing. Utilize personal anecdotes and stories readers relate to. Always focus on how you can help readers directly with useful, actionable advice that solves their problems.
Q: Should I care about search engine optimization (SEO)?
A: Optimizing content for search is extremely valuable for being discovered by your ideal readers in Google and other search engines. Perform keyword research for what your audience is querying related to your niche and topics. Incorporate these organically in your writing.