This isn’t just an article to save you from wasting your money.
It’s my own personal confessional.
At any given moment, I have a stable of clients – mostly small business owners and agencies – who pay me to write content so that they or their clients can rank higher on Google.
On the surface, their logic is sound: I write tons of articles to increase their chances of ranking for certain keywords and phrases.
For example, a flooring company might pay me to write an article like: 5 Benefits to Using Engineered Hardwood Flooring in Your Home.
The theory here is whenever someone searches for a phrase like, benefits of using engineered hardwood flooring, they’ll find my client’s site and click on it.
And, for the most part, it works. Website traffic does increase. My clients are happy.
Except, they shouldn’t be because, well, I’m taking them for a ride. Here’s why.
There’s no denying that if you hire a writer – who knows about SEO strategies and keyword research – you will see some increase in traffic to your site. And we all know how exciting an uptick in web traffic is, right?
But there’s a problem with that line of thinking, and it comes in two parts:
- The kind of traffic you get from these articles is ridiculously superficial and unqualified
- The articles I’m creating for my clients do nothing to convert strangers into leads or customers
Let’s delve into these two problems a bit further.
All web traffic is not created equal
Unless you sell ads on your site, it’s time to rethink the SEO article.
One of my favorite questions to ask clients is, Who are your target customers?
I love that question because the answer is almost always the same: Everyone!
In a perfect world, businesses would and could cater to every type of consumer out there. But the only thing that kind of blanket-approach thinking does is water down your messaging and prevent you from ever standing out.
Let’s take my flooring example again: 5 Benefits to Using Engineered Hardwood Flooring in Your Home.
That topic, alone, is pretty bland. Sure, it’s specific, but it’s also all sorts of vanilla and by no means stands out on a search engine results page. I did a quick Google search of that phrase (5 Benefits to Using Engineered Hardwood Flooring in Your Home) and came up with these top results:
Assuming the blog I write for my client even ranks among these existing articles, what would possibly make a person click on that post above all others?
And, to make matters even worse, who’s to say that the traffic flooding to my client’s site is made up of folks looking to buy flooring?
That’s why no good SEO article is written without two things in place:
- Solid keyword research, specific to the type of consumer you’re looking to target and their mindset at the time of their search
- Your buyer personas, because you have to know for whom you’re writing
Clients who pay me solely to write “articles to rank higher on search engines” never provide me with sufficient keyword research, nor buyer personas. I could do this on my own (and at times I do), but that type of work requires a commitment by the client, as much as by me, to develop and nurture a marketing strategy.
Folks who’ve been led to believe “SEO articles” are a viable strategy for growth aren’t typically ready for that commitment. They want cheap results. Increased web traffic.
Here’s what you should do to see actual and valuable results with your blogs and articles.
1. Develop buyer personas.
This includes some market research, interviews of existing customers, and conversations with your staff (especially those who work directly with customers).
For my mythical flooring client, we might create a persona like Subcontractor Calvin. Calvin will have a complete profile, including his salary, family life, pain points, as well as any objections he’d have to doing business with my client.
2. Conduct extensive keyword research that actually targets your personas and their mindsets
Subcontractor Calvin is going to go through three stages before he makes a purchase:
Awareness – Consideration – Decision
The search terms he uses in Google will vary greatly, depending on what stage he’s in.
Let’s expand that a bit:
For starters, what’s the chances that a subcontractor would even google something like “5 Benefits to Using Engineered Hardwood Flooring in Your Home”? He wouldn’t. So we know immediately that writing a blog like that to attract Calvin is a waste of time.
He might search for something like Cheap Options for Engineered Hardwood Flooring. Then he’d likely realize the word cheap isn’t all that ideal, so he’ll refine his search to Budget-Friendly Options for Engineered Hardwood Flooring.
Knowing this, and knowing who I’m writing for, I might create a blog post like 5 Budget-Friendly Engineered Hardwood Flooring Brands for Subcontractors in an effort to attract Calvin.
Now that’s how you stand out on Google’s results pages.
The point is, the keyword research I conduct is specific to each persona – like Calvin – and specific to their mindset.
That way, my client isn’t paying me to write generic content in the hopes of attracting everyone. They’re paying me to target a persona with laser-like precision, and, with that type of focus, they’re attracting the type of traffic that they want to attract, and whom we’ve deemed as ideal prospects.
Follow the funnel – articles should focus on each stage of the buyer’s journey
Once Calvin gets enough information about the different types of engineered hardwood available, he’s ready to move on to the next stage in the buyer’s funnel: consideration.
In other words, Calvin’s ready to start researching and comparing companies like my client. His search terms, and the content he’s interested in, are completely different than when his search first began.
That’s when branded terms (my client’s company name, flooring models, specs) come into play. So do testimonials and case studies.
This is what’s missing when a client hires me to write “SEO articles.” The content is missing focus. It’s lacking in relevancy. It’s without any true purpose.
Which leads me to the next problem simple SEO articles pose:
SEO articles do nothing to convert strangers into leads or customers
It’s time to start thinking about the bigger picture
Imagine, if you will, Subcontractor Calvin. In fact, let’s make that easier for you. Here’s Calvin:
Adding photos for your personas really help to keep your content focused.
Now, let’s say he goes online to find out about the best engineered hardwood flooring options he can offer to his customers. He comes across the blog I write for my client, 5 Budget-Friendly Engineered Hardwood Flooring for Subcontractors. He clicks on that blog, because the title speaks to him.
He reads the article, which he finds valuable. Now he gets to the end of the article. If my “SEO article” clients had it their way, they’d have a simple line at the end of the post that says something like:
Looking for the the best engineered hardwood flooring?
Contact us today!
Or, my client might even ask for something like this:
Like what you read?
Subscribe to our blog!
Neither of these so-called calls to action (excuse me while I cringe as I write that) are worth the space they take on your computer screen.
Issue with the first CTA:
The blog I wrote, 5 Budget-Friendly Engineered Hardwood Flooring for Subcontractors, is designed to attract Calvin during his awareness stage. You’re skipping a few steps in the buyer’s journey by asking the guy to commit to contacting you.
That’s why so many prospects close out of the page once they’re done with an article. They got what they came for and have no reason to stick around.
Issue with the second CTA:
Question: how often do you willfully subscribe to a blog just because someone asked? Chances are, it never happens.
Don’t ask your readers to subscribe to your blog. Give them something they actually want, which means it’s time to start thinking about campaigns and lead magnets.
Creating content around campaigns
If my flooring client hired me to create a campaign for him, rather than just “write articles to help him rank,” then here’s what I would have done:
Taking my research on personas and keywords, I’d develop a lead magnet that I felt Calvin (my client’s target prospect) would value, and that fell in line with my client’s goal.
This is something that’s a bit more robust or unique than a blog post. Let’s go with The Ultimate Contractor’s Guide to Helping Your Customers Choose the Best Hardwood Flooring.
In order to get this guide, Calvin’s going to have to enter some type of contact information online (phone number, email address, etc.). The moment he provides his information, he turns from stranger into lead.
But before all that, I need a way to promote that guide, so that Calvin can find it online. That’s where I come up with blog ideas like 5 Budget-Friendly Engineered Hardwood Flooring for Subcontractors, as well as a host of others.
I, of course, also actively promote these posts on social media.
At the bottom of these posts I add a personal and targeted call to action, hoping to entice Calvin to the lead magnet. How’s this:
Want to Get More Customers for Your Business?
Download The Ultimate Contractor’s Guide to Helping Your Customers Choose the Best Hardwood Flooring Today and Start Growing Your Business Instantly.
GRAB YOUR GUIDE NOW!
That “Grab Your Guide Now” button leads to a landing page, where Calvin has to enter his information to get the guide.
Now, while not everyone who reads my client’s blog post will download the guide, those who do are probably highly qualified leads who are most likely to become customers one day.
Stop building roads to nowhere
Your audiences are on a journey. When you hire me to write articles to help you rank, all you’re asking me to do is build a road to nowhere.
By the time folks like Calvin get to the bottom of your articles, are you offering them anything of value, based on their mindset at that specific time?
If you’re not, then these so-called SEO articles you’re paying me to write are doing absolutely nothing aside from making you feel good that your web traffic is up.
But web traffic is just the tip of the iceberg. If you actually want true value from your content, it’s time to think beyond “traffic.”