Over the years, people have paid me thousands of dollars to write articles designed to help them rank higher on Google. Even after I told them not to. They’re convinced that a blog on their website will win over new customers. It won’t. Here’s why.
Let’s say a flooring company, Floorings R’ Us, hires me to write blog posts to increase their Google ranking. They tell me they want an article titled 5 Benefits to Using Engineered Hardwood Flooring in Your Home.
They hope (and expect) when someone searches for that phrase, Floorings R’ Us’s blog post will appear at the top.
Sometimes it does. Sometimes people do click on that blog post. Website traffic increases because of that blog post.
This is all great—if website traffic is what you want. It’s not (unless you’re a media company).
You want conversions.
When you put your faith, time, and money into an SEO article strategy, you face two significant issues:
- The traffic these articles attract is ridiculously superficial and unqualified
- The articles are not designed to push folks down your sales funnel
Fortunately, you can overcome these obstacles. But it goes beyond hiring some freelancer to write 400-word blog posts around a few keywords.
Know your audience
Blog posts are not just repositories for keywords. They’re one of the most effective ways to target specific audiences and get them excited about your business.
Let’s take my flooring blog example again: 5 Benefits to Using Engineered Hardwood Flooring in Your Home.
Most people can assume the keyword my client is targeting is engineered hardwood flooring. This blog will surely focus on that.
But there’s nothing about the title that would excite anyone to click. Here’s a Google search I did for the phrase benefits of engineered hardwood flooring:
The top three results are remarkably similar to the post my client wants.
Let’s assume their blog ranks with these existing articles (and there’s no reason to assume that). What about our blog inspires someone to click on the Floorings R’ Us post, vs. a recognizable brand like Bruce or a trusted resource like HomeAdvisor?
Use this free tool to see how your titles (and descriptions) look on the Google results page.
To complicate it further, who’s to say the traffic that post generates is made up of folks looking to buy flooring?
There’s no way of knowing. Not unless you do these two things before you write an SEO article, or hire someone to write one for you.
- Identify your audience. Know who you’re targeting. Only then can you conduct …
- Keyword research. Tap into the mindset of your audience. What do they want or need that you offer? And how do they look for that information online?
These tasks take time. And that’s where most folks lose interest. Because anyone who thinks SEO articles are a viable strategy for real, measurable growth wants to see results fast.
That’s why they get excited about website traffic. As if website traffic pays your bills.
How to realize actual and valuable results with your blogs and articles
1. Develop buyer personas.
This includes market research, interviews and surveys of existing customers, and conversations with your staff (especially those who work directly with customers).
Don’t assume you know your customer. Go out and identify him.
2. Conduct extensive keyword research that actually targets your personas and their mindsets.
People go through three stages before becoming your customer:
Awareness – Consideration – Decision
The search terms prospects use vary greatly depending on what stage they’re in.
Let’s expand that a bit using my flooring example.
Floorings R’ Us wants to target subcontractors. They even created a buyer persona, Contractor Calvin, to make sure their content is laser-focused.
Right off the bat we have a problem. What’s the chances a subcontractor would even google something like “5 Benefits to Using Engineered Hardwood Flooring in Your Home”?
He wouldn’t. 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 realize the word cheap has negative connotations, so he refines his search to Budget-Friendly Options for Engineered Hardwood Flooring.
Knowing this, and knowing whom I’m writing for, I propose a blog post titled 5 Budget-Friendly Engineered Hardwood Flooring Brands for Subcontractors.
Before I commit to that title as my focal point, I head on over to that free tool. Here’s what I see:
The word ‘subcontractors’ is cut off. That’s no good. Sure, I can add ‘sub contractors’ to the meta description below my title. But with a little time and effort I can create a better title without losing the article’s intent:
I sacrifice ‘budget-friendly’, but it’s a worthy compromise (in my opinion). This is a topic of interest to Calvin.
The point is, don’t just write blog posts around keywords you want to rank for. Write blog posts for audiences you want to target.
Identify your audience. Identify what they search for on Google. Then create content for them.
How to create conversion-focused articles
Reminder of the journey we all take toward conversion:
Awareness – Consideration – Decision
This is a watered down representation, of course. We often go back and forth across these three steps. Or we enter the funnel on step 2 (consideration). And so on.
The engineered hardwood flooring article above targets audiences in the awareness stage. There’s an entire step most people have to take before they’re ready to buy:
Why then do most awareness-focused blog posts feature calls-to-action like:
Looking for the the best engineered hardwood flooring? Contact us today!
Or, even worse:
Like what you read?
Subscribe to our blog!
Assuming your article gave Calvin everything he needs to know, Calvin is now moving into the consideration stage.
Neither of these CTAs speak to Calvin in his consideration stage.
Not even close. First, no one wants to subscribe to your blog. Stop creating a terrible experience between prospects and your brand.
But just as bad as that is pitching the sell too soon.
You need to be mindful of what type of content your audience just consumed. And how well that content did to move them down the funnel.
Example: Calvin learned a lot from the blog post discussing the top engineered hardwood flooring brands. He has the information he needs to start comparing these brands.
He wants to see case studies, comparison charts, and testimonials. He uses search terms like “____ vs. ____ ” and “Difference between ____ and _____.”
A CTA for an awareness-stage article should help Calvin make these comparisons. That way he stays on your website instead of going back to Google.
That also means you need new content that meets Calvin where he is in your funnel.
Here are a few ideas:
- Guide: The Ultimate Contractor’s Guide to Helping Your Customers Choose the Best Hardwood Flooring.
- Chart: Free comparison chart of the top 10 popular flooring brands
- Listicle: A list of the top engineered flooring brands in the U.S., ranked by ratings
All of these examples are lead magnets. Content hidden behind a form that Calvin has to fill out.
And he’s more likely to do that if he found value in our original blog post, Top 5 Engineered Hardwood Flooring Brands for Subcontractors.
- Top 5 Engineered Hardwood Flooring Brands for Subcontractors (awareness blog post that we write to attract folks like Calvin (through Google and even paid social media).
- Lead magnet (added as a CTA to our blog post, aligned with the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey)
- Obtain Calvin’s personal contact information
The moment he provides his information, he turns from stranger into identifiable lead.
The call-to-action we use in our awareness blog needs to get Calvin excited about our lead magnet offer.
- Save $20k/year with our free price comparison chart
- Most contractors pay $20k more every year on flooring than they have to. We researched the top 20 brands selling engineered flooring. And created the most comprehensive price comparison chart on the web. So you can keep that $20,000–not waste it.
- Download free →
Not everyone who reads the blog post will download the guide. Those who do are probably highly qualified leads most likely to become customers one day.
Make sure your articles cater to every stage of the funnel
Your customers are on a journey:
- Consideration: They identify a problem and head to Google for an answer.
- Comparison: They find a few acceptable answers. They start researching and comparing their options.
- Decision: They whittle down their choice to one and buy.
A vast majority of “SEO articles” on the web focus on step one: Awareness. These articles then try to force these readers to convey.
An entire step is skipped.
Don’t just try to rank for keywords with your articles. Build an experience that attracts your customers, no matter where they are in the funnel. Make it easy for them to move down that funnel.
Because web traffic is nice. But it’s meaningless to your bottom line.
What you need are conversions.