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Robots versus humans: who should you be writing for?

Posted on 3rd May, 2017 by Richard Hassall

Search Engine Optimisation

When you’re writing content for your website, your initial thoughts will no doubt turn to SEO. You’ll have researched your key words, sifted through Google Analytics and identified link-building opportunities. But could you be putting too much focus on pleasing the robots that crawl your website rather than your customers?

The ways in which your customers are searching for your products and services are constantly evolving. More and more people are swapping their thumbs for their mouth when it comes to search — according to comScore, 40% of adults now use voice search at least once a day. This figure is only expected to rise as virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri increase in popularity.

Credit: KPCB

Credit: KPCB

Mobile search is also booming, with a study by Google revealing that 50% of people only conduct searches on their smartphones.

With this taken into consideration, it’s important that your customers are at the forefront of your mind when you’re writing new content. Whether you should be writing for robots or humans is an age-old SEO debate, but it doesn’t have to be a battle. It’s just about striking a balance and ensuring that your content appeals to both parties.

In this article, we show you how you can add human appeal to your content, without fearing a drop in rankings.

Simplicity is key

Imagine scrolling through a long-winded article on your iPhone whilst on the train to work. If it’s a never-ending stream of text, chances are your attention will turn straight back to what you’re going to grab from Starbucks on your way into the office.

Structuring your content in a way that’s easy to digest can go a long away in keeping people on your page, especially if they’re viewing it on a smartphone.

smart phone new

Use engaging headlines and short paragraphs to break up your copy, without obliterating any key information that your customers could be searching for. Think about the layout, and how it will look on mobile devices.

Remember that headlines indicate to search engines what kind of content will follow and why people might be searching for your page in the first place, allowing for more accurate rankings — so it’s a win-win situation for the robots and your customers.

Stay relevant

If your customers have searched for a particular product or phrase, they will expect your page to be dedicated solely to that topic. Going off on tangents can leave both your customers and the robots confused, causing your bounce rate to rocket and your rankings to decline.

By focusing on one topic, you’ll naturally be including keywords that are relevant to your page whilst giving your customers the information they’ve been seeking.

Speak your customers’ language

Often, the terminology you’re using isn’t necessarily the same as what your customers would use when searching — especially given the rise in voice search as we previously mentioned. Questions form a huge part of search these days, so if your content provides the answer then you’re on to a winner.

Credit: Search Engine Watch

Credit: Search Engine Watch

A great way to get into the mindset of your target audience is to create a persona of your typical customer. Think about their personal lives, their pain points and what questions they’re likely to ask around your products. Once you’ve done that, you can write your content in a way that solves their problems, answers their queries and leads them into a purchase.

With SEO becoming less technical and more customer-focused, it’s critical that your content adds value. Not only will this be beneficial to your customers, it will help your brand establish itself as a reliable and trustworthy source of information — something that is looked upon favourably by the search engines.

Use reviews to your advantage

If you don’t currently offer your customers the chance to leave reviews of your products and services, you’re missing out on an important trick when it comes to boosting your SEO.

Review Screen Shot

Fresh and unique user-generated content will be picked up by the robots when they crawl your site, and having lots of positive feedback can really help your local SEO efforts, since Google favours reputable businesses. And, with more and more searches being conducted specifically for product reviews, you’ll be able to capitalise on new traffic to your site.

Reviews also give you a great insight into what kinds of information your customers will be searching for. Pay attention to the kind of language and themes which crop up regularly in feedback and use your findings to write content based around them. You could add bullet points noting a product’s benefits, or create an FAQ page clarifying the things which are being complained about the most.

Develop an empathetic relationship with your customers

If you want to sell to your customers, it’s vital that you fully understand their needs. They want their purchase journey to be as simple and hassle-free as possible, so avoid using jargon or long-winded descriptions that could confuse them.

When writing your product descriptions, focus on the benefits rather than the features. Say, for example, you sell washing machines. A busy mum whose washing machine has just gone kaput won’t care that it has a 9kg load and a spin speed of 1400 rpm — she just needs assurance that she can get all her family’s washing done in one load, saving her time and running costs. This goes back to identifying your audiences’ pain points and providing them with solutions.

Complete your product page with a clear and persuasive call-to-action, and reassure the buyer that you’re on their side once they’ve made the purchase. Simply adding some text requesting that they call your customer care number if they experience any problems can go a long way in building that all-important bond.

The more you connect with your audience, the more likely they will stay on your page and reduce your bounce rate — and the lower your bounce rate, the more relevant and trustworthy your content is considered by the search engines.

Put your customers first and you’ll improve your SEO

By making your content more human-focused, you’ll naturally boost your SEO efforts. Whilst key words still remain an important factor in your rankings, it’s important that you’re thinking about all the various new ways in which your customers are searching and bearing these in mind whenever you’re writing new content for your website. If your content is valuable to your customers, you can be sure it’s getting a big thumbs up from the robots, too.

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