Did you know that according to recent studies, we now spend more time online than we do asleep? And a good chunk of that time is spent on search engines. In fact, according to Comscore, Americans conduct 5.4 billion searches every day, with Google accounting for 63% of those searches. So, it’s no wonder businesses want to rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs).
The problem is, some businesses are so focused on high ranking target keywords that they forget who their real audience is—humans! Search engines are just a means to an end. They help people find what they’re looking for online. But at the end of the day, it’s people, not search engines, who are making the decision to buy your product or use your service.
Yes, ranking high in the SERPs is important. But if you want to succeed online, you need to focus on creating content that appeals to humans, not search engine algorithms.
Here are six reasons why you should focus on creating content for humans, not search engines:
1. People don’t search for keywords, they search for solutions.
If you’ve ever conducted a search on Google, you know that you don’t just type in a few keywords and hit enter. You usually type in a full question or search for a solution to a problem. For example, you might search for “What’s the best checking account?” or “Why does my shoulder hurt?” This is because you are a human (not a bot) and you are searching for real solutions. While you do this, Google is watching and adapting the SERPs based upon your search experience. As Google’s algorithm becomes more sophisticated, there is a goal to eliminate search confusion, spam, thin content and instead focus on quality and user experience. Google has always focused on the searchers’ experience, because their aim is to provide the best outcome for their customers—the searchers.
2. People don’t click on results, they click on content.
When you conduct a search, Google returns a list of results. But which result do you click on? The one with the most relevant and helpful content, of course! So, if you want people to click on your result, you need to create content that’s relevant and helpful. An enticing title tag and a clear call to action in your meta description is a great way to entice searchers to click into your content. Once they arrive, make sure your content is relevant, clear, and answers the searchers query.
3. People don’t read content, they scan it.
With so much content available online, people don’t have time to read it all. They will usually scan a piece of content to see if it’s relevant to their needs. So, if you want people to actually read your content, you need to make it easy to scan. This means using short paragraphs, subheads, and bulleted lists. Think ad copy rather than keywords when you are crafting your title tag. Yes, include keywords. However, make sure your title tag is more than just keywords and a brand name. Adding parenthesis at the end of your title tag copy, adding numbers, answering questions, and using persuasive and powerful language will help increase clicks on the blue link that lands a searcher on your website.
4. People don’t share boring content, they share interesting content.
If you want people to share your content, you need to make it interesting and worth sharing. This means creating content that’s informative, entertaining, or both. For example, a blog post about celebrities with college degrees is more likely to be shared than a blog post about the importance of getting to class on time. Even if you are in an industry that isn’t known for being entertaining, it is possible to create informative and entertaining content that captures the attention of people who are searching for phrases related to your products or services. Focus on creating the clearest, most enticing and valuable content out there.
5. People don’t type in keywords, they type in queries.
No great SEO article can be written without mentioning keywords and queries. Targeting and ranking for keywords and queries is still the number one way to be found organically on the SERPs. The biggest difference between keywords and search queries is who uses them. Keywords are used by marketers to create SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. While people type in search queries to find information online.
Instead of just focusing on high volume keywords like banking, finance or higher education, focus on long-tail keywords and queries that align with what people are searching for at different parts of the buying process.
In search, when people are typing in transactional search queries, it indicates that they are very close to making a purchase in the buying process. Sponsored and paid results take up a lot of space in the SERPs for these types of queries, so make sure your brand is competitive and uses PPC as well as organic for these types of results. Search engines are used as a research tool. When searchers are looking for answers to their questions, they use informational search queries. The goal of targeting informational search queries is to rank for questions that will position your brand as a trustworthy and authoritative source for information relating to your products and services. Being a trusted and consistent informational source not only builds your SEO, it also builds your brand’s expertise and trust.
6. People don’t care about your rankings, they care about their own needs.
At the end of the day, people don’t care about your search engine rankings. They just want to find a solution to their problem–and fast. So, if you want to succeed online, you need to focus on creating content that appeals to human needs. The best way to do this is to focus not just on appearing at the top of the SERPs, but on delivering content that answers questions and solves searchers’ problems.
It’s clear that brands need to focus on creating content for humans, not search engines. After all, it’s people who are making the decisions to buy. So, if you want to succeed online, you need to create content that both delights and engages. Make sure your content is relevant, helpful, easy to scan, and interesting enough to be shared. And don’t forget, ranking high in SERPs is important, but it’s not the only thing that matters in doing great SEO.