Content strategy: writing for people or algorithms? Marketing by GABRIEL SWAIN July 07, 2020 In today’s digital era, the web is saturated with content. From blogs and news sites to company websites, web content is produced at a staggering rate. Let’s look at WordPress to put this into perspective. WordPress users publish roughly 70 million new blog posts per month—that’s around 2.5 million new blog posts per day.(1) And WordPress accounts for less than 50% of site hosting. With that level of content volume, search engine optimization (SEO) is a necessary evil. But which content strategy should you use and why? As writers, we have learned to write for people. It’s what we’ve done for millennia. We are inspired to tell interesting stories, pass knowledge, and/or entertain our readers. But content saturation complicates things, and when writing for business especially, we have to adapt our work (enter SEO content) to actually reach our target customers and broader audience. So how do you find a balance between writing content that solves problems and provides value to your audience while at the same time appeasing Google’s ever-changing algorithm? Here are a few tips to help you find that balance. How to reach your audience: algorithms & alternative methods Today, we reach our audience through digital channels. One way is through organic search—when people search for a topic and select the best from the results returned. Since the vast majority of internet users use Google as their browser of choice, we’ll use it for all search references in this article. Google’s algorithm determines who wins in organic search, i.e. whose content links show up at the top. SEO content strategy tips Google constantly updates its search algorithm, which determines the most valuable content for a given query. What worked yesterday may not work today or tomorrow, making this an ongoing challenge. In the past, keyword volume was the go-to SEO tactic. This lasted for years. These tactics are still important and must be incorporated into your writing. Adding some keywords and other easy SEO attributes to your work is not difficult. Renowned SEO site, Moz.com, has a great Beginners Guide to SEO to help you on this front.(2) As artificial intelligence and predictive analytics evolve, however, so does Google’s algorithm. In other words, it gets “smarter” every day. Luckily for writers, Google is increasingly rewarding high-quality content rather than content that includes certain words but may be of little value. Therefore, writers need to focus on quality as much as traditional SEO tactics. For example, if you can write “10X content”—content that is ten times better than that of the competition—then Google will reward you for providing its users with better content to select from. Learn more about 10X content.(3) It’s tough to keep up, but as content writers we must stay abreast of the latest algorithm updates. Otherwise, our work disappears into cyberspace, never to be seen again. Leveraging CRM data to target readers Another important and essential way to reach your audience is through direct communication with your readers. A unified customer relationship management (CRM) system that includes email marketing automation makes that possible. Systems like Insightly can store so much data on prospects and customers that you can easily target them with content that resonates with them. Audience targeting A unified CRM allows you to segment audiences based on demographics, behavioral patterns, and interests. So, when you write a new piece, you can use CRM targeting and email automation to share your content with those you know (or assume based on the data) will be interested and engaged by it. It’s critically important to write about topics your audience needs and wants to read about. Your CRM and marketing platform can validate that your content aligns with those needs and wants. Think about it like this: writing for an algorithm is akin to playing basketball in pitch darkness; you might make a shot every now and then because you have a general feel for where the goal is. Using CRM data to target readers, on the other hand, is like playing with the lights on and shooting at a very wide basket. Your chances of hitting a shot (i.e., writing engaging content that easily reaches and resonates with your audience) becomes much easier. Highly relevant and valuable content also helps you to interact with your customers in more meaningful ways and build long-lasting customer relationships. Finding the right balance We’ve established the importance of making your content easy to find and access. SEO plays a part there, but it’s not the only determinator of content accessibility. Using a CRM to target your audience and send your content to them directly compliments the need to write for algorithms. Great content speaks for itself In the end, if you write killer content that provides unique value readers can’t find anywhere else, it will most likely be successful. Quality always trumps quantity and Google’s algorithm is, in fact, working toward that objective. Here is what Google has to say: “We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.” (4) What does that mean? Your focus on writing for people is increasingly aligning with the objective of Google’s algorithm. As Google evolves, the gap between writing for people and algorithms will close. Answering our ultimate question So, should you write for algorithms or for people? The answer is three-fold. First, continue writing for people because if you ignore their needs, your audience will decline rapidly. As content marketers we aim to improve the lives of our readers and make their jobs easier with helpful knowledge, best practices, and inspiring stories. In order to achieve that, we have to keep our audience’s needs in mind when planning and writing content. Second, continue to write according to Google’s latest algorithm updates. Include keywords in the right places. But most importantly, write high quality content. Google is increasingly able to identify valuable content and reward it. Link your piece to other highly relevant content to give your readers options to explore more information. Third, until the two above variables align—and after they do for that matter—leverage CRM and marketing automation software, like Insightly, to ensure you reach your intended audience with relevant messages and at the right time. Read more like this: How to implement local SEO 7 ways to adapt to shifting customer expectations How to use buyer enablement to win more customers Top 10 benefits of a unified CRM Sources: 1. “A live look at activity across WordPress.com,” WordPress, 2020 2. “The Beginner’s Guide to SEO,” Moz, 2019 3. “The Beginner’s Guide To ‘10x Content’,” Forbes, 2016 4. “What webmasters should know about Google’s core updates,” Google, 2019 Content & SEO | Digital marketing | Trends | Unified CRM GABRIEL SWAIN Gabriel is a content and digital marketing strategist, avid CRM blogger, and business growth consultant. Having spent years working with CRM providers, he has a deep understanding of users’ needs, challenges, and objectives. He uses that knowledge to provide growing businesses with educational content that allows them to maintain insight into emerging trends and retain a competitive edge.