When Google announced its helpful content update in August, content marketers breathed a collective sigh of relief. Low-quality content created to game search engines will no longer reign supreme. 

This change gives brands a huge opportunity to develop content that people actually want to read. And search engines will reward this content accordingly.

What’s the best way to get people to read your content? By focusing on your audience.

Know Your Audience 

Before creating any kind of content—know your audience. If you’ve never gone through the process of developing customer personas, this is a great exercise. The reality is this: If you don’t know who you’re creating content for and what makes them tick, it’s even harder to make engaging content that will resonate with them. 

Some key questions to answer before you begin putting pen to paper (or cursor to screen):

  • Who is your target audience or audiences?
  • What are their biggest challenges or pain points? 
  • How can you make them the hero of their story? 

Read that last point again. Many brands mistakenly focus so heavily on their own value proposition, they lose sight of their customer. 

Though you may provide products or services to help the customer overcome their challenges, the customer is still the hero of their story. Your brand is just a supporting character.

Now It’s Strategy Time 

It’s important to remember that while Google will reward content written for users, search engine optimization is still a factor. If you want Google to place your content on page one, you need to show Google your content deserves to be there by including the right keywords in the right places. 

For the purpose of this post, we’ll focus specifically on how you can create helpful (user-focused) content. 

Step 1: Consider Content That’s Right for Your Audience 

Our conversations with clients often go something like this: 

Client: I saw one of our competitors is doing {insert content type here}. We need to start doing more {content type}! 

RAD: Okay, let’s brainstorm. Is there an audience we can focus on?

Client: Yes, but time is of the essence! We need to get this {content type} created while people are still interested. 

Strategic, audience-focused content is evergreen. It doesn’t matter what your competitors are doing or what’s trending if you don’t know what type of content your customer is looking for. 

Example: Say you’re in the auto repair business. While your customers do include some Gen Z-ers, most are between the ages of 40 and 60. Which do you think would better resonate with your audience — a how-to video on your website, or a fun TikTok of your mechanics doing the latest TikTok challenge? 

Step 2: Solve a Challenge or Fulfill a Need 

This is where your audience personas come in handy. Think of the audience you want to target: What are the issues that keep them up at night? When creating content, be a resource that helps your customers overcome their challenges. 

Another example: Let’s say you’re a real estate agent. Your target demographic is primarily young couples in their 20s and 30s looking to purchase their first home. Anyone who’s ever gone through the process of buying a home knows it can be a complex process to navigate. 

After years of working with clients, you also know many of your buyers listen to podcasts. Why not create a podcast for first-time home buyers, where you focus on common questions and issues unique to those buying their first home? 

This type of content would be incredibly valuable for someone who feels overwhelmed, especially buyers who aren’t yet ready to start working with a real estate agent. 

Step 3: Leverage (or Create) Your Core Messaging 

Your core messaging should guide every piece of content you create. Most businesses innately know their core messaging, but it’s not always as easy to express it on demand. We recommend documenting your core messaging and messaging pillars so they’re always available when you need them. 

What are messaging pillars? Messaging pillars are the ingredients of your brand. Pillars guide the framework of your messaging and provide a set of guardrails for anyone creating content. Without these pillars, it’s much more difficult to know if something is ‘off brand’ and to make your messaging cohesive. 

You don’t have to go crazy with your messaging pillars—often three to five pillars are plenty. Beyond that, many companies find their messaging gets too diluted.

Here are some things to consider as you start building out your core messaging:

  • What are your business’s core values? 
  • What are the primary factors that differentiate your business? 
  • What would your customers say set your business apart? 
  • What pain points does your solution address for your customers?

Once you’ve answered these questions, see if you can find similar themes and start building your pillars. Then break each pillar down to include simple, digestible talking points. In your content development efforts, you can expand on these points and make them more tangible for your audience. 

Step 4: Get Help from the Experts 

Pinpointing the right audiences and the right messaging isn’t for the faint of heart. You’ll find that as you begin your quest to generate user-focused content, everyone within your organization will have different opinions on what that means. Sometimes bringing in a partner can be a breath of fresh air. 
If you need help getting to the heart of your target audience and what motivates them, reach out and let’s talk! Our content experts have mastered the process of digging into a company and unearthing the nuggets of information you need to create high-quality, user-focused content.