It’s always been important that you develop content your audience finds useful, but for years, content that focuses on ranking because of SEO has saturated the pages of search engines. Now, the Google Helpful Content Update has finished rolling out, and the phrase people-first content is everywhere.
You might have heard of this phrase before, but if you haven’t, you’re likely wondering why it is so important and how it will impact your marketing. Understanding human-first content is essential for utilizing the Helpful Content Update. But you shouldn’t only be concerned about what this means for the algorithms of search engines.
Take this as a sign to step up your content strategy through content that prioritizes originality and helpfulness for your readers. By focusing on content this way, you can bring in an audience that organically resonates with your topics and find better-qualified leads.
Still worried you don’t understand people-first content? We’re going to help you understand what it is and why it helps you build authority. Then we’ll cover how to create it to put humans first and the best ways to optimize for search engines.
What is Human-First Content?
Put simply, Google’s mission with the Helpful Content Update is to reward creators who provide high-quality, people-first content to their readers. Content that dives deeply into a topic and shows a mastery of knowledge is more likely to perform well in the SERPs, while low-value content will rank lower.
When combined with Google’s other ranking signals, the algorithm can better detect content that is low-quality content or doesn’t answer the questions searchers have. This content will then be de-prioritized.
Content aimed at humans will deliver a satisfying experience to those who visit your site. The focus then becomes providing value and keeping people returning to your site because your content answers all their questions. They don’t need to search anywhere else.
Take a look at the content on your site. Do you provide solutions to problems that your niche addresses? Do you have pages that people find regularly and link back to as the perfect source for facts? If the answer remains unclear, your content strategy probably needs an upgrade. There’s no need to worry because Google has provided key questions to ask yourself about the focus of your content.
Once you’ve clarified where you need improvement, crafting the perfect content to build an enthralled readership is key.
Why Human-First Content is Important for Building Authority
Establishing yourself and your brand as an authority in your field is no easy feat. However, if you want to bring people to your site and ultimately turn them into customers, it is essential.
We know it can be hard to know what authority looks like for your niche. That’s why you’ll want to research your competition, commit to keyword research, and find the topics your target audience is interested in as you get started. From there, you’ll have a clear picture of what you have on your site already and what you need to add to become a trusted voice in your industry.
Setting up your content strategy this way centers your readership from the start. You already know what real people are searching for and where the gaps are. Then you commit to consistently creating quality content and steadily bringing in the right audience. They’ll see your thoughtful, in-depth posts to show them you care about what you’ve put on your site, not just SEO or rankings.
Understanding why authority is essential to content can be elusive. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- It’ll Showcase Your Expertise on a Topic: Odds are, you know a lot about the topics your brand covers, so share that knowledge. You can do this by creating well-thought-out, detailed, and in-depth guides on topics that interest your target audience. Proving that you know what you’re talking about is a great way to easily build trust with your audience.
- Readers Will See You as a Dependable Resource: When your readers can count on you for high-quality, factual, and valuable content, they keep returning for more. Not only is that great for boosting website traffic, but those people become loyal readers. From there, they share your content with their audience and friends, helping you build a circle of people who are a great fit for your customer base. Because you nurtured them through your content – whether blogs, email, or social media – they know they can count on you.
- It’ll Differentiate You from Competitors: You can find a high saturation of businesses online. The best thing you can do for yourself is research the gaps that you fill in your industry. You show your audience that you’re different than your competition by creating human-first content that addresses their needs and provides assistance your competitors can’t or don’t.
Keeping these factors in mind while you put together your content strategy will make you a stronger player in your industry. Your readers will take note, and searchers will find you faster on Google, so it’s best to go all in for content you’re passionate about that truly helps your audience.
How to Write Human-First Content
While your content should always focus on humans first, the Google Helpful Content Update adds some urgency to understanding how to write like this. We’ve put together some tips to help you make sure your content is helpful and valuable for your audience so creating people-first content won’t feel so overwhelming.
1. Ensure Your Content Sticks to Your Niche
It might seem like covering a wide array of topics will bring more traffic to your site. But Google doesn’t consider that a way to create helpful content. Your readers are less likely to experience confusion when they visit your site because all your content follows a similar direction.
Because searchers often have multiple connected questions when they seek out information online, having your content back catalog connected can keep folks on your site longer and provide evidence that you can be trusted in your niche. It also means your content can be linked internally, which is another great way to combine a human-focused mindset with SEO.
2. Choose Topics Your Audience is Interested In
Writing people-first content means crafting everything with your target audience in mind. They came to search engines to find answers, which means you have a great way to find what interests your audience and where they need help.
SEO tools have made it much easier to find what people search for. For example, checking Google Analytics will populate a list of terms that got people to your website. Knowing what terms got people to your site can indicate topics that are popular within your industry. Plus, you’ll know how long folks stay on your site when they get to that page, so you can determine if you need to add or update the content on those pages.
Additionally, you can use software like Ahrefs and Semrush to examine keywords and popular terms within your industry and find topics that are trending and how difficult it is to rank for a keyword.
You can also pay attention to the posts that your audience engages with on social media. From comments to likes, knowing what posts people see and which ones they want to learn more about. Keeping up with this information is helpful because you can test different content on different platforms while making sure your content strategy is cohesive anywhere you post.
If you want to take things to the next level, hop on a market research call with people in your target audience. You can do individual calls or host one group call with multiple people. This gives you the chance to ask them what they’d like to see from you.
Finally, you can even analyze your competitors and see the topics their audience responds to or requests. Look for any gaps in their content strategy that your brand can step up to the plate and fill, then create even more in-depth content.
3. Prioritize Solving the Problems of Your Readers
By creating valuable content, your audience can show appreciation for the solutions you give to their problems. When you listen to the pain points of your client base and those involved in your industry, you can provide content that answers questions with ease. Having an ear to the ground for these problems will also help your content get noticed in the SERPs.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of poor-quality content on the web. Rushed content, pieces that address too many topics at once, and click-bait content are everywhere. We’ve all likely searched for something and ended up on a blog that doesn’t actually answer the question asked. Then you’re left feeling frustrated and like you’ve wasted your time. You don’t want your readers to leave your site feeling like that, do you?
This is why you should ensure you go above and beyond with your published content. Provide tons of helpful information in every piece of content you create so your reader never feels the need to conduct a second Google search. You’ll see how grateful your audience can be when they keep coming back to your blog before they, too, join your client base.
4. Make Your Topics Easy to Understand
Writing content that’s helpful and your readers understand can be a balancing act. You don’t want content filled with industry jargon if your target audience is filled with beginners or novices in the industry.
One of the best things you can do is pinpoint who your readers are and meet them where they’re at. This goes beyond knowing their interests and pain points. Establish how knowledgeable your audience is likely to be for each topic. Then you can create content they can keep up with, which is way more appealing to readers (so you’re more likely to retain those folks).
Using images in your content is one way you can help people follow along with your content. One statistic even says that people who see visuals with text are 323% better at following directions than when they just see text. Overall, marketers have seen an explosion in the effectiveness of visuals in their content, so it’s worth keeping in mind for your own content.
5. Bring Empathy to Your Content
Using empathy in your content is an important way to build a connection between yourself and your audience. It shows you understand the feelings and struggles of your audience from their point of view because you can put yourself in their shoes.
One of the biggest things you’ll see as a refrain with people-first content is that you need to understand who your target audience is. We’ve mentioned that you need to determine their struggles and pain points because you can then create more effective content. It focuses on solutions and hits the helpful content guidelines from Google by meeting their wants and needs as a searcher.
One great way to connect is through sharing personal stories or anecdotes that help your reader see that you can relate to what they’re going through. Not only does this build a stronger connection between you, but it can be an effective way to establish trust. It’s something that you’ll see in many viral posts on social media and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Obviously, you don’t want to lie or fabricate your story, but authentically sharing the struggles you’ve faced humanizes your brand in a way that can be invaluable.
6. Don’t Neglect Overall User Experience
Delivering a satisfying experience to those who visit your website was essential before the helpful content update. Now it’s even more important. So how do you deliver on this? Write content that reflects the way you help your audience. Then pair content with your site design to create a frustration-free website flow.
One way to do this is to consider the overall user experience on your website. It used to be that slow-loading pages were the norm, but that’s not the case anymore. You need to make sure your website loads quickly because your conversion rates will drop by an average of 4.42% with every additional second of loading time (between seconds 0-5). You don’t want to lose potential leads because they couldn’t access your content easily.
When considering your user experience, ensure your site is easy to navigate and isn’t cluttered with too many ads or pop-ups. Your site navigation should link to internal pages as well. So consider a content-first design when creating or updating your website.
How to Optimize Your Content While Still Writing for People
Many of us pour a ton of time and effort into appeasing the Google algorithm because we understand that SEO is important to writing content online. However, it’s now important to find a balance between satisfying your reader and search engines.
But how are you supposed to do this properly if your number one focus is your human reader? The best way to think about it is that SEO is a great asset to get you closer to the audience you haven’t reached yet while focusing on the readership you’ve already earned. This way, you can create high-quality, optimized content without becoming robotic.
To ensure your readers and Google enjoy your content, there are a few things to remember every time you dive into content creation mode:
- Choose the Right Keyword: A huge factor in optimization success is getting your keyword right, which starts with smart keyword research. Get inside the mind of your human reader by considering the keywords they’d search to end up on your piece. Search volume, competition, and difficulty are important aspects of this process.
- Use Your Keywords Naturally: This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to avoid keyword stuffing. Using the focus keyword too frequently in your content will feel forced, making it difficult for your reader to consume what you’ve written.
- Format Your Content for Readability: Reading a huge block of text is likely not your favorite activity. That’s why you need to take time to properly format your content before hitting publish. Shorter paragraphs that are easy to scan are a great place to start formatting. Then use headings to break your blog posts into sections and include your focus keyword. You can also utilize bulleted and numbered lists where appropriate for further scanability.
These aren’t the only steps you should take to optimize your content, but they are some of the easiest to get started with. And if you’re still stuck, Google has a list of guidance for SEO best practices you can consider. By combining these tactics with quality writing, you’ll knock your content out of the park every time.
Get Human-First Content Created by the Experts
Need an SEO copywriter who understands the importance of people-first content? Express Writers is the content writing agency for you. Our team of writers and editors understands SEO best practices without sacrificing quality. We’ll get you the content you need to become an authority in your industry.