Benefit-Driven Approach to Writing for the Internet: The Valuable and Optimized Content Framework

Benefit-Driven Approach to Writing for the Internet: The Valuable and Optimized Content Framework

Belem Barbosa (University of Porto, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4477-8.ch010
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Abstract

There is a dual challenge for writing content for the internet: conquering search engines and attracting the attention of target audiences. This chapter proposes a content planning and development approach with a triple focus: main keyword power, target audience, and benefit provided. It argues that keyword power, given by its search volume and effective competition level, provides only an incomplete starting point for creating valuable content, as content effectiveness will ultimately depend on the benefit provided for the target audience. A benefit-driven approach to writing valuable and optimized content is particularly interesting for increasing reach, interaction, and involvement, thus being recommended for inbound and content marketing strategies. The phases of benefit-driven content writing are described, from keyword choice to the main optimization procedures.
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Introduction

Writing for the internet is a particular challenging task, given the difficulty to attract and deserve the audience’s attention and time. Indeed, information overload offered by the internet (Li, 2017) ends up creating huge competition that has to be overcome in order to communicate with target audiences. One clear example is provided by search engines. Consumers need information to assist their decisions. When they need information or a solution for a problem they frequently look for answers on search engines. For several years now there are reports attesting that search engines are the starting point of the majority of visits to any website (Carter, 2020; Brightedge, s.d.; Chaffey & Smith, 2017). Besides the apparent intensive usage of search engines, it is interesting to note that reports on users’ behavior also indicate that clicks are mostly from links presented on the first search engine results page (SERP) (Chaffey & Smith, 2017), leading to one of the most famous digital marketers’ jokes “the best place to hide a dead body is page two of Google”. Consequently, search engine ranking has become a key factor for business success and the major concern for digital copywriters. Indeed, being found online is essential, and the ultimate goal is to achieve one of the first positions in the first SERP for a particular search query. As the competition on relevant keywords is massive and the number of slots in the first page is limited to 10, no wonder that most of the energy of copywriters is put on search engine optimization (this topic will be further explored in the next section). Still, writing effective content goes way beyond to conforming to search engine rules. In fact, a perfectly optimized content that fails to provide true benefits for its target audience will ultimately fail; it may be listed by search engines’ first page and be found, but it won’t have the ability to retain and convert its readers.

Moreover, online written content is often driven by business and marketing goals. Indeed, each page is written for a reason, there is a marketing objective that guides the writer, being selling the company’s products, increasing interaction with target audiences, or fostering customer loyalty, just to name a few.

As it is argued through this chapter, in order to maximize effectiveness, content should not be about the company and its products; it should match customers’ needs, as the most basic notion of marketing has always stressed.

Hence, writing persuasive and optimized content aligned with business goals is not enough – at least for most business sectors and target audiences, marked by huge online competition. This chapter discusses the dual challenge for writing marketing content: conquer search engines and the target audiences. It proposes an approach to content planning and development that is based on a triple domain: main keyword power, target audience, and benefit provided. It demonstrates that keyword relevance, given by its search volume and effective competition level, provides only an incomplete starting point for creating powerful content, as its effectiveness will ultimately depend on the benefit provided to the target audience. Hence, this chapter suggests that content should be driven by benefits, that is to say, it should focus on creating value to the target audience. Naturally, the benefit-driven approach includes a clear compliance with the search engine optimization practices, in order to achieve the intended success, and cannot ignore the basic tenets for writing digital content. This chapter argues that the benefit-driven approach to writing valuable and optimized content is particularly effective for increasing reach, interaction, and involvement, thus being recommended for inbound and content marketing strategies. The phases of benefit-driven content writing are described, from keyword choice to the main optimization procedures.

Considering the challenges for effectively developing written content for webpages, the objectives of this chapter are: (i) to integrate three complementary dimensions for effective written content for the web (optimization, value and copywriting procedures) and (ii) to propose a 7-step framework that can help copywriters and content marketers to develop effective written content for the web.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Short Tail Keyword: Search phrases with one or a few words. They usually have a higher volume of searches but tend to be very general. They are easier to optimize but more difficult to create valuable content.

Natural Search Results/Organic Search Results: The list of web pages that according to the search engine are the most relevant for a particular search. Contrary to search engine ads, these results do not imply any payment by the listed pages.

Marketing Persona: A fictional character that represents an ideal customer, comprising profile, preferences, problems, and consumer behavior. Marketing personas are frequently developed through interviews with customers and prospects. They provide guidance to marketing communication, especially in digital channels.

Long Tail Keyword: Search phrase with a considerable number of words (e.g., 3 or more). The longer the tail, the lower the volume of searches. Still, long tail keywords may be interesting for optimization, as they may represent very specific needs and give clear indications of the stage of the consumer decision process, hence being easier to deliver exactly what the user is looking for.

Semantically Related Keywords: Words and phrases that are conceptually related to the main keyword. For example, if the main keyword is Masters’ in Business Communication, semantically related keywords could include students, classrooms, university, degree, curricula, syllabus, etc.

Content Marketing: A digital marketing strategy based on providing and distributing relevant content, information, and knowledge in order to attract and retain target audiences.

Search Engine Optimization: A set of technical procedures to website’s pages in order to make them more suitable for search engines and to gain the highest possible position in the search engine results pages.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP): The page presented by a search engine in response to a user’s search query. It comprises both natural search results and ads.

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