My High-Converting Approach to SEO Content Writing
Technology—it’s Pandora’s box. It’s a force that’s reshaping the world. It’s a power that grows exponentially, and calls into question the very meaning of what it is to be human.
Does this power serve us? Does it empower us? Does it bring us together, and help us be whole, happy people?
Or is it the opposite?
Social media’s received a lot of this scrutiny lately, but I’ve started wondering about search engines as well.
With the advent of their PageRank algorithm a little over two decades ago, Google designed an ecosystem that incentivized companies to share valuable knowledge in the hopes of attracting would-be customers to their websites.
HubSpot is one company that took full advantage. They hired an army of content writers fresh out of college. They employed a strategy they called “Inbound Marketing” in which they wrote thousands of blog posts about “Inbound Marketing” to rank in the search engines and generate millions of cheap sales leads for their “Inbound Marketing” software. They gorged themselves on their own dog food, riding high ROI and hundreds of millions of monthly web visitors to a $21.8B valuation.
Hoping to achieve the same success, hundreds of thousands of companies followed suit. They fought tooth and nail for higher search rankings. They “skyscraper’d” each other with bigger, better-designed, more in-depth content. They kept writing and writing and writing, flooding the SERPs with SEO blog content until finally, after two decades of “Inbound Marketing” mania, I think we’re finally justified in saying…
There is Too Much Shitty Marketing Content on the Internet
How often does content teach you something useful? How often does it clear up the maddening fog of information overload and inspire you to make a change? How often do you finish articles you click on from a Google search? Like, 100% start-to-finish attention?
If you’re anything like me, it’s not very often. So when you land on a typical article from Google, what do you do?
You scan. You skim. You skip around and sift through thousands of junk words looking for an answer to your question. Then, unless you’re lucky enough to find it, you bounce. You click into a few other listings, paying no attention to what site you’re on or who wrote the content, until you get frustrated and give up.
This is a common pattern for B2B searchers. So even if your content is insightful enough to rank—even if you’re whole-heartedly providing real value to your readers—most of them are arriving on your content in such a state that they’re unlikely to internalize your lessons. They’re unlikely to feel inspired, which means they’re unlikely to reach out to you for help or demo your software.
So is the era of “Inbound Marketing” over?
Is SEO dead?
Should you not have told that TikTok ad salesman to never call you again?!
It’s Time for a New Approach to SEO Content Writing
In 2020, there were 6.9 billion Google searches every day. There are over 1 billion monthly active users on Google.com, making it the most visited website in the world. Experts say adoption will only continue, with some predicting Google to soon reach 10 trillion searches per year.
Google Search isn’t going anywhere. SEO content can still be an extremely cost-effective way to reach your customers, but it’s clear that the old way of doing it (hiring inexperienced content writers to pump out beginner-level SEO listicles) just won’t work anymore.
We need a new approach to SEO content writing. We need content written from a deep understanding of readers and their problems. It needs to empower readers with the real, expert-level insights they need to succeed. Most importantly, it needs to inspire them with the same clarity and motivational power as history’s greatest orators and storytellers so they can internalize your lessons and make real positive change.
What we need are stories.
How I Approach Content Writing for SEO
I'm a creative writer who bumbled his way into demand generation and revenue marketing. I’ve spent the past 7 years exploring how stories can be used to motivate behavior and drive revenue. I’ve developed an actionable 5-act structure (pun not intended—I swear) that anyone can use to structure their content or messaging for maximum impact, and have put it to work creating inspiring content for B2B leaders and entrepreneurs.
Here’s my process:
1. I Develop a Deep Understanding of Your Customers
Think of me like your product research team, except a little more creative and a lot more eccentric.
I conduct interviews. I run surveys. I find out where your customers hang out online, so I can observe them in their natural environments. I model out your market ecosystem, and go out of my way to learn what makes customers tick—their fears, their desires, the influencers they respect, and ultimately, what they need to know to succeed.
2. I Gather Insights That’ll Empower Them to Succeed
Armed with this deep understanding, I align ourselves around exactly who we’re targeting. I put myself in their shoes to understand why they’d be doing a particular Google search, and then brainstorm to figure out exactly what it is they’re looking for and why.
Once I’ve got a working angle, I sit down to interview subject matter experts at your company, acting as your customers’ representative to gather the insight they need. Where appropriate, I’ll pour over materials, analyze data, and perform additional research.
3. I Use Story to Write SEO Content That’ll Inspire Them
This is where the real magic happens.
I take all of those golden insights you shared, run a writer’s room or two, and then use them to craft 99.99th percentile blog posts using that 5-act story structure I told you about.
I could cite the sociology or neuroscience or evolutionary psychology behind why this 5-act structure works so well—why it’s so good at setting the lightbulb off and inspiring readers to act—but I don’t want to be like those “X Reasons Storytelling Will Transform Your Marketing” chumps.
You know story works. Apple and Salesforce and Tesla and HubSpot know story works. Everyone knows story works.
So I’ll just say this…
When all is said and done, you get blog posts that rank in the search engines, form an emotional connection with readers, and drive demand for your business.
The Written Word Will Never Die...
...or at least, so I wish.
The ecosystem Google created has undermined peoples' faith in internet writing by incentivizing a lot of garbage content in the name of time-on-site and PageRank. To be perfectly honest with you, I don't know that a few good stories will be enough to restore it—we're up against a $1.35 trillion dollar user experience, after all—but as Dylan Thomas might say, we writers will not go gentle into that good night. If this shall be the end of the written word, then I for one pledge to make it an end worthy of remembrance.
And perhaps I'll capture that remembrance on my TikTok channel. Come, friend, downgrade your attention span with just one more video about the good ole days of SEO content writing. Anyways, enough tomfoolery. Should you wish to bounce any ideas off me or drown your writerly sorrows in Pisco Sours, shoot me an email.
And remember... peace be the journey ✌️