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It’s not what you do, it’s what your customers want (a short guide to web content)

Gareth Cartman

I found this interesting - talking to a client today, he mentioned a company he works with who had done some keyword research. They discovered one of their top terms was not something they do - it was something their customers needed. So, it wasn't "communications technology" or "escalation tool", it was "fire brigade notifications".

There’s a valuable lesson here for anyone writing copy for their website, brochures, downloads - anything, really. It’s not what you do, it’s what your customers want. Your task is to bridge the gap between what you provide and what people are actually looking for.

Ultimately, people are looking for a solution. If you provide payroll services, then businesses don’t just suddenly think “I need a payroll provider”, there’s a step before that consideration which is: “I have a problem” - your task is to work out what that problem is, and then bridge that gap between problem and solution. These people are thinking “I have no time to do payroll any more” or “my employees are complaining about payroll errors”.

You, as a provider of that solution, have to display an understanding of your customer in order to convince them - within a few seconds of landing on your page - that you have the solution. That’s not easy, but it’s important to know your place within the thought process:

  • I have a problem
  • I need something to help solve that problem
  • I’ll google it
  • (here’s where you come in, if your SEO’s any good) - I’ve found a website
  • (2 seconds - if your web design is any good) - they look trustworthy
  • (10 seconds - if your first paragraph is any good) - they understand me
  • (30 seconds - if your 2nd and 3rd paragraphs are any good) - they have a solution
  • (1 minute - if you’re any good and you have plenty of evidence) - they’ve done this kind of thing before, and they add some actual value

OK, it doesn’t happen like that every time, but this is your ideal situation - you bridge the gap between the customer’s problem and your solution by introducing the fact that you know what your customers are going through. You introduce the concept that you have done this kind of thing before and you have the knowledge and the solutions to help this customer.

Time and time again, B2B - and to a lesser degree B2C - websites fail at the very first hurdle. They start out by saying “this is what we have - here’s some more information - here’s a lot of information - go on, get in touch”. They don’t say “this is you - we understand you - here’s how we can help you - here’s how we’ve helped others”.

And THIS is SEO, because frankly, there’s no point getting a website to no.1 in the search engines if the site isn’t good enough to convert. You may as well not bother.