3 Kinds of Blogging Audiences to Care About
It’s strange how much of SEO is still about Google and chasing algorithm updates and how little is about people or actual audiences. In contrast
blogging has been always about the readers who actually visit your blog.
There is simply no SEO without blogging or social media these days. SEO practicioners who assumed that they could write blogs for search engines have been proven wrong with the Panda updates. Now almost everybody agrees that you need to cater to audiences both on social media and those directly visiting your site without any middlemen.
Blogging for a real audience means writing for at least three groups of people.
Those who come via search, social media or directly (for example as type in traffic, via email or feed subscriptions).
Search audience aka new focused visitors
The search audience is very fickle, these people seek solutions for specific problems. They are short on time and not willing to leave their designated path. Give them exactly what they want or they will vanish as fast as the appeared. In fact
search engine users do not even stop by your site, they just get slower while on their way
to their final destination. Search visitors look at your store window and step on the gas once they do not see what they want at once.
Many of them want to buy but first to compare. They look for clean design and trust signals. They are checking your search snippet and decide within milliseconds whether you’re worth their attention. Most of them will never come back.
For search user you have to focus on
- quick and dirty solutions, not “long form content”
- streamlined landing pages without distractions and a clear call to action
- more of similar options for those who don’t find what they seek immediately
Social media audience aka random casual visitors
Social Media audiences love the ABC of Awesome, Bizarre, Controversial. They are like tourists walking through a city and looking out for some “action”. In most cases these people are pretty mainstream as they follow the paths you will find in every guide. They want to be entertained.
Social media users want something they can share and talk about. They need something new, not something everybody else already covers.
They want you to amaze them, to wow them or simply to make them interrupt their stroll, stand still for a movement and say “cool”, “LOL” or “cute”. Some publications that focus mainly on social media audiences have perfected this approach. BuzzFeed is probably the most obvious example.
When writing or publishing for social media audiences you have to
- focus on the outstanding and not on the daily business of your niche
- uncover topics or issues with mass appeal
- offer novelty and surprise
Your content needs to be bigger, bolder, brighter than the rest of the Web.
Regular audience aka hard core faithful visitors
This is your real audience, they are “your” “real” and an audience like the one you see in a movie theatre or at a concert. They sit and wait for your next post. They return, even after months or years. Your true fans are among them. They are real, neither are they just drive through quick and dirty search users nor are they accidentally on your site like social media users.
Faithful visitors can arrive via search or social media but because they know your name or brand already or they follow you for a while.
These are your most valuable visitors, real people who care for you and who visit you and not just a website that happens to show up on Google, or get recommended by some of their “1000 friends” on Facebook.
Some of these people are your friends but most are probably lurkers. They are too shy to converse with you on social sites but they come back each time something new is coming up on your blog or site.
Regular visitors want
- unique insights from your particular point of view
- more of the same but better, follow ups for example
- your personal subjective voice not press release type of writing
Caring for all three audiences at once
So how do you reconcile all of the three audiences? Many blogs just write for one of two of those. BuzzFeed writes for the social media audience mainly. Many old school SEO blogs did only write for the search audience. Real bloggers who have been blogging for ages do not care for either search nor social media in some cases.
Ideally you write for all three audiences not ignoring any one of them and not focusing solely on one of two of them. Your blog will fail in the long run in case you just care for 1/3 or 2/3 of your visitors. It can’t last without all three of them.
- Without the search visitors your audience will dwindle over time, especially in case you don’t write or publish regularly.
- Lacking the social media audience will result in your audience becoming “older” and “newer” at the same time. Your old fans will stay and new people from search will appear. The fans will want you to improve yourself, getting better at covering the old topics or coming up with new ones while the new people arriving from search will want to read the basics again and again and won’t understand your follow ups without the context of reading older posts (they usually don’t).
- Without a regular audience you have basically no real audience, you depend on ranking high in search and scoring many shares on social media to get new people to view your posts each time.
So ideally you have a mix of 33%/33%/33% of the three audiences.
There are basically two ways to attract all three audiences to your blog:
- approaching a different audience on a post basis
- writing each post for all three audiences at a time
For years I have been practicing the first strategy and then decided to try the second and most difficult one. In the past I would optimize one post for search, one for social media and one for my regular audience.
One post would include keywords people search for in the title and provide a simple solution in a easily digestible way. Something like “How to Use Free Google Tools for Keyword Research” would by a typical post for a search audience.
Regular SEO blog users probably know how to use them. Social Media users aren’t amazed enough by that post either. There is no novelty promise in this headline. For social media it would have to be something like “The Best Free Google Tools for Keyword Research You Have Never Heard of”
Your regular audiences will probably prefer something along the lines: “Advanced Ways to Use Google Tools for Keyword Research and Beyond”
Did you notice? The last headline not only fits your faithful fans but also still caters to some extent to search and social media audiences.
* Creative Commons image by Arnie B