Developing a User Centric Content Strategy


Content should exist because there is a target set of audience – people who will read, watch, and/or look at your stuff. Keep in mind that the reason we are making content is not to make ourselves feel good, or to archive and document what our company is about. We make content for people – users who drop by in your site because they want to know you!

This is part of a tutorial series entitled Content Strategy from SEO School where you can learn SEO that works.

Establishing your users (User Profiling)

I’ve gone through this in my last entry ‘Establishing your Content Identity‘. You have to establish who your users are. Let’s take a simple example – a guy who has plumbing problems. If you’re a plumbing company with a plumbing website, the reason why this guy is in your website is to fix his plumbing problems.  The sink is leaking water like crazy and he just wants to fix it and clean things up.

We can conclude that:

  • This guy is impatient, irate and in a hurry
  • This guy is looking for the easiest, quickest solution
  • This guy has no time getting to know your company/brand

Does your content strategy fix his plumbing problems?

A simple, User Centric Content Strategy would be:

 Get right to the point – Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t start with “Welcome to the Plumbing Solutions Website. Plumbing Solutions has been around 100 years…” No one in a running plumbing problem will give time to read that stuff.

Don’t try to be funny – This guy is not in a happy situation and chances are, your jokes aren’t gonna make him laugh.

Be task-oriented – This guy wants actionable solutions. Only those things in your content will matter to him.

The thing is, your Plumbing website doesn’t have only this kind of user. You also have the user who is just looking for plumbing services because of difficulties that they don’t want to fix themselves. Thus, we can categorize your users into these two types of people as seen in the table below:

Plumber Example

Bulls Eye Content StrategyDesigning your content strategy to cater to the first type of user with a high likelihood will be the better choice because they want to find things fast while the second type of user has all the time he needs to browse through your content.

  1. Your Content strategy should first tackle quick, easy-to-use, simple information for customers who have immediate plumbing problems. Why? Because chances are, most of your site’s visitors are people who are such.
  2. Secondly, your content strategy should be in creating helpful, plumbing-related content that educates your customers and boosts your credibility as a plumbing solutions brand. Who will read this? Past customers, possible prospects who are looking for plumbing advise without immediate plumbing problems, or perhaps other plumbers who are new in the field.

Having this content strategy in place, you are making your site’s content centered on users.  In order to successfully do this, you need to understand your users – not just who they are but what they’re doing and how they feel. By knowing the why and when, you can get one big step closer to delivering the right content at the right time.

What does Content Strategy have to do with SEO?

That is the big question. I think Jonathan Colman puts it perfectly in this awesome 46-slide deck:

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  • Jonathon Colman

    Great post, Sean – I love your user-centered and task-based approach to both SEO and content strategy. And what you say about content being for people is spot-on! After all, search engine robots don’t buy anything from us, but our users do! (or should).

    Thanks for featuring my presentation, too. A lot of the ideas are adapted for SEO from Kristina Halvorson’s book, Content Strategy for the Web – if you haven’t read it, now’s a great time to start. It’s a fast read that you’ll probably finish in a weekend, but that takes years to truly master at your organization. Check it out!

    • Hey Jonathan,
      You’re darn right about robots not buying from us – but they can pretty darn well give us some great leads :)) it’s such a tricky line between writing for robots and writing for people. We are living in the Google-age where writing is mainly for people but then it is also a huge necessity to keep the search engine’s favor in mind.

      Your presentation is great! It’s short, concise and packed with the idea of content strategy working together with SEO. It pins down what I’m trying to say in this post – and ultimately in this content strategy series. I’ll keep Kristina’s book in mind. I think I need to prep up on my content strategy studies. Thanks for the tip John! I’m linking your name to your site – thanks for putting that in.

  • Kate

    You have a very good point. This is actually the ideal way to keep them going to our site; we have to make our content relevant to what our target customer needs.

  • What I would add as well, for those with the talent, also develop content that you like personally, obviously a matter of taste but content writing also a natural talent to a certain extent.

    With a few tweaks from a good SEO, will get entertaining content that also gets found in the search results.

  • ThanhLe

    Great post.It is really helpful.Thanks for sharing.

  • You’ve said the best thing : before thinking about SEO, try to think about the Internet user. The main success for ranking.

  • Kurt Frankenberg

    Yes, Sean. I write for people, NOT robots. And the smarter and more intuitive Google’s algorithm becomes, the more it will sniff out and eliminate people who do write for the robots. I think that’s been what’s behind every update.

    As long as we create content with the actual end user and his (her) best interests in mind… the end product will be helpful and enduring.

    Thanks for the post! I’m going back to the beginning of the series now.

    Keep Stepping,


    • h3sean


      Glad to see that you’re keeping things straight – and that you’re writing for the right reasons.

      Tell me how you find the series ayt?

      • Kurt Frankenberg

        Will do!