Empathy In SEO

What’s had the biggest impact on my success with SEO? One word. Empathy. I’d say it’s my ability to put myself in the shoes of my audience and see things from their point of view.

I think about what problems they’re facing, their hopes and fears, and who they are on a deep level. I consider what would be the best possible results they could hope for from their search query.  
If you can keep these ideas in mind when you’re crafting your SEO content you’re going to excel in the rankings. Your content will be more useful and thus worthy of amplification.  
I’ve done this throughout my career, but it’s become even more applicable now that the Google algorithm has improved with time. Keywords, anchor text, and links all still matter, but not as much as comprehensive content does.

The days of “hacking” SEO with quirky tricks are over.

My current process with SEO all begins with keyword research.  
What are the actual words my target searcher is using in shaping their query?

What are they typing into Google, or speaking into their phone, that’s returning that specific result?

Until you do that level of research it’s hard to understand what people are actually looking for.  
I recommend not just looking at the specific results returned but also to look at what related searches Google provides. If we were looking for a Yoga studio some of the related search terms we might find are things like “Yoga studios Seattle” (That’s where I’m based.)

A well as “Yoga studios Tacoma” (Nearby), or “Yoga studio apps.” Some of these answers are location specific, others have to do with the platform – types of yoga is another option that you will find.

With this information we can extrapolate that when people are searching for a yoga studio they’re searching for location, they are searching for a type of yoga, they want to know about the class schedule, the costs, and what to bring to class.

From there we can create a page that contains all this information.

However, if we really wanted to rank high it would be a good idea to create a page that had this information for all the yoga studios! This is a way to go comprehensive and it works.  
Here’s another big point I have to make.

I encourage everyone to spend some time with their actual audience.

When I was doing content I would spend time speaking with marketers to get into their heads. Having those conversations as part of your process is key to getting the specific information teased out.

Then you can apply it to your content and it’s like you’re reading their minds!

The next step is crafting your content. It’s much easier to do this after you’ve completed your research because now you have a roadmap to work from.

From here you want to look at all the results your intended search brought up and consider how your content can provide unique value compared to those rankings.

Visit all those individual links and see what they have content-wise and where are the gaps. Now you have your unique value proposition for your content.

The last step is your amplification strategy. You need to know who’s going to amplify this content and why.

I’m not talking in general here, I mean specifically what websites would link to your content once you publish it. Once your content is live, make sure you reach out and ask them for the link.


Action Steps

  1. Type in your intended query to Google and look at the rankings and related content.
  2. Talk to your audience and get in their heads regarding the specifics they are looking for around your query.
  3. Review all the current rankings and find the gaps where you can add unique value.
  4. Create your content and reach out to the sites that would link back to you.


Result You Will Achieve

Unique SEO content crafted to rank highly by employing smart research and talking to the audience before creating your content.

Mentor: Rand Fishkin

Founder of SparkToro. In 2009, he was named among the 30 Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30 by BusinessWeek, and has been written about it in the Seattle Times, Newsweek and the New York Times among others.

This article is based on an EHQ interview with the mentor.