Best Practices for Effective Online Content, Part I: Focus on People

Best Practices for Effective Online Content, Part I: Focus on People

Content is anything found on your website, including text, pictures, videos, research and infographics. All content is used to communicate information that users are looking for online. There are two basic types of content: on-site and external content.

On-site content is all the information that is found on the pages of your website; it is stored and accessed there.

External content is defined as content not hosted on your Web properties, but that still is a part of your larger Web marketing campaign, like press releases, Social Media posts or blog articles that might be hosted outside of your site.

On-site and external content are meant to achieve slightly different goals, but there are 4 essential steps to writing effective online content regardless of the platform: to focus on your target audience, forget writing for search engines, offer unique insight and adapt your writing for the Web.

Part I of this best practice blog series is about focusing on people.

Step 1: Focus on your Target Audience

“It’s crucial to keep in mind what your target audience is looking for and who they are,” says Greg Froom, J.D, Web Content Editor at Consultwebs.

The target audience for your online content is closely tied to the type of consumers you want to attract overall from all marketing channel sources. But what if you do not know who your target audience online is? Here is a way to start figuring it out:

If you have no hard data on your audience to analyze, start with educated guesses. You can start by looking at the demographics:

  • Geographic location: Geographic location will reflect the goals of your firm: are you aiming at attracting local customers from neighboring counties? From the major cities in your area? From the state? Nationally?
  • Age: Age can be defined both in terms of age brackets (25-40) and in terms of generations (Baby Boomers, Generation Y)
  • Gender: Does your firm primarily market to males or females?

However, the demographics of your customers might not be as important as their lifestyle. Consider the following:

  • What kind of a life situation are they in right now?
  • What is a need you can help them meet?

One of the ways to specify your target audience is to develop a persona for your business – an archetype, illustrative of your best clientele. The most effective personas are the ones that have a realistic story, developed and refined over time based on people you actually deal with.

Personas are helpful to keep in mind when you are writing an article, but they play a much bigger role in helping you orient your law firm to serve your consumers. For further suggestions on developing customer personas visit an article by Search Engine Watch.

Step 2: Write for People, not Search Engines

One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is adding an excessive amount of keywords, also known as keyword stuffing. Google strongly advises against attempting to manipulate the rankings by using keywords unnaturally or out of context. Here is a sample keyword-stuffed paragraph from Google’s Webmaster Guidelines:

We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at

Yes, keywords are important but using them naturally is the best long-term strategy. “If the content is on topic and compelling, it will naturally include the keywords and other indicators that are necessary for SEO success,” says Froom.

Another negative aspect of writing for the search engines is writing content simply for the sake of adding pages. What fresh perspective are you bringing? How is this new article helpful to your clients and what unique value does it provide?

Keep in mind, search engines are not that easy to trick. If the webpage is static and generates a lot of ‘bounces’ – when people come to the page and quickly leave – it tells the search engine something about the quality of that page. If the content is not relevant or does not fulfill searchers’ expectations there is no reason to serve it up high in results.

In essence: focus on your target audience, or better yet a specific persona of your optimal client. Forget the over-optimization and write for people.

Check out Part II for two more action steps to make your online content stand out!


Lina served as a marketing intern from 2012-2015. She graduated from Berea College with a degree in Communications.