Understanding your audience is the key to creating content optimized for search engines. From the title, to the insights to the calls to action, it is important that your content delivers an experience that meets the expectations and intentions of those doing web searches hoping to find a service professional just like you. We find that most advisors feel like they understand their audience even if it has been some time since they checked in with them. Here are a few ideas on how you can better align yourself with the core desires and intentions of your audience.

Use Social Media

When used correctly, social media works like a giant conversation. The instigator of the conversation often does so by sharing some form of content or insight and then those that are interested respond with simple platform engagement such as likes and retweets or with higher level conversation like comments or even full responses. While sites like Twitter and Facebook can give you a very good look at how your content is being received, one site that is starting to prove its worth as a yardstick of consumer attitude is Quora.

Quora is a site were users will posit questions they want answered by an expert. These questions range from every topic imaginable including financial matters. Other users who feel they have the expertise to provide some value on the question will then write responses. Readers then use a simple upvoting and commenting system to react to the answers and popular and valuable entries rise to the top and are showcased by the site on its home page and through emails. It is a simple concept yet the potential for insight into the actual intentions of the populace at large are enormous. Whether you use this site as a jumping off point for creating your own content for your blog, or if you become a contributing member as a way to gain more exposure for your advisory is up to you. What is clear is that if you are looking for insight into what questions the public are asking, Quora is one of the best sites for you to explore.

Consult Analytics to Determine What Is Working

If you are looking to understand which of your content pieces are reaching an audience there are few tools as important to utilize as your analytics engines. FMG Suite customers have access to an in-product analytics page that tracks the important metrics to determine which of their content is attracting an audience. For others, Google Analytics will be a good solution to keep an eye on the numbers.

When tracking analytics it is important to choose the specific measurements you will track over time and to stay at it long enough to a consistent idea of your audience size and behavior. All websites experience ebbs and flows when it comes to traffic, but after a few weeks, you will start to put together a picture of what your normal readership looks like. This will give you the opportunity to identify which content pieces stand out as outliers, either positively or negatively, in order to help you determine the efficacy of your content.

One thing to remember when tracking your content analytics is the importance of minimizing other factors that might affect your findings. Does each piece of content receive similar treatment when it comes to distribution (ie. are you posting things to the same places, a similar number of times). Another factor that can often influence an article’s popularity is the art used with it. Was there something different the featured picture that might have drawn people in or repelled them? What about the headline you used? All of these elements can affect your analytics and need to be taken into account when creating a larger picture of audience intentions.

Be Open to Engagements

Too often we see advisors who create and share great content, put it out into the world through social media and then never revisit their posts to respond to engagements. Comments by users who find your content are not just important because they provide social proof that you have a vibrant online presence, they are a key indicator of what kinds of topics and insights are proving valuable to your core audience. They are a chance for you to network with potential clients in a low risk, low-pressure environment all while developing your overall content strategy to fit with their needs better.

It should go without saying that you should never attempt to steer the comments on a piece to make them more positive or even worse, post comments yourself under an alias. These shady tactics will put you in hot water with compliance in a heartbeat. But interacting honestly and openly with your audience is a sure fire way to create an inviting environment where you will come across as open and approachable. It will also help you understand your audience in a way that future content will be better tailored to their needs and will be more easily found by search engines.