People pursue purposes and outcomes. You’ve heard those can be treated as moving away from pain and/or toward possibility.
But what I think really happens is you zoom out, and we’re moving toward possibility, you zoom in and we’re constantly trying to avoid the prickly urgent problems as we barrel through the week.
Experts I want to work with about “getting more traffic.” A process that is full of landmines galore when it comes to user self misdiagnosis.
Like me avoiding strumming chords because I think it’s corny, you may avoid search traffic and instead opt to focus on other channels.
It’s easy to know the shape of the what audience you have and want, but search feels anonymous, like people passing through a rest area on the highway. Do you want to set up shop between an Auntie Anne’s and a Sbarro?
Or you’re all in on search. You are at a point where to become pervasive, you see that you need to pay attention to it. You think, if you had a bunch of Google traffic, your problems would be very different.
Wanting more traffic seems like moving toward possibility, but the related array of intent is more likely a mix of that and wanting to move away from having too little traffic and all that implies, eg. ego of low traffic makes you feel less important, you want more money and you think traffic will do that, you took your search traffic for granted and now it has been going down over x years or recently dropped off a cliff.
Zoom out again, you Google “how to get more traffic,” or something-something “SEO” and find a series of listicles with advice bullets: get links, get followers, write better headlines.
Now you have to decide between 2-3 paths. Go down the rabbit hole on those advice bullets, eg Google: “How do I write better headlines?” Or change your search to highlight your intent, eg. Google: “traffic growth strategies for expert firms” or you change your mind and reshelf thinking about search traffic.
And so your purpose as a self-misdiagnosing user, and the trail of search intent, breathes as you explore different approaches, avenues and vibe of those who have thought enough about that thing.
You jump from symptoms to treatment that feels right. The problem of solving for user self-misdiagnosis, then, is more nuanced.
Maybe the content isn’t relevant enough to the traffic you want.
Or your ties to those networks that would amplify your content are too weak.
Or you don’t have a strong enough online footprint to pass the sniff test of being a domain expert as the ties you do have that matter are, at least online, invisible.
Let’s start at the page level. “How do I add keywords to my article?” “How many words should my post be”?
A better question is “how big of a chunk should you bite off in a post?” “What factors should affect how that answer changes?”
You read a few places something like “research shows 2000 words is optimal.” Or the slightly better, “If the intent can be solved in seconds, it doesn’t warrant a lengthy guide, but if it’s complex, it should be longer.”
The best answer, I think, is you play to your strengths.
If your content is short and punchy, keep it short and bunchy, then consolidate those pages of related nuggets into an authoritative treatment of that intent.
If your content leans long, focus on what’s important to the user at that moment, answer it upfront for the rich snippet and users looking for brevity, then go deeper for those who care enough to explore further.
Can you solve for that user self-misdiagnosis within a page and still rank it? Or do you need to have the conversation they want to have first?
The larger and more complex the user’s purpose, the more pages you will need.
If an answer requires pages plural, the dots should be connected for the user, and those pages are tightly related, you have a post series where the user should be able to easily navigate and jump around.
When your existing content is more loosely connected, you have not yet structured an intentional order of learning for your target audience, a related posts widget is fine.
To design an information architecture that catches users at the moment they want to have a specific conversation and then anticipates their next questions shows you’ve thought about their problem deeply, it allows you the ability to use analytics to determine how well users are being satisfied by your pages, allows them to self-select to find your most relevant offers to them.
Idk. Or you could just force them to sign up for your email list and wait for an email launch of whatever product you happen to be working.