Pain-Point SEO is a strategy for building traffic to your website by identifying problems your potential customers are facing and then creating content that solves those problems.
The term ‘Pain-Point SEO’ was coined by content marketing agency, Grow and Convert. They discovered that their highest performing content on Google was not the content with the highest traffic. Instead, it was content that targeted long-tail keywords that people search for when they’re trying to solve a problem. These were their ‘money’ pages, not the pages that got the most traffic.
And that led Grow and Convert to realize that if you want to turn visitors into customers, you have to show that you understand their problems and you have a solution. In other words, in successful content marketing, you need to understand your audience’s pain-points.
Of course, this isn’t a revolutionary insight.
It’s what organic search is all about. After all, when people have problems they need to solve, they don’t look it up on Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram. They go to Google Search.
In a sense, Pain-Point SEO is the essence of how to use search engine traffic to find new leads, customers, and clients.
While Grow and Convert were focused in particular on generating leads and signups for Software as a Service (SaaS), the principles behind Pain-Point SEO apply across the board, to any website that wants to increase conversions.
In this article, I want to take a broad look at the concept of Pain-Point SEO and how you can use it to grow your business, whatever niche you’re in.
I’m going to look at 6 key aspects of SEO that are crucial for successful Pain-Point SEO:
- Long-tail keywords
- Searcher intent
- Buyer journey
- Content types
- Article titles
- Article intros
But first, an important note about identifying pain-points.
Most online articles will tell you that the best way to discover where your potential customers are stuck is to survey your customers. That’s good advice, no doubt about it.
But in Pain-Point SEO, what’s even more important is to find out what keywords people are typing into Google when they have a problem in your niche.
And that’s what I’m going to focus on in this article.
You’re probably already familiar with the concept of long-tail keywords, but just in case, here’s a quick recap.
‘Head’ keywords are keywords comprising a single word such as ‘insurance’ or ‘cars.’ Middle keywords are keywords comprising two words, such as ‘health insurance’ or ‘vintage cars. Long-tail keywords are keywords comprising three or more words, such as ‘HMO health insurance’ or ‘Italian vintage cars.’
Almost without exception, pain-point keywords are long-tail keywords. When someone has a problem, it usually takes them at least three words to describe it.
For example, ‘parenting tips’ is not a pain-point keyword, but ‘parenting tips for single fathers’ is. The person who typed that into Google is probably a busy man in his early 30s to late 40s, separated, has part-custody of the kids, and is struggling with the parenting side.
Here’s another example. ‘SEO tips’ is not a pain-point keyword. But ‘SEO tips for real estate agents’ definitely is. The pain-point? A real estate agent who realizes she needs to be in the local search but doesn’t know where to start.
So the first thing to be aware of with Pain-Point SEO is that you need to be targeting long-tail keywords.
Put simply, searcher intent is understanding what motivated someone to type a search query into Google. It’s a skill that comes with practice. Sometimes the searcher intent is fairly obvious, as in ‘best dslr camera under $1000.’
In other cases, you may need to look at a whole range of related long-tail keywords before you see the pattern that tells you what motivated these queries.
Here’s an example provided by Search Engine Journal:
On its own, ‘sensitive stomach dog food’ may not give you much idea of the pain point. But when you look at a collection of similar search queries, it becomes clear that people are looking for a dog food that won’t cause gas or diarrhea.
The Buyer Journey
To do Pain-Point SEO right, you’d first need to identify your buyer personas. Next, map their buyer journey, as their pain-points will differ depending on how far down the journey they are. It’s generally agreed there are three stages in the buyer journey:
- Awareness – becoming aware of what the options are
- Consideration – considering the options in more detail
- Decision – deciding on which the options to go for
Let’s look at someone wanting to buy a TV (this example comes from Search Engine Land).
A person who types in ‘Plasma or LCD’ or ‘which TV is best’ is at the awareness stage. Their pain-point is that they need to narrow down their range of choices.
But someone who types in ‘best store to buy tvs’ has gone from ‘awareness’ to ‘consideration’: they know which type of TV they want. Their pain-point? They need to compare brands and prices.
On the other hand, someone who types in ‘buy 70 inch plasma tv’ has made up their mind what kind of TV they want. Her pain-point is where to buy it.
Understanding what keywords people use at different stages in the buyer journey for your product or service will help you create content that targets the pain-points of your potential customers.
So far, we’ve talked about how to identify keywords that reflect your potential customers’ pain-points. But there’s another crucial step in pain-point SEO: crafting the right type of content to support the buyer journey.
Content Types for Pain-Point SEO
Top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) content serves the awareness stage – it invites new audiences to discover your brand. Most content calendars involve a lot of TOFU content pieces, as they drive organic traffic and expand reach.
Things get a lot more interesting when you want your content to nudge the user further down their journey – to consideration and action.
Some of the most useful middle-of-the-funnel content types that address common pain points are:
- Comparison posts. Just as you expect, they compare your product or service to your top competitors.
- Best product or service lists help searchers discover the best products or services in the category they’re searching for.
- Alternatives to X. Similar to comparison posts, these pages help searchers discover alternatives to your competitors’ products.
- Use Cases. They help searchers figure out how to solve their problem, while also presenting your product or service as a potential solution.
At the very end of the buyer journey, where you want the user to take action, you can lean on BOFU content. From service descriptions to landing pages, you should personalize your content to target your persona’s pain points and suggest specific solutions.
Now let’s look into how to write your content in such a way that your reader instantly knows that you understand their pain-points.
In SEO, there are two kinds of article titles: the title that appears at the top of the blog post and the title that appears in your SERP snippet. They can be the same, but they don’t have to be.
Very often the SEO title is shorter than the proper title because in a SERP snippet you only have 50 to 60 characters.
Your SEO title is what convinces searchers to click through to your article. The more people who click on your SERP snippet, the higher your click-through rate (CTR).
And search engines watch CTR very closely. Pages with high CTR get moved up the search results, while pages with low CTR start moving down the search results.
In Pain-Point SEO, your SEO title needs to zero in on your reader’s pain points. As I said earlier, people who use Google Search are mostly looking for solutions to problems. If you can show in your title that you understand their problem, chances are they’ll click on your SERP snippet.
Here are three formulas for article titles that emphasize pain-points.
Using the Word ‘How’
Use the word ‘How’ in your title, and you immediately signal to the reader that you’re about to solve a problem:
- How a Simple Lead Magnet Tripled My Opt-In Rate
- How To Get More Subscribers on YouTube – 13 Tips for Video Marketers
- How To Deal with a Defiant Teen – 9 Strategies for a Happier Family
Emphasize the Pain
Another way to target pain-points is to give the pain-point center stage in your article title:
- Why Your Site Speed Could Be Your Business’s Biggest Enemy
- Why Interstitials Could Be Hurting Your SEO and Costing You Traffic
- 7 Reasons Your Opt-In Form Is Turning People Away and Costing You Subscribers
Use the Word ‘Without’
In this formula, you contrast a positive with a negative: how to do something (positive) ‘without’ doing something else (negative):
- How to Remove Dirty Backlinks Without Jeopardizing Your Domain Authority
- How to Get More Paying Customers Without Spending a Dime on Advertising
- How to Build Authority Within Your Niche Without Feeling Like a Fraud
Like the two previous formulas, this kind of title emphasizes the pain-point your customer is trying to avoid.
When a reader lands on your page from the search results, you only have about 3 seconds to convince them to stay and keep reading.
So what happens in those 3 seconds?
Your reader is scanning the first 2 or 3 paragraphs looking for the keyword phrase they just typed into Google. They want to know that your article addresses their search query.
And that’s why long-winded, waffly Introductions are a big mistake.
Within the first 100 to 200 words, you need to show your reader two things:
- That you understand their problem (their pain-point)
- That you have a solution
If you can do that, most people who land on your page will keep reading.
But fail to do that, and they’ll hit the back button and return to the SERPs.
And that’s going to increase your bounce rate. A high bounce rate tells Google that your page didn’t answer the query. And so the algorithm will move your page down the search results.
There’s a formula for Introductions that works very well on the Internet, and you’ve probably seen it dozens of times. I call it PSP:
It’s quite simple: you state the problem, you point to a solution, and you promise that your article will solve the problem.
Here’s an example from an article of mine:
To recap: Tell the reader within the first few hundred words that (1) you know what their pain-point is and (2) you have a solution.
Make Pain-Point SEO Work for You
Pain-Point SEO is a way of finding new customers by creating content around your customers’ problems. Most people go to search engines to solve problems. In Pain-Point SEO, you target keywords that map out your customers’ problems, and you create content that focuses on those problems and their solution.
Pain-Point SEO targets long-tail keywords with relatively low search volume but high conversion rates. It converts well because it positions your products and services as the answer to your customers’ problems.
This is a guest post by Rob Powell. Rob is a blogger and course creator who shows beginning bloggers how to build traffic to their website using SEO. Visit his website for tips on how to get your content ranked higher in the search results.