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How to use psychology to create more helpful content

by Matt Holliday   |   Feb 09, 2023

The Google Helpful Content Update places a focus on the value your content provides to your website visitors, but how do you create the type of content that will help your website rank well under these guidelines? One way is to delve deeper into the psychological motivators behind why human beings search for information. Once you understand how the information you provide will better answer those questions, you’ll be able to present a value proposition that helps you acquire new business or leads while also helping improve your SEO.

What are your customers looking for when they search?

There are three important motives behind why people seek information that can help you create more effective content. They are: instrumental utility, cognitive utility, and affect. Creating the type of content that carries the message you want to deliver while also addressing one or all of these needs can help strengthen your rankings. The benefits don’t stop at SEO – your content will also be:

  • More compelling
  • More engaging
  • More likely to generate a return visit, a conversion, or brand recall and affinity

So what are the psychological motivators that make people find one piece of content more valuable than another?

Action (Instrumental)

Can this help me ACT?

This is the most obvious motivator, and hopefully one your content already covers. Make sure the information you’re providing can help visitors with their immediate wants, needs or issues by answering questions clearly and directly. Ensure any service or product you offer that helps the visitor act is easy to find and clearly labeled as the solution they’re looking for.


Can this help me UNDERSTAND?

One way to add a layer of value to your content is to not only offer solutions, but to make sure you explain them in a way that helps visitors to your website understand how to apply it to similar issues they may have. They’ll value your product or service more if they know how to use it the right way and that it will continue to be useful down the road. Show how your solution will help make their business stronger or more resilient against future issues like the one that brought them to your site. This can include adding to their business intelligence or improving the form, function, or product/service in the case of B2B traffic.


How will this make me feel emotionally?

Beyond the relief they’ll feel having completed a task, customers that find solutions on your site can also feel accomplished, confident, capable, or appreciated. Use terms and phrases like these on thank you pages and any post-conversion experiences to add emotional context to your content – this will help create the additional trust signals that people appreciate from businesses and partners.

Ensure your website visitors are getting the content they need to not just create awareness of your business, but to provide the understanding of your product or service that customers want when making purchase decisions. If you can help people realize how you make their own businesses better, they are much more likely to return to you for continued solutions or to become advocates of your brand.

If you’re curious about how to tap into these types of emotional prompts to increase the impact and efficiency of your website, get in touch with us. We’ll show you how a better content strategy can add to your business’s bottom line.

Portrait of Matt Holliday

Matt Holliday