I grew up the son of a journalist, so I may have heard about this concept more times than the average person. However, when it comes to small business success, the 5 W’s of journalism can be the quickest pathway to getting regular search traffic for what you offer. My job is to help simplify the complex world of SEO for small business owners. Forgetting the nuances of all of the search factors for a moment and focus solely on what your customers need to know. I love working with people who are great at what they do and knowledgeable in their industry because it makes everything else much easier. So even if you don’t hire an expert like myself to fine-tune your SEO, focus on the below valuable resources that don’t take away your budget but can give you a jumpstart on traffic in 2024 and beyond. Often small businesses winning on very specific content is the way to get a foothold in the SEO world, and you are equipped with this knowledge more than anyone.
The 5 W’s (and H) for Search Ranking and UX
First, for those that are not familiar, let’s get the 5 W’s out of the way. We are referring to the key information around any story for a journalist, but also the key information visitors and customers will be searching for that have a need for your product of service. I’m going to list them below along with how they apply to your products and services. If you are an expert on your business, which you should be, you want to create content that answers all of these questions for each offering you have.
- Who: The SEO world talks about personas. Business owners should understand who uses their offerings. You may have one very definitive user or you may have several different types. You should know who these people are and write content specifically speaking to how they would interact with your offering. For example, an athletic shoe store owner may cater to walkers, trail runners, road racers, team sports athletes, etc. There are many types of who and they all may interact with your business in different ways and have different questions they are Googling to find solutions. You know these answers and can provide this content. It is all in your brain.
- What: What are your customers looking for? This is the part most of us have already. What is your product or service? But when you combine it with the other W’s and H, you will find that it can change. Always remember that you are offering solutions. The problems may vary. You want your customers to find you as a solution, so show them that you understand that and present your offerings as a solution, not just an item.
- When: Sometimes offerings change with the seasons or time. A similar offering may be a different solution in the summer than in the winter for example. Think about when your services are used and in different ways. Write content for that. For example, a chiropractor or physical therapist in the northeast may be treating more golfer’s elbows in the summertime, but dealing with injuries from slip and fall in the winter. A similar service may be used in different ways based on season, time of month, and even evolution over time.
- Where: This is key in a couple of ways. Both where people might use your product and where your market is.
- Of course, Google likes to see that you are relevant to your market area, so if you are a local business, as many of us are, you should regularly mention your market to show your users and Google you understand the area and also to separate yourself from generic content. Google views websites as having certain authority in different topic areas. Your geographic market is a topic area, so make sure you show you have local relevance. If there are nicknames or more specific neighborhoods you can mention, even better. This is how small business owners can sometimes outsmart the big guys and create hyperlocal-focused content that shows up when local people search using these names.
- Where do people use your product or service? This is another side of where. Do you sell something people may use on vacation? Is it a product used in the house vs commercially? Think about where your products and services are used and create content that speaks to it. Another opportunity to show up for specific searches.
- Why: Why are people using what you offer? Again, you may be offering a solution to many different problems. A hardware store that sells shovels may have customers using them for many different reasons, from working in the garden to digging to shoveling snow. Think of all the uses of your offering and write content that speaks to all of them specifically.
- How: The H doesn’t fit with the W’s but is still very important. How do people use your offering? Since small business owners are rolling up their sleeves and working every day, we often run into the regular FAQ’s of our industry. How does this work? How does this solve my problem? Be ready for answers to this. In some cases, it may work differently for different issues. Sometimes even more important and often forgotten is explaining how someone hires you or engages with your service. Lay it out very clearly and if there are different approaches, lead them down the right path.
Remove User Hurdles: Content as a Good User Experience (UX)
Don’t forget that content is the ultimate user experience. Use your content to answer all of your customers’ questions and show them how to easily hire you. Make it clear you a trustworthy authority in your space and that customers should want to choose you. The more you demonstrate your knowledge of all the nuances of what you offer, the more opportunity you have to get found and also remove doubt from the mind of your customer. If you do nothing else this year, do this. Make it easy for them to understand through good content.