It doesn’t matter if it’s on your website, in the newspaper, or part of the Great American novel; all good content has one thing in common. Good material always keeps the audience at the center. If you want to take an audience-first approach and align your content with the needs of your audience, here are four steps you should take right now.

1. Be Clear About Purpose

Why are you writing content? Are you looking to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, or improve your search ranking? No matter what your purpose is, you’re not likely to succeed without a plan. Defining your purpose is the first step towards creating a meaningful, compelling content strategy.

2. Understand Your Audience

The second element to an effective content strategy is all about understanding your audience. Even extremely well-written content is useless if your audience doesn’t appreciate, enjoy, or understand it. Who is your target market? What social media platforms do they use, and what content do they appreciate? Understanding this information will take some time and research on demographics, but it is a key step to get your message in front of the right people.

3. Focus on Your Core Competencies

A lot of content on the Internet doesn’t need to be there. Too many websites are full of reposted material. Even sites with original content may provide little to no real value. It’s easy for your content to get lost in the shuffle. If you want to stand out from the pack, you’ll need to create content that stands out, and to do so you’ll have to focus on your strengths. Concentrate on your core competencies in order to establish yourself as an expert in your field.

4. Boost Your Content

Finally, people need to see your content. If your content is well-written and your website is search engine-friendly, Google and the other search engines will eventually find your content. However, this isn’t much of a strategy. Working to boost your content is a much more effective tactic. Find out what channels your audience is on, and then publish your content there. Use all of your resources to amplify your content and watch for the impact.

Writing great content isn’t a difficult task. Writing great content that works for your online marketing efforts is a challenge. Solving the problem starts with an effective strategy. Crafting the right plan starts with understanding your audience.