Using The Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) Framework For SEO Content

Framework (JTBD), also known as job theory, is an analysis method used to support innovation in product development and marketing.

JTBD has existed in various forms since at least the 1980s with Don Norman’s famous book, Design everyday things.

It was published in 2000 by Clayton Christensen and colleagues Harvard Business Review (and again in 2010) and MIT Sloan Management Review.

JTBD is unique because it is centered around the function – not the client or the user.

Although it is mostly used for product innovation, it can also be well applied to search engine optimization and content marketing.

We will examine how to use the JTBD framework for SEO content development.

Many examples are from the world of B2B SEO, but the theory should apply equally well to other areas of web content marketing.

Getting Started with JTBD

Many traditional forms of marketing and advertising research focus on demographic data, looking for the “average” customer of a product or service to find ways to be more attractive to and reach those people.

Instead of focusing on data points such as age or gender, a marketer’s job-to-do framework focuses on the problems that the target audience is trying to solve.

No matter a person’s age or gender, they have jobs to do — and they search Google for help completing those jobs.

For product development and product marketing directly, the task to be undertaken may be largely related to the product itself.

However, the use of the framework should not be limited to the functions that the product can solve.

For SEO, it is probably best applied to small tasks that a prospect might complete throughout their day.

When a potential customer turns to Google to find information or complete a task during a normal business day (not necessarily when they’re looking for products to buy), brands with useful content build trust with their audience and the immediate opportunity to generate a conversion, according to Christensen InstituteAnd the

“By understanding the ‘job’ that customers find themselves ‘hiring’ a product or service for, companies can develop and market products that are well tailored to what customers are actually trying to do.”

Applying this kind of thinking to create compelling website content yields tremendous results.

Find your audience

Start by identifying your target audience.

These are not just the people who will buy your product or service.

Your target audience includes journalists, bloggers, and podcasters—people who create content for your target market.

Consider the types of jobs your target audience might be using Google to complete on a given day:

  • Find a conference to attend later in the year.
  • Find stats, trends, graphs and images to use in an upcoming presentation.
  • Find answers to technical questions in their immediate field.
  • Find examples of a plan or roadmap while creating their own.
  • Find books, authors and influencers In written form or audio files for inspiration, best practices and industry news.
  • exploration tools to improve their daily operations.

When your target audience uses Google to solve their daily problems, you can be at the top of the search results with the best answer on the web to help them.

After they land on your website, you can provide a wide range of relevant content to engage them and, in many cases, create a conversion.

User Stories for JTBD

Instead of worrying about demographic data, a user story format can help to know three basics:

  • when.
  • I want to.
  • So I can.

Consider the attitude, motivation, and desired outcomes of your target audience, and develop user stories that can help create content.

Here are some examples of how User Stories work.

Example 1: when I am a member of an interview panel, assisting with recruitment for a position outside the usual wheelhouse, I want to Prepare by understanding the responsibilities the role usually entails, So I can Provide informed feedback that will help the hiring manager make a good decision.

In this scenario, I might turn to Google to search for “interview questions” or “roles and responsibilities” related to a particular job title.

I will do basic research to help me with daily tasks.

A website that provides useful information at the top of Google results will benefit from my visit, have the opportunity to provide relevant or converting content, and start building credibility with me that can influence future purchasing decisions.

Example 2: when I am developing a feasibility study to support a new initiative, I want to Find a search to guide my thinking, So I can Formulate a compelling argument in support of my initiative.

In this scenario, I might turn to Google to search for data points, trends, and statistics to help guide my thinking and persuade others.

Example 3: when I’m getting ready for a trip I want to find a podcast to listen to, So I can Being educated and entertaining about a particular topic.

Example 4: When I’m I’m thinking of buying a popular book in my field of interest, I want to Read the review first, So I can Make an informed buying decision.

JTBD for existing customers

SEO isn’t just for marketing to potential clients.

You can use the To Do framework to see what your existing customers are trying to achieve – and create content that helps them do just that.

By looking at support chat logs, helpdesk tickets, community questions, and other places where existing customers mention jobs they’re trying to accomplish, you can find a wealth of ideas for what to build new content around to help them.

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  • When you’re doing content planning for your website and ready to go over basic keyword research techniques, consider the JTBD framework.
  • Start with the people you create content for – who are your audience?
  • Brainstorm common small or large tasks that these individuals might deal with in their daily working lives.
  • Create useful content ready for when they inevitably turn to Google to complete those tasks.


Using the JTBD framework, marketers can select many good topics and keywords with lower search volume and less competition from keywords but will generate high quality traffic.

The target audience is trying to accomplish an infinite number of jobs, from small to large. By producing great content, a brand can develop a trusted relationship with potential customers before they are even in the buying mode.

This will translate into increased sales when the prospect is ready to make a transaction.

More resources:

  • B2B keyword research done right with practical examples
  • 8 Engaging Chart Types and How to Create Them (+ 5 Free Tools)
  • Content Marketing: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to What Works

Featured image: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

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