In days gone by of SEO, there was too much of a good thing. That good thing was over optimisation and link buying. Even the most experienced of SEO professionals were most likely guilty of stuffing too many keywords into a website to boost a site’s ranking in their SEO efforts.
However, this was the only way for sites to be ranked pre-Google and often it meant that copy would be so filled with irrelevant keywords and links that the content became unreadable and disjointed to a real person. With link buying, most SEO agencies needed little more than a credit card and a list of contacts for their SEO efforts to be successful.
The industry has thankfully moved on considerably since the days of over optimised pages with irrelevant keywords and purchased link placement. Through a combination of machine learning algorithmic updates by Google, the industry focus has had to shift towards the user experience with well written content and creating assets that actually earn organic links.
Whether this be through video content, engaging copy, offering genuine utility or eye-catching infographics, SEO professionals are more aware than ever that the key to any successful campaign is engaging with their audiences.
As user engagement is thrust to the forefront of discussion, SEO and content marketing are becoming increasingly entwined. Customers nowadays consume information at a much faster rate and it’s important that marketers adapt their SEO efforts to compete for their attention.
Just like a movie: Utilising video content
On average, video content is likely to be three times more successful at attracting audience attention. Research has also shown that 85% of consumers are likely to purchase a product after watching a video ad. As well as this, Google places video content within its core search results for certain queries. Therefore it seems only natural that marketers would use this form of content to attract and engage with their audiences.
Earlier this year Apple created a short video of a boy named Dillan Barmache, a non-verbal teenager with autism. The video showed that Dillan was able to communicate with others by using his iPad. This is a great example of company using video to not only showcase their products but also add a human interest element which led to the video being one of Buzzfeed’s most popular.
Don’t have the budget to produce the videos yourself? This shouldn’t stop you from utilising this effective tool. When writing blogs or articles, think about how you can include a video that effectively backs up the points you’re making. Platforms like YouTube and Vimeo make it incredibly easy to embed videos into your blog posts and will hold your audience’s attention much longer than plain text.
Channel surfing: Reaching your audiences
Today’s audiences are more diverse and split than ever before. Previously you could rely on locating your customers on a small number of platforms or databases. Now we have to work considerably harder to find the right audiences and keep up with them.
Consumers are busy and you can’t rely on them committing to visiting your website or blog each week for updates. Instead you need reach out to them directly across a number of channels to keep them updated.
The simplest way to do this is through your social media channels and email contacts. Putting together a regular newsletter and sharing new articles shows audiences that you are still active and will provide more chance of your content being seen.
A recent example of using various channels to locate and engage with audiences is Zoopla. They implemented a social media leaderboard for estate agents which gamified Twitter users into competing with each other for rankings. The results were tweeted out each week with a huge amount of interest and the second order effects of this resulted in over 100 domains linking to the asset.
Worth a thousand words: Why you should still be using images
With more marketers making use of video content, simple images can seem outdated and redundant. However, you shouldn’t underestimate this simple and effective piece of content. Studies have shown that up to 40% of users respond better to visual information over plain text. Therefore, incorporating interesting and relevant imagery will increase a blog or article’s chances of being seen and shared.
Infographics or visual communication works particularly well for SEO purposes as it’s able to condense complex information into engaging and informative images. Employee engagement specialist, Officevibe, previously created an infographic that demonstrated ways employees could stay nimble at their desk with some simple stretches. Whilst the idea itself was simplistic, the infographic was shared across 144 domains, proving that there is still a lot of benefit from using images to engage with audiences.
Staying ahead of the trends
We have seen content marketing drastically change in recent years and with that has come new opportunities and challenges for the SEO community. So how can you ensure you’re prepared for further industry shifts? The key is to be prepared for the latest trends that provide marketers with new and innovative ways to create content to reach their audiences.
Online video first became mainstream with the launch of YouTube in 2005. However, marketers have only truly embrace video content in the past few years. Already we are seeing new emerging technologies and trends that can influence your SEO and marketing strategies as a whole.
Interactive video has already established itself as the latest marketing trend with some referring to it as the latest must-have for a marketing campaign.
What’s certainly the biggest challenge is any share of visibility or voice in an increasingly busy space with the need for creativity, a clear strategy and audience in mind needed at the beating heart of any SEO efforts.
By Simon Schnieders, founder of Blue Array