With every algorithm update, Google is making SEO more and more complex. The company has expressed its desire to improve the quality of their search results, filtering out spammers and content of lower relevance - but how that 'relevance' is determined is becoming increasingly difficult to understand to a definitive degree. The elements that are regularly highlighted by Google are 'quality content' and 'genuine engagement'.
The issue with quality content is that it's less scientific. Less certainty in the process means more research, more work and, ultimately, more investment to ensure best results for your online presence. This can be a frightening prospect for companies - you can't just go to Google Adwords and ensure all the relevant search terms are included on your webpage, you need people to be actually reading your content to up that relevance rating. Real people and real engagement.
The one metric that is totally clear is the need for social engagement. How many 'Likes', 're-Tweets', webpage links - these elements are being weighted more heavily by search engines. The social media aspect, which used to only form a part of the SEO puzzle, is becoming more influential. The idealistic result of this is that users get a better quality experience all round, but the underlying motivator is that, over time, organic results will be diluted to the point that brands will have to pay to get best ROI. The only way to combat this is to create great, sharable, engaging content and become an active participant on social platforms. But what's the best way do you do it? How do you know that the content you're investing in will give your company the best results? Here are a couple of points to keep in mind:
- Quality content is what your clients want to read, not what you want to tell them. You can't just load up your company website with a heap of updates on what the company's doing, how you're helping clients, etc. These are all sales pitches and, in the majority, these won't be widely read. You're caught up in the corporate culture and the internal wins and losses, so the temptation is to write about them, show the people how good the company is, sell them on that culture that you, yourself are invested in, but you need to take a step back and think about what the clients want to know. What are the articles you're reading each day? What is of interest to you, as an industry expert? What are the things clients need your services for? If you are not an industry expert, not following all the relevant influencers in your field, then you need to be and you need to be viewing their insights from the client's point of view. Inform clients of industry trends and updates, write about positive stories in which your brand has had an influence, but always be wary of the sales angle. Social media is about building relationships, rather than booking sales. The more you're able to establish the first, the easier the second will become.
- Content that gets highly shared is content with heart. Real stories, real storytelling, actually getting to the humanity of something, rather than corporate messaging. All businesses affect the lives of real people, many in very positive ways, and these stories are gold. They are not only great to tell, but they show the genuine passion of your brand. If you can express that passion in an engaging way, you can create strong, shareable stories that will help expand the reach of your business, which has benefits across all aspects. Take time to think about different angles to your corporate stories, try and find the heart and humanity in what you do as a company and where your brand is able to help. And again, make it story first, corporate messaging second. You don't need to sell to your clients straight up, you're working to establish a connection, to communicate on a deeper level.
- Take time to engage in your online community. It's one thing to use Twitter to respond to client concerns and queries, but you shouldn't stop there. Look to have a presence on all social media platforms and in their respective communities, become part of them, participate where you can. You'll often see a company representative drop into a conversation on Twitter or Facebook with no real introduction, saying 'give me a call at *** and we can help you out'. This is not real engagement. You're likely to build better customer relationships if you talk to people on a human level, offer advice and links to online articles (not necessarily your own company content) and show them that you're the expert in your field. The opportunity to convert these contacts into clients will come, you don't need to rush it. By being present and being a trusted part of the conversation, you will establish better relationships for ongoing business. And be honest and positive, at all times. Going online and trashing your opposition, using a half-truth to initiate a business conversation - these tactics do not benefit the establishment of ongoing partnerships.
As with anything, the approach you take will vary dependent on the industry, but the way to solidify your online presence, making your company more resilient to SEO algorithmic changes and enabling you to make best use of social media, is through the creation of engaging content and the establishment of trusted networks. It takes time and investment, but it will pay off, over and over again.