Storytelling and SEO don't need to be enemieswritten by Matt McLean
19 Oct, 2018
Every business with an online presence is looking to grab their customer’s attention. Part of the demands for any modern business are content, and more importantly, being found on Google.
When working with a client, the desire to capture a client’s unique voice and personality while still ensuring SEO is taken care of is probably the most challenging balancing act for any content strategist.
As the online world matures so too does content and SEO best practice. More people and more business owners now have a better handle on what's required to make their website successful. Ultimately this is a good thing.
Perhaps you've found yourself wondering how you can approach your own website's information so you create content that's distinctive and memorable while still satisfying your SEO needs. Here are a few important factors to consider as you embark on your next web project.
There’s no SEO without knowing the purpose of your content
Many people start by finding out what people are currently searching for.
Maybe you’ve completed an exhaustive list of keyword research and feel like you can dive straight into content.
Or, if you’re just getting your head around SEO, a nice little starting place is at the bottom of a Google page. As you can see here for the term “building a property portfolio” and some popular related searches. These won't exactly match search volumes, but they'll definitely point you in the right direction.
While it’s helpful to understand the terminology and popular questions being asked, it doesn’t solve the whole storytelling part.
What is the purpose of your website and the information you’re going to publish? Answering this while trying to write to a list of keywords sitting in an Excel sheet is going to be a nightmare.
We recommend starting with a huge content brain dump and going from there. Think of it as the draft of your manifesto.
Don’t write your headlines, sub-headers or calls-to-action...just write. Write as if you’re talking face-to-face with a customer and sharing your wisdom.
Once you feel like you’ve captured your overall messages and your voice, then begin to refine the content and look for opportunities to include keywords or search phrases.
In short, write like the wind...worry about SEO later.
Solve user problems with a bit of written flair
You’ve probably got a pretty good idea of what your customers want from your product or service. Writing engaging content that solves the pain points of your potential customers is the perfect way to ensure the success of your SEO efforts.
Remember, you’re writing for humans not a bot. Before publishing anything, ask yourself:
On top of this, the use of compelling facts and figures are essential to persuasive writing and indicate your expertise.
If you make your content easy to read and digest, with rich supporting data, you’ll be in SEO heaven in no time.
On top of this, storytelling which is shareable will inherently solve many of your SEO challenges.
People tend to share content they find useful and want others to know about, increasing the reach of content. Basically, the more people who read and share your content, the more Google will like your content and your rankings will see a boost as a result.
If you want to discover topics that are currently trending based on shares, a good research tool is BuzzSumo’s Content Analyzer.
Here’s a list from a simple search like “interior design”, showing the most popular articles and the social platforms they received the most shares from.
Making your content engaging, informative and memorable will obviously help with shareability, and this will have a natural flow in with your SEO and Google rankings.
Long form content is all the rage...but is it practical for you?
A number of studies have shown that the average length of pages ranked in position 1 to 10 on Google is 2000-2500 words.
Yikes! I hear you say.
Not only does creating that kind of content require some serious heavy lifting, it may also interfere with your user’s experience on your site - you don’t want them bogged down and scrolling forever.
So what’s the best solution then if Google wants such long content?
A number of marketing leaders now recommend creating pillar pages to help accommodate user queries.
These are in-depth pages covering elements of your products or services. The idea is that you use these topical pages to direct visitors to a main page where you do more of your selling and customer conversions.
For example, let’s say you’re the provider of online courses for women who are pregnant.
While you’ll have a main page detailing the courses and costs, you may also create long form content on topics such as “what to eat when you’re pregnant” or “how much exercise can I do when pregnant?”.
In a way, this strategy gets visitors in through the backdoor (visitors who may actually be looking for an online course and don’t know it) while also improving your Google rankings at the same time because of the depth and breadth of your content.
While not every business has the time to create and publish such extensive content, ultimately it’s signalling to customers how much you care about them and what they’re looking for.
Quality still trumps quantity for most businesses
In the end, quality content is about great storytelling, understanding the purpose of what your publishing and how this is all ties back to the SEO requirements.
Despite what the research says, less can be more when it comes to effective content that is valuable for a business and leads to an increase in sales. Not everything is about traffic to a website.
However, it needs to be approached with the right balance of creativity and SEO nous, otherwise it’s just more content flooding the web.