Improving SEO via Content Marketing, also known as just Marketing
This past week I joined in on a Google Partners session about mobile advertising & analytics. A major lesson from that presentation, which applies to marketing as a whole, is that consumers want to be entertained and informed. In order to do this, we need to be there, be useful, and be quick. How can we improve SEO and our customers experience through better content?
Each page on your site should have a goal and its content should be geared towards achieving that goal. Product pages inform customers about the benefits of that product and how it will solve their problems. Homepages highlight your brand and its unique value propositions driving customers deeper into the site. Blog pages tell stories that help customers connect with your brand. Go to every page on your site and ask yourself "Why does my customer care about this content and how can I make their lives easier?"
How does this all have an affect on SEO? Google has evolved to look at more than just keywords and backlinks to actually looking at the user experience. Brian Clark on his Rainmaker PodCast quoted Rae Hoffman, "Google's doesn't want to make websites popular, it wants to rank popular websites." Google takes into account the overall user experience, bounce rates, page speed, conversions, and more. Having a well designed, well written, web page with your customer's needs top of mind will go a long way in improving SEO.
Here are some of my favorite ways to use content to improve your customer's experience and SEO all at the same time.
Use Your Words
I often see clients web pages, specifically product and home pages, full of beautiful imagery with text overlay, and that's about it. Although this might look great to the brand, it often doesn't serve customers well and search engine's hate it.
Longer copy allows you to better engage your customers, inform them, and teach them, by providing them valuable content. By being there, being useful, and being concise we can better serve the customer. Yes, longer copy & concise copy is a bit contradictory. It is a fine balance that must be found (hint, A/B test) between the one-liner and the novel. The appropriate amount of copy will speed up load times because your page isn't a giant image, improves the mobile experience by allowing for a more responsive design, and actually give search engines something to crawl. All very good things.
One of the (many) reasons why sites like Amazon and Backcountry.com have become so popular is because of their in-depth product reviews. A Dimensional Research/Zendesk study showed that between 86-90% of customers were influenced by reviews, both positive and negative. Additionally, reviews are full of relevant keywords (yes they still matter), engage users, and are a way to actually connect current customers more closely with your brand. There are a ton of other technical SEO benefits as well with these 5-star reviews showing up directly in search!
One of my favorite ways to build reviews is to offer rewards for past customers to review purchased products. This practice re-engages past customers, increases customer loyalty, and also drive eCommerce sales if a promo code is offered. This is low-hanging fruit to build up your reviews.
Make 404 Pages Less Sucky
Your customer just clicked on a link to your site for a page that no longer exists. This means they are served up a 404 page that typically simply says "page not found" and that's it. Seems like a pretty crummy experience huh?
Instead, how about your entertain and inform them? A witty message or photo apologizing for the missing page followed by a list of useful links so they can easily navigate to the section of the site they were originally looking for. Doesn't that sound like a better experience? Instead of customers leaving the site from that 404 page they are now diving deeper into it, showing customer engagement which Google loves.
How do you like to use content to improve the user experience? Leave a comment.