Content marketing has grown exponentially in recent years. Swarmed by invasive sales and direct advertising, consumers are now drawn to the genuineness and affability in a brand. Likewise, the myriad of products and services saturating the marketplace have overwhelmed consumers with a vast number of choices. However, more often consumers would rather find one option of quality and stick to it. The rise of the Internet and social media platforms, for instance, have enabled consumers to opt for the brands they choose to engage and interact with and follow them in a more loyal way. As hard-selling advertising tactics are no longer as effective in relative terms to content marketing, marketers need to approach consumers in more creative ways, such as integrating storytelling in SEO content.
One of the most effective methods is content marketing. The framework of content marketing focuses on customer-centric and empathetic relationship building. Studies have shown that over 346 million people throughout the world read blogs and spend three times more time on blogs than they do on email. Additionally, websites with blog content have 434% more search engine-indexed pages than other business sites that do not publish content. It is clear why content marketing is an effective and widely used SEO technique.
However, Odden proposes that excellent content is not exceptional until it is recognised, consumed or shared. Furthermore, bombarding the Internet with scheduled blog posts alone is not engagement. It does not advocate an experience for brand development nor influence consumers to purchase, trust, or recommend the product or service to others. This can be resolved with storytelling.
Storytelling vs. SEO
At first glance, it appears that storytelling and SEO are at odds. The former draws on human emotions, while the latter is derived from data and algorithms. As consumers learn about a brand’s story through compelling narratives, storytelling provides consumers with a reason to learn more about your business and a way for them to relate to your brand. Furthermore, storytelling extends beyond a sales pitch, it builds a message that traverses across platforms and solidifies your marketing message.
For instance, an e-commerce fashion website might establish itself as a business that advocates for social causes where like-minded customers share the same contention. Another business might present itself as a high-end, designer brand. A great example of storytelling in their content strategy efforts is an Australian-owned clothing manufacturer, Vege Threads. The brand prides itself on only using eco-friendly materials and is committed to an ethical supply chain. Furthermore, the brand seeks to bring together a community who shares the same values and interest in sustainability, design and style. These elements are embedded comprehensively in their narrative and marketing content. Thus, consumers sharing similar values as Vege Threads are drawn towards that narrative and are more inclined to buy from there as compared to other clothing brands in the market.
Both brands will have different stories, and those narratives shape each business differently – including its advertising materials and aesthetics. Each example offers customers a reason to engage with the brand. Therefore, the stronger the story, the stronger the bond with your customers – this will extend your brand attention and more clicks to your website.
Why does storytelling increase engagement?
Storytelling offers unique, relatable and multi-dimensional narratives across various platforms. It integrates and augments the effects of multiple marketing techniques while enabling customers to engage in the story being communicated.
An interesting example of effective storytelling is SuperFeast – a business that prides itself on selling vegan medicinal mushrooms and plant-based herbs that are ethically sourced from the wild regions of China and Inner Mongolia. Narratives of ‘health and wellness’, ‘sustainability’ and ‘animal cruelty-free’ are threaded throughout their marketing content – blog, social media, podcasts, and website. Beyond traditional and pervasive forms of sales tactics, effective storytelling draws in consumers with similar interests and values, creating a platform for users to engage with the brand and interact with others within the community.
How does storytelling complement and elevate components that determine a good SEO?
Creating Readable Content for User-Engagement
Telling a brand’s story to meet keyword density goals without negatively affecting the readability of the content is not an easy feat. To refrain from detracting keyword density, marketers have prioritised maintaining its keyword density at the expense of readability. On the idea of the ‘optimal keyword density’, Matt Cutts views in the 2011 Google Webmaster video proposes that there is no magic number that will help you rank. Furthermore, in Moz’s ranking factors study, the correlation between rankings and on-page usage of keywords is decreasing. Thus, the benefits begin to diminish if you use them too much, running the risk of keyword stuffing and eventually decrease a page’s ranking.
Google Webmaster Tools is a powerful tool that monitors your website and keeps an eye out for errors. It can also be highly useful for performing keyword research and obtaining your SEO average position for your webmaster tools keywords attributed to you’re content and story telling.
Instead, content that is concise, in a consistent voice, clear from complicated jargons, and without excessive SEO keywords is always better. Storytelling is not based wholly on your brand and its products/services. Rather, it is sharing with your audience why your brand exists and why you do what you do. It is about the experiences and emotions associated with your brand. Remember, customers are humans not machines.
Bounce and Click-Through Rates (CTR)
The CTR refers to the number of visitors who choose to click on your website title on the search engine result page instead of the other websites. For instance, when searching for a product, the user will likely choose a brand they recognise and trust even if it falls in the second or third spot on the SERP. Thus, as an increasing number of users do the same based on their prior interactions and experiences with your brand content, your website would appear more beneficial, thrusting it up the rankings. While different websites may be comparable, the brand with a compelling story and deepened relationship with the user would secure the click.
The Bounce Rate refers to the number of visitors that land on your website without looking at other pages. The lower the Bounce Rate, the better it is. Of course, the content must solve a problem that the user is searching for, but it should also have an emotional aspect that users can relate to and would want to advocate for.
The Exit Rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website from a specific page. Exit Rates can be either positive or negative. However, in the case of websites that need to generate sales, it is important to try and optimise Exit Rates as much as possible.
Thus, skilful storytelling techniques that arouse emotions of the users would captivate and compel them to remain and revisit the page. Thus improving the value of your website and brand and in turn, it is only fitting that you receive better rankings.
Going Social and Diversifying
Many marketers believe that a strong presence on social media may be beneficial for promoting content. Correlation studies from Searchmetrics and Moz encourage that belief that sharing a web page in your social media sites will boost the page to rank higher in search results. Sites with significant social media presence are more likely to rank higher in Google according to Search Engine Journal.
However, correlation studies only measure correlation, not causation. Likewise, Google has denied that they are using social signals for SEO ranking purposes. Rather, as with social signals, the quality of the content drives SEO benefits from your social media. In fact, links are the key determinant of SEO. More importantly, it is the quality of content that drives users’ desires to share content based on personal and emotional reinforcements, thus increasing clicks on your website. This allows your brand to tell its story in a credible, genuine way, making it more shareable while boosting your search engine ranking.
In this video, we will take you through the 4 main ways of how social media can benefit your SEO rankings.
Nonetheless, establishing this synergy requires an alignment of both content creation and social media efforts. By unifying your target audience and themes of your content and social media efforts, brands can build relationships and communities where like-minded users can interact and engage with one another. While direct social media traffic is often not the key motivator for sales conversion, but an effective use of social media can impact your SEO positively. SEO Melbourne has also 4 main ways of how social media can benefit your SEO rankings. Combining emotional triggers to create compelling headlines is also proven to increase CTR and conversion rates.
Demonstrating a strong understanding in storytelling would give your content a ubiquitous allure and augments the locations where traffic can reach your website. Thus, bridging the gap in your SEO content strategies.
If you would like creating SEO content strategies, check out SEO Sydney – the experts in all things SEO