Appealing to the Human – Part 1

By
Lewis Davie
|
November 8, 2018
|
Online Marketing
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Appealing to the Human – Part 1

By
Lewis Davie
November 8, 2018
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In this short blog series, Lewis covers some tips & techniques that could help you achieve better search marketing results.

In my last blog post, I wrote about the dangers of Black Hat SEO, and warned against the false promises some individuals and SEO companies can give when offering their services - a pretty bleak outlook, whichever way you look at it. So I'd like to restore some balance and bring some positivity by showing some ways you can do better in search results, without resorting to 'hacks' or anything sneaky. There's a lot we could cover with such a broad topic, so I'm going to focus in on one area, namely content creation and delivery; across this article and the next I'll be discussing how to maximise your potential,and benefit your customers too. Let's dive in!

Google's Clever Method of Measuring Page Quality

For all its complex algorithms and methodology, Google is committed to doing one thing - delivering the most relevant results to its users as fast as possible. The practice makes sense from a business standpoint too, as the more we as searchers are satisfied, the more we'll continue to use Google. They achieve this in a few ways, but there is one method I find particularly interesting:

Imagine you're looking for some advice on shoes (This might not be too difficult to picture, if you really like shoes). You type in your search term, Google does that cool thing where it auto-populates the page with results, and you click on the top result. It's immediately apparent that this isn't what you're looking for, so you quickly go back a page and move to the next result. This time you're getting the answer you want, so you linger there and read the article. Google is tracking all this behaviour, and when you left the first site within a few seconds, the implication to Google is that the content you found there didn't satisfy your needs. The second site, on the other hand, you stayed much longer on, which indicates that it's a much more valuable resource for people searching for information on what pair of Uggs are best this winter. Incidentally, if you do know the answer to that, please let me know.

Generally speaking, humans are pretty lazy and somewhat impatient when it comes to web surfing. To make your website successful, therefore, you should aim to serve up useful content that answers the questions being asked, in as straightforward a manner as you can. From there, your visitors can be given the opportunity to follow their train of thought - to expand our shoes example, your visitor might be looking for a specific shoe recommendation. In this scenario, it's reasonable to assume they probably want to purchase some shoes, or dig a little deeper into certain brands, so they should be given options to explore and proceed through further links and interactions on the site. It's important that they shouldn't feel railroaded into going further than they're comfortable - focus less on bringing them to conversions, and instead aim to be a helpful resource.

Barriers to Quality Content

Now, I know I promised this would be a more positive article, but at the risk of slipping into 'Negative Nancy' territory, there are a few pitfalls to avoid here that I'd like to warn you about. Keeping in mind what we've learned so far, we know that ease of access and ability to deliver information is a priority. Here are some examples where that isn't made quite so easy:

  • Annoying pop-ups and sign-up prompts – There's seldom a more frustrating experience than seeing an article appear briefly in front of you, then all of a sudden a huge newsletter registration form blocks your view when the page finishes loading! Websites like that are usually met with a speedy click of the browser's 'back' button.
  • Lots of advertising that gets in the way – Adverts, particularly flashy and distracting ones, can really ruin the overall look and feel of a website, not to mention make it seem less trustworthy. This is especially bad when combined with point 1, and often leads to point 3...
  • Sites that take a long time to display – The answer to a searcher's query should be delivered to them as fast as possible. Section.io provides the figures - a page load time of 6 seconds nearly triples the bounce rate when compared to a 2-second load time. 
  • Not delivering the answer - Or as it's more commonly known, 'Clickbait'. Promising to provide one piece of content while actually supplying another touches upon one of the Black Hat SEO practices I mentioned in my last article, and while in this case the content isn't likely switched out, it achieves the same result - one exasperated and unfulfilled user.
  • Making the answer hard to find – "Ranked: The Top 10 Definitive Uggs for This Season" seems like a promising link (and exactly what you're after), until you realise you're going to have to click through 9 pages of content to get to #1. I'm not saying you shouldn't have to work for your look, but getting answers should be the easy part.

So what kind of content should you create? Our advice is not to treat the search rankings as the end goal with what you write, and instead focus on appealing to your visitors.

Find out how... in Part 2!

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