Telling your story with SEO

Aug. 05, 2013 | by Amy Rutter

Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of communication. I can see the cavemen now, huddled around a fire carving images into the walls of caves, leaving their tales for generations and generations to come.

We’ve come a long way in storytelling, from cavemen, folklore and fairy tales to music videos, photo sharing, Facebook and tweets, but the principle remains the same. With SEO content, it’s no different; we want to tell a story with our content but having moved on from the cave walls, and with so many more options to choose from, we need the best platform possible to project our voices.

If the fairy tale of the three bears were to happen today, the breaking news of a thieving blonde bombshell vs. an innocent, unassuming family of bears would go viral as soon as it’s shared through Twitter. We would watch defensive video interviews from the three bears on YouTube and have the chance to win a promotional box of porridge via Facebook from the brand that has steamrolled to fame since the controversial story.

So let’s go through the basics of how to tell a good story in order to create high quality content that is of interest to your audience, and avoid the big bad wolf, or Panda, or Penguin – whichever you choose.

Type of content

Firstly, consider the type of content that best suits your idea. For example, a fashion brand may find that they can showcase a new range of skirts better in a short video than a written post, while a financial business may find a glossary is more suitable to explain financial jargon than a lengthy article.

Think of the most engaging ways to ‘talk’ to your reader. How can you speak to them to make your work stand out from the rest?

Structure

When producing a written piece of content, bear in mind that people scan when reading online, which is why it’s important that your story follows the inverted triangle rule. Put the most important details at the top and the least important at the bottom. That way, if people lose their way halfway through the article, at least you’ve spoon-fed them the most important points. You should also avoid long paragraphs and break up the text with subheadings and/or bullet points to make it easier to read.

If you’re putting together more visual content like an infographic or a video, statistically you’re more likely to drive increased engagement when sharing on social platforms. According to Facebook, photo albums, pictures and videos get 180%, 120%, and 100% more engagement, respectively. Engagement and shares are concepts Google likes.

With an infographic you need to direct the reader’s eyes, either with literal signals like arrows or lines, or with design composition. You need to present it in a way that it walks people through the data.

When considering video structure there are various ways to tell your story. Many people will fill their video with narration, but you don’t necessarily need any.

Volkswagen is very good storytelling: take last year’s Polo ‘dad’ advert. There’s no narration whatsoever but it’s full of emotion – the story is one many can relate to and it’s backed up by a poignant soundtrack.

When capturing your video, think about how other elements such as the sound or framing can communicate with the audience.

Headlines

Your headline could mean the difference between someone deciding to read your article or watch your video, or dismiss it without a second glance. It should be eye-catching and interesting but also give your audience a clear indication of what they’ll actually read.

It can’t be misleading as an irrelevant title will send Google negative signals. Ideally you will have conducted keyword research and can include a couple of terms within your headline.

The headlines of  The Argus newspaper A-boards in Brighton is renowned for their captivating headlines, and even has a following on Facebook, with fans regularly commenting on their favourites. ‘Bananaman Rescued from Roundabout’ definitely got my attention!

Integrated media

It’s important to get your content shared via social media and encourage user interaction and conversations. Google uses social signals such as these (as well as other factors) to determine the page ranking of a particular piece of content. Ultimately, the more social signals your content receives, the higher it will rank. By producing useful, relevant content which encourages engagement and shares, you are building trust not only in the eyes of your audience, but with Google also.

Get the mix right and you’ll have the big bad wolf eating porridge from your hands.

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    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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