Forget about Search Engine Optimization; What You Really Need is Search Engagement Optimization
The Internet is constantly changing, and it’s difficult to pin down the next big rule or strategy that will deliver the best results. In fact, it seems as though the moment the next major approach is discovered, it’s already time to move on. Sure, today’s algorithms are changing to account for social shares and heavy mobile usage, but what will tomorrow bring?
Only one thing remains certain: the Internet was made by human beings for human beings.
What you need is an approach to targeting users that doesn’t rely on some nitpicky tip or tactic, but rather, on an attitude. Well, we’ve got it—interaction. Instead of trying to optimize your site, social media accounts, blogs, and other web properties for the search engines, optimize your web properties for the people who’ll be interacting with them.
I say forget about search engine optimization, because the search engines aren’t reading your content anyway—people are. Focus on a new kind of SEO: search engagement optimization.
Here are eight handy tips that will help you build the kind of engagement that converts online searchers into customers:
1. Create Socially Desirable Content
The verdict is in: social media matters. Whatever your goal is with your online content, if you can’t get people to talk about it, it won’t go far. Create sharable content that people will post on social media to boost its perceived relevance. Social signals now carry greater weight with search engines (which recognize the validity of these shares), and therefore accords them more weight than link-generating schemes.
2. Mobilize for Mobile
The number of users going online via mobile devices surpassed the number going online via traditional desktops or laptops back in 2013—and the gap is still widening. Instead of being left behind, jump on the mobile-friendly bandwagon. Not sure whether your site hits the mark? Use Google’s mobile-friendly test to see where you stack up.
3. Get People Talking to Multiply Your Implied Links
This is not the easiest concept to understand, so have a seat. A link is something clickable you embed on a page, requiring the “http://” and all that jazz. An implied link, on the other hand, is a non-clickable brand mention, such as the name “Google”. The brand mention favors the brand, even though it isn’t a direct link. You need these to get people talking.
4. Widen the Context of Content
The average person today is a digital consumer who uses various devices (such as smart TVs) to engage with content. If you want people to relate to your content, you must understand their context. When they’re sitting on their couches, they’re likely looking for content that’s different from the content they’re looking for when sitting at their desks. Create content for all types of digital consumers and you’ll get more noticed.
5. Build Relationships
Your content matters more when a thought leader cares about it and shares it, so build those relationships to increase your content’s relevance. Reach out, network, share the content of thought leaders, and behave genuinely. Over time, you will accrete attention and your influence will grow.
6. Go Down the SEO Rabbit Hole
Part of engaging with people on a genuine level means understanding the reason they’ve come to your site in the first place. This in turn means utilizing the right keywords. Unfortunately, most people now understand the formerly esoteric skill of search engine optimization, which means you’ve got to step up your game to compete for those keywords. Do this and you’ll ensure that when people come to your site, they’ll be getting more of what they want and will be more engaged.
7. Ban Link Spam
To engage on a more meaningful level with the people who matter to you, you need to ensure that the people who don’t matter to you aren’t talking (porn sites and sleazy sales sites come to mind). When links to your page are embedded on these sites, they lower your SEO cred, so get ‘em off.
8. Go Social
Because what happens on social media counts for so much algorithm-wise, it’s very important that you too have a solid social media presence. It allows you to engage with the people that matter most to you and your business. Consider point No. 1 when planning your social media marketing strategy.
So What Do You Do Now?
We’re not advocating that you forget about search engines, as earning their approval still factors heavily into your online success. It is important to remember, though, that people drive the rise and fall of websites, blogs, social media profiles, and other online content. In other words, it’s important to remember that it is people who ultimately make or break you.
So while you shouldn’t abandon traditional SEO, you should institute a heavy focus on search engagement optimization, tailoring your content for the living, breathing people who will actually see it.
If you’re not sure if your website is built for engagement (and you’ve reached the end of your rope trying to keep up with the latest best practices for search engine optimization), you should get a new game plan to get optimum results.