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Engagement | Thursday, 30th July 2015

How SEO Is Becoming Dependent On Engagement

Written by Richard Muscat Azzopardi

Some people think that having a human character online is all well and good for the “softer” presence of a company online, but really and truly this is just an extra expense. These human naysayers prefer to spend their money on SEO and PPC advertising than building the human aspect of their brand.

We beg to differ. Human marketing is good for all the reasons we’ll show you throughout this course, but it’s also good for the bottom line.
As time progresses, search engines are trying to build algorithms that are far more in tune with Human thinking, because at the end of the day humans are the ones using them, and the closer they can get to being human, the better their results (and therefore relevance).

This means that, as online marketers, even if you’re a numbers person you need to be looking at the human aspect of marketing.

And don’t just take our word for it:

Searchmetrics’ list of correlating factors between search engine positions and social signals show that 8 out of the 10 highest correlations between rankings and search engine positions are tied to social factors.
This means that 8 of the 10 factors that tie in best with search engine positioning are related to people’s reaction to the content on social media.

SEO and Engagement

People’s reaction on social media doesn’t happen because of numbers. It does not happen because you’ve prepared your site perfectly from a technical point of view. It happens because your content appeals to the human side of your audience. They’re human after all.

Now we could go into an entire debate about whether correlation and causality are linked. They could be, they could not. Google could not actually be looking at social signals to check whether it should rank your content or not. But at the end of the day there is one thing we know:

Content that is likely to elicit engagement is probably likely to rank well. Content that ranks well will help your bottom line.

You still need to ensure that you’re doing everything right from a technical and numbers point of view, sure. Your site must be built in a way that’s readable for machines as well as for humans. If a search engine can’t get to the content you’re creating, then it can never index it.

Content is not the only thing that impacts the results of search engines though. The functionality of your site must be good for humans too, and search engines are increasingly checking your performance in this respect.

Up to a few years ago the only technical aspects of a site that would affect search engine rankings were the ones that facilitated the robots that are sent out to inspect the content on your site. Nowadays most of the things that affect your rankings are totally tied into the user experience of a site.

SEO and Engagement

Google, and other search engines, know that they’re obliged to send traffic to sites that are not only relevant to the search result, but also easy to use.

Here are some of the technical aspects that affect your search engine positioning because they make a difference to how humans interact with your site:

Site Speed – Nobody enjoys waiting a minute or so for a page to load, so Google checks your site’s speed on a regular basis. Given a choice of similar content in search results, it will always favour the faster site.

Mobile-friendly – There was a big fuss about Mobilegeddon earlier this year. Google pushed sites that were not mobile-friendly down significantly in searches originating from mobile devices because the user experience is so frustrating. Google is trying to move us away from pinching, zooming, trying to scroll sideways and being frustrated when browsing a site on our phone.

Duplicate content – Nobody wants to get to a site just to find out that it’s just a bunch of pages of content that’s been misappropriated from other websites. Original content is great for humans, so search engines value it highly.

So remember: the technical aspect of SEO is crucial, but you also need to keep humans in mind. Ranking highly with a site that looks like it was made for machines kinda sucks. Not ranking with good content sucks too. Build your content for humans, make sure they have a great reason to interact with it and share it and you’re well on the way to running profitable online marketing campaigns.

Richard Muscat Azzopardi

a little more about

Richard Muscat Azzopardi,

Richard is Co-founder and Director of Online Marketing at Switch Digital, which specialises in building long-term relationships and increasing return on investment for clients online. In a previous life, Richard was a marketing manager in a US software company. His writing has been quoted in Forbes and appeared on Wired.com.