The basic practice of SEO would be forever changed when Google introduced the Hummingbird algorithm change on September 26, 2013. Until this phase of the search engine’s online lifespan, domain and page rankings were indexed according to their keyword performance and sticking to a key set of guidelines and principles that were fairly static.
What Hummingbird introduced was a means of making search more conversational – adapting to the common language of society and reflecting that in their model. This switch demonstrated that optimisation had become more versatile and tapped into cultural norms, something that had not become completely established until that stage.
When we discuss the issue of online conversations and SEO, the relationship is two-fold, with each side of the equation helping the other. The messages of communication between user and consumer are all factored into the optimisation framework and by illustrating a high degree of urgency, expertise and transparency, visitors are more likely to become regulars.
This is a major influence on the health of the search engine results page (SERP), requiring authentic and organic traffic.
The challenge for organisations on this front is to deliver a quality SEO campaign that can meet the demands of this conversational tone. With Off-Page and On-Page SEO elements at play, it is paramount for campaigns to understand how the brand is being discovered and what language is utilised once the conversation begins.
Here we will examine the benefits of SEO when run through the prism of personable discussion.
Google’s Voice Search assistant is merely an extension of what has been available on smartphones for a few years now. Given that every modern device is equipped with an in-built microphone, it is a matter of course for a search to be executed simply by requesting it verbally.
This will be directed towards Google or Siri on the iOS. For those individuals in the middle of town looking for a meal for the evening, they can enquire on the spot: “Google, where is the nearest Indian restaurant?” or “Siri, which Sydney pub has a special dinner deal running?”
What this trend then enables hospitality operators as well as others to do is embrace this basic conversational language and implement it in their optimisation strategy. It might threaten to put general and generic labels back onto brands who want to stand out from the competition, yet that is where the remainder of the SEO formula comes into play.
Passers by in Circular Quay who are on the lookout for a lovely meal of Indian will be given one of the following by Google’s voice search depending on their physical location:
- The Spice Room
- The Muglan Nepalese & Indian Cuisine
Tapping into this application will simplify the need for enterprises to be entirely unique by focusing on the call to action (CTA) moment.
Allows online enterprises to open up brand-to-brand conversations
By breaking down the fourth wall (to a degree) and showcasing a degree of humility and openness, brands feel freely to expand their horizons and engage with others within their niche. This traffic between sites should not be viewed through a cynical or negative light, because the benefits are there for all to see.
Backlinks and referrals form part of the key pillars of SEO and online hubs that manage to leverage off each other’s consumer bases always find themselves in stronger positions than similar groups who choose to go solo on all their marketing endeavours.
It should be noted though that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. We saw in 2018 that a single tweet from Kylie Jenner managed to drop the value of Snapchat by $1 billion, illustrating that brand-to-brand communication can be a tenuous and dangerous exercise – even if an action takes place externally and remains completely out of control of a business.
Companies such as Kit Kat and Oreo have had fun conversations on social media as a case in point, leveraging each other’s consumer market to drive an increase in the confectionary niche.
2018 SEO practitioners reward the creative types and engaging in brand-to-brand communication is a powerful tool at your disposal to improve visibility and digital performance.
Improves PR standing
The consensus around many digital marketing experts is that the paradigm will forever change to phase away search engine-related campaigns towards human language. This is bad news for those who have crafted their entire careers around understanding the sophistication of Google and Bing to implement the important keyword details, but it is great news for everyone else. The transition is already taking place.
What we can now unpack is the notion of public relations (PR) and SEO through this simple means of communication. To be successful in the field of outreach, there must be an effective, engaging message tied into the framework at every possible opportunity.
Content types such as press releases, editorial blog posts, production videos and even image galleries are all snapshots when SEO and PR intersect with one and other. In the wake of Google’s RankBrain algorithm, quality is valued over quantity for the user experience and specialists who can promote through friendly channels that garner cut-through should be valued like gold.
The social media game
It could very well be argued that social media has been one of the single most important driving factors between the need to have a personable tone for SEO practice today. Across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, integrating a presentation that operates as a one-way broadcast of revenue figures and predictable marketing slogans won’t fly.
There is of course a difference between each one of these hubs. Sites like LinkedIn and Google+ still enable brands to be more formulaic without having to be overtly creative and expressive in their communication. Yet for the most part, online users respond with higher volume and more clarity to the domains of Facebook and Twitter where messages can be read and responded instantaneously.
The statistics would argue that social media and SEO go hand-in-hand, issuing a large populous of people who are sorted into categories according to location, age, hobbies and other demographics that brands can access.
From 15 million active monthly Facebook and YouTube users domestically, complimented by 9 million for Instagram and 3 million for Twitter, organisations have the ability to integrate their message into any and all of these thriving online communities simultaneously.
There is a difference of opinion in the field of SEO as per the tangible ranking benefits inherent with social media. Recent algorithm updates from Google indicate that the trend is only heading towards closer ties between the sites and the imperative is on every enterprise to have a strong and proactive presence on these domains.
Boost to customer service
There is a litany of lessons that marketers must learn on the spot as they undergo the lengthy process of SEO. Once the signals are sent out for the purposes of the crawlers, the vital facet of customer service will emerge.
Companies that relegate this matter to a third party service or call desk will face a rude awakening on this matter because user experience is becoming integral to the way in which Google ranks brands.
Take the examples of major communication brands Telstra and Optus domestically. Each one of their customer enquiries received on their Facebook pages are signed off personably by the customer service agent responding at the time. That could be viewed as an easy or cheap gesture, but it is an illustration of optimisation through better communication.
Individuals are increasingly cynical and weary of brands hiding behind red tape and regulations. By offering these channels to issue the consumer base a free and open forum to ask questions, giving feedback and explore what you have to offer, there is a greater likelihood of return visitors.
Customer service comes through a variety of forms within the spectrum of SEO, yet there is one consistent theme throughout the entire process – timely and transparent communication boosts optimisation through every possible metric.
Builds word of mouth momentum
SEO maintains a very different perception by those who operate it internally against others that see it as an intangible, unknown digital quantity that could mean almost anything.
What it actually manages to do is drive visibility online in locations where people are already on the lookout for a brand or service, sending signals to individuals that they recognise consciously or subconsciously.
It embodies the modern interpretation of “referral marketing,” leveraging common conversations online and offline about a business that might have otherwise been forgotten about. It is more preferable to have more of the former than the latter though, with digital word of mouth ensuring that recommendations are saved on communication threads like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp than purely through a casual chat between friends.
Benefits of going down the conversation pathway
In summary, companies are gaining traction by moving away from the robotic and cold model of optimisation towards an approach that is more grounded in reality. Put simply, there is nothing to be gained from appearing as though your content is geared towards search engines and experts in the field if your consumer base is left as a secondary priority.
By opting for SEO that embraces a conversational tone online, you will find the following:
- Delivers a personable and friendly brand that illustrates the business is run by people and for people
- Entices customers to have more conversations and as a result, issues the enterprise with more first-hand data and information
- The increase in engagement begins a positive cycle – bringing more visitors back to boost the SERP, improving visibility and attracting new arrivals
As our marketing manager, James takes on the responsibility of overseeing the creation of original, persuasive and high quality content that is an integral part of how we achieve success for our clients. Through his experience working in the SEO field, James has developed a robust understanding of core digital marketing principles and has a particular interest in the growing importance of sincere and engaging content in world where issues like ‘fake news’ have become a major talking point.