How does Google help people using its search engine to find the vital content they need?
The Content Marketing Institute’s #CMWorld Community Livestream on LinkedIn recently invited Dale Bertrand of Boston-based SEO business Fire and Spark to address that crucial question.
The first thing to know, Bertrand says, is that Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) at the core of returning search results is trained by humans to seek certain signals – such as backlinks – and behavioural data, such as people remaining on a website page or “bouncing” away from it to somewhere else. Its AI is also supported by Google’s worldwide “quality raters” who are judging websites by their level of authority and connections among a myriad of other factors.
The CMI’s Amanda Subler wanted to know what brands were doing that Google likes (and so rewards with higher search rankings).
According to Bertrand, what Google wants is to see companies “building momentum with some community or audience” who are “searching for things and staying on – or linking to – your website.”
If companies are creating high engagement, achieving links, having a low bounce rate from visitors and gaining social media mentions, this is about building a brand people love and that does well in search rankings.
A purpose-driven SEO and content strategy
But how does a business sustain communications and content creation activity that resonates with, builds and maintains a loyal and engaged audience?
Bertrand’s approach is summarised as “having a purpose that you can leverage for your marketing – standing for something that aligns with your brand and is actively promoting change you want to see in your industry”.
The concept of “purpose” – very much in vogue with some high-profile companies and the source of some controversy with certain investors – can be, I think, confusing when thinking about how to engage your audience through content.
A company might have an overriding “purpose” that is the guiding light for its existence – and something that permeates its culture – and this would naturally feed into its environment, social and governance (ESG) reporting and certainly offer opportunities to talk to your audience about what makes your company tick. More than that, it makes business sense: a recent Forbes article quoted a PwC investor survey which found “79% said ESG reporting was an important factor in their investment decision making”.
However, “purpose” can also be about demonstrating your company’s insight into the issues faced by customers in your sector and what types of solutions might help them.
Essentially, your business’ core mission or purpose might not be about saving the planet or addressing one or more of society’s ills; it might simply be getting on with the day job of solving industry problems. And if that’s your “purpose”, there will be cohort of people out there drawn to that.
Creating “citable” content
Among the many good points Bertrand made, there was one idea that jarred: that, for B2B businesses in a crowded market, it was “even more necessary to differentiate by having a slightly controversial (my italics) mission/purpose behind your brand”. It might have been a slip of the tongue on his part but choosing controversy for SEO purposes should be treated with caution. You might find yourself spending more time clearing up a mess than creating an engaged audience.
But where I certainly concur with Bertrand is that your mission/purpose needs to be authentic to your brand or business – and that the associated communications content you create needs to be “citable”. In other words, strong enough that others would point to it as valuable and worthwhile.
Does your business need help creating content to engage your customers and prospects? Contact Metamorphic PR.