The Changing World of SEO
The Google algorithm first stood out due to its unique way of valuing inbound links to determine its rankings. However, those seeking quick results devised ‘black-hat‘ techniques: profiting from link-farms and cheap pay-for-links schemes. Panda and Penguin were devised as measures to determine quality and relevancy of both content and links thus allowing them to penalize poor quality and crack down on the black hat link-builders. But they are just initial steps on the Google development path to radically improve the way it delivers high quality search results.
These development plans will push SEO from adolescence into adulthood.
The Rise of Social Media
Social media has given Google a new opportunity beyond just links to quantify the quality of a site’s content. Given that over half of social media activity now includes content sharing, it stands to reasons that the highest quality content will inspire social media engagement as well as links. Slowly but surely, indicators such as social shares and comments are creeping up on links for importance as an algorithmic ranking factor.
The end result of all these changes are that they force a return to traditional marketing techniques where relevancy and engagement are essential, not just to generating business, but to SEO as well.
This Creates a Bigger Challenge for Certain Sites
Until Google started cracking down on spam and placing emphasis on engagement, all brands were on a pretty level playing field in terms of SEO. Any site (resources allowing) can buy links and churn out average content.
Now that engagement and relevance are becoming essential, it will be a tougher job for certain businesses to rank highly. For example, loan sites as they can carry consumer connotations. The perception will be that the need to borrow money, particularly payday loans, is more often than not caused by financial hardship and business failure. As such, it may be hard to create positive connotations and likeability which makes it harder to deliver content that gets picked up and shared.
One of our UK clients, borro is a personal asset lender. Although certainly more popular than a payday lender, the challenge for engagement remains a tough one – but it’s a challenge we’re thriving on and I wanted to share some ideas on how to tackle this issue.
Passion is Key to Engagement
Let’s look back at the original question – how can loan companies ‘inspire’ engagement? Well, more often than not, inspiration stems from passion. Therefore, we started by working with the business to look into the heart of the brand and identify it’s non-self-serving passions. What we found is that underpinning the mainframe of their company is a team of people who are passionate about the assets they lend against.
Consisting of ex-Sothebys and Christies employees, these skilled professionals clearly take a huge amount of pleasure in viewing and assessing the high level assets brought in by borro customers – much like the experts that can be seen on the Antiques Roadshow. Once we unlocked that passion, we were able to start focusing on an engaging content strategy: ‘Passionate About Valuables’.
Essentially, they are saying; “We love diamonds, wine etc. (whichever asset it might be) and so do you – let’s strike up a conversation.” In this way, ‘Passionate About Valuables’ provides a platform for us to create and market high quality content about collectible items. As an example, we are about to launch a rich content ‘Wine Lovers Guide to the UK’. This type of content will drive engagement between asset lovers in the borro team and asset lovers in the wider public realm. Given that many consumers who love assets may also be asset collectors, this is also an effective strategy for drawing Borro closer to its customer base.
To Unlock the Passion, look at ‘The Why’
In his brilliant TED talk, Simon Sinek constantly repeats his mantra ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’. This is only 20 mins long and we’d encourage any aspiring marketer to take the time to watch it. Remember, at the heart of most brands is a passion that originates from something deeper than just making money. Unlocking that passion is the key to innovative and effective content strategy. This mind not be that important for established companies with lots of champions and fans but for companies without obvious positive brand connotations it may make the difference between both SEO and also overall marketing success and failure.