On the surface, it seems like storytelling and SEO would mix together about as well as oil and water. The former is emotional and human-driven, while the latter is technical and influenced by algorithms. Interestingly though, storytelling helps bridge the gap between what people want to see, and what search engines want to see.
Today we’ll take a look at some of the main components that define good SEO, and how implementing storytelling enhances and elevates these factors.
Webmaster’s Note: This is a guest entry by Matt Banner from On Blast Blog.
SEO and Storytelling: Two Peas in a Pod
Before we dive into the ways that storytelling benefits various elements of your SEO, let’s define a few key terms:
1. Brand Story
This is the ultimate goal of your storytelling. Your brand benefits from storytelling by giving it a memorable and emotional attachment for the reader to cling onto. This connection creates loyalty and trust, thereby bringing customers back to your brand time and time again.
2. Search Engine Ranking
This is the technical side of things (your SEO). Under this umbrella we talk about things like backlinks, keywords, social triggers, and site organization. These are the things that readers don’t really look for or need. Instead these elements help increase your visibility by making your content more appealing to Google and other search engines.
In essence, your SEO ranking factors help put you in the view of your audience. Once you have their attention, storytelling is how you keep it. Consider this: search engine algorithms are designed to rank your site’s overall quality and relevance based on technical factors and complex decisions.
People, on the other hand, aren’t as cut and dry. By implementing emotion, storytelling, and brand awareness into your content, you’re forging something stronger than a top-tier ranking.
5 SEO Rankings Factors That Benefit From Storytelling
Now it’s time to see how it all connects. You can take a look at these 5 specific factors that benefit your SEO, and how storytelling can be used to enhance their efficiency.
1. Click-Through Rates
While it’s true that most people will click the top result on Google when they search (I know I do), a connection with a brand overrides that impulse. Let’s say you are searching for a product. The results come up and you see a brand you recognize and like in the second or third spot, but there’s another option sitting in the #1 result.
People will most likely choose Colgate’s website over the Dental Health Advice.
In many cases, people will choose the second or the third spot regardless of its position because they recognize and trust that brand. As more and more people make this same decision based on their prior experiences reading your content and interacting with your brand, search engines see your site as more useful and valuable and therefore boost it up the rankings.
This is known as a click-through rate and it measure how many people choose your site over the others when it appears on search results. Two sites may be equal to one another, but the one that has a stronger story, a stronger bond with the user, earns the click every time.
2. User Engagement
The next two SEO factors we’ll be discussing are bounce rate and time on page. These measure how long people stay on your site, and whether or not they visit more than one page before leaving. Together they represent a user’s engagement with your content.
Here’s the thing: if you can catch the reader with a good hook of a story, then they will be immediately sucked into your content. They won’t leave until they’re done reading and odds are they will want to read more if your storytelling was good enough.
You don’t need to be a full-fledged author, just remember to stimulate the emotions and intellect of your readers through your brand story.
3. Building Backlinks
Backlinks from other sites act as seals of approval in the eyes of search engines. You’ll need links to rank on Google that much is certain. What isn’t as obvious is how your storytelling can earn you these precious links.
When you find a highly credible source and you link to them in your content, you’re providing a backlink to that site. You did so because you trust and believe what they are saying. By using storytelling to build your brand, you can create that same level of credibility and authority for yourself.
People and bloggers will read your content and trust what it says because you connected with them on an emotional and intellectual level. When it comes time to place a link, they’ll remember you and you’ll earn that backlink from them without even asking.
4. Social Triggers
Having a presence on social media is excellent for promoting your content, but it doesn’t directly lead to better SEO. Instead, it’s the actual quality of the content being shared that drives those numbers and clicks upward. People’s desire to share content is based on emotional and personal resonance.
The true psychology of sharing reveals that we like to share things that promote our desired image. Without consciously doing so, we ask ourselves how sharing something will make us seem smarter, nicer, funnier, and so on.
If a reader can connect with your brand storytelling, it bleeds over into their personal brand, which ultimately drives them to share the content.
Guy Kawasaki believes in Mercedes Benz. Mercedes Benz doesn’t do the storytelling, instead they let people (who believe in them) do the storytelling.
5. Diversity of Traffic
The traffic numbers to your site matter, but where they come from also matters in the grand scheme of things. Google was granted a patent in May of 2015 that allows their algorithm to see where your traffic is coming from, ultimately ranking sites based on the diversity of said traffic.
If someone finds your content through a search, then it’s considered organic search traffic, but if they reach your site through social media, then it’s different. The same applies to people who reach you through an email marketing campaign.
Presenting a strong sense of storytelling gives your content universal appeal and broadens the places from which your traffic can reach you.
SEO and storytelling are connected and in some respects need each other to survive. Knowing these ways can benefit you and your brand, it’s easy to see why you should tell a story in everything you do.
How do you incorporate storytelling into your content? What types of stories work for you and your brand? Share your thoughts in the comments below!