SEO is important. It drives 1,000% more traffic than organic social media and close to 70% of all online experiences start with search.
Nonetheless, SEO alone doesn’t provide all the traction necessary to climb through the rankings nor does it automatically translate into engagement or business growth. Good SEO can lead to high traffic, but if your content is irrelevant, people will be unresponsive and you won’t achieve any goals.
In addition to SEO, it’s crucial to optimize content for user engagement. The good thing is that you don’t have to sacrifice SEO for user engagement optimization (UEO) and vice versa. With the right strategy, you can ace both simultaneously.
1. Optimize for Core Web Vitals
Core web vitals evaluate the overall user experience (UX) of each web page. The current set of core vitals focuses on three UX aspects – loading, visual stability, and interactivity.
Google has confirmed that the core web vitals are becoming search results ranking signals in May 2021. This is big for SEO, but not the only reason why you should care about the vitals. Core web vitals also have a substantial impact on user engagement.
While aesthetic design is nice, efficiency is nicer. A good-looking web page that is too slow to load, is difficult to interact with or lacks visual stability makes a bad impression and will likely chase users away. There’s even a strong correlation between mobile page load time and bounce rate.
Poor core web vitals have a measurable impact on lead generation, conversions, and ultimately, your revenue and ROI. Take Amazon for example. In 2012, it was estimated that a page load delay of just one second could cost the e-commerce giant $1.6 billion in sales each year. Imagine the consequences in today’s world where people are more impatient.
The importance of core web vitals for both SEO and user engagement is proof that these two elements no longer exist separately. Optimizing your vitals will inadvertently impact both.
How to optimize for core web vitals: A lot of variables are at play when it comes to optimizing your site’s overall user experience, but some ways to supercharge your core web vitals include:
- Minifying CSS and inlining critical CSS
- Consolidating code and CSS files
- Reducing background image dimensions and optimizing image file sizes
- Implementing lazy loading
2. Identify and optimize for user intent
User intent is the reason why someone conducts an online search. It’s the goal they have in mind when entering a search query into a search engine. Succeeding at SEO means making user intent a part of your strategy. After all, Google’s primary goal is to serve the most relevant results to search queries.
How well your content addresses user intent is also key to optimizing your user engagement. When a person conducts a search engine search they typically want three things:
- Information (informational search query)
- To visit a specific site (navigational search query)
- To buy something (transactional search query)
Nailing any one of these intentions and giving people the information they need is key. Missing user intent makes your sales funnel porous and you risk losing people at different stages of the buyer’s journey.
How to optimize for user intent: First, you need to determine the keywords and queries that are driving your visibility and bringing people to your site. One quick way to do this is through Google Search Console Tools under the Performance tab.
Once you have identified the queries, you need to evaluate the intent of the queries and use the findings to optimize your content. Optimizing content for user intent is a great way to boost SEO rankings and to develop unique, personalized offers and CTAs.
Note: As you optimize your content, keep in mind that Google can now index passages within a webpage and rank them as results for any related search queries. Even if your entire page is not optimized for a certain keyword or search query, a single passage that’s relevant to that query or keyword can still be indexed independently.
3. Consider some video content
Video content can help you win on both the SEO and user engagement fronts. For one, Google likes video. In keeping up with the goal of upping its service quality, Google looks at different types of media to find the most relevant – video is one such media type.
Consumers love consuming video too. Close to 80% of video marketers have seen a direct increase in sales thanks to video. This is perhaps unsurprising since consumers now expect video content from brands and 66% use it as their top source for product research.
Put simply, quality video content is highly likely to increase engagement and convince people to convert into customers.
How to make video content work for you: The following are some tips to help you create videos that work both for your audience and search engines:
- Tell a story, but keep it simple. Effective storytelling happens to be one of the best ways to create an emotional response and keep consumers interested in your content. The good thing is that video lends itself well to storytelling. Nonetheless, it’s essential to keep the storytelling simple. Simple content goes a long way in ensuring clarity and relevance.
- Add transcripts to videos. Not only do transcripts make your video content more accessible to a wider audience, but they increase the chance of search bots scraping the videos as well.
- Take care of the other finer details. This includes an engaging thumbnail and a good title and video description.
- 90% of consumers watch videos on mobile devices, according to Wyzowl. Ensure that your videos are mobile responsive.
4. Remember that social media is the ‘new SEO’
With over 3.7 billion users, social media has emerged as one of the top mediums people use to search for information. This means that your SEO efforts have to include what happens on social media.
While social media may not directly contribute to SEO ranking, links that are shared across social platforms still increase brand exposure and influence SEO. For example, the more people share your content on social media, the more you enjoy extensive content distribution and the higher your chances of getting backlinks. Furthermore, social signals may boost organic traffic, brand recognition, and brand reputation.
On the other hand, social media provides more personal experiences and so it’s a top channel for connecting and engaging with consumers. The personal connections breed brand loyalty and bottom-line growth. In fact, the Sprout Social Index shows that a significant number of people who follow a brand on social media take action including visiting the brand’s site or app and buying from the brand.
How to use social media for engagement and SEO: In general,optimizing your social media involves optimizing your profiles, posting high-quality content, and making content sharing easy. This is all vital, but what’s even more important are active conversations.
Active conversations humanize your brand; they foster relationships and build your credibility. They also help you better understand your audience’s needs. When people sense your interest, it becomes easier for them to engage with you.
The following are some tips you can use to keep the conversations alive:
- Ask questions to see how your audience feels about your brand and content. This includes asking what content they would like you to produce.
- Provide resources that address common pain points
- Respond to comments
Everything can work together
The age of creating SEO content that does nothing for user engagement is over. The new era is all about creating content that works for your audience, and in turn, makes search engines happy. You don’t have to sacrifice your rankings for user engagement because everything can work together. All you need is a balance.