Interactive Content: The Next Frontier for SEO
July 20, 2017 | Justina Logozzo
The role that content marketing plays in SEO has become more and more evident within the last five years. In order to be truly successful in SEO, you need a content marketing strategy in place.
But, not just any run-of-the-mill content marketing strategy will work.
You need to know what your audience wants, when they read it, how they engage with it, and more. You also need to be able to craft topics that address keywords that will grab the attention of search engines, persuade people to link back to it, and seduce readers to share it on social.
Sounds simple, right?
Well, not really. Consumers are tired of being inundated with the notion of ‘more content, better SEO value’. Your blog is no longer a big fish in a small pond, but more like a minnow in the Pacific Ocean.
Today, the value of content within SEO isn’t about the quantity that you have, but more about the quality. The more informative and engaging your blog is, the more SEO value it holds, especially for B2B organizations.
High-quality blog articles that are keyword focused and optimized for search engines aid in being found by a more qualified target audience. In fact, leads generated organically have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads have a 1.7% close rate.
How do you make content more engaging? That’s where interactive content comes in.
So, with all this being, we wanted to do a high-level rundown for all you SEO-focused readers on just how interactive content works in the search engine trenches and impacts your websites.
Interactive Content and SEO
Interactive content is still a relatively new concept in the B2B marketing space, and is a really novel idea in the SEO world. After working as a SEO consultant for years, I hadn’t thought about using interactive content until last year, and still wasn’t able to convince my fellow co-workers of its benefits.
Need a quick crash-course on interactive content types? Click around below.
Why were they hesitant? Well their initial thought was that the text within the content wouldn’t be crawlable by search engines. By that, I mean that crawlers wouldn’t be able to process the text and links within the embedded piece of content, thus inhibiting the page from targeting a keyword.
Yet, much like every other piece of technology, interactive content has evolved and ‘fixed’ that problem, while also providing other key SEO benefits that were once missing. So, basically, not only has it become a non-issue, but an actual advantage.
What other benefits, you ask?
Let’s divide these up into my three favorites: enhanced user experience, mobile friendliness, and improved off-site initiatives. What? Your three favorites, too? Small world.
User Experience (UX)
Having tons of content related to your company and industry is great to have, but if people aren’t actively engaged with it or don’t know where to begin, it really isn’t helping your site at all. This is a sore spot for B2B marketers, as 60% of them identified the production of engaging content as one of their biggest challenges.
Interactive content creates a new experience for readers where they can participate with the information they’re consuming. They are no longer just reading a white paper filled with lengthy, one-sided text; they are actively involved.
Image source: searchenginewatch.com
For SEO, usability and user experience are tier-two influences on search engine rankings. They provide an indirect but measurable benefit to a site’s popularity, which is interpreted as of higher quality content.
In addition, interactive content helps to create the sought after ‘long click’ – where users click onto your site without immediately clicking back to the search page to try again.
Crafting a better user experience helps to create a more positive view of your site, which encourages more shares, keeps users on site longer return visits, and inbound links—all signals that contribute to higher rankings.
If you’ve been involved in the SEO realm within the last year, the hottest new Google obsession is mobile. In October of last year, Google introduced its new mobile-first indexing concept, aimed at making it a bigger driver in search rankings.
What does mobile-first mean? Well in the last two years, web searches from mobile devices have surged and now make up roughly 56% of all searches. Before, Google primarily viewed websites through the eyes of a desktop user, treating mobile pages as a secondary importance.
With mobile-first, the mobile version of pages is now the primary pages to index, with desktop versions being secondary.
This new concept has been slowly rolling out, but like with most major Google updates, it is going to be a very gradual process. With that in mind, marketers should begin focusing on making content mobile-friendly now to develop a strategic competitive edge over competitors.
Over 65% of content is consumed via mobile. To enhance mobile consumption, new tactics have been introduced, such as accelerated mobile pages, or AMP for short, used primarily for blogs. But what about for non-blog content? Hint: the answer is interactive content.
With interactive content, you can take the white papers and infographics that weren’t initially created with mobile in mind and make them mobile friendly.
These pieces of content now become responsive to device size, which according to Google impacts mobile search rankings. Without mobile responsiveness, your page may be marked as mobile unfriendly and therefore not shown to mobile searchers. This also impacts the user experience, which as I mentioned early, affects SEO.
Off-Site SEO Initiatives
Just as much as on-page SEO, marketers need to keep off-site SEO in mind as well.
What exactly is off-site SEO? It’s the optimization of your online and offline footprint through the use of content and links, creating a better experience for viewers and search engine crawl bots. This include social media profiles, guest blogs, online profiles, press releases, etc.
While algorithms and ranking factors are constantly changing year over year, the general consensus is that the relevance, trustworthiness, and authority that effective off-site SEO delivers plays a major role in a page’s ability to rank (and are pretty much the foundation of SEO).
By repurposing their current content into interactive formats, marketers can expand the off-site SEO value beyond what they currently generate.
One way is by building more backlinks, specifically natural backlinks. Search engines use backlinks as a signal to access content quality and trust value. There are three types of links that contribute that:
- Natural links: provided without any actions taken by the link owner.
- Manually built links: acquired through deliberate link building activities such as guest blogging and encouraged influencer sharing.
- Self-created links: created through online directories, forums, comments, and press releases. This does not include purchased links, which is bad. Don’t do that.
By creating a piece of interactive content that provides readers with tangible insights, like an interactive infographic, you are encouraging them to use it in their own content, thus linking back to you. The more links your piece of interactive content acquires, the more SEO value it has.
Another off-site SEO tactic aided by interactive content is social sharing.
Now before anyone says anything, yes, I know that social media presence is a debatable (and unconfirmed) search ranking impactor within B2B. Most social media sites place nofollow tags on links, thus striping any direct value from them. But it does play a role in building trust and brand awareness.
With interactive content, you make your content much more shareable as people want to show others the fun or highly relevant and personalized thing they just consumed. Interactive content — such as online quizzes with images or GIFs — are 40 times more likely to be shared on social, getting in front of people outside of your designated target audience.
Not only is interactive content informative, it’s proven to be effective as some experience a 30% click-through rate, 85% completion rate, and 45% lead conversion rate. With all of this, it’s no surprise that interactive content is the next frontier for SEO as it checks a lot of the boxes needed to be successful with it.
So that only leaves me with one question: What’s holding you back from integrating it within your SEO strategy?