How Storytelling can Improve the SEO Ranking on Your Business Website
A guide to how integrating stories into your business website can help your marketing strategy and increase brand loyalty
As digital marketing spends increasingly concern themselves with using programmatic advertising and SEO becomes more of an integrated discipline, how can SEOs and content marketers use storytelling techniques content to drive return on investment (ROI)?
At first glance, despite the buzz around storytelling in the wider marketing industry, the two can seem very separate, especially to those who concentrate in technical aspects of optimisation. But when it’s done right, incorporating storytelling as part of the overarching content strategy can provide the emotional engagement and useful information that boosts the fundamental goals of any SEO or content campaign: conversions and traffic to your company website.
The rise of programmatic marketing means that it’s even more important to deliver highly targeted, resonant content to clearly-defined audience segments.
Why is storytelling so popular among readers?
Stories might be something that we tend to associate with young children, but regardless of our age our brains are hard-wired to respond to stories. Neuroscience shows that when we are told a story it activates sensory and motor regions of the brain – just as it would if we were living through those experiences.
This makes content that involves storytelling elements much more engaging. And engagement translates to not just shares and traffic, but also increased ‘likeability’ and positive emotional associations; the secret sauce to loyalty and increased sales.
Doesn’t this work better for a business advertising rather than website content?
It’s easy to think of adverts and social campaigns that use stories effectively: just think of Compare the Market’s meerkats or Lidl’s Surprises campaign, which focused on bite-sized tales from consumers discovering their products.
But look at how both Instagram and BT position content on their blogs. Instagram feature inspiring and often moving stories from its users, like Jack Lowe. The photographer and printer is reconnecting with a childhood passion for lifeboats by shooting every RNLI station in the UK and Ireland.
Stories aren’t just for B2C brands either. One of the services BT provides to small businesses is a remote working network and to showcase this they featured the Carlene Jackson, who serves British clients while living in the French Alps. Her first person story about the strain commuting was putting on her home life and the stress it was causing her staff, compared to the way remote working allows her to live and work in an idyllic setting, is much more compelling than if similar information was presented as a straightforward informational blog.
So what’s the story when you’re a business?
It’s not just about your business – the real story is in how your customers interact with and use your services, particularly for long-form or visual onsite content. As 2015 is predicted to be the year that user-centric content separates winners from losers, incorporating storytelling gives a clear competitive advantage.
The first step to this is finding out what your customer’s stories are, beyond how they use your product or service. What are the wider issues in your niche? What are the deeper-seated reasons why customers use your service? What are their experiences when doing so?
This is where imagination and data meld. Creativity is important, but if it’s not targeted you’re taking the marketing out of content marketing. Google Analytics and Share Tally are useful for seeing which of your existing content is getting views and engagement.
But this won’t tell you about the potential stories you’re missing out on. For that, social monitoring tools can give you a broader cross-section of data, from what people are saying about your brand, to popular topics of conversations and the most-shared content within your niche.
Once you’ve identified what stories are relevant to your niche, how you tell them is just as important as what you’re telling. Featuring user-generated media and the stories behind it works well for Instagram, and this doesn’t have to be limited to B2C companies. For example, a company that sells or manufactures kitchen equipment could collaborate with restaurants who use their products, sharing photos and stories of life in the kitchen and how their product helps.
For other sectors interviews as part of whitepapers or blogs can work well, or visualising it in a way that incorporates data or other information to tell a story. Storytelling isn’t just for novelists – it gives content the edge it needs to achieve key SEO metrics.
This article was contributed by business editor and writer Elizabeth Grey.