The SEO Underdog: Interactive Content

The SEO Underdog: Interactive Content

Marketers everywhere can agree on one thing: content is king. Since 1732, the year Benjamin Franklin published Poor Richard’s Almanack to promote his printing business, it has proven itself to be the most effective way for organizations everywhere to educate their audience, generate leads, build trust, influence conversion rates, and cultivate customer loyalty. However, 286 years later coupled with the advent of the internet, one can surmise that the volume of content out there is, well…a lot. So much that it has led to what we in the biz refer to as content fatigue among target audiences everywhere (bummer…the last thing any content-creator wants is a bored audience struggling to focus on their messages…). Fortunately, there is now a far more energetic and influential king sitting upon the throne of customer engagement: interactive content.

What is Interactive Content?

Interactive content is designed material that requires active engagement from target customers, causing them to become an integral part of a dynamic two-way experience. Examples include, but are not limited to, interactive infographics, assessments, social sharing widgets, and freakishly engaging interactive maps... ;) 

Historically, many content creators have been hesitant to utilize interactive content pieces because they thought the text within them wouldn’t be crawlable by search engines, thereby preventing them from receiving any SEO benefits. However, interactive content has evolved to not only fix that problem, but also provide additional SEO benefits that were previously missing.

What are those Key Benefits?

Short answer:

  1. Enhanced on-site engagement

  2. Activated off-site engagement

  3. Improved mobile optimization

Long answer:

Enhanced On-site Engagement

William Comcowich, CEO of CyberAlert, wrote:

“Content marketing is becoming less about the words you put on a page, and more about the experiences you create for the consumer.”

Interactive content works to provide just that—a seamless, active experience. In regard to SEO, usability and user experience (UX) are second-tier influences on search engine rankings. This means they provide measurable benefits to a website’s popularity and distinguish it as one containing high-quality content. Therefore, designing a sophisticated UX will generate a more positive view of your site among users, which will lead to actions that contribute to higher rankings, such as longer site visits, return visits, inbound links, and social shares.

Activated Off-site Engagement

Off-site content initiatives are an essential way to promote your brand by extending your SEO campaign beyond your website and target audience. Two primary ways to expand your reach are through link-building and social shares. Content that provides readers with clear benefits and insights is more likely to be shared than content that does not.

With interactive content, you have the opportunity to not only provide valuable information, but also a unique, entertaining experience, which will lead to broader social media coverage as well as backlinks from those who integrate your interactive pieces into their own content. The more shares and links your content acquires, the more SEO value it has and the more credibility you earn for your business.

Improved Mobile Optimization

In 2016, mobile outperformed desktop as the primary device used to access websites. As a result, Google launched its mobile-first indexing concept, which first considers the mobile version of a website for its ranking signals before referring to the desktop version.

Google wrote:

“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first...our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”

Accordingly, marketers and content-producers should focus on optimizing their content for mobile devices in order to gain an advantage over competitors. This means to design specifically for mobile experiences.

There’s a difference between taking an existing website and forcing it into a mobile experience and designing specifically for mobile experiences. Unless you’ve conducted research that suggests your target audience still prefers to access your site via desktop, it would be wise to consider redesigning your website from scratch for your mobile audience. This means completely re-visualizing your site, arranging all your content vertically, and designing interactive functions that appeal to small touch screens. There are many user interactions to consider, and mobile user interactions can make or break the experience. Without mobile responsiveness, your page may be marked as "mobile unfriendly" and remain hidden from mobile searchers, which will yield a negative result on your SEO.

Conclusion

Interactive content is undoubtedly the new frontier in content marketing. With all the word-clutter accumulating on the internet, marketers and content producers ought to tap into their creative capacities to develop interactive pieces that are at once suited to their target audience and attractive to those outside of it. By creating these innovative experiences that combine technology, content, and design, businesses and influencers will find that they are maximizing their SEO potential and setting themselves up to achieve increases in site traffic, engagement, return visits, dwell time, and conversions.