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09 Jul 2012

Types of Content: How It Can Impact Your SEO

Types of Content: How it can Impact your SEO

We all would like to be the best in our industry. We want to produce the most engaging and shared content, rank well in search and generate more leads with less effort. Unfortunately, we can’t all be the best, but by varying your content style or taking a new route to place your content, you may help in your quest to bring your organization’s information to new (search ranking) heights.

Before you can really jump into creation of content, you need to first evaluate what its purpose is.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can only bring you so far if your content is not deemed helpful or engaging by your audience.

Key Content Considerations

  • Overall Purpose: Are you trying to persuade sales, educate, gather leads or simply entertain your audience?
  • Total Message: Does it match something your company stands for?
  • Characteristics of Your Target Demographic: Does your content align with the behaviors of your target audience? Do you think they would be interested in your message?
  • Originality: Has the idea been developed by someone else first?

While this is only a short list of things to keep in mind, it can help you to decide what type of content your audience will truly be willing to engage with.  Once you have tackled the human element and decided on your message, it is also important to note the SEO ramifications of the style of content you produce.

Basic Types of Content

There are four basic types of content: Written Word, Video, Audio and Image. Assuming your message can be delivered through any of these methods, you should determine which type of content will not only be best for your audience but for your SEO as well.

Written Content:

This type of content is great for many reasons, primarily written text is flexible, widely used and very easy for search engine bots to crawl.  With written word, you are able to accomplish a myriad of tasks including educating, amusing, interacting and more. There are also many different forms this content can take on including:  blog posts, white papers,e-books, articles, status and updates, the list will forever grow as you desire to communicate in different ways and as new platforms are created.

This is the kind of content that search engines are made to index and where you as the creator have the most control on how the search engine perceives you. Standing out with this type of content is slightly more difficult than others because it is the most widely used type of content on the internet and depends largely on the personal preferences of the creator and reader.

Video Content:

This type of content is also extremely versatile in how it can be used, yet from a search engine utility perspective it ranks a bit lower.  If done well, video is great for drawing people into a site and creating something unique that keeps people interested in the message.  Keeping in mind that “going viral” is extremely difficult to accomplish and cannot be forced. Still, great video can still garner many views.  Whether it is a webinar (live or recorded), a how-to video or a Q and A session, it is a great medium to get on a more personal level with the viewer.

From an SEO perspective, video has its challenges. A search engine cannot actually crawl a video sequence, so it is best to include keyword tags with the video as well as a bit of written content on what the video is actually about.  One best practice is to also include a transcript of the speaking parts within the video.  This is not only for search engine optimization purposes, but an added benefit for your audience and any of their special needs.

Audio Content:

Audio content such as podcasts, songs or recorded talk sessions are just beginning to gain popularity with smaller companies online.  Why such a slow growth you ask? It is very difficult for many people to truly learn or engage in a topic through only auditory senses. In addition, until recent technology offerings, it was cost prohibitive and extremely difficult to create a smooth flowing, streamlined audio conversation.  The production that goes into strictly audio content can vary, depending on the professional nature of the message, but today any person with a smartphone can now create a podcast.

Like video, search engines cannot crawl the audio for content and relies on the other, surrounding content to help understand what the audio clip is about. This being said, it is important that there be a transcript available for this type of content for the search engines to crawl and index.

Images:

Images have quickly become the most popular form of content that is shared both within an industry as well as among friends.  Ranging from memes, infographics and stills of celebrities to breaking news pictures and do-it-yourself collages, images are there to delight, educate and/or entertain the viewer.

Images also play a valuable role in search engine optimization, as they can be linked directly to a web page in a way that video and audio cannot. With the growth of sites like Pinterest and the layouts of Facebook and Google + changing to more easily showcase photos, it is easy to see why people use them so often.  Images can contain so much information–1,000 words–and often express emotions or convey ideas more quickly than simple text can but can. In addition, images can be used as anchor text (using an ALT tag) for a link.

Types of Content: Conclusion

In the end, it is important to remember that a mix of media might be your best solution and that quality will overrule the index value of any content. An all text blog post or a video without audio may not offer the same amount of engagement as a well thought out piece of content that includes multiple media types.  Remember, your audience learns in different ways! If your content is targeted, applicable, original and well done, it will be useful to you beyond the search engines and generate interest in your brand.

What piece of content are you most proud of?