In this first post on empathy and SEO, I talked about how SEO was based on a desire to fulfil the basic human need to feel understood.
And in this post, I want to provide context with concrete examples, so that you can better understand how to boost your Google ranking.
While performing this research, I kept in mind 5 key areas that needed to be addressed:
+ Were the keywords in all of the best places? These are the SEO title, the meta description, the h1 and h2 tags, the image alt tags, and of course, within the actual body copy itself.
+ Did the article use semantic key words? Google’s complex algorithm means it’s a highly intelligent machine, and actually built to understand synonyms. For example, if I’m looking for gluten-free products, it will also show me articles about celiac products.
+ Was the article recent?
+ Were keywords used in a way that was user-friendly, without any keyword stuffing?
+ Was the article actually useful? Did it address my search query, and was the article written for the human, and not just the machine?
How to boost your google ranking
Key phrase: How Do I Play Pokemon Go?
Winner: Trusted Reviews
When I type in ‘How Do I Play Pokemon Go’ into Google, Trusted Reviews is the third result on the page. Instead of clicking the first result, I chose the third. For me, it’s a matter of semantics, as the word ‘trusted’ hits my emotional buttons and makes me feel like I can, well, trust them.
And it looks like MOZ does too, giving them a Domain Authority score of 75.
As you can see below, the words ‘how to play pokemon go’ are repeated in the headline (called the h1 tag), as well as in the sub heading (called the h2 tag). In addition to those bits of data, ‘pokemon’ is used three times in the meta description.
Another things which jumps out at me is their use of semantic words. By using all of the terms related to Pokemon Go – poke deck, master, catch ‘em all – Google can see that this page is actually full of content related to playing Pokemon Go. Yes, Google is that smart.
Other ranking signals include the use of alt text, and the fact that it’s a long-form article. FYI, despite what YOAST plugin tells you, Google LOVES long-form content.
Is it useful?
Yes. If I wanted to Pokemon Go, I probably would use this guide.
MY query was addressed in all 5 key areas.
Key phrase: Vegan Gluten Free Cake Recipe
Cooking as a gluten-free vegan isn’t hard – and I should know! I’ve been a vegan for over 11 years, and gluten-free for 7 of those years. Generally, when I want to find a recipe, I turn to Pinterest because I’m visual like that. But Pinterest doesn’t have a huge Australian following, so I’d wager that the average person – not vegan or gluten-free – who needed to bake a cake for someone difficult like myself, would opt to search Google.
Take a look at this headline. It has my mouth drooling instantly.
Their meta description (see the first image above) also appeals to me, because it speaks to those who are health conscious and have allergies. I’m vegan for health reasons, as many vegan people are. Interestingly, the keywords ‘vegan gluten free cake recipe’ isn’t even mentioned in the meta description.
And then the first paragraph. I don’t agree with everything that’s said here (“endure”? Really?), but it sure hammers the emotive message home. I feel this opening paragraph, which incorporates semantic keywords – ‘celiac disease’ – is written for someone baking for a gluten-free vegan. They want to bake a healthy, guilt-free option that their guest can enjoy. This person needs:
+ To feel like they’ve found the answer – providing a treat for someone ‘hard done-by’ (lol!)
+ To feel some form of positive reinforcement. They don’t want baking a vegan gluten-free cake to be a marathon task, so emphasizing the ease of the task is paramount (they are super easy to make).
+ To feel like they’re special, like they’ve found the key to all of their problems! They’re going to use one of these recipes, and they’re really going to impress one lucky person.
This article was shared 133 times on Pinterest, which is another big ranking signal for Google. Yes, social shares count!
Was it useful?
Yes, and it very tempting too.
I couldn't find my key phrase used directly, but the article does use a lot of synonyms. The article didn’t use the exact key phrase vegan gluten-free cake, but Google is smart enough to know that a gluten-free and vegan cake is exactly the same thing.
Key phrase: Organic shampoo Australia
Winner: Nourished Life
I’m a girl who cares about her appearance, but I also don’t want to be putting crap on my scalp and into the waterways. I’m in need of a high-quality shampoo! But as with a lot of consumers, I don’t trust promotional activity. I trust endorsements, recommendations and reviews. Which is why I clicked on Nourished Life’s link, which is #2 when searching for ‘organic shampoo Australia’.
One of the most important parts of this search result is that the year is prominent. Google loves up-to-date content, and so do consumers. They want the latest news and information, which is why a recent article would appeal to me over something published two years ago. You could argue that including the year of publication isn’t important for the headline, because Google already knows when new website content is published. But I don’t, and I’m curious to read the most up-to-date information.
Is it useful?
Interestingly, Nourished Life doesn’t use my key phrase ‘organic shampoo australia’ in their title tag or in their meta description. Like organics.org in the example above, they use semantics and associated key words, like ‘natural’. Although organic and natural aren’t one and the same, they’re phrases – or marketing spin – that appeals to eco-conscious females like me who want to care for their hair and the planet. In fact, I can’t detect my keywords on this page at all. But it’s a valuable article that doesn’t just provide me with a list of organic shampoos, but reviews and information about the results of using each. Which is what I really want and need.
Usefulness score: 8/10
My query wasn’t addressed in any of the 5 SEO areas, as I was after organic products, not just natural shampoo. However, the article empathises with my plight to be kinder to my hair and to the planet. I’m not just given a page of items to shop, but a wealth of information to help me make a more informed purchasing decision based on my hair type.
If you search for the key phrases, you might get different search results. But based on what country I’m in, what websites I’ve visited before and how I use Google, I’ve been given some fairly high quality articles all thanks to a bit of SEO best-practice and a whole lot of empathy.