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March 31, 2014 | Mac Bartine

SEO Psychology: 5 Must-Know Principles of Lovable Content Creation

SEO Psychology

It’s very old news that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is no longer about gaming the search engines to get better search engine results page rankings.

Rather, SEO is the practice of giving search engine users what they want in such a compelling and diversified way that the search engines can’t help but deliver your results instead of your competition’s - in essence, we're all practicing SEO psychology.

Today, SEO is the science of pleasing people with content, a.k.a. what we’re calling “lovable content creation” (LCC). LCC pleases people, which in turn pleases the search engines, which were, after all, created to make people happy by giving them exactly what they want.

Give people what they want, and they will share your content more, comment more, and buy more from you.

Here are 5 big ideas drawn from recent psychological research that can help you to better connect with your content readers, and thus better connect with search engines.

We may be biased because INFLUENCE AT WORK is one of our clients, but we believe the principles of influence explored by the research of Dr. Robert Cialdini are very relevant to LCC.

And we’re not the only ones – Dr. Cialdini has earned the praises of marketers and business leaders across the globe, including Guy Kawasaki and publications like Forbes and Mashable.

Here are a few guiding principles of Dr. Cialdini’s work on influence that you can use to improve your SEO through lovable content:

Principle 1: Reciprocity

Give your visitors something of value, like premium content offers or blog post email digests, and they will want to give back in the form of engagement or even purchasing your products and services.

You can also earn engagement from your existing leads by sharing their content in genuine ways, adding your own comments and compliments, which will make them want to respond in kind.

Principle 2: Affinity

We’re all more likely to trust people who remind us of ourselves. When you’re blogging, look for an “everyman” voice in which to write, particularly one that appeals to your buyer personas.

If you want to take this to the next level, you can build relationships in social media with influencers who are like you - similar background, interests, education, etc.

There are obvious limitations to this tactic, and clear benefits to reaching out to people very different from you, but don’t discount the influence of affinity. Dr. Cialdini’s research has shown that even having the same first letter of your first name as your targeted influencer (or customer) can make them more open to you. Look for similarities that can become opportunities to genuinely connect.

Anything that can give you a real connection to that person off the bat will increase your chances of a meaningful interaction with them in terms of content delivery, sharing and buying.

Are you seeing how this can help you to succeed in LCC?

Also, use your Why (see below) to drive affinity between you and your customer.

Principle 3: Social Proof

Simply put, when you are researching a company or product, and you see that other people like you have used that company’s products or services, that makes you more likely to take action yourself.

In your own content, make sure you’re sharing proof that you’re successful in any context in which you want people to take a next action.

For example:

  • How many customers have you had?
  • How many years have you been in business?
  • How many units of your products have you sold?
  • How many $$ of business have you produced?

These simple metrics put your potential customers at ease and more willing to take action on your website, and that in turn pleases the search engines, too.

When you’re talking about business, there are few things more lovable than success. So don’t neglect your social proof as an important piece of your LCC.

Integrating customer testimonials in your website and social media presence is another powerful way to make use of social proof. We include testimonials in almost all of our clients' websites, and we highly suggest you make use of praise from your devoted customers in your own content!

Principle 4: Authority

Have you been published in trade publications, won sales or other business awards, earned advanced degrees, or achieved other things that prove expertise in your area of business?

Demonstrate authority in your industry by sharing these details about your success in your “about us” page, on your personal bio page, in your physical office on the walls and on your desk (there’s a good bit of research that shows this to be effective), and on your blog to announce new accolades as they come in.

You can also demonstrate authority by writing about the things that you know best. Sharing your expertise helps answer pressing questions your potential customers have, which makes your content more sharable, which in turn makes the search engines love you.

Also, cite well-known experts in your field and link to them so people can see that you are aware of your industry’s leaders and understand their premises. If you’re consistent in promoting a few of your favorite industry thought leaders, they’ll love you for sharing them in an educated way that doesn’t ask for reciprocation, your visitors will love you for providing great information, and yes, the search engines will love all that love going around.

Can you feel the LCC building?

Principle 5: Start With Why

Simon Sinek wrote a powerful business book titled Start With Why that I highly recommend. I won’t fully explain its premise here, but the two most crucial basics are:

  • People DON’T care about what you do OR how you do it (“we make awesome widgets and sell spectacular widget services”)
  • People DO care about why you do it (“we’re in business because we love this industry and we believe we have the power to move our community forward through doing our business well”)

Spend some time really thinking about the things that make you motivated to work hard and be good at what you do. These things that motivate you are likely to highly resonate with a portion of your market. Authentically tell them about your Why, and chances are they’ll love you for it.

Conclusion: Lovable Content Creation = True SEO

This post is by no means a complete list of ways that you can create content that will make your audience love you, but you can start to see how SEO psychology does indeed play a role in search engine success.

I highly recommend you read the books cited here, and start thinking about how you can create LCC for your target audience to improve your SEO.

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Mac Bartine

Mac Bartine

As one of VIEO Design’s four owners, Mac Bartine served as our COO and web strategist until July 2014. Today, he advises VIEO as a partner and uses his considerable skill as a digital strategist in his positions as CEO of several startups.

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