A few years ago, SEO was all about stuffing as many keywords into a website to satisfy the search engines. Simply sprinkle as many of the relevant search terms into your text and you were good to go.
For example, a pet shop adding a page to its site about a new range of dog collars would focus on including words like ‘dog collars’, ‘collars for dogs’, ‘small dog collars’, ‘collars for small dogs’, ‘big dog collars’…and as many other combinations of keywords as possible. You even saw swathes of very obvious keywords across the page too – eugh!
The problem was that this approach often resulted in dull, robotic-sounding text. The algorithms programmed to read like robots rather than humans were happy but the readers were bored and disengaged – and often reading very strange word orders and sentences!
The Google algorithm is now ‘human thinking’
Thankfully, the likes of Google have changed drastically over recent years to recognise the value of content over keywords. In fact, search engines will now actually penalise websites for keyword stuffing and rank them lower in listings. Which means that more effort is needed for content and the reader gets a better read!
What the search engines realised is that people were turned off by soulless paragraphs and felt like they were being sold to, bombarded with product information. They wanted to read something that sounded like a human voice not a corporate machine. Injecting emotion into your text helps potential customers connect to your brand and gives them a reason to buy.
Speak to your audience in a real way
This has always been the case, before SEO ever existed. And it’s why we always tell our clients to approach their marketing emotionally online and offline – whether that’s a brochure, leaflet, website or social media post. Often clients worry that adding too much personality to their communications will come across as unprofessional – but that couldn’t be further from the truth!
That’s not to say you have to ‘talk’ to your customer as though they’re your best friend – that might not be appropriate to the kind of service or product you sell. But there are subtle ways of adding emotion – whether that’s talking about the story behind your brand, your values or using language carefully to strike a chord with your audience. Think about what makes them tick, the way they might be feeling or the situation they’re in that has led them to consider your brand. Get it right and it can help customers relate to you.
For example, imagine you read these Tweets about two different bakeries:
“Our bread is freshly baked, daily.”
“Our bread is freshly baked by our master baker, Claire, using her family’s 50-year-old secret recipe! We’ve looked…and we can’t find where she keeps it!”
The first Tweet is passive, factual and bland. The second is much more personal. It not only brings the baker – the person behind the product you’re buying – to life, but by telling you that Claire uses a family recipe, it implies the bread is made with extra attention and care. A little story is starting to form.
Or take these lines from websites about family solicitors:
“We have 25 years’ experience of providing advice on divorce, custody arrangements and financial issues. Our experts will help you get the outcome you desire.”
“We understand that dealing with divorce, custody arrangements and financial issues can be difficult for families and individuals. Using our vast experience, we will be by your side to guide you through the challenges ahead.”
Again, the second example is more personable. The language used gives the impression that the company empathises with its clients and genuinely wants to help them, not just sell a service.
What you say matters
As well as the tone and language you’re using, think about what you’re saying to your audience. Demonstrate how your product or service helps people. Provide content that answers questions, solves problems, gives tips and generally helps your customers out. If your marketing comes across as genuinely helpful, they’re more likely to warm to your brand and buy from you.
For example, if you’re a drainage company, why not write a funny post about the most unusual things you’ve found in a blocked drain and give top tips on how customers can safely attempt to unblock a drain themselves before calling you, or prevent blockages in the first place?
Or a second hand furniture shop – invite your customers to share pictures of customised or upcycled furniture they’ve bought from you. This shows you’re interested in sustainability and recycling, encouraging creativity and having fun with your products – instead of just trying to sell furniture. It illustrates your values and gives customers a good feeling about your brand.
Most of all, have fun with your marketing and use it to speak to your target audience the way you would in person. Your enthusiasm, helpfulness and expertise will come across and help to build a loyal customer base.
If you’re a solopreneur, find your voice and if you’re a larger business, create a brand voice.
If you’d like help with your marketing, get in touch for a friendly chat and advice email@example.com