SEO and SEM experts wholeheartedly agree there is a perceptible shift in the way we do SEO. Content has become more creative, socially shareable and PR-friendly as opposed to ’SEO-friendly’ keyword-stuffed articles that could have been as well the main dish on Thanksgiving.
Perhaps one of the many popular companies who first broke free from the stranglehold of search is Buzzfeed. Like everyone, they had relied on SEO to get direct traffic. However, in 2014, they noticed that the future had arrived (for them). Their referral traffic from Facebook zoomed past their traffic from Google. This got a lot of traction and fueled the social-SEO debate.
Marketers were ready to jump ships and allocate more money and resources to social than organic search. But soon Marshall Simmonds and Shahzad Abbas quelled all anti-search talks with a study stating 87 major publishing sites that got two and a half times more traffic from search than social media. Marketers slowly but grudgingly realized that it is not SEO but content that eventually wins the game.
They also realized that the life of a post in social sites is short-lived as it takes longer for food to pass through your guts than it takes Facebook posts to disappear from audience’ feed (social media facts). So if they wanted sustainable traffic for their evergreen content pieces, they were back to square one!
Everyone was in the search of elixir in the form of some clever SEO tool or a new algorithm that could revolutionize the way they do SEO. The answer came in the form of interactive content.
Interactive content has long been proven as the future of content marketing. But is it also the future of SEO? Is it the elixir that the SEO industry has been searching for? Let’s find the answers now.
Buzzfeed was the first to make interactive images go viral. Their look-alike celebrities post got 2,921,392 views to be precise. Interactive images are great for before and after photos, comparison images, and infographics. News websites were the first to harp on the trend. Since then we have seen many disaster coverage photos and historical content that show then and now images.
But the million-dollar question is – do they hurt or affect SEO?
- Interactive images are great for storytelling and hence can show up in results for long tail keywords.
- Also, they load faster than videos.
So they are good from SEO point of view.
Here’s our attempt at interactive image that shows how we are before and after a party.
From home loan calculator to BMI tools, we have used interactive tools online at some point in our lives. A lot of brands saw the value of interactive tools and came up with interactive tools relevant to their business. Check how AirWick came up with the idea of a Scent Decorator or how Raid uses a Bug Identifier tool to help customers identify the name of a bug and get a solution for it. The tool is great from usability point of view. But read on to find out what you are itching to know.
How did it play out SEO wise?
- Raid saw a traffic of 2.5k without spending a single penny on paid search.
- This page is ranking on 1st or 2nd position for keywords like: bug identification, insect identification, bug identifier, identify bugs and identify bug.
UNICEF launched a campaign called #Imagine in 2014. More than 50 celebrities including Craig David, supermodel Mari Malek, Australian singer Cody Simpson and actors David Arquette, Priyanka Chopra, Eric Christian Olsen, Seth Green, Dianna Agron, and Taye Diggs performed in the video.
People had to download the #IMAGINE TouchCast app on Apple’s App Store or the Google Store, record their version of Imagine (John Lennon song); add a message describing the world they imagine for children and upload their video. For every upload, $1 was donated by UNICEF partners. The recordings had to be shared with friends with the hashtags #EVERYVOICECOUNTS and #IMAGINE to ensure more participation. The song become a viral hit instantly with celebrities and people pitching in.
How did it play out SEO wise?
- It became a Google trend in Nov-Dec 2014 with people searching for UNICEF Imagine Project, UNICEF video and UNICEF song over a period of two months.
One of the biggest hit in real estate after 3D walkthroughs is interactive 3D virtual reality view which allows users to get a near-real perspective on a property. This is best achieved through drone and aerial photography. It is also used by hotels, complicated machinery industries, etc. to display their product through an immersive platform.
Here’s an example. To move in the room, you can scroll or use the marked circles to choose a designated path.
- Interactive 3D videos load faster and hence are great for SEO too.
- Like everything else, interactive 3D displays are as successful as their usability.
Mopar built an interactive guide for vehicle maintenance. In terms of design, it could have been much better but content-wise it is a top-notch guide. This is why it is a SEO work-of-art!
- The vehicle guide earned them rankings for many competitive keywords like vehicle maintenance, vehicle maintenance guide and vehicle guide.
- They earned a total of 919 backlinks, all of which are follow links and referral from 103 domains.
Word of Caution
Not all interactive content pieces are equally good. Some of them are distracting and don’t serve any purpose. For instance, GumGum created this interactive memory game to improve social media strategy. IMHO they were trying too hard to present some lame social media facts in a different way. In the end they only managed to successfully waste users’ time.
If you want to create great interactive content which helps you SEO-wise too, make sure:
- You create helpful content that serves a purpose
- Interaction doesn’t shift focus from content
- It makes it easier to read content rather than confusing the user
If you manage to do all this, you can get popular like Buzzfeed, rank on competitive keywords like Raid and turn out to be a Google trend like UNICEF or get all the link juice you desire like Mopar.
In short, if you are still wondering about the future of SEO and internet marketing, not the moon-ferrying future which is still a distant dream, but immediate future as in 2016-17, then look no further than interactive content.