When it comes to publishing content online, the importance of SEO cannot be understated. Without on-page optimisation it really is a case of out of sight, out of mind. So what exactly is it that makes the search engines’ virtual ears prick up?

Google ‘SEO’ and the likelihood is that you’ll spend an afternoon ploughing through near identical ‘how-to’ or ‘for dummies’ style guides that claim they can help boost your hit rate overnight. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not underestimating the role of keywords, meta-tags, and the like. But surely all this focus on the text is at the expense of multimedia content that is more eye-catching, immediate, and, well, fun?

Beyond words

Before we begin, what exactly do we mean when we refer to multimedia? A broad definition would be content that goes beyond the more rudimentary, text-based forms of representation. So, we’re talking anything from images, videos, audio, gifs, slideshares, quizzes, games, to you name it.

While the blogging revolution may have started out with people sharing their thoughts and experiences via the written (or typed) word, the rise of websites such as Tumblr have demonstrated the huge popularity of platforms consisting almost entirely of such multimedia.

Ranking factors

Now, we know what you’re thinking: “what does all this have to do with my business’ online offering?” Well, according to the ranking factors used by Google’s search engine, quite a bit actually. But first, a gif.

In itself, multimedia is highly valued by search engines. It demonstrates that the author has taken care to provide viewers with a range of content and its usage is thus treated as a sign of quality, especially when in comparison to similar websites or blogs that are heavy on text. Afterall, who doesn’t want the edge over the competition?

Yet the role of multimedia does not end there, with a number of other ranking factors featured in Google’s list affected by it’s increased adoption.

Dwell or bounce?

Just as with books, we judge websites and blogs by their cover. So, if what we see on-page looks to be a long, dense, piece of text the chances are we will skip it. The use of engaging multimedia content, however, solves this problem by breaking up these long passages of text and enticing people to spend more time on the site.

The number of readers clicking onto a webpage before quickly clicking away is known as the bounce rate and, in tandem with this, we have the measure of how long a viewer spends on-page before they head elsewhere, the dwell time.

For Google, both factors are a measure of the interest, or lack of, in the content provided by its search engines. It has a clear incentive to keep supplying content that is of interest to its users, meaning any website that can grab and hold their attention will be seen to have greater relevance to future searches.

Shareability

Instagram graffiti: On-page optimisationThe more exciting your content the more likely someone will want to get the word out. Sadly for all us writers out there, essays don’t seem to cut the mustard when it comes to going viral.

No, what people really go wild for is pictures of animals and coffee, as Instagram will testify. The social media app has demonstrated the dominance of visual communication in generating ‘word-of-mouth buzz’ something many businesses beyond the likes of Rihanna’s press team would do well to learn from.

While we’re not advising you to dumb down your offering in search of a few likes, there is no denying that the use of multimedia, particularly that of images and video, is an effective driver of page shares via social channels. This is good news in itself, and also helps to bump up your sites rating on Google’s ‘Shareability’ factor.

Seek, and ye shall find

The way in which we create, provide, and share content is constantly evolving.

Those who take advantage of the creative possibilities offered by multimedia will reap the benefits of greater visibility from a wider audience. While those who stick to a more traditional approach to online content will quickly find themselves left in the dark.

So the next time you go to post a piece of web copy or write a blog post, have a think about how you could improve your outreach and engagement levels by incorporating a wider range of media.

Future Content provides quality written content for small businesses. We also offer publishing services to make sure every piece you post is optimised to the fullest. To find out more, contact us here. And come say hi on Twitter too.

 

Photo credit:

Instagram graffiti by JAM Project via Flickr under CC license 2.0