Emotions: An SEO tactic

Before buying anything, do consumers think, “That was an excellent piece of marketing?”

Probably not, instead they ‘feel’.

In social media, emotions appear to be becoming increasingly more important.

A feeling of happiness makes us want to share.

A feeling of sadness makes us empathise.

A feeling of surprise craves desperation.

While anger and revulsion makes us more stubborn.

However, feelings alone don’t sell; instead they dictate the impact that is made on the world, or even the Internet when combined with right words.

Links, social shares and clicks are all dictated by the way that a user ‘feels’ – as a result, in order to influence or motivate a user to engage, it is vital to understand emotions and to some extent how to encourage them through the content we publish online, on our websites and through social media.

As Google’s crawling tools and high regard of quality content grows, with more focus being placed on user intent and the context of their search, rather than simple old-fashioned keyword stuffing, could emotions now, be more important than ever?


In content marketing, basic search engine optimization tactics get you noticed:

  • Original content – Google is always looking for fresh content to crawl so give it what it wants by writing original and unique content.
  • Keyword research – What are you trying to achieve with the content you are trying to write? Rankings or recognition, research your topics and include them.
  • Audience research – Who are your trying to engage and what do they want? Answer questions for them that aren’t already being answered so that when they search for that term they click on it and stay there.
  • Measurement – Measure the results of the content you have already created to see if it is working. Look at traffic, conversions, rankings and keyword performance; use analytics tools such as Moz, Raven or Google.
  • Internal linking – Good internal linking within your content not only makes it easier for your users to navigate your site but also improves rankings for targeted keywords and encourages Google to crawl.
  • Quality before quantity – Ten weak bits of content written to make up numbers won’t work as well as one well written, informative and engaging piece of content will.

Working in SEO we know how the right type of content, which incorporates the above SEO tactics, can capture any type of attention. We also know how the most shared content can go viral within days, encouraging users to engage and retain the information that they have consumed for a long time.

However presenting quality content with the right number of keywords and internal links is no longer enough. Yes, people will find you, but are they likely to act upon it?

Take a look at your most shared content, is it shared because it is stuffed full of your most important keywords? Or is it shared because it communicates something that your audience or consumers can empathise with or are looking to understand?

Just like stories capture attention in newspapers and books, helping people to remember or learn, so too can content. Similar to personal relationships, emotions are required to create productive connections.

Training yourself to tell stories, which invoke strong emotions from your consumers, rather than ‘churn out’ content will promote clickability so how do you do this?

  • Begin with focus keywords and build up emotional triggersaround them.
  • Reach out to your target market and speak their language, they should be able to understand and relate to what you are trying to communicate.
  • Understand that people search for one of three things: answers, assistance or; entertainment
  • Call upon your audience to take action, get into their heads, this is where audience research comes into play.
  • The best headlines are the ones that combine SEO with emotion that encourage that click.


Emotive Headlines or Meta titles

As the first step in your strategy to get your consumer to click into your content your headline or Meta title should be attractive.

Mixing your focus keywords with context, conveying not only the essence of the content whether it be a blog post, article or white paper you have written, while following through on the promise of what the headline or title has promised, is instrumental in triggeringan emotional response from your audience.

Here are just some worked examples:

Think about it, which would you click on and which appealed to you more? While emotional SEO doesn’t work every the time for every industry sector applying it could produce the most exciting and long-lasting results.

Social media

The rise of social media as an off page practice combined with Google Penguinupdates are constantly progressing the importance of off page SEO, more specifically from a dependence on quantity and more on quality.

The success of your social media interaction hinges on your ability to network.

Whether your business, brand or company has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or new social networking platform Emoji, you are expected to interact as a person.

This is one of the fundamental flaws in social networking plans, particularly as a business can only depend on the person doing the posting; this is where the difficulty of finding a balance between creative, personal and opinionated content lies.

As web-based communication platforms continuously evolve to help us express our emotions online, with Facebook ‘feeling’ status updates asking you how you feel and the arrival of the new social network Emoji, how you create emotional rousing from consumers is considerably important to turn readers into loyal followers and long term clients.


The emoticon only social network, Emojiarrived on the scene earlier this year and is set to launch soon with users already reserving a username, formed through combinations of the popular emoticons. Claiming to revolutionize the way we interact socially without the need for words or spam, the social network says it will bring together diverse individuals from a variety of cultures and countries through one form of communication - emotions.

They say a picture paints a thousand words but could these connotive symbols come to represent our ‘feelings’ online?

It’s very easy to trivialize these omnipresent symbols in modern conversation; however their simplicity to effectively communicate simple feelings, and evoke a wide variety of imagery has come to be as instrumental in text communication as the alphabet.

Whether you consider them the icing on the cake for what you are trying to communicate or as a universal code for communicating what you as a company value, love or loathe this network is an exciting way to convey numerous alternatives of expression for different people.

However you use social media, and whichever platform you use, remember that social media never sleeps; it is an ongoing process which needs nurturing much like your personal relationships in day-to-day life.

So if you’ve already got your emotional presence with on site SEO down to a T, how do get your audience to find it and share it?

  • Use first person speech
  • Weave personal stories about the brand/company/organisation into posts and updates
  • Steer clear of faceless depictions, by this I mean, give your brand a personality.
  • Telling stories brings you closer to your audience – tell them.
  • Approach your followers on a common ground for empathy and make them feel good about themselves.
  • Be proactive in your content/headlines – this will increase likeability, create videos or post photos for a more emotional connection, the more they see your brands face the more they will connect.
  • Be passionate and positive to inspire and excite.

Developing emotionally provoking content can be challenging and can require a basic understanding not only of SEO strategy but of the psychology of human interaction, so analyse your followers and visitors and their likes and shares.

What makes your followers happy? What makes them sad?

Foresee the consequences of your interactions, while being controversial can provoke publicity, but not all publicity is good publicity and there are reputational consequences which can cause damage to your rankings.

As the use of YouTube rises not just for viral videos but social commentaries and amateur company documentaries alongside the arrival of emotional status updates on Facebook, new social network Emoji and emoticons on smart phone keyboards it seems that an emotional world wide web is inevitable.

As more consumers look to get an emotional response from the content they are viewing, could it be just a small matter of time before Google begins to take more than just context into account and starts to look to sophisticated emotional expressions when delivering search engine results?

What do you think?

Discuss with me here or tweet me @NadyaISD

Image source: Freestak, Flickr, Facebook, Wikimedia, Optimizehere, Conversioner

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