Why rich media works – and how to use it to win at search
The Internet is saturated with content. WordPress users alone publish 91.8 million new posts each month, according to the platform’s own figures, and with so much out there, the struggle for page views is real.
So, how can you make your content stand out?
To even stand a chance, modern content needs to be both attractive and engaging. To put it simply, people love to look at pretty things – as the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report points out, it’s the visual platforms Instagram and Snapchat that are currently surging in popularity in Australia – and rich media is now critical for content marketers who want to boost engagement with their material.
It’s also important to know that Google understands the value of rich media to internet users too. All else being equal, Google’s algorithms will rank pages that include rich media above their plainer counterparts, which means savvy marketers can also use rich media to outdo their competitors. More on this later
Using rich media to boost engagement
Rich media content includes things like:
- Custom images and infographics
- Social media embeds
- Interactive content like polls and digital quizzes
- High-value downloadables, such as eBooks and whitepapers
There are always multiple ways to get your message out there, and rich media content can outperform plainer content in several ways, including:
- More page views
- More shares
- Longer time on page
- Lower bounce rates
Videos alone can up your metrics significantly. In online retail, users will spend an average of two minutes longer on a page that has video on it and search results with video embeds have a 41 per cent higher click-through rate than those without, according to an aimclear report.
By including rich media features in your content, you have a better chance of creating a truly unique and enjoyable experience for your users. Crucially for marketers, it can also help you boost the SEO performance of your content so that you attract more users in the first place.
How to use rich media to compete in search
Remember when we would use the Yellow Pages to search for businesses? Remember how each section would start with firms called “AAA Painters” and the like? In the internet age you can use rich media to pull a more sophisticated version of this trick, and get your landing page under the nose of potential customers before they have a chance to interact with your competitors. Here’s how.
First, think of the kind of questions your customers need answered. Maybe it’s as simple as “Painters in Sydney” – or maybe it’s a more top-funnel query like “What’s the best time to paint my house?”. Whatever the question, type it into Google and look at the results that come up. Chances are that any business page that shows up is your competition.
Your challenge now is to create content that Google will rank higher than your competition, so that you can capture the potential customers who are asking those questions – and rich media is the perfect tool to help you do this.
Click through to your competitors’ pages and read through what they’ve got. Are their pages plain text? You should use lots of images. Do they have images and text? Use images, text and embed a video. So long as it’s relevant to your visitors’ needs, the rich media that you use will boost your SEO performance AND the appeal of your page – meaning you’ll be more likely to attract visitors, and more likely to engage and convert them once they arrive.
Here are some of the kinds of rich media that you can use.
Social media embeds
People use social media because it helps them connect with others. For the same reason, users like to see social embeds in the content they view online. Seeing a tweet from a news source or a well known person adds a level of proof and confirmation to your content.
Further, social media embeds are visually appealing. Consider you’re reading an article about the best places to grab breakfast in Melbourne – would you rather see a bunch of stock images of lattes, or embeds from the cafes themselves?
Tweets, Facebook posts and Pinterest boards are all great examples of social media embeds that can optimise your content.
If user engagement is one of your content marketing goals, you can’t go wrong by featuring interactive quizzes and polls.
When creating quizzes and polls, be sure to keep the following in mind:
- Questions should be fun, simple and to the point
- Ask the easiest – or most interesting – question first to avoid user drop off
- Include images, videos, colours, fonts and other visual elements where you can
Quizzes and polls are useful for a couple of reasons. They can be there simply to engage your audience and keep eyes on your page, but they can also gauge customer satisfaction and even generate advanced leads.
Other examples of interactive features include games, reaction buttons and even something as simple as a comments section.
Podcasts and audio features
Content like podcasts and audio clips help your users process and remember information. Like social media embeds, they’ll also build more trust in your content and show a level of expertise.
By embedding a popular podcast, you’ll also increase your reach and grow your audience to those people who may be searching for the program.
Ebooks and whitepapers
Offering high-value, downloadable content is an excellent way to stand out in the sea of online content. Longform, high-value content like ebooks and whitepapers get more links and shares than other content, according to Orbit Media.
Ebooks and whitepapers in particular can help marketers:
- Generate leads
- Develop a mailing list
- Increase brand image
- Establish your status as an expert
- Highlight key products and services
Just be sure to make your downloadable content just as media-rich as your other material – long blocks of text will likely disappoint your audience. Also, ensure that your download buttons are attractive and easy to find. Hubspot recommends that you place buttons ‘above the fold’ – ie where they are visible without scrolling – and use colours that contrast with the rest of your website.