Rich SEO in the Age of Shock Content

Rich SEO in the Age of Shock Content

On one hand, rich SEO means grabbing attention and keeping it. This is the one way your business can locate, attract, and compel your target market. On the other hand, the Internet is a vast and ever-expanding realm, and many small business owners and marketers wonder how to stand out.

Enter shock content and sensationalism.

Abraham Lincoln’s bones reveal a shocking secret.


Underground sex dungeon found beneath Florida retirement home.


Folk rock legend Bob Dylan seen wearing a tutu at North Carolina nightclub.

content-shock-dylan

OK—none of those headlines are real. But shock content such as this is very common on Facebook newsfeeds, twitter, and shareable articles. The question remains: how does sensationalism fit into SEO strategy?

A few years back, I penned an article on sensational marketing content. In that piece, I describe how sensational marketing content had become the dominant paradigm in how many business owners communicate with constituents.

Back then, shock content was about visibility and click rates, and it still is. However, the volume has gone up to level 11.

Not long ago, most people never thought a political debate or major party convention would fall under the “shock” category. This isn’t the Huffington Post, but suffice it to say, government has moved into the realm of entertainment.

Marketing content went in that direction long before major party candidates parked their campaign buses at the shock arena. While visibility will inevitably rise on the Facebook timeline, how and where does SEO fit into the sensationalism equation?

SEO in a World of Click Bait

If you haven’t heard the term click bait, you have likely seen it in action. It often comes in a headline that sparks curiosity. These articles tend to come in list form with each paragraph depicted on a separate page.

The result: deep crawl.

The farther the reader goes to get the answer to the headline’s promise, the more ads are sold. Not to mention, deep crawl adds points to the SEO scorecard.

About those headlines, they look something like this:

10 Ways Victoria Secret Models Eat Cupcakes and Stay Thin
#7 Will Shock You

Or this:

She Found a Crate on the Roadside. What She Saw Inside Will Have You in Tears

Viral pieces such as that do well on social media. On Google search rankings, not so much. Even the most frequently read articles are outranked by content that search engines deem most relevant.

Searcher intent is always the number-one priority. No matter what. This 11-minute video from Moz sums it up flawlessly:

The Secret: Blend Attractive Content with Relevant Messaging

Searcher intent is Google’s guiding light. And it should be yours, as well.

Shock factor does factor in to SEO. After all, quality SEO takes time and effort. As you work to increase your visibility, attracting clicks and engaging the audience to stay on the webpage is part of that equation.

Sexy headlines are a part of that initiative. The thing is: more and more people are becoming aware of the click bait practice.

Truth: every human has an innate limit to the amount of content they can successfully consume. We are inundated with a barrage of seductive headlines and content that promises, but doesn’t necessarily deliver.

In this way, Google will ascend a moral high ground. As searcher intent is the basis of their operation, we can’t be lulled into thinking that a throat-grabbing headline will result in higher search results.

Will shock content fall by the wayside? No, not necessarily, but Google won’t make your website more visible based on how sexy your content is.

Sexy Is OK. Sexy and Sustainable Is Better.

Marketing content is here to stay. This is the vehicle that prospects use to gain information, learn, and make purchasing decisions. While curiosity may get a click or two, it won’t convert fence-sitters to brand ambassadors.

This is not to say that grabbing attention is passé, ineffective, or temporary. Quite the opposite. But we shouldn’t be putting our focus into creating click bait.

At least, not for SEO purposes.

Instead, it’s a balancing act between piquing curiosity and providing stellar content that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have the answers.

When you do that, Google gives you a gold star.

How is your website ranking?

Click here for an SEO assessment.

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