Here’s another little something we’re thankful for this Thanksgiving: The emergence of an acronym that might finally help us beat back the demands of search engine optimization (SEO). Online Audience Optimization, or OAO, echoes what we’ve been saying all along: Write it well, and they will come.
Essentially, OAO utilizes a massive realization: People like to read and learn and explore, not just search. You know this. We here at Brandsplat know this. And now it seems the rest of the Internet is catching on, too. It really is as simple as it should be: Write something worth reading, worth sharing, and then step back and watch it fly. So unless you are uploading a catalog and want Google to know that your super-special square lacquered trays come in fifteen different colors, including aubergine, tangerine and aquamarine, you don’t have to count characters or cram all the keywords into the first half of your sentences.
So what do you need to know to take advantage of this new approach?
1. Relevance is an inside job — OAO allows us to focus on our message rather than playing a game of cat-and-mouse with our prospective audience members. If something is key to communicating with your audience — be it a single word, a phrase or a philosophy, it ought to be communicated first to all members of your internal team, including your webmaster and content writer. Every word on your website should be relevant, says Linda Ruth at Media Shepherd — to your audience, not just to Google’s algorithm of the week. By sharpening your vision, YOU ensure that you’re as relevant to your audience as possible.
2. Yes, Virginia, you really can stop obsessing over keyword density — Google’s most recent update, Hummingbird, continues the company’s quest for its algorithms to act as human as possible, meaning it now looks increasingly for organic content that provides real information rather than list a bunch of words. Yes, you could go out and learn all about long tail subjects, but wouldn’t it make more sense to continue writing as a human for other humans? Why not stay one step ahead of the machine?
3. Audience participation remains vital — Either way you slice it, both SEO and OAO reward time that your audience spends interacting with your brand. SEO puts that amount of time into a calculation which boosts your search results ranking, while OAO’s rewards are more intrinsic (visitors stick around and buy! Imagine that!). Either way, your site is strongest with fresh content that gets visitors talking, be it through comments, polls or sharing across platforms on social media.
4. You’re still not expected to do it all yourself — One potential catch related to the rise of OAO is that many people will make the mistake of believing they now can handle all of the content production for their company. After all, they’re human, and they know how to write for other humans. And certainly this is the case. But what they probably don’t have is more time than they used to before they heard the term “online audience optimization,” meaning that no matter how human they are, and no matter how well they write, they’re still going to have just as much work in their inboxes as they did before. That’s why the smartest of humans hire us to assist them. You direct, we execute, they visit and BAM! Everybody goes home in a limousine.
But you tell us, dear readers: What is it you’ll miss the least about translating your thoughts into Googleze? Sound off in the comments section below!