Conversational content. Depending on the extent of your involvement with content creation and familiarity with certain principles of SEO, it’s a term you may have heard before. But it’s also a term that is commonly misunderstood.
What is Conversational Content?
At its heart, ’conversational content’ is about creating a personalized experience for the reader. Think of the difference between being spoken to as part of a large audience, and enjoying an intimate one-on-one conversation. Depending on the speaker, both can prove equally informative, but there’s a clear difference in both tone and formality, right? The same applies to written emails. There’s a clear difference in tone and formality between a business email and a personal one. It’s a difference defined by the intent, the relationship between the sender and recipient and the language used. Communication (of any kind) is most effective when it balances those three elements. And that’s what conversational content is: clear in its intent, respectful of the relationship with its audience, and presented in a manner appropriate to that relationship and beneficial to the consumer.
Why Conversational Content is Important
Conversation content isn’t just important to your readers, let’s talk about why it’s important to SEO. With the aim of creating the best user experience, Google’s search algorithms are continually evolving to reflect our changing use of language. And with the ever-increasing use of voice search, how we communicate is more important than ever. To best address the intent of any search query, Google tries to understand the way that we speak. It allows Google to identify high-quality, authoritative content that best answers the query and prioritize it over inferior content. In other words, your content looks better to Google when it’s written for a person rather than being written for SEO.
But Be Warned
We mentioned that conversational content is commonly misunderstood. The misleading part comes in the use of the word ‘conversational’. If you were to read a transcript of one of your own conversations you might be surprised by some of the lazy delivery, awkward phrasing, and even unfinished sentences. These, of course, are normal. In real life, conversations are helped along by gestures, body language, and even by the other participant when they’re fully engaged. But with written content, we simply can’t count on that luxury. Another difference is that (in conversations) most people give and receive visual cues that communicate their level of engagement. This allows a speaker to recognize when its necessary to reengage their audience with a change of tone, emphasis or adjusted energy levels. When writing content there are no such warning signs. You need to be mindful of this, and keep your readers engaged. You need favor an active voice over a passive one. You need to be clear and concise. You need to choose terms that are most impactful. Use headers and site structure to encourage further reading. And you need to identify redundancies, and then scrap them as part of your editorial process.
Ways to Get Conversational
Understand the unique nature of your voice, your value and your intent. Celebrate each of those elements in your writing style as an extension of your personal brand. Understand your reader personas. Keep things personal by approaching content as if you’re creating it solely for one loyal follower. Write for that one person, and every member of your audience will feel like you’re speaking directly to them. Be direct. Use terms like ‘you’, ‘your’ and ‘you’re’. Remember: a lion doesn’t need to tell you it’s a lion, and the value of your content will speak for itself. Favor big ideas over big words. Recognize that words are powerful and can help in the absence of body language. Engage your readers by using sensory and emotional wording to create a visceral experience. Be informal. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of grammar to make things sound more conversational. Use contractions and slang, if and when appropriate. Create fun salutations and closings to reinforce your personal brand. Plus, it’s okay to ask questions periodically to re-engage the reader; questions like, “are you ready for the best advice of all?”
Our Best Advice
Read your content out loud. This allows you to reinterpret what you’ve written in a conversational manner. It gives you a chance to recognize if it sounds stilted and robotic, aimless or overly-padded. It helps you to identify the value in your content, or the lack thereof. And finally, it empowers you to ask yourself, ‘Can I do better?” If anything, conversational content can be freeing. It simplifies the process of creating effective content, eliminates the pressure of trying to sound polished, professional and authoritative, all while encouraging engagement and the likelihood of social sharing. So what are you waiting for?