Too many fans of Building A StoryBrand are far too willing to abandon all SEO principles in the name of slashing their word count.
Simplifying your message doesn't have to mean tanking your hard-earned Google ranking. This article will explain how to apply StoryBrand and still do excellent SEO work.
What Happens All Too Often
In my four years working as a Certified StoryBrand Guide, I've seen excited business leaders and their web developers make a drastic decision to eliminate a huge percentage of the pages and words on their website in the name of "clarity".
Here's how it happens:
- Their eyes have been opened that they've been wrongly playing the hero the whole time when they should've been playing the guide. That's ok. They should feel bad about that. It's the good kind of guilt.
- They're excited by the possibilities of what could happen when they change their marketing around to reflect StoryBrand principles.
- They may even have a ton of awesome, new idea ideas about how to make their website more appealing.
Here's the issue:
One of the things that you may be tempted to do in the overhaul of your website is to start eliminating words and entire pages in favor of a launching a simpler, clearer website.
To do so, is to commit SEO suicide.
There are not a ton of things with which I disagree in Building A StoryBrand. Hacking down your word count is one.
For sure, if your website is going to win, you need a clear message. Too much clutter will confuse visitors.
But do not try to win at the expense of your content volume. For a site to succeed, you also need to appeal to Google's algorithm. It's ever crawling your site and it is looking for words to latch on to that it can show future searchers. Without words on your site (and a lot of words), your beautiful new message could go invisible online.
This post is going to engage with the question:
How do you balance the ideas of StoryBrand and the realities of search engine optimization (SEO)?
I'll give you the tips you need to craft a winning plan to nail your StoryBrand message and still do great SEO.
Understand Your Website’s Current Performance
The first thing to do before you StoryBrand your website is to understand where your SEO currently stands. Review your key pages and your blog and ask yourself several questions.
- What pages are getting organic traffic now? Where is it coming from? Ensure you know what pages are performing well and which ones need help.
- Look at what keywords you’re currently ranking for. You don’t want to move away from those. If your pages or blog posts aren’t ranking for a phrase right now, it’s time for some keyword research so you can identify the right terms to use on that page or post.
- Once you know where you stand in terms of SEO, it’s time to create a strategy to implement the StoryBrand philosophy on your website.
Long-Form Content vs. Sleek Minimalism
Miller makes a strong case that you should minimize the text on your pages. Every example of an excellent StoryBrand website is clean, sleek, and minimal.
On your website, you likely have high-performing pages or blog posts that are full of text. That makes sense since the average first-page search result on Google has 1,447 words.
You need long-form content to rank, and that content needs to start “above the fold” on the portion of the page visitors see right away. How do you reconcile the StoryBrand philosophy with ranking strategies?
Hit the Seven Points Throughout Your Text
There’s no reason that you have to eliminate your high-performing pages. They are the lifeblood of your site, pumping traffic to your site full of people looking for your services. Instead of cutting your words, use your text to tell the StoryBrand story and include a variety of keywords, images, and videos. Not only will Google love it, but your visitors will too because it will speak directly to them.
Applying the StoryBrand framework to your pages creates a better user experience - another must have on the SEO checklist.
I have no problem with you eliminating words and pages that make you and your company the hero. They're not working anyway. Instead, fill your pages with ideas, images, and word-pictures that include the seven points of the StoryBrand framework.
You'll recall these seven points as:
- A character
- With a problem
- Meets an understanding guide
- Who gives them a plan
- That calls them to action
- And there’s either failure if they don’t act
- Or they succeed and win their story if they do
When you cover all of these points throughout your text, you create compelling content that compels a reader to spend time on your page and then take action. The Google algorithm loves it when people take action on your site - it means they found what they were looking for - that's a win for Google, the customer, and you.
Your site will be rewarded for those clicks with more traffic in the future.
Make Your Post Easy to Navigate
One key to the StoryBrand approach is that you need to keep your messaging simple and easy to understand. There are ways to do that and win at SEO.
- Start by including a table of contents. This provides a clickable overview of the content so that people can quickly scan the outline of your work so they can find what they need quicker (or start anticipating that it's coming).
- Next, break up paragraphs and use headers to make your topics and subtopics very clear to the reader. The truth is that someone may not read every word you write. People scan everything these days. The place they scan is your headings. Make your headings inviting for the reader so that they are hooked.
- You can also turn content into charts or infographics. Infographics allow you still to use keywords while giving your reader an easy-to-understand experience.
- Breaking up text with images and video is another way to boost engagement without sacrificing SEO. Make sure to use alt text so that search engines know what the images are — it helps make your website accessible to those who are sight-impaired as well. In the end, you can have a very scannable and understandable page, even if it’s 2,000 or more words long.
Focus on the Customer Experience on Your Website
At one time, writing an SEO-optimized post meant stuffing keywords all over the page and creating awkward phrasing to fit in your target phrases.
Google’s AI has improved significantly, and as a search engine, they are focused on one thing: delivering relevant content that searchers want to look at.
That means that part of optimizing your SEO is creating a great customer experience.
This dovetails perfectly with StoryBrand because your customer is the focal point in this framework. It’s important to use SEO terms, but they should never get in the way of the story that you’re inviting readers into. Your site ranking will get a significant boost when you create content people enjoy reading.
Remember that they are a hero struggling with a problem. They went to Google looking for a guide to help them out of it. Google has directed this searcher to you. Your website is your chance to show up as a trustworthy, authoritative guide. Your website or blogs goals is to empower the hero to solve the problem and win their story.
That’s why metrics like click-through and dwell time are SEO rating factors. Compelling content is good for your brand, for your readers, and your SEO. Proper optimization never results in a worse visitor experience.
Implement Behind-the-Scenes SEO Well
A lot of search engine optimization happens behind the scenes, which means that it doesn’t impact your website’s StoryBrand approach.
Make sure you’re implementing these aspects of SEO in ways that make sense for your story, your visitors, and your business.
Here is a couple of helpful tips to improve your SEO:
- You need internal links that are relevant and helpful to your readers. These links also help Google understand your website structure and content. You need inbound links from high-quality external sources as well.
- This can bring additional traffic to your website and builds your authority and trustworthiness in the eyes of a search engine.
- Optimize your title tags, meta descriptions, and more.
- Don’t keyword stuff, but make sure you use your target phrases in sensible and understandable ways.
It's never wise to ditch everything you've worked on in the past because of a book you just read.
Don't ditch your SEO. Instead, take the principles you know that Building A StoryBrand teaches and apply them to your site. As we've discussed, those principles should improve your ranking even more.
If you do both SEO and StoryBrand well, you’ll win twice over. Not only will your website rank well, but you’ll also have a unique customer experience compared to your competitors. Your website will draw people in, and those people will be excited to become your customers. If you’re ready to have a website that incorporates both SEO and StoryBrand, we’re here to help.
Save time and money while connecting with your audience in a new way.