Whether you’re a blogger, copywriter, digital marketer, or a freelance writer, you want your content to rank high on Google. You want to appear in those search results above your competitors and win over your target audience. And, when you think about the science behind ranking high in Google search results, SEO is the first thing that comes to mind.
But, there’s more to SEO than just algorithms, codes, metrics, and data analysis. In fact, it’s important that you take a look at the bigger picture, and that’s where cognitive psychology steps in. With the help of this branch of psychology, you’ll be able to boost your SEO endeavors and get more people to love your content.
Let’s take a closer look at how psychology can change your SEO for the better.
What is Cognitive Psychology?
Let’s start from scratch and gain a better understanding of what cognitive psychology is.
By definition, cognitive psychology is “the scientific study of the mind as an information processor”. To put it simply, this branch of psychology explores our mind and explains how we think and why we think the way we do.
To broaden this term a bit further, we can say that cognitive psychology deals with:
- attention span
And, when you think about writing and publishing content online, isn’t your goal to:
- have people memorize the information you provide
- have them spend time focused on your content
- grab their attention
- persuade them into making a decision
As you can see, cognitive psychology is closely related to the way your target audience perceives, understands, and accepts the information you’re sending them. And that’s why you can use cognitive psychology to enhance your SEO strategy.
Now, let’s take a look at the practical cognitive psychology advice you can adopt to improve your content marketing and boost your SEO strategy.
1. Ease of Information Processing
One of the most important concepts in cognitive psychology, that allows you to influence the way your target audience receives the information you’re trying to send is called cognitive fluency.
Simply put, cognitive fluency is the ease with which we process information.
For marketers, content writers, and web designers, cognitive fluency can help bring the content closer to the target audience.
By making the content easy to read, process, and comprehend, you’re making it more believable, trustworthy, and memorable. To apply this to your content, you should:
- use everyday language instead of technical terminology
- use shorter, simples sentences
- use a font that is easy to read
If your target audience finds it easy to read your content, they’re more likely to continue reading and receive your message in its entirety.
2. Power of Headlines
The next thing you want to consider turning into a strong SEO advantage is the power of a great headline.
According to cognitive psychology, the power of first impressions is immense. If you don’t make a great first impression, you’ll hardly ever have a chance for a second shot.
This is why headlines play a huge role in the way your target audience sees you and your content. Let’s take a look at this example.
Here are the first two results you get when you type “quit smoking” in the Google search box. Which one do you feel is more clickable, appealing, and as a result gets more engagement?
- 13 Best Quit-Smoking Tips Ever – WebMD
- Quit Smoking I CDC
The first headline tells you that if you open the article you’ll get:
- practical tips
- top-notch advice
- the ultimate guide on quitting smoking
Even though the second result is from a credible source, it doesn’t create the same drive in those who see the headline. It makes no promises and it’s quite vague.
This is why your headlines need to be:
- clear about the content they cover
- actionable and engaging
Use the power of the first impression and turn your headlines into a tool for improved SEO, and boost your website traffic.
3. Problem-Solving & Persuasion
People online usually look for ways to:
- solve a problem
- overcome an issue
- understand or learn something
- make a decision easier
“If you know what your target audience is interested in and what are their major problems, you can use this to improve your content. All you have to do is list the specific issues you’ll be resolving within your content,” says Mariah Faber, a psychologist and writer at Write Scout.
Here’s what you should do:
- open up with a shortlist of issues you’ll cover
- describe the benefits they’ll get from reading the content
A shortlist of benefits or problems you’ll cover will be the push in the right direction that the readers need. They need you to tell them why they need to keep reading.
CTAs have been around for ages, even before the appearance of digital media.
This is because they’re based on the psychological phenomena of the power of telling people what to do. The imperative is, therefore, a strong SEO weapon you should use to have more people actively engage with your content.
So, what are the elements of a great CTA? Let’s take a look:
- powerful design
- actionable language
- great placement
A CTA should be clearly visible and attention-grabbing. It needs to tell the readers exactly what to do:
- Join Our Free Quit-Smoking Webinar
- Receive Daily Updates on Our Summer Collection
- Sign-Up For Free
5. Social Proof
Social proof was a term coined way back in 1984 and is both a psychological and a social term. It describes the tendency of people to copy the actions of those around them, believing they possess more knowledge.
This phenomenon has been transferred to marketing and is widely used as a powerful SEO weapon.
So, to make more people perceive you as credible and trustworthy, you’ll have to show them those who already trust you. Marketers and content writers employ the power of:
- user-generated content
- customer feedback
You can cover customer’s journeys, use their images and videos, or simply cite their reviews of your product, services, or content.
Daniel Pearson, a head of content at Subjecto agrees: “People need to see there are those who’ve already tested you and marked you as credible, professional, or trustworthy. Social proof is, therefore, one of the greatest psychological phenomena marketers and content writers frequently lean on.”
6. The Visual Effect
Finally, you can use another cognitive psychology principle to make your content more appealing.
According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “the human brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds”.
That means that the visual representation of your content will play a huge role in:
- making a great first impression
- winning over more people
To make your content appealing to everyone’s eyes, you should:
- use color psychology to convey the right emotion
- use attention-grabbing images
- break down your content into subheadings
- use lists and bullet points
The design and visual aspect of your content will play a significant role in creating engaging and memorable content.
It might sound surprising at first, but a cognitive psychology approach can make all the difference for your SEO endeavors. It will help you wear your customers’ shoes and start thinking about the way they see you. The tips listed above can guide you and help you start working on your cognitive psychology approach to SEO. Use them wisely and you’ll be able to feel the positive benefits sooner than you expect.
This guest post was contributed by Estelle Liotard.