A Panda and a Penguin walk into a bar--and send your Google search ranking plummeting a few hundred places.
If you didn’t laugh at the above, that’s because it’s not really a joke. It’s actually a serious situation for many Internet marketers (like this one ), who have had to completely change their SEO tactics because of Google’s sweeping changes.
Over the past couple of years, Google has completely changed the game  when it comes to SEO with a series of algorithm updates labeled "Panda" and “Penguin.” Gone are the days when you could stuff your website with low-quality articles packed with the right keywords or link spam exchanges to boost your Google rankings.
Today the game is all about quality--content that’s authentic, informative, and, most of all, attractive to your intended audience. In short, we need to stop thinking about SEO as “search engine optimization” and more as “social engagement optimization ,” as Greg Henderson at SEO Desk  put it.
So, the question becomes, how do you play nice with Panda and Penguin and turn your website into a more attractive animal?
Neuromarketing  is becoming more and more of a popular answer. If you’re unfamiliar with it, neuromarketing is a science that’s based on the fact that 95% of all thoughts, emotions, and learning occur before we are ever aware of it, according to Roger Dooley , the author of Neuromarketing and Brainfluence. That means most of us are actually only talking to 5% of our potential customers’ brains!
Fortunately, scientists are able to study just what kind of marketing hits that other 95% of our brains in the right way, according to this ABC News report . For example, Campbell Soups studied the brain’s reactions to different aspects of its marketing visuals--and ended up changing its iconic soup labels  for the first time in decades, based on the results of the research.
If what’s good enough for Campbell’s is m’m m’m good enough for you, there are some principles of this new science that you can put into action with your website content and design to accomplish your new social engagement optimization. Here are a few suggestions from Christophe Morin , the “Chief Pain Officer” of SalesBrain, a neuromarketing agency, as told to The New York Times :
Don’t Make It All About You
Morin believes effective neuromarketing is all about appealing to a customer’s pain (hence his unusual job title). That means spending less time talking about how great you are and more time talking about how you’re going to help a potential buyer who comes to your site.
Don’t Take Too Long
Our brains are getting inundated with messages all day long--so they respond well to pitches that are short and sweet. Short impactful statements on the homepage can do the job a whole lot better than huge blocks of copy that overexplain what you’re all about. Instead, focus on quick ways to sum up how your product or service can change the customer’s life for the better.
Seeing Is Better than Reading
What our eyes see connects directly with the unconscious parts of the brain that marketers want to reach; that means you want to make your points (and your website design) as visual as possible. Photos and pictures are a great way to sell concepts quickly and directly in a brain-pleasing way. And, by the way, facial expressions are great to use--our noggins immediately identify with them.
Have a Strong Start--and a Big Finish
The brain notices how you begin and how you end more than what you’re saying in the middle, so you want to make sure that your site (and your content) has an attention-getting open and a close that really makes your case in dramatic fashion.
If you’re too clever or too abstract, our brains are going to want to move on (unless it’s something we really want to figure out, which isn’t usually the case with marketing). Make sure your content is written clearly in language everyone can understand (unless you’re serving a niche audience that expects more technical or sophisticated language).
Emotion hits our underground intellect more powerfully than the most effectively worded argument. It makes whatever the message is more memorable as well. Go beyond facts to make your customers feel.
Many of the points made above simply confirm marketing advice given by experts over the years--but neuromarketing has demonstrated there is real scientific validity to these recommendations. As Google’s algorithms grow more sophisticated, our website marketing also has to become more sophisticated (and yet simpler by neuromarketing guidelines).
But there’s a big upside to all this. By working towards more actual social engagement opportunities with our website visitors, instead of just artificially boosting traffic, we also increase our odds for creating conversations, conversions, and long-term clients. And that’s definitely a win-win in this Panda-Penguin age.
[Image: Flickr user Sarah-Ji ]