Why Are People So Important?
That sounds like such a stupid question – but it really is a big opportunity!
SEO, and link building in particular, has evolved. It’s no longer a case of finding a list of directories, articles, blogs, and forums you can submit to. But that doesn’t mean that competitive link analysis is dead – just like all things this has evolved.
“Don’t Spend 100 Pennies, Spend a Pound”
Quality is so much more important than quantity. You don’t want to focus your time around submission-based link building anymore as it’s likely to be very low quality.
But you can still learn from strategies with competitor analysis. You just need to look for quality instead of quantity. This means finding a list of media opportunities, blog placement sites, creative content ideas, etc...
However, one thing commonly forgotten is that…
People Share Content
If you’re generating a natural link – that means that someone, somewhere has linked to this by choice – normally because they like it (or strongly dislike it!). And remember that people will commonly share content via social media as opposed to linking/blogging – so target those audiences specifically.
Here’s an example post I wrote recently on content auditing – you’ll find that all of the top links pointing to this have been added by people! Whether it’s social media submissions, social sharing, blog coverage/roundups – they’ve all been linked to because the post has got the attention of a person, who has liked this content and then linked to it.
People Link to Content
Post-Penguin, you really should be looking at a natural link acquisition. So get your content in-front of people, not websites. For example, if you want to get your brand new infographic placed on Mashable – don’t contact the website submission page and hope for the best. Get to know their authors and writers instead – these people can really help you to get your content placed in front of the right audiences – because they are there already!
People Trust People, Not Brands
Everyone likes a more personal approach, especially online. So try to build a personal brand that people will trust and when doing outreach do this in your own name. People will appreciate this much more if they know who is behind your content – whereas company social accounts, for example, can often lack that personal touch.
Google Can’t Ignore People/Social Signals
Social is such a strong correlation towards search rankings – as the factors above show – and when assessing the value of content, Google cannot ignore this. User online sharing habits have evolved in the way that people will now share content via social more often than they will link to it or blog about it.
So while Google have openly admitted that social not a strong, or at least a direct, factor at the moment – if Facebook or Twitter have that much data that they know what the top content on the web is, then that is a big threat to Google!
And Google are determined to make social work – so much so that their employee bonuses are tied to its success.
How You Can Leverage Authorship & Social
- Find the best writers in your industry: Use tools such as Linkdex to identify the best writers within your industry or niche. That way you can identify those people who you want to link to your site – figuring out where to best spend your time in building relationships.
- Get on their radar: Find out which social media sites they use and then share their content and connect with them – just don’t go overboard! Do enough to get on their radar and add value to their conversations – don’t stalk or spam them!
- Give them a reason to link to you: Analyze the content they write, find out who they commonly link to and find a creative angle that will interest them. Then once you have that angle, write about it. For example, if your favorite travel blogger has just written about her recent trip to Paris – follow it up with your thoughts.
- Meet them: Again, this is overlooked by many people – but meet the people you want to link to you. For example, if you’re looking to get the attention from leading London bloggers. Build the online relationship as the first step – but what better way of strengthening that connection is there then actually meeting them? So spend 20 minutes grabbing a coffee with them instead – that’s likely to be a far more valuable use of your time. If you’ve got a number of people you’d like to meet – find out what events they go to, or even run one yourself. That will save you from going crazy on too much coffee if nothing else!
- Hire authors, not copywriters: In my opinion the days of SEOs hiring copywriters writing under anonymous names is quickly disappearing. In the UK the ASA has struggled to enforce true ownership of content legally. But the incentive offered by Google for having that ownership could actually be far more powerful! This is because the lack of ownership could be a big risk toward rankings. And it’s vitally important – Google wants to rank content based on the reputation and trustworthiness of an author – so there’s a big opportunity to get rewarded for this if you’re on board.
- Leverage their contacts and social networks: If you hire specialist writers within a niche, you aren't just benefiting from their writing skills. They also are likely to have a relevant audience and network of friends and contacts who they can help to leverage to spread your message. Whether via social media promotion, blogger outreach, or traditional offline word of mouth – these are great targeted contacts and relationships that leading writers within a market can help to open up for you.
- Build an audience by leveraging bigger sites: Another commonly overlooked tactic is the value of leveraging larger audiences. If you’ve got a brand new blog, even if you’re a big brand – you’re going to struggle to build a targeted audience overnight. It’s going to take time and effort – so why not tap into other large audiences within your community that you can help to create content for and reach out to a wider number of people. All while still building up your own audience at the same time.
- Remember content isn’t just text: Mix it up! Don’t just create text copy – look at different opportunities to target your audience. This might mean infographics or interactive HTML5, video production, whitepapers, ebooks, etc. Basically any content that you are publishing – think of different ways of turning this into creative and interesting brand stories that can be shared online.
- Don’t forget to mark it all up: Authorship is clearly important already in influencing click-through rates, personalized search. Expect AuthorRank to have a greater impact on rankings over the next 6-12 months. I really think there’s a lot more to come on this yet. So I’d highly recommend on focusing on all of the above, but don’t miss the final step of ensuring it’s all linked up and tied into your Google+ account. Maximize the potential of your author profile.
Authors are Different to Copywriters – and Far More Important to Google
With authors, it isn't just about the writing skills of an individual – it’s also about their social profile (Google+ in particular).
Google wants to know everything they can about the person behind the writing, in order to assess the quality of the author, as well as the publishing site. So bear in mind that building a relevant/targeted social audience is a key part of your content marketing strategy – as well as creating great content!
So what tips do you have for making sure you are making the most of Google authorship?
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!