Building identity around top content is now an integral part of a strong digital marketing strategy. As the industry buzzes about changes afoot with Author Rank, it has become impossible to ignore for forward-thinking marketing professionals.
It's no longer a matter of if Author Rank will be widely implemented; it's only a matter of when. As even AJ Kohn, outspoken web marketer, states: "Author Rank could be more disruptive than all of the Panda updates combined." So how does one prepare for the inevitable change?
Many, if not all SEO best practices regarding content strategy for link acquisition, will hold true for Author Rank as well. Take a look at this non exhaustive list and you can already apply a similar strategy for a strong Author Rank.
- Use Google keyword tools and Trends, to ensure popular keywords are included in your articles.
- Publish consistently on a regular basis. Aim for at least one piece of value-charged content a week for high levels of engagement and lead generation.
- Make sure the title of your articles answers what your audience is searching. Keep in mind that using a "natural language" will earn you better results than stuffing it with the right keywords.
- Copy should be tight and content should become a resource to answer questions and add value in your online community.
With that in mind, Google's effort to continuously improve search quality is good news for SEO professionals already using strong content strategies. The addition of products and services like Google+ and Google Authorship have been introduced to build a "strong identity" allowing the possibility to weed out "spammers" and reward real authors.
That said, Google continues to underscore the importance of producing high quality content in order to get ahead in the SERPs. Writers who are publishing content with Author Rank in mind are positioning themselves to fast track their reputation and ranking once the inevitable changes are rolled out.
Building Author Rank
Though Google is still ironing out some kinks tied with Author Rank (for instance, some brands don't want employees creating content associated with the company) you can get started on building your Author Rank following these six best practices.
1. Claim Your Authorship
By using Google+ as your identity platform, claim authorship of your content to grab a first class seat when Author Rank is implemented. Once claimed, you will get visibility in search results as your content appears in a type of rich snippet, increasing your click-through rate as a result.
2. Use Google+ Consistently
- Be sure to add the +1 button on your site as well to increase interactions and traffic. Google will be able to see how people are engaging with your content.
- Keep posting throughout the day and interact with the communities that interest you by +1ing and commenting on popular posts. Many members of Google's communities are more likely to add you in their circles when you actively engage with them.
3. Network on Google+
Keep an eye out for fellow authors with high Author Ranks in your chosen Google communities to connect with. Once in their circle, you'll be able to easily share high quality content and increase your Author Rank.
4. Selective Guest Posting
Guest posting by selecting high quality sites with well-curated content will be beneficial to your Author Rank – just like a good backlink would be to your site. You don't want many low quality blog posts but a few high quality guest posts.
5. Find Your Niche
Find your area of interest and stick to it. Author Rank is more variable than PageRank when it comes to recognizing topic diversification. However, you'll be much more likely to rank as a high authority on one subject than two.
6. Create Great Content
As ubiquitous as it is, great content makes or breaks the deal. Create content that's worth sharing. Since the Panda update, link acquisition has evolved into providing great content that audiences care about. Content that would make them want to share on their own.
This last part is particularly important as it ties in with Author Rank almost seamlessly. By claiming authorship and linking your identity to your content, it becomes dangerous to create content just for the sake of creating content. After all, unlike PageRank, it's difficult to increase Author Rank, but extremely easy to decrease it.
Google has essentially envisioned a system to ensure that Author Rank not be gamed – that remains to be seen. The idea is that, as an author, you won't risk your reputation by manipulating search rankings and would rather not endorse content inappropriately after establishing a "ranked" reputation.
Finally, outside of Google+, your identity shines most when you help grow your community by attending local meet-ups, conferences or even just providing your expertise for free. It's also an opportunity to connect your online and offline voice to one identity, increasing not only your real world clout but also your Author Rank.
After all, it's all about building relationships not links, so while it's easy to take away that content is still king, fellow Googler Amit Singhal hits the nail on the head when he says: "But fundamentally it's not just about content. It's about identity, relationships and content."