Tag Archive | "Prepare"

Prepare to say goodbye to average position in Google Ads on September 30

Update any scripts, rules and reporting and look to Google’s new position metrics.



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How to Prepare for a Successful Marketing Analytics Implementation

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Battleground Mobile: Why (& How) to Prepare for the Future

Posted by EricEnge

[Estimated read time: 12 minutes]

The world of mobile continues to explode. Major players like Google, Facebook, and Apple are investing massively in efforts to establish themselves as the dominant player in the new markets that are emerging as a result. These companies are betting in a big way on continuing changes in mobile usage and in user expectations for mobile devices, and that means you should be, too. It means you need to have a mobile-first mentality.

The investments by these companies are happening at many different levels. For example, Google has already made mobile friendliness a ranking factor, and intends to increase the strength of that signal in May 2016. But there’s much more to this story, so let’s dig in!

Continuing rise of mobile devices

Sure, you’ve heard it before, but the growth of installed mobile devices is probably happening even faster than you think:

According to this data, PCs, tablets, and smartphones will only be about 25% of the installed Internet-enabled devices by 2020. Just a few years ago, these represented two-thirds of the installed Internet devices. In the biz world, this is what we call a “disruptive change.”

Many of the new device types will probably have a fairly passive role in our lives (such as smart refrigerators, smart thermostats, and other Internet of Things devices). By this, I mean that I don’t expect them to become devices that we interact with heavily.

However, many classes of these devices will be ones that we’ll interact with substantially, such as smart TVs, Internet media devices, and wearables.

Here’s a recast view of that same chart focusing on just this class of devices:

Looking at this new chart, we see that PCs and tablets — the devices that have a fairly substantial keyboard available — still make up only about 40% of the installed devices.

Rise of voice search

So how will we interact with those devices? The primary way of doing that will be via voice.

In the recent keynote event I did with Gary Illyes, he indicated that the number of voice searches Google received in 2015 was double that of 2014, so they’re definitely seeing a steep rise in voice search volume.

The recent interview that Danny Sullivan did with Amit Singhal underscored this. The now-retired Head of Search Quality at Google (he retired as of February 29, 2016) spent a year living primarily on mobile phones. One of the interesting exchanges in the interview:

Danny Sullivan: Do you tend to type more or do you voice-search more?
Amit Singhal: I’m swiping and voice-searching far more than letter-typing.

At another point in the interview he also says: “I realized … that on mobile devices, that I wanted to act more.” This notion is backed up by something Gary Illyes said in our recent keynote event: “We get, I think, 30 times as many action queries by voice as by typing.”

This emergence of voice search is a big deal. As Singhal noted above, this leads to much more voice search, and voice queries use natural language queries far more than typed searches. This appears to be one of the major reasons behind Google developing and launching its RankBrain algorithm.

Who’s winning the mobile wars so far?

Recently, I watched a great video of a presentation by Chartbeat’s Tony Haile. In this video he shows some interesting data on content consumption, as well as the mobile market. One of the more fascinating charts is this one showing that Facebook utterly dominates consumption of major news events:

Note that this particular chart is for one single story on The Atlantic, entitled “What ISIS Really Wants,” but it’s a compelling chart just the same. In addition, Facebook has 678 million users (47% of all their users) that access their platform solely from mobile devices, and 934 million of their 1.44 billion users (65%) access Facebook from a mobile device every day.

Taking this a step further, you can see how Facebook’s dominance here plays out on a minute-by-minute basis, using (once again) the ISIS news story as an example:

In this view, you see Google leading the early surge, but once Facebook spikes, its volume quickly overwhelms that of Google. So in this view, it looks like Facebook is dominating major news cycles. In contrast, Google owns the lulls in the news cycles:

Another interesting note from the Haile presentation is that overall mobile traffic share is continuing to grow, and is pushing towards 60% and higher of all traffic. However, he notes that this is “not because it’s killing desktop, it’s because it’s outgrowing it.”

Haile also points out that there are 5 types of things that you can do with content. These are:

  1. Create
  2. Host
  3. Curate
  4. Distribute
  5. Monetize

Facebook has historically been used to curate and distribute content. With their new Facebook Instant Articles initiative, they are now taking on the hosting and monetization of content. I’ll discuss that more below.

So does this mean that Facebook is the runaway winner in mobile? No, as the charts above focused on the major news cycles, but nonetheless, it shows that Facebook has some strong advantages over Google that you might not have expected.

Mobile apps

Another thing that many underestimate is the growing importance of the apps market. comScore’s September 2015 Mobile App Report provides some compelling data to help you increase your understanding of where apps fit into the overall market.

First, let’s took at the share that apps represent of all digital media time:

Per this chart, usage in all 3 segments is growing (including desktop), but the growth of time in apps is happening at a far greater rate than any other segment. In addition, time spent on apps exceeds that of time on desktop and the mobile web together. Note that not all app time is on smartphones, as usage in tablets have high app usage as well, but smartphone app usage by itself represents 44% of all digital media time spent:

I gotta tell you, seeing that 44% number was a “wow” moment for me. Facebook and Google have both recognized the importance of this growing usage pattern. You can see this in the following chart of the top 25 installed apps by user count:

The top 6 apps, as well as 8 of the top 9 apps, are all provided by either Facebook or Google. Ever wonder why Google keeps Google Plus around? Might have something to do with that app coming in at position 18 among the most-installed apps. This makes G+ a huge potential source of data for Google.

Facebook has the clear lead here too, though, as it’s the number-one installed app, and it’s considered the number one app for 48% of those that have it installed:

One of the big problems with Apps for most publishers is even after you get installed is driving ongoing usage. According to Google, “only one quarter of installed apps are used daily while one quarter are are left completely unused.”

One method that Google offers to help app publishers is app indexing. This will enable content within apps to show up in search results for related queries:

Google currently has 50 billion links within apps indexed, and “25% of searches on Android return deep links to apps for signed-in users. In addition to driving re-engagement, app indexing on Android will also surface install buttons for users who do not yet have your app installed. Since 1 in 4 apps are already being discovered through search, app indexing is a simple and free method for acquiring new users.” Here are some examples of app install buttons showing up in the SERPs:

As shown here, the query that led to this showing up in the SERP was the name of the business, Priceza. However, Google’s Mariya Moeva provided me with other examples of “app seeking queries” that might bring up such an install button:

  1. restaurant finder
  2. grocery shopping list
  3. breaking news app

The benefits of app indexing should be obvious, but Google shares many case studies here. One of these from AliExpress showed an 80–90% increase in search impressions, and a 30–40% increase for searches on Android for users that had the app installed.

This leads to bringing users back to your app, and this offers compelling value as app engaged users tend to be more loyal, place higher dollar value orders, and order more frequently. Part of the upside in terms of visibility results from the fact that app indexing is used by Google as a ranking signal, though the scope of that boost isn’t clear.

Driving initial installs, and then getting help to get users back to your app seems like a good thing!

Speed, speed, and more speed

You’ve heard this, too: that speed is paramount. But you might still have no idea how important. You may well have seen data like this:

Or you may have seen data from some of the Akamai travel site performance study that showed:

  1. Three second rule: 57 percent of online shoppers will wait three seconds or less before abandoning a site
  2. 65% of 18–24 year olds expect a site to load in two seconds or less

It would be tempting to look at all this data and then start setting specific goals as to how fast you need to be, but I want to discourage you from thinking about it that way. Instead, I’m going to give you a different goal:

Be faster than your competition

In today’s hyper-connected world, the real issue is that any time you offer some subpar aspect to what you do, the competitive alternative is only a click or two away. Understanding the implications of that, and applying it in all your online thinking is one of the most important things you can do.

Don’t just focus on being faster than they are today either, but make yourself faster than they will be in 6 months or a year from now.

For some basic help you can check your pages out in Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. However, both Facebook and Google offer initiatives for dramatically speeding up your web pages, and that’s what I’ll explore next.

Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook Instant Articles officially launched on May 12th, 2015. The idea behind the program is to dramatically speed up performance of content on mobile devices. When the program initially launched, it was available only to some publishers, such as the NY Times, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Business Insider, NBC News, and Mic.

The benefits that the program offers is near-instant loading of content on mobile devices, and the opportunity to get Facebook to sell your ad space for you (though you can still sell it yourself if you want to). If Facebook sells the ads for you, the split has been reported at 70% to you and 30% kept by Facebook, though that does not appear to be a hard-and-fast number.

Instant Articles come with some neat visualization features too, such as rapid scrolling, zooming capabilities, and the ability to connect to maps functionality.

However, the platform is a proprietary one, with Facebook hosting the content. This will be scary to some. To try and ease those concerns, Facebook does enable publishers to sell their own ads if they prefer, without any need to pay Facebook a cut, or to include their own analytics on the Instant Articles.

As of April 12, 2016, this program will be opened up to all publishers. According to Peter Kafka of re/code: “When I asked reps there if that included one-person operations — that is, someone typing their own stuff on a Tumblr page or Medium page or whatever — they said yes, with a tiny bit of hesitation.”

Accelerated Mobile Pages

In October of 2015, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) were announced. Like Facebook Instant Articles, its goal is to load pages on mobile devices instantly. One of the fundamental differences about AMP is that it’s an ope source project, with participants such as:

  1. Google
  2. Pinterest
  3. Twitter
  4. WordPress
  5. The Guardian

AMP relies on two basic principles to make it operate faster:

  1. The permitted HTML is very limited, with the basic goal being that all code is already pre-rendered to minimize need for server accesses when rendering a page.
  2. The pages can be cached by third parties. For example, Google already has the caching infrastructure in place, but companies such as Pinterest and Twitter can set up their own if they choose.

To make this work, you are only allowed to use fairly limited CSS, and the AMP-supplied JavaScript library. You can more or less forget about AJAX, or forms, for example.

There are also some hoops you need to jump through to implement analytics on these pages, run your ads, and deal with unsupported functionality, but workarounds do exist. For example, according to Paul Shapiro at SMX West, iframes are “the holy grail of unsupported functionality” for AMP:

Also, to implement analytics, you’ll need to use special tags. Paul Shapiro recommends the PageFrog plugin to help with that for both AMP and Facebook Instant Articles:

Expect the AMP platform to evolve rapidly, as there are many interested parties working on this and many of the current shortcomings will get better over time.

Developing an action plan

The cumulative weight of all these changes represents a significant disruptive event. These are the times when businesses can rapidly accelerate their growth, or lose the opportunity and get stuck playing catch-up. I’m pretty sure which of those two scenarios I prefer. The first steps, really, are to understand what are the specific opportunities for connecting with your customers over mobile, and prioritizing among them.

You should have a basic mobile-friendly site, as that’s already a ranking factor. But, your thought process needs to go deeper than that. For example, start understanding what type of mobile experience your customers want to be having. I’d urge you to put significant creative thinking into this question, as the best mobile experience might involve approaches that are quite different from what you do on your current website.

The strategic shift you need to make is to make your business mobile-first. Any time you think about adding something to your website, for example, stop coming up with the desktop design first and relying on responsive web design to handle mobile for you. Start thinking about your mobile experience first, and then consider the desktop variation second.

As you engage in that thought process, be willing to incorporate some of the specific elements I’ve discussed within this article. Here’s a summary of those items, and how they might fit in:

  1. Should you build an app? Yes, if you believe you can put enough value into an app to generate installs and bring users back to use it on an ongoing basis.
    • While I did not discuss this in this article, make sure to perform App Store Optimization to help generate more installs as well.
    • Implement Google’s app indexing. This may help you generate more installs, and should also help bring people back to your app on a regular basis
  2. Should you implement Facebook Instant Articles? I’m a big fan of trying this out for your article-level content. It can’t hurt to have it load instantly within Facebook, particularly if you do any level of Facebook promotion. We’re planning to test it here at STC and see what it does for us.
  3. Should you implement AMP? I’m in the same camp on this one: you should try this, and we’re testing it here at STC.

As for the impact of natural language (voice) search, this just increases the emphasis on the quality of your content and your focus on natural language in that content, instead of obsessing over tweaking the content for search engines.

This list really just itemizes the tactical opportunities for you, and the biggest point is that you need to start operating from a mobile-first mindset at all levels in your online business efforts.

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B2B Content Marketing Playbook: Tips to Prepare You for the Big Content Game

B2B-CONTENT-PLAYBOOK

The 2015 B2B Marketing Report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs sheds a pretty bright light on the true state of B2B content marketing. While 86% of B2B marketers are using content marketing, only 8% rate their content marketing efforts as “very effective”. It’s not so different than teams participating in sports like football. Sure, everyone is playing, but who is actually really good at it?

Fundamental blocking and tackling are key for a winning football game. The same can be said for implementing a successful B2B content marketing program: mastery of the fundamentals is essential. With B2B content creation in particular, marketers must be prepared for everything from understanding the voice of the customer to developing the right mix of content assets.

For most B2B marketers, staying on top of the B2B content marketing game takes practice, practice and more practice to be successful. Drilling those basic skills can mean the difference between winning and losing the business customer acquisition game.

Here’s the good news: We’ve put this B2B Content Marketing Playbook together to provide you with all the content marketing formations you’ll need to play the B2B content game right and maybe even win a content marketing championship!

shutterstock_221686972

Learn the Language of Your Customer

Writing killer content for business buyers takes practice. Part of that practice involves understanding the language of the industry that you’re writing for. It is important to strike a balance between incorporating the proper industry terms while not overstuffing your content or using jargon in the wrong context.

Here are a few steps you can take to catch on to the terms you need to know:

  1. Talk to your current customers – learn their pain points, goals and the words they use to describe what’s important
  2. Review the website content of your customers and their competitors – learn to speak like a native
  3. Search for and absorb information from reputable content sources online – where do your customers discover and consume industry and solutions information? What publications, influencers and peers do they listen to and read?

Connect with the Right Content Marketing Resources

Believe it or not, sometimes you’ll need to bring in reinforcements. Determining whether you need to hire experienced industry copywriters for the short or long-term, depends on the project.

No matter how long contract copywriters or content marketing agency resources are a part of your marketing team’s efforts, learn as much as you can in the time that you’re working with them. Be wary of writers that claim to have industry expertise but don’t provide examples of their work.

When interviewing potential resources, keep the following in mind:

  • How long have they been creating content for the specific industry?
  • Have they written content for a reputable content source or company?
  • What is their process for understanding content goals, customer voice and actual content creation?

Map B2B Buyer Personas to Content

To deliver the most relevant and useful information to B2B buyers, its important to identify distinct customer segments and the stages of their buying experience. To write specifically for a group of buyers and what they care about, it’s useful to create a persona that represents their common interests, behaviors, pain points and goals.

For each persona and buying experience or journey, customers will have different types of questions depending on where they are in the process. The B2B content you create should address the needs of a specific customer persona as well as the broad to specific questions they need answered when investigating the kinds of solutions your company offers.

Let’s assume for a second that the product is a marketing automation tool and the target customer is a large brand seeking a solution to help deliver their marketing in a more structured and meaningful way. It’s important that content is created for any one of the positions/needs below:

  • Director of Marketing: Is interested in seeing if there is a better way to create, distribute and track content.
    • Stage: Awareness
    • Sample Blog Content: 10 Signs You May Need Marketing Automation
  • Marketing Manager: Has been given a directive to create a cost/capability comparison for a variety of different marketing automation solutions:
    • Stage: Engagement
    • Sample Blog Content: 5 Features & Benefits of XYZ Marketing Automation
  • VP of Marketing: Needs to determine if Marketing Automation will be a sound investment for the organization.
    • Stage: Conversion
    • Sample Blog Content: 7 Ways Marketing Automation Saves Money & Improves Efficiency

The examples above only scratch the surface in terms of potential personas, stages in the buying cycle and types of content that can be used to meet the needs of your customers.

playbook fumble

Lead Your Content with Key Points

It’s likely that the professionals searching for B2B solutions have responsibilities outside of purchasing the product that you’re promoting via content marketing (aka, they’re busy). Keep that in mind when you’re determining how to structure content.

Blog posts for example, should quickly summarize key points so that the reader can decide if they would like to continue reading. This sets the stage for what they’ll find in the blog post.

The B2B and H2H Tug of War

B2B customers desire content that meets both their personal and business needs. How can you strike that delicate balance?

  • Be specific
  • Show empathy
  • Focus on solutions
  • Inject voice and personality
  • Create content for where they live (social, mobile), not just where they work (blogs, publications)

shutterstock_90027943

Incorporate Multiple Types of Content

Did you know that there are well over 30 types of Content Marketing tactics? Based on the product or service that content is being created for, and the audience, there is an incredible opportunity to provide multiple content types to provide buyers with the best possible information experience. Examples of tactics that have traditionally worked well for B2B marketing include:

  • Case Studies
  • White Papers
  • Blog Posts
  • eBooks
  • Digital Newsletters
  • Email Marketing
  • Webinars and Real World Events

Also consider the “human” side of B2B marketing through social media, mobile and visually-focused content. After all, buyers are people too.

Include Calls to Action (CTAs)

B2B content should almost always include a call to action of some sort. It’s important that you always give readers direction on what to do next, whether it’s to consume another piece of content, subscribe, share or make an appointment. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering B2B content CTAs:

  • Don’t Be Shy: Your CTAs should stand out as a clear next step. Instead of burying your CTA at the bottom of the page, consider using your content header or sidebar.
  • Keep it Simple: While you may want to know everything about the person completing your CTA, you have to remove the barrier to entry. Ask for only the necessary information you need to accomplish your goal.
  • Offer Value, Again: Remind the prospect what they’re signing up for. Be sure to reiterate that they are signing up for XYZ webinar, which will help them accomplish ABC.

Experiment with Landing Pages

Landing pages create an enormous opportunity for capturing information that can be used to effectively nurture B2B leads. When experimenting with landing pages here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • There may be different levels of decision makers and different stages of the buying cycle.
  • You can increase the value of good content by requiring form completion
  • Take some time to A/B test your page content and forms
  • Always include testimonials

Why Mastering the Game of B2B Content Marketing is Essential

Jumping head-first into a game of B2B content marketing without mastering the blocking and tackling basics can quickly have you experiencing more losses than wins. In order to create successful B2B content, understand who your customers are, what they care about and how the product that you’re marketing helps solve their business problem. Speak to your target buyer using their language, using the kinds of content they prefer and with offers that will be the most compelling for them to take action.

In football, it’s often said that the best defense is a good offense. Stay on top of your B2B content marketing game by incorporating the basic rules from this B2B Content Marketing Playbook into your content routine.

Photos via Shutterstock: FirstSecondThirdFourth


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How to Prepare for AuthorRank and Get the Jump on Google

Posted by Mike Arnesen

What AuthorRank Is

If you're like me and you have your finger on Google’s pulse on a daily basis, you’ve undoubtedly heard of AuthorRank. However, I honestly don’t think it’s received its due attention and if you were AFK for a few days or don’t have the option to be “jacked into the feed”, you may have missed it entirely.

Example of Google AuthorRankOver seven years ago (in August of 2005), Google filed a patent for “Agent Rank” which was later masterfully decoded by Bill Slawski. In the patent, Googler David Minogue references ranking “agents” and using the reception of the content they create and their interactions as a factor in determining their rank. The patent suggests that more well-received and popular “agents” could have their associated content rank higher than unsigned content or the content of other less-authoritative “agents”.

Nothing much happened with Agent Rank after that because the idea of ranking “agents” is dependent on being able to identify them in the first place. No great system for claiming an online identify really existed back then; I wouldn’t call W3C’s XML-signature syntax or other digital signature protocol an ideal solution.

Still, ranking agents remained a goal for Google. In 2011, Eric Schmidt expressed that Google still had a desire and need to identify agents in order to improve search quality, stating “it would be useful if we had strong identity so we could weed (spammers) out.”

Literally the following month (September 2011), Google filed a continuation patent referencing a “portable identity platform” which sounds a whole lot like Google+. Profiles on Google+ make an infinitely easier digital signature system than anything that’s come before and, with the rollout of Google Authorship (tying a Google+ profile to pieces of content), it really sounds like that’s what we’re looking at here.

So now Google can start attributing content to specific “agents” and doing just what they set out to do in 2005: rank them.

As early as February of this year, the term “AuthorRank” started to surface in the industry. AJ Kohn wrote a great post on AuthorRank and speculated that this development could change the search game as we know it. He also stated that it would be “bigger than Panda and Penguin combined”.

AuthorRank, of course, wouldn’t be a replacement for PageRank, but would be used to inform PageRank, therefore enabling Google to rank high-quality content more appropriately. I think AJ’s right on the money and that it’s not a matter of if Google rolls out AuthorRank, but when.

AuthorRank will filter PR-based rankings to provide better results

In Google’s never-ending mission to surface high quality, trustworthy content for their searchers, AuthorRank is really the next big step. After more than seven years, I believe they are just about ready to implement it.

Why You Need to Be Ready

I’m certain that Google is going to begin incorporating AuthorRank into their ranking algorithm in the not-too-distant future. I’d put good money on it. All the signs point to it: Google’s emphasis on social, Google Authorship, their ongoing efforts to measure site trust, and their progressive devaluation of raw links as a ranking factor. People want to read content written by credible and knowledgeable people and using AuthorRank as a major part of their search algorithm just makes sense.

Brace yourselves; AuthorRank is Coming

How Long Do We Have?

That’s what we, as SEOs, want to know, right? How long do we have before we need to start worrying about building our own AuthorRank or working on it for our clients?

Stop thinking like that.

It doesn’t matter when it’s coming because once it does, it’ll be too late. Now I’m not saying that the launch of AuthorRank is going to nuke site traffic like Panda, but the impact will be huge. While the rollout of AuthorRank obviously won’t be an algorithmic penalty, sites that have been prepping and carefully building AuthorRank for their site contributors are going to have a major advantage. It may as well be a penalty against the sites and brands that have done nothing to prepare.

The fact is, we have just as long as it takes Google to effectively measure AuthorRank and decide they can rely on it. That could happen tomorrow or it could happen in two years. We don’t know. So let’s all start working on building AuthorRank today.

We can make a highly-educated guess as to what will determine AuthorRank

What Signals Will Factor Into AuthorRank?

Google considers over 200 ranking factors when determining where our sites rank in organic search, so it’s safe to say that they’ll be using plenty of signals to calculate AuthorRank. Here’s my shortlist of factors that Google is likely to use in their calculation:

  • The average PageRank of an author’s content.
  • The average number of +1s and Google+ shares the author’s content receives.
  • The number of Google+ circles an author is in.
  • Reciprocal connections to other high AuthorRank authors.
  • The number and authority of sites an author’s content has been published to.
  • The engagement level of an author’s native Google+ content (i.e., posts to Google+).
  • The level of on-site engagement for an author’s content (i.e., comments and author’s responses to comments)
  • Outside authority indicators (e.g., the presence of a Wikipedia page).
  • YouTube subscribers and/or engagement on authored videos (speculation: multiple-attribution author markup for YouTube videos coming soon).
  • Any number of importance/authority metrics on social networks that Google deems trustworthy enough (Twitter, Quora, LinkedIn, SlideShare, etc.).
  • Real world authority indicators like published works on Google Books or Google Scholar.

How to Start Building Your AuthorRank, Today.

Building your AuthorRank (or consulting with clients to build it) is easy. It’s like Wil Reynolds’s concept of doing #RCS, just for people. Seems logical enough to call it #RPS: Real People $ h!t.

Sweet acronyms aside, what do we actually have to do? Here’s how we start building AuthorRank…

Get Down with Authorship

First of all, you’ll need to set up Google Authorship. Aside from getting that sweet author rich snippet in search results, setting this up will give Google exactly what they need to assign you an initial AuthorRank: a tie between your online identity and the content you’re creating.

Don’t Be Lazy (or forgetful)

Once you set up Google Authorship, go and track down all the (quality) content you’ve created on the web and make sure your rich snippet markup is correct by using the Rich Snippet Testing Tool. You don’t want to run the risk of knockout content you’ve created not being factored into your AuthorRank.

Continue (or Start) Writing Killer Content

If you’re working on building your own AuthorRank, this one is easy. Career SEOs have a vested interest putting out killer content. At least, I hope we all have a desire to:

  • Create content that demonstrates our expertise.
  • Help improve the reputation, and demonstrate the value, of our field.
  • Help other SEOs by sharing knowledge.

If you’re consulting to help another organization with AuthorRank, it’s a bit trickier. Still, no matter what the industry, there’s always an opportunity for a brand to provide content that is relevant and valuable.

Selling Brands on Individuality

If you’re a consultant working with a medium or large brand and you’re hoping to get a head start on AuthorRank, you may have a tough road ahead. It can be difficult to get a CEO or head of marketing to highlight their people when they’re concerned about what that will do to the brand. I’ve had clients who’ve been adamantly opposed to letting their employees create content and be a visible part of the company and I’ve had clients who were absolutely stoked to have that opportunity. It really depends on company culture and there will be some companies who may never accept the very cornerstone of AuthorRank. You may want to hire Wil to fly out and explain #RCS to them.

Can We Get To the Good Part?

We’ve covered all the prerequisites at this point, so yes, we can. Here are some strategic ways you can work on building AuthorRank right now. I’ll use the “you’re the one doing it” point of view, but you can apply the concepts to any setting.

Create Content That’s Worth Sharing

It’s just like what we’re doing now. If you’ve been following what’s going down in the inbound industry (particularly, SEOmoz), you know that the definition of link building is slowly, but steadily, changing to “content marketing”. It’s all about creating content your audience cares about. It’s all about creating resources that will help them. It’s all about creating things that they’d actually want to share on their own.

Those concepts are tantamount to content marketing and they’re even more important for AuthorRank. If you’re tying your author identity to content you’ve created just for the sake of creating content or solely for “earning” links, you’re going to be in trouble. Here are a few things that are certain to destroy your AuthorRank as badly as Penguin destroyed sites with questionable backlink profiles:

  • Publishing content on blog networks.
  • Guest posting through guest blogging communities (of course, there are exceptions).
  • Writing content that’s keyword-stuffed or full of grammatical errors.
  • Submitting content to article directories.
  • Spinning articles.

Instead, create content that people will want to share on their own because they are actually interested in it. Only post content to the best outlets available to you (see “Get Out There” below).

Specialize

AuthorRank will be much more variable than PageRank in that you can earn a different AuthorRank in different topic areas. Determine what you’re good at/passionate about and create great content in that area. Sure, you can go crazy with different topics but your AuthorRank will probably end up being fairly weak in a lot of different topics instead of strong in one.

Use Google+, Constantly

If any of you don’t like Google+, too bad. Google is going to use your “in circles” count to determine your AuthorRank. That means you need to make sure people have a reason to follow you. A few quick tips:

  • Post updates multiple times a day. Shoot for 5-7 (there’s no data-backed reason for that number, it just sounds like a great amount to me).
  • Check in on your feed and on the global feed and +1 and comment on stories you find interesting. +1ing content makes people stoked and commenting (in a genuine and authentic way) adds something to the conversation. This will only benefit you, and your AuthorRank, in the long run.
  • Fill out your “About” section and title. People use this information to decide if they want to put you in their circles (especially when they’re on mobile).

There are some great posts out there on how to build engagement and a following on Google+ that are far better than what I can cover here. Check some out.

Befriend Relevant Heavy Hitters

Find other authors who would logically have a higher AuthorRank than you (see factors above and consider checking out Tom Anthony’s Author Crawler) and work on getting them to encircle you. Aside from having them in your following, you can also put your content in front of them every time you create something awesome.

Find them on Google+ and start to slowly and naturally build a relationship with them. You can use Twitter, Facebook, or any other means of communicating (in person is probably the best way, hands down) but you’ll want to be sure they have a Google+ profile. It also makes a whole lot of sense to make sure they have authorship set up themselves, but don’t discount them if they don’t: I’m betting that Google is going to make sure the process of verifying authorship much simpler and ubiquitous before they make any move to start using AuthorRank.

Promote Your Author Hub

Your Google+ profile is the very hub of your authorship; it’s what Google uses to tie all your content together. Building links to it and optimizing it makes a ton of sense. If your Google+ profile has a high PageRank (yes, it gets its own PageRank) when AuthorRank launches, it’s safe to bet that your AuthorRank will be pretty hot.

Help People In Real Life

Attend local industry meet-ups, offer to speak for free at local blogging groups, and apply to speak at conferences. Be genuine and helpful. In your deck, link to a a blog post you published earlier that same day that they can reference for detailed information beyond what you covered in your presentation. Watch as that thing gets social mentions and links like crazy. That's a major AuthorRank win.

Also, consider dropping a few cards with your Google+ profile URL on them.

Get Out There (Selectively)

Building links to your content from within your own site doesn’t carry much value compared to a backlink from another site. You control that site so of course you’re going to link to your own content (you’d be ill-advised not to). Having other sites link to you is much more meaningful because it shows you’re offering value (right?).

It’s the same with AuthorRank. If you only publish blog posts on a site you control, you’re playing with internal links (or at best, sites on the same host). Get out there and guest blog for (Dr.) Pete’s sake (sorry, AJ, even you). Remember to treat this process just like you treat it for link building; focus on site quality. Only pick high quality sites that have carefully curated content, because when that ties back to you as an author, it’s going to be just like a backlink to your site (hopefully you get one of those, too). You don’t want hundreds of guest posts on low-quality blogs with no editorial standards muddying up your AuthorRank. Instead, shoot for a few high quality guest posts.

Daily Checklist to Improve AuthorRank

Building AuthorRank, just like SEO, needs to be an organic and gradual process; you can’t do it in a day, a week, or a month. However, here are a few things you can incorporate into your daily workflow that are sure to help build your AuthorRank over time.

  1. Check your Google+ feed five times and interact.
  2. Chip away at your weekly blog post (you blog weekly already, right?).
  3. Read a post on a site you’ve targeted for guest blogging and leave a quality comment. Start building visibility (and/or a relationship) with the authors and editors.
  4. Look for two or three interesting people on Google+, circle them, and interact with something they’ve posted.

Conclusion

Years ago, Google realized that providing their users with better results would hinge on identifying and ranking the very people who produced those results. Until the launch of Google+, they had a great idea but no viable way to actually get it off the ground. Now they have everything they need: the idea (Agent Rank), the identity platform (Google+), and the verification method (Google Authorship). Now all that’s left is to fine-tune the ranking and roll it into the algorithm.

The impact of AuthorRank will be so significant that we may as well think of it as a penalty designed to punish anonymity and/or a reputation for distributing low-quality content. Regarding the delay between the initial US Panda rollout and the international one, Fabio Ricotta of Mestre SEO in Brazil, said “you have no idea how good it is to have a six month lead on Matt Cutts”. Well, we’ve seen the signs and we know what to do. Let’s make sure this lead doesn’t go to waste. The time to start building AuthorRank (for ourselves and our clients) is today.

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