Today Linkdex hosted a small industry conference at the Dominion Theatre to discuss our latest development: the release of influential author & social data. This release allows users to discover the influential authors in their market and reach out to those who will offer the greatest return in terms of links, rankings and revenue. You can tell which are the right people to build link relationships with because of their reach, influence, neutrality and a whole host of other factors.
Because the issues we discussed affect far more people than those present in the room, I’ve outlined the key points made by the speakers for you to read / share if you couldn’t attend. Prepare for a major bullet point list!
Bas van den Beld – State of Search
- Things aren’t always what they seem – you always have to question why things came into being.
- We find ourselves wanting to trust the things we know. We trust the word of wise men, of authoritative books. But even these can be deceptive. Bas once read two books on Dunkirk – one where the English won and one where the Germans won. But we trust what’s being said.
- 95 % of our thoughts, emotions and learning occur without our conscious awareness.
- We trust the people around us, but this makes us sheep! The people around us are therefore important.
- Word of mouth spreads far quicker with the Internet and social media.
- When Google+ releases, one of the first sentences mentioned that “among the most basic of human needs is the need to connect with others.” From this, Bas understood that Google+ was trying to get as much information from us as possible to show us who we are.
- Eventually everything is going to be on Google+, not on the social network, but the data behind it.
- We want what other people have. Bas recommends the film ‘The Joneses’ as it shows how influential the people around us can be.
- The same with the Girl’s Intelligence Agency Slumber Parties where you can book and pay for a girl’s slumber party and get them to use your products!
- He showed a screenshot of TripAdvisor where the emphasis was less on booking trips and more about what your contacts are talking about/recommending.
- One of the reasons Google introduced circles was because they want to know who we’re connected to and in what way. If they then want to show us content promoted by our friends, they’ll know what content to show.
- Google puts peer pressure on us. He showed a personalised SERP with author pictures – authors that you know. And these results are proven to have a higher CTR.
- It seems like we know celebrities, that’s why we see so many endorsements in advertising. This works the same way as author results popping up in search.
- As we know, rel=”author” lets us prompt author snippets in the SERPs to increase click through.
- But you can now also search for specific authors and see where they’ve written. This also lets you write a topic and see what they’ve written on that subject.
- Bas gives an example: when the US theme park ‘the Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ launched, the marketing team focused on the 7 most influential Potter fans and gave them insider info and exclusive tickets. Within a week there were 500,000 articles about it, purely from these influencers talking about it.
Andrew Girdwood – LBi
- Google+ is a boomtown despite what most people say. Most of Andrew’s contacts are from online communities.
- To cover some history: in the beginning Andrew says that SEO was just geeks doing it for bragging rights. Then after that SEOs would explain what it was to businesses maybe for some money. Then everyone was building websites, but not everyone understood SEO. The longest era of search was all about ROI and numbers and backlinks – it was a numbers game. But now we’re coming to a new era – a renaissance. This new era means brands need new ideas so real people will talk about then, write about them, link to them and share them.
- Andrew shows us two unknown sculptures – one from Etsy and one Turner prize nominee – the only difference in his eyes being that the creator of one is famous and trusted.
- “SEO is dying!” People are sometimes negative but there are lots of positives coming.
- Nowadays you need to do outreach and talk to authors.
- A good way to show authors something is to put it in a place they’re looking. Fashion on Pinterest for instance – this can result in natural backlinks.
- Guest posting is different to outreach. “Please can I write for your blog” is different to “You have been specially selected for the Harry Potter theme park”, as Bas mentioned.
- Also, some of the smaller agencies struggle to create content.
- Some authors are big enough to be brands, but very few brands are authors. For instance if your content writer becomes the voice of the brand and then wants to leave, what will happen?
- Stickyeyes encourages bloggers to join their site and connect. bloggabase similarly have partnered with Dave Naylor’s Bronco agency and show some interesting potential in creating a blogger community.
- You should be careful if you’re paying bloggers to say things without them writing a disclaimer about your agreement.
- There are agencies that exist to help other agencies or in-house teams to create content.
- If you own a relationship that’s better than owning the placement of a link.
Kelvin Newman – SiteVisibility, BrightonSEO & Clockwork Talent
- Link building has always been hard. But some SEOs became lazy and some tactics perhaps weren’t sustainable in the long term. The idea was ‘if it works it’s good’, rather than ‘if it continues to work it will be good’.
- If you think about pennies and pounds, now 100 pennies (bad links) don’t equal one pound (a great link).
- What’s a good link? You have to think about the proximity to what’s ideal – how close you can get to this. Wikipedia’s backlink profile is perhaps ideal.
- The likelihood of a link being clicked is a measure of how good it is. Is the link embarrassing? This is a good judge of whether or not it’s a good link.
- Some PR people may not appreciate that links are still alive and powerful.
- But it’s more complex than ‘rankings = social signals’. Something highly ranked will perhaps have lots of social signals but social alone can’t solely build rankings. Still, it’s a powerful way of contributing to rankings.
- Kelvin recommends focusing on Tribes (authors) – who are the people who have the propensity to link to your site? You can tap into different tribes to earn good backlinks.
- What is the hook in your campaign? What is interesting about your site and why will these tribes enjoy it?
- It’s now that you think about content creation, after you have covered these earlier points.
- Kelvin’s had more success thinking about the audience first, rather than writing the content first. Then you can decide the medium, how to promote it etc.
- Content can involve podcasts, interactive sites, white papers etc. Either way it works best if it has this hook that will captivate your targeted tribes.
- Mailing lists are one the the most underrated assets in online marketing.
- After you’ve published your content, follow it with marketing and evaluation.
- Try and involve your ideal linkers in the content production process. Then you’re not asking them to cover your piece, but get involved in the first place and they will promote it more enthusiastically.
- The future of off-site SEO is author rank, links and social shares. In the close future you’ll have to tick all these boxes.
- “AuthorRank could be more disruptive than all the Panda updates combined” – Kelvin agrees with AJ Kohn here.
- Content now has to be exceptional. Hundreds of journalists, SEO etc are creating content in all sectors. Everyone wants to link to the best thing, not the fifth best thing.
- He then gave 12 Tools to help you with content generation & outreach etc: Uber-Suggest (scrapes Google suggestions); Social Crawlitics (which competing content got shared); Question Referrers (content ideas for unanswered questions); Toluna (quick market research); Quora (quality answers); Discussion Search (find forums and answer those questions with a post); FollowerWonk (search Twitter users); Content Idea Generator Google Doc (scrapes news for current topics); Amazon KDP (ebooks – perhaps on the way down – but still valuable at the moment); CloudFlood (give freebies for social mentions); Out Brain (content discovery) and Clockwork Pirate (Pre-Penguin eBook).
- Produce something exceptional you know people will link to, then help them do so.
Kevin Gibbons – Quaturo
- Why content marketing is important: because Google says so! In their guidelines they say “Provide high quality content on your pages… This is the single most important thing to do”
- The correlation of content and traffic backs this up. More content = more traffic = better conversion because that traffic is long tail.
- Content integrates with your online strategy. It’s not just SEO, content marketing is about merging content with search and social.
- Content offers lots of opportunities – higher conversion rate, long tail SEO, more brand visibility, stronger social following, more referring links, bigger fanbase & community, more direct & bookmarking traffic and higher organic search rankings.
- Social is all about the people behind the content. These are the people who will link to you!
- Social is important because it’s the new way of linking. If you want them to share it, you need to grab their attention.
- People link to content. One you grab their attention and build these relationships you can gain really natural links.
- People trust people, not brands. The clue’s in the name – it’s social media – it’s about the people behind the brands.
- Algorithms can’t ignore people and social signals. In his UK ranking factors chart, Facebook shares were better than the number of Backlinks, most likely because it’s a more natural signal, especially if the links are of poor quality.
- Google are determined to make social work.
- The reasons for using Google authorship is that you get snippets which result in more clicks, it will influence rankings when they involve AuthorRank.
- Linkdex are the best tool to find the best writers in your industry. You know that your outreach is time well spent with the insights it provides.
- His tip is to get on the radar of influencers. RT their content, build a relationship, then give them a reason to link to you. This could well involve writing great content.
- Another powerful tip is to meet people. He used whoretweets.me (ahem… that’s “who retweets me” by the way!). Out of the people who RTed him, he’d met 83 of them. You’re perhaps more biased to connect and share content with the people you know.
- Also hire them. If you can get influential bloggers to write for you it can be very powerful. If they’re good, take them off the market.
- Leverage the contacts and social networks of the people you connect with and those who write for you.
- Build an audience by leveraging bigger sites.
- Remember that content isn’t just text – it could be videos, infographics or images. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to connect with your audience.
- And don’t forget to mark it all up with rel=”author”.
- Authors are different to copywriters and from Google’s point of view they’re more trusted. PR-based ranking + AuthorRank = better results. Think about how many links and mentions you can generare and tie it into revenue as well.
- Brands have a big advantage, with a huge opportunity to leverage knowledge, data, people, relationships and authority.
- Remember that relationships are about people, not websites.
Sam Hailstone – Razorfish
- There was a patent in 2005 for AgentRank which is an early precursor to AuthorRank. They’ve been working on it for a long time.
- What does this mean for brands? Well, ignore author at your peril and adapt your current content strategy.
- This introduces the brand level of content (rel=”publisher”) against a layer of individual bloggers (rel=”author”).
- It’s important to demonstrate the value of individuals representing your brand as brand authors, even if they may leave one day. There is obviously a concern about this happening however. This is the biggest challenge we need to overcome.
- Ranking factors to be considered are shares, engagement, posts and circles. Interaction with Google+ will be key. We need to actively contribute more than once a day.
- We also need to start identifying people with high AuthorRank and start engaging with them.
- Content ranking factors include average pank rank, comments, responses, the authority of sites etc.
- For onsite optimisation continue with your content marketing. Keep creating shareable content, ensure the share buttons are on all authored content and encourage commenting (leave open questions, be controversial etc.)
- For offsite optimisation, you can try and contribute good articles on other blogs. Claim all the content you’ve written as well.
- When we’re looking at who we’re contacting for outreach, AuthorRank will come to be a factor.
- Obviously this isn’t just limited to Google+, Google will be looking at other social networks too.
- Devolve some content production and publication to your people and let them shine; embrace Google+; keep creating great content and be as authoritative as you can in as many places as you can.
Well there you have it, thank you for all the people who contributed to our first Thursday Think Tank!