Facebook Releases Instant Articles For Publishers and A Can of Worms For Marketers

Woah, Facebook has another update! Brace yourself marketers, because this update is another big one.

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Image Source: HBO

Facebook has taken it into their own hands to solve the issue of loading time for articles on mobile. Chief Product Officer of Facebook, Chris Cox, explained in their promotional video how important load time for news and articles is on mobile. Following Chris, a photographer for National Geographic, summed up the issue with a sobering statement:

“If you’re trying to convince someone that bees are worth their time
you don’t want a loading bar to get in their way.”
– Anand Varma

With #mobilegeddon in full swing, this Facebook update couldn’t have come at a better time (or maybe just timed perfectly). You no longer have to wait excessively for articles to load from Facebook, pleasing the many who use Facebook as a newsource. Instant articles allow posts shared on Newsfeeds to load as much as 10 times fast than the standard mobile web. Talk about setting industry standards!

This is a huge game changer for publishers and opens up many doors, both good and bad. As Shezad Morani, Creative Director for NBCNews.com, described Instant Articles as living, breathing articles beyond just words. How so?

3046246-slide-s-1-facebook-sucks-in-publishers-with-instant-articlesImage Source: Fast Code Design

Visually Appealing

Instant Articles are filled with impressive features us marketers are still drooling over. Facebook has changed the reading experience on mobile completely with the amount of user-friendly features Instant Articles have. Videos autoplay seamlessly as you scroll through an article, making the user feel apart of the piece. Authors can also include embedded audio captions to help clarify and point out certain aspects of an article.

On top of the interactive video feature, Instant Articles allow a user to zoom into high-resolution photos, scroll left or right and up and down to get a completely different feel for images. Publishers who felt limited by poor image quality on mobile no longer have to fear limitations. Photographer’s high-resolution images can now come to life with content on mobile.

Brands

Facebook designed Instant articles to demonstrate exactly what a brand wants to portray. Companies can customize typeface and colors to match that of their existing website and branding. If you have a specific font type that your customers know and trust you by you can carry that branding into your article. Instant Articles are available for any type of article, whether it by the latest news coverage or Mom’s apple pie recipe, companies and brands can feature better quality articles in the palms of their hands.

As with any new update or release on the internet, it’s currently only available to a select few. The Instant Articles partners as of now are limited to just the big boys: The New York Times, BuzzFeed, NBC News, National Geographic, BBC News, Bild, Spiegel Online, and The Guardian. Since Instant Articles have not been rolled out to every brand yet, you have to contact Facebook directly for more information and to be added to their publisher request list. They’ll be releasing new publishers throughout the year.

Advertising

If you are already running advertisements with Facebook, which you should be, you can carry over your ads from Newsfeed to an Instant Article. Instead of being disrupted by an irrelevant advertisement as a user is reading through your Instant Article, you can place an existing Facebook ad inside the Article. This helps keep consistency between branding, content, and advertising.

Good vs. Bad

The debate between whether this update is good or bad for marketers has caused a mass production of blog posts published since Tuesday. As someone who specializes and has a strong passion for social media and writing, this update excites me and gets my typing hands ready to one day be an Instant Article publisher. The SEOer, and rest of marketer, in me is hesitant to be too excited.

Industry leaders like Marketing Land bring up the valid point of Google replicating this with search results and what that could potentially do to our web, having such big players taking over the majority. Even more brands are arguing that this is just a ploy for Facebook to fully take over the internet. Silicon Angle makes the valid point that Facebook is becoming a one stop shop for all things, at least on mobile.

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Image Source: Silicon Angle

The George Orwell feel of Facebook already taking over our social lives, and now attempting to take over our news source, is an intimidating thought. Facebook has mobile, is about to attempt to take over news, and is a leader in advertising and marketing. When a company gets that big, and is represented in so many different areas of our lives, when does it stop? More importantly, does it ever stop?

What do you think about this update? Are you geeking out about this new user experience or freaking out like the rest of the marketers? Comment below with your thoughts on Instant Articles.

Winning at Pinterest: 9 Ways to Increase Traffic Using Pinterest

If 69% of online consumers are going to Pinterest with intent to purchase items, why not take advantage, and help improve your sales and web traffic with Pinterest? Speaking of visitors, most Pinners, 80% of Pinners, are accessing Pinterest on their phone, which means they’re then being directed to your website mobily (cough *mobilegeddon* cough).

With so many ways to improve traffic and rankings, and now mobile rankings, Pinterest presents a unique opportunity to achieve these goals and become one of the largest traffic drivers in the social realm. Follow these tips to help improve your company Pinterest page, presence, and website traffic.

1. Start With The Basics – Optimizing Your Pinterest Profile

A company Pinterest profile should define who the company is: their goals, passions, and interests. This makes Pinterest one of the best social networks to define a brand, offering consumers an inside look using brand boards and unique pins.

Each board can represent a different service offered, as well as interests the company shares. For example, does your team make a daily trip to the coffeeshop around the corner? Then add a coffee board to row 3 or 4 of your Pinterest profile with snapshots of the crew, as well as popular coffee pins. Anywhere from 12-20 boards are appropriate for a company Pinterest profile. Develop catchy titles, with keywords, for each board and properly source each pin with a connecting URL to the website or blog.

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The Pinterest profile description at the top needs to include exactly what a company does, with few keywords. I tend to use the same biography in all of my social profiles to keep consistency and branding throughout. Pinterest is no different. If you’re including brand keywords in the Twitter description, share the same description on Pinterest. Just because you have extra characters, doesn’t mean you have to fill them with keyword stuffing. Make the description natural, yet attractive, giving Pinners a real reason to follow.

2. Verify Your Website, Verify Your Credibility

Pinterest is getting better and better in preventing spammy Pinners from reaching users. One of their methods to the spam-stopping-madness is by offering a “verify your website” button. If you know how to navigate your website’s backend, verifying your website is a synch. Pinterest offers an easy to follow instruction guide for installing a meta tag or uploading an HTML Pinterest file to verify. If a Pinterest profile is verified, it’s more likely to be showed to more Pinners, helping to increase page popularity and click-through.

3. Rich Pins Can Make You Rich

Rich Pins are designed to make the pinning experience more enjoyable for consumers, and more efficient for companies. Instead of trying to stuff every detail about a product in the description, Rich Pins allow proper separation of product detail from a fun, catchy description. It’s a balance between the headline and body text for Pins.

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Image Source: Whiteglovesocialmedia.com 

In a study by Shopify, adding prices to pins averaged 1.5 likes, against pins that didn’t have a price at 1.1 likes. Appreciate that 0.4 difference, because as Pinterest pointed out last holiday season, over two million people add a Product Pin to their boards daily. That’s a lot of opportunity, and potential for increasing traffic from a Rich Pin to it’s product page.

Don’t have products to sell? Don’t worry! Pinterest has multiple Rich Pin offers:

4. Backlink Your Pins For Increased Traffic

This is a big one, and quite possibly the best way to increase traffic from Pinterest. Keep in mind, there’s a right way to do this and a very wrong Spammy Mc. Spammer type of way to backlink your pins.

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On your own pins, not pins off of the popular page, add a relevant url from your website or blog as the pin’s “source”. Include that image on the actual page or have a relevant image that relates to the pin’s description. If you tell me I can learn how to knit in 5 simple steps, don’t send me to a construction company in New York. I’m a San Diegan, we’re very different.

5. Did Someone Say Link Building?

Bloggers and Pinners are bestfriends. Together, they shape cuticles, casseroles, and take cute cat photos. Thousands of bloggers have caught on to the many opportunities Pinterest offers as a traffic source and creates pin-worthy images to attach to posts. With that many bloggers regularly using Pinterest and having Pin It buttons on their website, it’s easy to find different guest posting opportunities through Pinterest’s Guided Search.

In the search bar at the top of Pinterest, type in a relevant topic to your industry (ie: social media). Add a couple of keywords provided by the Guided Search option and let the hundreds of relevant pins and Pinners appear before your eyes. Pins with caption overlays, like descriptions offering, “5 steps to anything”, are most likely going to be bloggers. Click through the pins and follow Pinners to start exploring the many bloggers behind Pinterest, just waiting for your un-automated guest post email. Despite the argued debate, the guest posts and relationships with relevant bloggers can help improve your overall rankings and “site juice”. Just don’t be a Spammy Mc. Spammer!

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6. Make Life Easy for Pinners – Install a Pin it Button on Your Website

Make it easy for users to share content directly from your website and add it to their favorite boards with Pin It buttons. The Pin It button can help get more referral traffic to a site when people click on Pins. People save images from a website to Pinterest, allowing more people to discover and repin them. In fact, the average Pin gets 11 repins.

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Each Pinable image on a website needs to have an optimized description and title to further help with rankings. Pinterest will grab the image description and attach it to the pin automatically when a user pins it from a site. Increase ranking chances by providing a keyword-rich description a user is attracted to. You don’t want the Pinner changing your perfectly optimized description to, “I love it!” As much as we love it too, that kind of caption doesn’t do anything for rankings. Provide the Pinner with a relatable caption they’ll want to keep, referencing the company and proper keywords.

7. Attract Who You’re Attracted To

Wedding dress designers could care less about a construction company’s Pinterest page, and even less to join a “Construction Hats” board. Relevancy, as with anything online, is vital to growing engagement and traffic. Search for Pinners that are in your industry, as well as related industries to follow. Take it a step further and interact with the demographic by commenting on their new pins, asking to be a part of their group boards, and hearting your favorite pins they’ve shared. New Pinners will be more likely to visit your company profile, and eventually your website, if they can relate to the business in some way.

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8. Pin Blog Images

Blog images make great pins and repins to help increase traffic with. Using photo editing tools, like Picmonkey or Canva, create different collages, add text overlays, increase the image contrast and quality so it’s unique for Pinterest. Get creative with your Pinterest pins and follow image trends on the popular page to see what’s getting repinned the most. Unsure of what works best on Pinterest? Curalate conducted a Pinterest image study and found the following information about pins on Pinterest:

  • “Images that contain less than 30 percent background (e.g. whitespace) are repinned the most.”
  • “The most repinned images have multiple colors: Images with multiple dominant colors have 3.25 times more repins per image than images with a single dominant color.”
  • “Very light and very dark images are not repinned as often. In fact, the repinning rate for images of medium lightness is 20 times higher than for images that are mostly black, and eight times higher than images that are mostly white.”
  • “Brand images without faces receive 23 percent more repins. Less than 1/5 of images on Pinterest today have the presence of faces.”

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Image Source: Curalate

9. Promote a Contest With Pins

Pinning images with contest details on Pinterest, while hosting the contest on your website, can help increase traffic from Pinterest to a site. For the “source” of each pin, include the contest page URL so Pinners are redirected to the correct page and are more likely to enter and repin. Uploading pins or pinning directly from a contest page will also encourage traffic from users who normally wouldn’t have visited the page in the first place, especially if repinning is an extra entry into the contest.

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Have you noticed a lot of your traffic coming from Pinterest? Share your tips in the comments below!

LinkedIn Secrets by Marty Weintraub

being-seen-linkedinWhile in Duluth, MN at the 2015 Zenith Social Media Conference, I sat in a session entitled, LinkedIn Secrets! Building a Dominant Profile, 15 Minutes a Day. Here are the take-aways that you can implement right away:

Via Marty Weintraub Founder, aimClear Marty-Weintraub-aimClear

  • There’s nothing typical about what Marty Weintraub has to share.
  • This is not about how to engage or optimize your profile.
  • This is about building an powerful distribution network where thousands of focused LinkedIn users friend you.

While the process Marty outlined is not complicated or difficult to do, it IS time consuming and at times a bit mind-numbing. So, why do this? The huge benefit of free distribution of social content is overwhelmingly worth the investment of time.

All you are after is getting people to look at your profile, but the process will enable you to identify lots of people focused in your vertical space.

The #1 thing you can do to get LinkedIn to value you is to get people to look at your profile.

If you don’t get into the elevator, then there is no pitch.

LinkedIn is well worth your energy. LinkedIn is a social business network marketing monster. Every Fortune 500 company is on LinkedIn. 92% of Fortune 100 companies buy recruiting products. The fasting growing segment in LinkedIn are students.

“If I didn’t have help to do this, I would break my fingers to do it.”

How to move yourself to a Top 1% Profile

It’s human nature – you check me out; I check you out. This is the human reality that can be leveraged to massive effect in LinkedIn.

  1. Identify highly targeted users using LinkedIn advanced search
  2. Visit those users profiles while logged into LinkedIn
  3. Don’t hide, you want people to know you took a look at their profile
  4. Keep an eye on what percentage of the people you look at view you back (viewback percentage)
  5. Of the group that takes a look at you, watch how many request connection with you (followback percentage)

After several months of testing, Marty’s team found that 20% of the people you view will check out your profile in return and 2% will request a connection when they visit.

LinkedIn does not hide the algorithmic proclivity to judge accounts based on views.

Time For a Little Demonstration

First, get your LinkedIn profile back up to date, if you haven’t touched it in a while. And upgrade to a premium account. The search features we are going to show you are not available to a free account.

LinkedIn Profile

Take the time to add a cover image. Most people won’t scroll through your full profile. Make what appears “above the fold” count. In particular, treat the combination of cover and general information as a banner ad for yourself and your brand. While dusting up your profile, take a moment to visit your account settings.

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Make sure that the people you visit can see who has checked them out. No hiding here folks! The whole idea is that you’ve shown interest and you want them to show interest back.

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While you’re still in this settings menu, also make sure that what you share in LinkedIn can be seen. The whole idea is that you WANT LinkedIn to help you distribute your content, it can’t do that if you don’t have things set to friendly sharing mode.

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Now the real fun begins

Choosing who to view here in LinkedIn is like cultivating audiences in any other social network. You picked people on Twitter and Google+ based on their shared interests. This is no different. If you want to rise to the top 1% of LinkedIn profiles in your industry, you need to visit other people in your industry. But don’t stop there. The end game is to get your content in front of the right people. Limit who you view to the most relevant to not just your industry but to your business.

So let’s look at a quick example that I would use.

One of my working goals is to reach out to SEOs that have the decision power to implement use of AuthorityLabs tools. So, I want to limit my search to people at companies large enough and in a decision-making position.

And here is why you need a premium account, these advanced search parameters aren’t available to free users, but are critical to the success of this tactic.

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Choosing to limit your search to 2nd degree connections is like having a friend point someone out to you. When the person you visit see that you have trusted connections in common, they are more likely to go take a look at you. The rest of the choices are based on who you need to reach.

  • Be sure to SAVE that search so that you can get alerts from LinkedIn about new people that fit your criteria.
  • The rest is all about taking the time to go look at everyone in that search list. This is where it gets time consuming and why you need to save the search.
  • Power Differential, the psychological driver’s seat.

Treat this like you did relationships in middle school. Flirt but don’t friend 😉 You pique the curiosity of others by checking them out. Remember when your school chums would let you know that that cute red headed girl liked you? What did you do? You started paying attention to her, checking to see if you might like her too. Then she notices that you’re paying attention. This behavior is what opened the doors to that first conversation and the chance to get to know her. This tactic is like that, but on a much bigger scale.

Permanent free distribution to connections and 2nd degree = why this is important.

Some things to think about when defining your searches.

  • Influencer Distribution – media, rebroadcasters, bloggers
  • Lead Generation
  • Recruitment
  • Thought Leadership Branding
  • PR

In-House SEOs: 7 Ways They Can Make Your Life Easier

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Every company has their own specific budgets and goals, each playing a large role in deciding what kind of SEO assistance is best for them. While some prefer agencies, others prefer having an in-house employee managing their SEO. The decision is unique per organization and is based off of several factors: company size, employee budget, amount of website management, third-party applications, etc.

Whether you’re pro in-house or pro-agency, this post isn’t to persuade you that hiring an agency is a bad decision, because a lot of the time it isn’t. Instead, we’re going to highlight some of the positive benefits that come with hiring an SEO to work at your company and how much easier it can make your day-to-day operations.

What is an In-House SEO?

An in-house SEO specializes in everything optimization and SEO for the company they work for. They provide the company with the best optimization practices they can to ensure high search engine rankings and conversions. Their tracking skills and data entry are also on point, resulting in beautiful KPI reports and analysis. Generally, an in-house SEO will work as a team to accomplish the heavy to-do list with other SEO specialists and online marketers.

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Image Source: Moz

1. The Personalization

Having an SEO in-house means your business is the only business they’re focused on. Your website goals are their goals. Versus an agency who has several different companies they’re working for, and even more goals to accomplish. Your in-house employee will know everything there is to know about your company: the tone, the branding, the color scheme, etc. All of the day-to-day operations are best performed in-house by an employee that eats, sleeps, and breathes your brand only.

Chris Dugdale, SEO Lead at Tesco.com, served 9 years as an SEO at different agencies before making the transition to in-house. With a little over four years of in-house experience under his belt now, he’s developed a profound appreciation for the in-house experience.

“When in-house, you are immersed in the business; it’s your sole focus and even then, it takes time to really understand the business. With this understanding you can pick your battles and your battlefields. You can take different projects to different stakeholders, knowing that the outcomes are aligned to their respective KPIs.”

2. The Ability to Change

Like chameleons, SEO changes it’s colors on a regular basis. #mobilegeddon

 

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Having someone in-house managing your SEO makes adjusting things in real-time more realistic. If you’re working with an agency and have a quick update that needs to be made, expect to see an additional expense on the invoice. Pop-up adjustments are usually a cause for an additional expense with agencies. It’s not their fault, though. Since you’re not their only client, they can’t spend all 8+ hours of the day working on just your project. In order for an agency to maintain multiple clientele, and be profitable, an allotted amount of time must be dedicated to each client. Additional time can result in an additional expense. Sending a Gchat to Paul, your in-house SEO, can be much faster and cost effective.

3. The In-House Relationships

Your in-house SEO will better be able to form and keep relationships with the entire team. This is especially important for the content team. Great content doesn’t mean anything to Google without optimization. Having an SEO specialist in-house makes collaborating on projects a million times easier than reaching out to agencies, scheduling new meetings, and paying extra fees. Instead, natural conversations can happen in the break room or simply by rolling your chair from one section of the office to the other.

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4. The Time

Having someone in-house allows for more flexibility with timely projects and adjustments. When it comes to getting something done in a timely fashion having someone in-house is much more efficient than reaching out to a third-party. Not only will you have to throw a few more marketing dollars at your agency to get something changed immediately, but the explanation process will well exceed the time it would take to explain it to Paul, who happened to overhear the idea discussed in the break room.

5. The Cost

You’ll notice “extra fees” and “cost” is being discussed frequently in this post. There’s a reason for that. Depending upon the SEO you hire, as well as the agency, it can be much more cost effective to have someone in-house. If you only have a few hundred dollars to spend on SEO each month (you need a better budget) you won’t be able to afford a quality, non-spammy agency. Whereas, a part-time in-house SEO can come in and clear/update what needs to be done. To top it off, most agencies charge a fee for extra communication and have the right to limit the amount of back-to-back communication (Upset? Re-read point #2). Rolling your chair down the hallway to Paul is a lot more cost effective in the long run.

6. The Heart

As much as agency employees put heart into everything they do, when you’re working for just one company, instead of several, you’re entire focus is dedicated to just that company. As long as you’re taken care of as an employee, you not only invest time, but put a lot of your own soul into the work you do. The trust factor is also much more credible from someone that comes into the office Monday-Friday, participates in group events, and attends each meeting.

7. The Data

If you have a team or specific employee managing your SEO in-house, you can usually afford extra tools to help get the job done. Third-party programs, like Authority Labs, can help you track all of your SEO efforts and calculate needed information to make informative SEO decisions based on data and goals.

Now Provided Example

You can track results by location, keywords (including now provided), competitors and maintain all of your reporting with one tool: AuthorityLabs. Having one tool to accomplish all of those tasks frees up a lot of an in-house SEOs time, so they can focus on analysis and updates.

Like tours? Authority Labs has a pretty cool one, guided by our favorite science guy, Bill Nye (just kidding). But really, take the tour and get ready to have your mind blown. Take it away, Bill!

79933-Bill-Nye-mind-blown-gif-Imgur-WCftImage Source: Pandawhale.com

Social SEO – Zenith Social Media Conference 2015

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I attended a session by Mark Traphagen called, “Google+? Social SEO? SRSLY? Hell YES & Here’s Why!“. Here is a recap: 

Mark is the Senior Director of Online Marketing, Stone Temple Consulting. 

We are coming into a time period where social media is maturing and getting some push-back. With maturity comes the responsibility to demonstrate the real business value. The next steps are integrating the efforts of social and search.

This is not about Google+ or any particular social media channel. It’s about the fact that your prospects are on the other side of a wall in your life and business. How do you find the cracks in that wall to make a connection and build an audience?

Social SEO is one crack in the wall that separates you from your customers that you can exploit and expand.

Social SEO Myths

Correlations between social signals and search engine ranking factors do seem to exist. Several studies have been published that demonstrate how high ranking pages frequently share high social validation. But the assumption that social signals directly affect page rank is short of the mark of what’s really happening.

Stone Temple Consulting has conducted several studies to test how social media interaction with their site content affected Google ranking for that content. Particularly they tested how sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ impacted search ranking. The results were a mixed bag. For instance, Google does not have indexing access to most of the content posted to Facebook. At the time that Stone Temple studied the Twitter correlation, Google was only indexing 6% of tweets posted. And, at the end of the Google+ study they found no evidence of Google+ shares driving rankings. They did find, however, that Google+ would lead to quick indexation of a page shared on the network. There is evidence that indexation also happens more quickly for pages shared on Twitter. In all of these studies, they never found any evidence that social sharing and engagement had any direct impact on how the linked content ranked in search.

Matt Cutts did at one time confirm that Google does not use social shares as a direct ranking signal. He indicated that social sharing was not a reliable signal because Google is not able the see everything posted in networks other than Google+. Also, the authority on any given topic varies too greatly from person to person.

Google is using social media as a long term, cumulative authority signal.

Sidebar – The one exception is logged-in personalized search. When logged in, personalized search results will include Google+ posts from people and brands that users follow.

So, what about the correlations?

The more likely impact of social signals is that content gets exposed to more eyeballs, thereby increasing the likelihood of the things that DO affect search rankings will happen. The correlation exists but is indirect.

So with that in mind, how can we leverage the social exposure of site content?

The Social SEO Cycle

The combination of social media and content can be used as a machine to drive the activities that will impact search visibility over time. What is crucial to keep in mind is that this is an investment process. It is a set of ongoing tactics that will produce results over a long term commitment. Do not expect SEO magic to happen over night.

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1. Content

Publish Quality Content. Content is what sets the wheels of this cycle in motion. You have to have something to share, or this goes absolutely nowhere. Not just any old content will do. You must consistently produce written pieces, infographics, images, and videos that connect with your audience. Don’t bother publishing anything that isn’t meaningful and valuable to the audience you hope will consume, engage, and share.

2. Visibility 

Shares/Links/Likes – Create The Connections. Social media is no field of dreams. Once set up, the social channels you choose to use to connect with your community have to be maintained and kept active with audience centric posts and engagement. Once you start crafting valuable content, start the social sharing cycle by sharing that content with your social tribes.

3. Audience

Subscribers/Followers – Build A Fan Base. The next step requires you do deepen the relationship with the people exposed to your content. It isn’t enough that people see you. You need them to enjoy what you do enough to join your community. You need to take them from see you to like you.

4. Fans

Fan the Flames and Nurture Your Community. For the people that have chose to identify themselves with you, you have to nurture that relationship. They are not a commodity, they are your friends and advocates. Don’t just push content to them, let them know that you value the time they spend in the community you’re building together. Engage. Respond to comments. Recognize their contributions to the group conversation.

5. Reinforcement 

Study to Understand Community. The more you encourage the conversation, the more you will learn about what makes the groups you gather tick. Seek to discover what content should be developed based on what your community is interested in. Begin to close the loop you’re building and use these relationships to inform the content creation process. Better community relationships lead to better high value content.

This isn’t limited to the activities within the walls of your social gardens. Pay attention to the conversations and interests of your community outside of your direct connection. What else do they talk about? What else do they search for? Let the community interactions inform your efforts to claim new and better search territory.

6. Authority

SEO starts to improve at this point in the cycle. As your relationships inform how you dial in search and content strategies you create the conditions for community to respond. They will validate your authority on the things that matter most to them and your business.

7. Discovery

The more your SEO improves, the better your chances are of being discovered by new people. Those discoverers become the newest members of the community feeding into the cycle and pushing the wheels to roll ever forward.

Nothing will happen if you don’t build your network first. There will come a moment when everything you’re learning about the people connected to you enables you to create that one lightening in a bottle piece that resonates with fans and breaks the ranking dam. That little crack in the wall between you and the people that make your business a success grows to become a doorway between your world and theirs.

To see more of the detailed information on the studies, research, and results, please enjoy viewing Mark Traphagen’s full presentation.