Now that Google+ is open to everybody and every brand, it should be pretty clear that social is going to be a big part of how search engines are going to evolve, unless people wholesale reject it and move towards some entirely different model of getting information out of the Internet- but I doubt that’s going to happen. I’ve heard a lot of criticism leveled at Google+; it’s a joke, it’s a ghost town, it’s D.O.A.; no one uses it, blah blah blah. All the people out there that are deriding Google+ as some sort of failed Facebook competitor are missing the boat by a long shot- Google doesn’t care if you use it like you use Facebook because that’s not the point. It’s a social “overlay” for the algorithm; like Steam and Origin are to video games. I don’t want to spend too much time on this topic but I do want to make a point so bear with me for a second and look at this screenshot from a client’s Google+ page:
I did a little white hat e-stalking and checked out 5 of the people following that brand at random; they all had at least one other social media account connected to their Google account, and some people had as many as 8 accounts connected. I have 17 connected because I am a huge nerd but the point is this- all of those other connected networks mean that as those Users +1 content- and they likely are, if they’ve connected an account to their G+ profile- they are influencing all of their friends/followers on all of those other networks. It literally does not matter if that person ever comes back to Google+ even one time because the connection is already made. The implications for reputation management in organic search through optimization of Google+ profiles should be fairly obvious.
Okay, now that I have scratched that particular itch, on to the meat of the post- Author Rank. Before too long, Google is going to have built a pretty good index of your digital persona based on what you post/share/write/like and where, and who you are connected to. As you post content, Google is going to attempt to assign a value to links within that content based on your Author Rank. I know people have some weird built-in hatred of Klout because THEY DIDN’T OPT IN (whatever, stop crying and definitely don’t waste time “working on your Klout score”) but it’s a pretty good approximation of how I think Google is eventually going to try to assign more value to a link than just “what’s the PageRank of the page this link is posted on and what’s the anchor text they linked it with”.
This will likely be calculated in a similar fashion to the Klout score; what networks do you use, how frequently do you put up content, how often is that content liked/+1’ed/retweeted/shared/commented on/viewed/what the hell ever, who are the people interacting with your content, how authoritative are THEY and about what topics, etc., etc., etc.- there will probably end up being as many factors in the Author Rank algorithm as there are in the main search algorithm when all is said and done. So, there is a real opportunity here to kill both the reputation management and Author Rank birds with one stone. Be forewarned, though, it’s going to take some work. Here’s my easy bullet-point-program- if you are able to do even some of this stuff, you will build your Author Rank and credibility with the search engines while also dominating the results for “branded searches” on your name.
1. Decide what to call yourself. Are you a Francis, or a Fran, a James or a Jim, a Denise or a Denyse? It matters. What’s your last name? Ladies in particular, I know you love those Facebook profiles with your unmarried AND married names but it confuses the poor algorithm. Pick a name and go with it. For SEO, I mean.
2. Buy your domain if you can; I was fairly lucky and was able to get franirwin.com as a domain. I know, I know, exact match domain has been devalued but I don’t think that means it has NO value. Besides, there’s a pride/vanity issue too- this is REPUTATION management, after all.
3. Get a WordPress blog up on that domain and start writing. This is that whole “work” part I was talking about. Aim for once a week in the beginning, you want to give the search engine spiders a reason to come back and sniff out fresh content. Get some text to speech software, spend 15 minutes on your commute or walk or break or smoke or whatever and just dictate some thoughts you are having. Put it out of your head, sit down later and edit it. This is easy, cheap in terms of time and resources, and will allow you to refine your thought process over time.
4. Set up a public Facebook page using your real name or your professional name. Fill it out to completion. Every. Single. Field.
5. Set up a Twitter account using a handle as close to your real name as possible. Set up a custom avatar and background, and link to your blog or Google+ page in your bio.
6. Set up a LinkedIn account using your real name or your professional name. Fill it out to completion. Every. Single. Field.
6. Set up a Google Plus profile using your real name. Connect as many possible accounts as you can to it and fill out as much of your profile as you possibly can. Fill it out to completion. Every. Single. Field. Write it like you’re being announced to a crowded room, and make it public so people can find you. You can always set up a separate, unconnected profile account with a different handle and content on any social media platform for whatever else; this is purely for rep management.
7. Post to Twitter at least 1 time per day, during the week, not necessarily on weekends. Post about things you find on RSS feeds or something interesting or whatever. Spend a half hour a day filling up your Buffer and then it do the work.
8. Post to Google+ twice a week, not just someone else’s link but add some commentary or stimulate some discussion.
9. Same thing on Facebook.
Remember when I said it was going to be some work? It is. Don’t post just to post; for example, if anyone actually reads this blAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
anyway if you do read the blog regularly you probably noticed that I went from a very aggressive twice a week schedule to now about once every two weeks. It’s a lot of work coming up with something interesting and worth reading that isn’t just rehashed or warmed-over garbage or second thoughts about someone else’s original thoughts. Don’t dive into this strategy if you aren’t prepared to work for it but if you do you will enjoy the (for now invisible) benefits of Author Rank, and a sweet, sweet SERP.