August 12th, 2015.
Asked what type of content they’d prefer most readers of Inbound.org requested more actionable advice and case studies like the ones published by
I know how they make it happen. Indeed I have met Brian in person a few times and he readily disclosed his “secrets” just like he does on his blog. Here’s what it really takes.
Neil Patel and Brian Dean seem to be the role models of modern business blogging. It’s not just Inbound.org – just look up some of the job adverts Problogger regularly shares on Twitter.
When publishers show examples of marketing blog posts they expect from you they will most likely point to at least one post from Neil Patel or his blogs.
Neil Patel, the ghostrider
Last time I mentioned Neil here was in the context of social media automation. You can do it when you have an audience like Neil has built over the years. Then you can even broadcast your latest content while you’re offline and people will love it despite that. They will be eager to share it while you’re asleep.
I haven’t met Neil Patel personally, I only know what he says in his articles. He tells us a lot by providing actionable advice frequently. Sometimes I get an additional insight from behind the scenes that may have not been intended. Neil is a very prolific blogger and his posts are of high quality as well despite the sheer number of them. He sometimes publishes several posts a week.
For a time I assumed that he just focuses on blogging while his teams (he owns two companies, Kissmetrics and above mentioned Quick Sprout) do all the other work so he doesn’t have to. Even then the sheer amount of posts and probable effort needed to write them was immense so that I was impressed.
Until one day another blogger complained that Neil Patel has stolen his article without providing attribution. We can safely assume that Neil Patel didn’t do it himself. He most probably employs ghostwriters. This is part of the secret of his writing efficiency.
Owning two companies and outsourcing a significant part of the remaining writing work is not the model everybody can copy. Thus I’d like to focus a little more on Brian Dean and his content creation success. Just like Neil Patel Brian Dean is a self-made man.
Brian Dean, the wild workhorse
Unlike Neil who started out in the early days of business blogging when competition was far less fierce and when corporations like AOL did not run the most influential “blogs” yet Brian succeeded in recent years. I have witnessed it almost from the start.
Then I had the chance to meet Brain in person. I only met him three times and we mostly chatted informally while eating breakfast I nonetheless got a clearer picture of what’s behind his success.
To make it short: it’s hard work. He’s very dedicated. He also works for himself instead of client work like I do. Also he only focuses on one project – his Backlinko site. Let’s be more specific though.
Brian’s success recipe is not only about hard work. It’s also about smart work. He not only works for himself and focuses on one project. He introduced a whole new blogging style. In a way neither the term blogging nor style is best suited to explain it.
In essence Brian writes a white paper or ebook each time and publishes them as a blog post.
Yes, you heard it right. While you and me maybe spend an hour to a few on a blog post Brian prepares and writes one article for dozens of hours, several weeks in a row. He has a few posts that took him like 80h to research and write.
That’s also half of the story. Brian not only invests extremely large amounts of time and effort for the content preparation and creation itself he also does hard core
- keyword research
- blogger outreach
for each of the posts.
First he closely watches market demand and surpasses existing content that succeed once by providing even better content (skyscraper technique). He then or even prior to it researches and reaches out to all the people who have linked to the existing or similar content already.
Once he has the topic he not only reads about it elsewhere and repackages the already existing knowledge about it. He tries it himself and implements all the advice he has read to put it to the test.
He will often start his messages or posts with a sentence like “Have you read this or that advice? It’s not true”. Consider sentences like “just create great content!” – He tested it and it didn’t work by itself.
Let’s recapitulate then: what are the crucial aspects of Brian Dean’s success?
- enormous effort per post equivalent to an ebook
- 50/50 division of content tasks/outreach tasks
- thorough keyword research and improving upon competition
- DIY real life examples taken from own practice not hearsay
What some people overlook are also the onsite factors that have a huge impact on Brian’s success. He has an opt-in oriented web design. His whole site is made around the idea to convert you to a subscriber.
Thus he doesn’t rely neither on social media nor on Google to get the word out. Both social media and search traffic are rather the result of his email marketing than the other way around.
Key ingredients of actionable blog posts
Luckily it’s not just a lot of work that make the posts of Brian Dean and Neil Patel so actionable and successful.
There are several key aspects of their posts you can mimic in shorter articles as well to some extent.
- Tackling actual problems we face online
- Citing studies and data from third parties
- Showing visualizations and other visual clues
- Providing real life examples with names attached to them
#1 is of course crucial. I always write posts reacting to an actual problem I encountered in my won experience. It’s important not just to rant, moan or complain. You have to actively seek out solutions that might be replicable by others. You are able to install Linux on your 100 year old wall clock? Excellent! Can others do it as well or do you have to be a genius?
Brian Dean is not a genius. Yes, he rocks, but he’s a regular guy like you and me. Thus you can copy his approach and methodology to reach similar results. Neil Patel as mentioned above is in a different situation. He grew to prominence back when it was easier and now has whole teams of writers to back him. Can you replicate that?
You can as long as you have some venture capital to spend. The average blogger can’t. By average I also mean myself. Thus don’t fret in case you don’t publish 5 long form actionable tutorials a week like Neil Patel. Maybe you can do it like Brian Dean and provide an outstanding resource every several weeks?
* (CC BY 2.0) Creative Commons image by firelizard5
June 3rd, 2015.
The Web is full of “me too” content using the same headline formulas. The single most significant aspect of successful headlines is their uniqueness though.
People do not want to read again what they know already.
They do only for very specific reasons (to confirm opinions). In most cases you need to stir curiosity by offering something new others haven’t expressed in the same way before. Even a dog can help.
Surviving puppy insanity
As a dog owner I struggled initially to make time for blogging. A puppy needs constant attention if you know what I mean. Also it’s not just all cute and fun. I left the house at least a 12 times a day (and night). While being inside I kept cleaning the floor like some 24/7 facility manager.
I almost went crazy back in the days.
I had to reorganize my whole routine and reconsider a lot of lifestyle choices. It also made me a lot healthier in the long run or rather walk. Now that my dog is an adult for a few years it’s a whole different story. I enjoy walking the dog three times a day. I also am pretty fond of other activities.
Using advanced speech recognition
My dog can do parkour (run an obstacle course) and play Frisbee. It’s a Border Collie mix. Border Collies are well known for being intelligent and I have to admit it’s true.
Obviously everybody says that their dog is the smartest so you probably won’t believe me. Let me tell you then why I think my dog is so bright. She understands almost everything I say.
Scientists have found out that dogs can distinguish up to 250 words. That’s no joke.
I assume my dog has such a word power. It’s not just that she can follow numerous orders, even complex combinations of them while jumping around. For example I’d say “jump and go, jump again, jump back, stop, wait, jump here, jump there” in quick succession.
You’d think she’ll get confused after the third order or so but in most cases she manages to act accordingly. Remember that she jumps over quite high or difficult obstacles while listening to me.
When someone brags about their latest smartphone model I tell them I don’t need one because my dog has advanced speech recognition.
Obeying orders and reading between the lines
As noted above my dog not only obeys orders, at least as long as I reward her frequently enough with something tasty, but also understands what I say in other contexts. Yeah, I know, I sound like one of those weirdos who talk with their dogs. It’s not that.
It’s when I speak with other people. When I mention the word “dog”, “food” or my dog’s name (which is confidential!) she instantly listens up and comes over to find out what’s going on.
Besides obvious words my dog knows the meaning of most common words like “yes/no”, “me/you”, “go/stay” although I haven’t taught her.
I do not even need to say yes or no, a mumble is often enough or simply some gesture or facial expression. Basically my dog understands me better than anyone else it seems. There’s a reason why they say “man’s best friend” when they refer to dogs. Now as you can imagine having such a genius dog at home can also have disadvantages.
Outsmarting the smart dog
When you mention food for instance or even say “tasty” my dog starts running in circles, jumping around and emitting strange noises that sound rather like some tormented birds. Sometimes there is just no dog food available at that moment, or I simply work and have to focus. Thus we tend to replace common words and expressions with less known ones so that my dog does not eavesdrop on our conversations.
Recently it occurred to me that this dog trick is exactly the same technique I use for headline ideas.
I blog about blogs, social media and search for almost a decade now so that I have to look out not to repeat myself too much by now. Also the niche I cover has too many common words that are hard not to mention, just think about “content, links, tools”.
Some words are so overused by bloggers that I can’t use them at all by now. They have lost too much of their initial meaning and are only evoking stereotypes these days. Whole expressions are already useless, just consider a truism like “create great content”.
Even in case you decide to write an article about it you are up against major publishers.
Being specific but not complicated
They key to letting your dog help you with crafting unique headlines is not complexity. It’s about being more specific than usually. In daily life we tend to use the simplest possible words to describe our daily tasks or formulae demands. You’d say “can you bring me the food” rather than “can you bring me the vegetables” or “can you bring me the cucumber, tomatoes and carrots”.
Using the most commons and broadest terms is about efficiency but also lack of competition.
When you approach a family member and ask for something you don’t compete against the rest of the world speaking at the same time. On the Web there are countless conflicting messages using the same or similar words. In case they are roughly saying the same, only the most respected sources will get heard.
Fighting for attention against the whole Internet
Saying vegetables or even naming them separately would fool the dog. He wouldn’t understand the latter two expressions. Yet on the Web it wouldn’t work either because it would be too complicated and wordy. You want to get specific but still stay concise and understandable.
Also on the Web you have to compete against myriads of others for attention.
Thus you can’t say what everybody else says (unless you work for the BBC or CNN) you need to add your own personal take on things. That’s also why blogging still works despite that competition. People do not solely want “objective” news, they need the assessment of specialists they trust.
Food is a great example here. When I search for something less obvious I already can witness the fight of authority vs uniqueness in Google:
Competing with authority sites
Please how the huge authority sites, here the BBC and BuzzFeed do not need to be very specific to show up on top. The BBC only mentions “fig” in their title tag and says “food” in general. My border collie could understand that. After hearing “good food” she would jump and run around like crazy as she knows both the words.
Please compare the generic BBC and BuzzFeed headlines (or lack there of) with the results from food sites
on #1, #3 and #5. To me number five is actually the best result because it’s the most specific one and already sounds very tasty. It stems from a specialist site focusing and vegetarian dishes. The other two less generic results are both food sites.
The smaller your site is and the more competition you have from larger ones the more specific you need to become. I wouldn’t click the “fig” result of the BBC in this case. #5 is ma favorite. What about you?
* Creative Commons image by Tambako the Jaguar
** Creative Commons image by Tommy Wong
May 1st, 2015.
I have noticed that more bloggers are moving onwards to video blogging and cultivating an audience on YouTube.
Blogging is becoming visual literally.
Here are some examples where there is no need for fancy settings or a lot of preparation from two different niches: personal development and marketing.
The Hype is Over, Now Comes the Real Thing
I know what you think! YouTube? Video blogging? Are you kidding me? Do you want to sell years old trends to me as new? Well, no. The hypes of yesteryear have been long forgotten but nowadays bloggers really start to use video as a means of communications.
Over the years there were many obstacles to overcome when considering publishing videos.
Things like “it’s a lot of work, you need expensive equipment, attractive settings, high level editing” to name just a few. True, some people, especially those who can afford to hire whole teams for their videos are really creating content like this. Yet, a lot of people out there make videos with affordable cameras at home without special effects.
Yes, now that the hype is long over the actual shift takes place for real. Bloggers are seemingly not satisfied with only writing anymore. They want to talk with us and show us who they really are. I have found some excellent examples of high quality blogs that are successful on YouTube now.
Lavendaire by Aileen Xu
Lavendaire is a personal development blog and video channel run for roughly a year by the highly inspiring Aileen Xu. I discovered her channel just a short while ago after watching similar ones for a while on YouTube. Then hers got suggested to me. I subscribed after the first video.
Aileen manages to combine blogging and videos very well. Some other video bloggers tend to focus mostly on YouTube, build their audience there and neglect their own blog. Aileen displays her videos not only on the blog but also transcribes the most important points of each. She creates a short but already helpful blog post that can be read by itself or in combination with the video.
A good example of combining blogging and video is the Lavendaire latest productivity series.
Aileen offers valuable productivity advice on her blog without the fluff as text but also makes the video good to watch by adding extra context. Also note how she uses images for her posts so that neither text nor video are the only content. It’s usually an image of herself that appears to be a video still but has been apparently made in a higher quality than the video as a standalone photograph.
The videos itself are mostly recorded in her bedroom. She’s only talking to us while sitting on a bed. There is nothing else to see. Yet it’s perfectly enough. To be honest even less would suffice. An empty room and a wall are less distracting and let you focus on the face, voice and message.
Jay Today by Jay Baer
Jay Baer of Convince & Convert is a well known marketing blogger for years. To be honest he’s all kinds of things including best selling author, keynote speaker, consultant and coach. I just recently noticed his video channel which ran a series called Jay Today already for over 6 months when he covered the topic of search engine optimization by asking “Is SEO Still Relevant?“.
I expected another clickbait telling me that SEO is dead or something but couldn’t resist to click anyway. I wasn’t disappointed. Instead of trying to trick his viewers Jay Baer offered a very down to earth and matter of fact assessment based on stats from LinkedIn.
While the Convince & Convert blog is by now a group blog with several writers involved his videos are solely about Jay Baer personally and his take on things. No wonder the moniker of his video podcast is “Jay Today” and not “Convince and Convert Today”. Watch his introductory video. It’s just 15 seconds long and it’s filmed outside, maybe in his garden.
Mr. Baer manages to really intrigue us into watching more without any advanced technical voodoo. It’s just him, or mainly his face and his his way of speaking.
When watching a recent video you’ll notice that he got more professional with a sleek intro including music for example. The main focus is on him and his views though. He limits the videos to three minutes which is a wise choice. Longer videos tend to have a growing abandonment rate.
Rewild University by Kenton Whitman
Kenton Whitman published his Zen-inspired self-development blog already for many years and literally stopped a year and a half ago. Instead he focused on his monthly “Mindfulness Moment” email newsletter and recently on his video channel. I’ve been a regular reader for a long time despite the lack of popularity of his blog.
Kenton never went for spectacular lists posts or other more flashy marketing tactics that other self improvement publications have used frequently.
Staying true to minimalist Zen philosophy Kenton focused on a local “ReWild University” program instead of trying to sell books or become an influencer online. Nonetheless he started posting videos on YouTube a while ago and I subscribed to his channel after he mentioned one of them in his newsletter.
The ReWild University site a WordPress based itself. The videos he makes get embedded into a larger blog post explaining each issue in depth in text form as well. Kenton is not your usual nut job of survivalist or the noble savage he might look like. He’s combines the best of both worlds by using technology to make us aware of nature and it’s challenges.
He actually makes a living as a guide through nature who helps average people like you and me to become accustomed to nature again and gain back our self-confidence through it. After all we have lost a lot through civilization despite all of its convenience rather because of it. He covers everyday challenges too, like taking cold showers so that we don’t freeze in winter or trying to eat no sugar for at least one day (I tried both).
So the videos are made either outside in the snow or in the shower accordingly. In many of them he is just speaking though. No gimmicks needed. The “Sugar Challenge” is a good example of this simple technique. The only thing he added is the huge list of food industry names for sugar.
More Channels to inspire you
Koozai and Infinite Waters and two more excellent examples of YouTube channels. These two are already publishing much longer though and the connection between blogs and video channels is less apparent. That’s why I haven’t used them as the prime examples.
They are both pretty consistent and successful audience wise on YouTube so make sure to check them out.
Koozai are our colleagues from the UK also doing marketing. Infinite Waters (Diving Deep) by Ralph Smart is a very popular personal development channel with more than 200.000 subscribers by now. That’s a lot even or that niche. Ralph adds videos almost daily. He simply speaks and smiles in them. Sometimes he records outside but that’s it. Not a lot of fuss here.
Koozai have added a lot of videos throughout the years. Some of them have tens of thousand of views. That’s a huge number for a niche topic like marketing. After all it’s just them talking in front of a blackboard.
The Risk of Dependence from Google/YouTube
Hosting your videos solely on YouTube is risky for various reasons. It’s not only about putting all your eggs into one basket. Some videos get censored for copyright reasons in some countries. Germany (where I live) is especially a bad place for YouTube users.
A lot of videos get completely demoted for containing copyrighted music when thy use it as the background sound.
So while audience building on YouTube is easier than elsewhere – after all the largest audience is already there waiting for content – you may want to spread your videos using more than one site or service.
JayToday is a good example here. You can view his videos using three different tools, YouTube is just one of them, iTunes is another and a mobile app the third choice. You don’t have to change the platform completely, just use different video sites on the Web, Vimeo and Facebook allow uploading and hosting videos as well.
* Creative Commons image by go greener oz.
January 23rd, 2014.
I ran an experiment last year. I had a website with no blog. It had lots of pages on a niche topic, but very few readers. I installed a blog and began posting once per month. In a year, the traffic doubled – (I’ll admit it increased from ‘barely perceptible’ to ‘quite unremarkable’, but you can’t argue with the numbers).
The massive spike around April 2013 was from some experimenting with paid discovery. The second, smaller spike was a particularly controversial blog post.
I think this settles the argument once and for all: A regular content schedule is a sure-fire way to get traffic.
I know what you’re wondering – ‘How does this affect me, the business owner?’
Well, business owner, I’ll tell you.
It means that you should be publishing regular content on your site if you want people to be visiting it. But as a business owner (or marketing manager) you’ll be plenty busy enough with all sorts of other concerns – do you have time for creating a content marketing strategy too?
You need to be producing content – that’s a fact. It’s a thing you can’t deny. I create content for 30 clients – I use the ‘DEAL’ system, from Tim Ferris (author of The Four Hour Work Week):
Define, Eliminate, Automate, Liberate.
Define the sort of content you need. I daresay you won’t go far wrong with one blog post per week and one infographic per month.
You’ll also need to consider sharing and seeding the content as it’s produced. This can be done via the regular social networking channels, but also on targeted interest sites via email outreach.
All of these things take time – hours and hours of time. But only if you do them all yourself…
Remove any unnecessary steps in the programme. Don’t waste your time getting bogged down with trying to design things yourself or write blog posts yourself – there are plenty of people in the world who will do it for you in exchange for money. They are called freelancers and are readily available online.
Think about what you really need to do for the job to work. In fact, I’ll do it for you – you need to come up with content ideas and you need to check it, then post it. The rest can be done for you.
Automation is achieved by setting up a system that handles the tasks for you. In essence, you feed the machine with briefs and it comes back with content. Online freelancing services exist purely to make your life easier, and they’re really great.
My favourite freelancing sites include:
O-Desk is very useful for finding people to do basic tasks – data analysis, basic research, number crunching etc. I use O-Desk for jobs that are too time consuming to handle myself. For example, if I was trying to make an infographic about football transfers (which I am), I’d post the job on O-Desk and find someone more capable and efficient than me to handle the research and analysis while I concentrate on planning the next infographic.
O-Desk also allows you to create teams of people to handle larger ongoing projects. It’s efficient and easy to manage and provides a screentracker so you can make sure your freelancers are staying on task.
Do note, however – O-Desk has a very high number of have-a-go-heroes. They aren’t necessarily qualified in a given field, so although they are competent, you can’t expect them to do more demanding tasks. For basic stuff though, it’s ideal.
Textbroker’s site is fairly basic in functionality, but it focusses solely on copywriting so it’s far more targeted. Prices vary based on the writer’s rating (out of 5). I’ve found some really fantastic writers on Textbroker, but also some absolute stinkers. Usually I have to edit a few things as it’s easier than sending it back for amendments, but it saves a lot of time.
Good copywriters also tend to be good researchers. They’re generally more able to follow a complex brief than their counterparts on O-Desk, so you can offer them more in-depth projects to research.
People Per Hour – covers pretty much every digital-based job, but I use it for designers
PPH is more useful to me than some of my own body parts. I can post a job at 9 in the morning, receive proposals and have the job in the bag before I go to bed that night. People Per Hour has the benefit of knowing where your freelancer is located, so you can target areas that are likely to have more qualified personnel.
For instance, in searching for a designer, Europe has more reliable design schools than other parts of the world, and by choosing someone in Britain I can guarantee we’re in the same timezone, language and operate on the same working hours. It makes the tasks much more manageable.
The site is really fun. You could spend hours looking at the fantastic artwork and designs people come up with. It costs a lot as it’s targeted solely for design and membership is by invitation only so the vetting process is quite thorough.
Hiring works like a traditional jobs list – you post your jobs and people apply.
It is possible to contact the designers for one-off work, but generally they know the value of their work so be prepared to pay for it.
You need to get your content in front of people. Using services like O-Desk will be futile as the workers tend to take the easy option, and language barriers often mean briefs are misinterpreted. People Per Hour is better as you can find people with proven experience who can provide you with a list of relevant sites to contact with a view to posting your content.
Seeding is an essential part of the content process. Making sure your content appears in the right places and in front of the right people is undoubtedly going to reap its own rewards. By building lists of relevant sites to post to, you can automate this process and make sure every piece of content is placed in front of the influencers, sharers and promoters you need.
If you’ve got a bit of budget, you might also consider paid promotion on social media. ‘Boosting’ a post on Facebook, or StumbleUpon’s paid discovery service guarantee the content will be exposed to more people. However, the content needs to be useful and relevant to the audience to gain more traction. If it’s not engaging, people won’t engage with it (click/share etc.) and you’ll have wasted the promotion budget.
As you practice and refine this process you’ll find yourself free to do other things for your business. You’ll be free to chase new clients and more work, and the best part is, you won’t need to do any more work yourself – the system can handle it!
You’ll notice I didn’t mention anything about idea generation – that’s because I think idea generation is the one thing you shouldn’t outsource. You need to make sure your content is completely suitable for the purpose, and you can have a lot of fun coming up with new ideas.
November 27th, 2012.
‘Google Authorship’. You’ve probably heard it being bandied around and if you haven’t taken the time to look into it, now’s your chance. Google Authorship will arguably prove to be the most significant tool for building rankings that Google has ever introduced; and if you’re smart about it, you can start benefiting immediately. This post will explain what it is, its implications and how to use it, so it’s a great place to start. Before we begin, it’s important to say that Authorship and AuthorRank are separate, but inescapably linked. Just like nobody ever talked about Tom without mentioning Jerry, it’s hard to talk about Authorship without thinking about AuthorRank.
What is Google Authorship?
Google Authorship is Google’s strategy of linking web authors to their online content. So anything you write online can be linked to your online profile (no prizes for guessing it’s your Google+ profile). Google haven’t officially said that this will lead to a writing-quality based ranking system; but they’ve implied it pretty heavily. In 2007, Google patented something called ‘Agent Rank’. You can take a look at the patent here , but if you’re not versed in patent law, Bill Slawski gives a pretty good run down over in February 2007.
Obviously we’re now spoiled by blogs explaining where they were going with this patent, but with the advent of Google+ and Authorship the theories are starting to become an impending reality.
It’s important to remember that Google Authorship and AuthorRank are separate entities.
You can read all about Authorship at the horse’s mouth; but broadly, it’s the link between authors and their content. AuthorRank is the rating system associated with this link. Authorship is in operation now. AuthorRank isn’t.
In a lot of press stuff the G-team has been saying the main focus of Authorship is to link authors to their content. Google Software Engineer, Othar Hansson appears to be obsessed with the fact that it puts your picture next to your post on SERPs and the psychological benefits of this in terms of connectivity. In his words, it’s Google’s way of ‘making the internet more human’. It’s a lovely sentiment, but cynical-old-me still thinks this is all part of the much bigger AuthorRank picture. And that’s not a bad thing. AuthorRank will be a great way of promoting online content based on the merit of its production and weeding out spammers. It punishes anonymity, but celebrates connectivity, and that’s surely a step in the right direction.
AuthorRank isn’t officially in use yet, but the buzz around it has become almost deafening and smart money is on it being run as an operational algorithm very soon.
But, back to Authorship…
Why should Authorship bother me?
Why shouldn’t it? This is the first chance we’ve been given to associate all of our online work in one centralised beacon. If, like me, you originally avoided the Google+ hype, change your mind now, or you might just get left behind.
There’s never been a better reason to join up. It will ensure you get the praise you deserve for the stuff you’ve written in your field of expertise by linking to similar articles you’ve written. In fact, that plan is already in action. Matt McGee has found that as soon as you’re finished reading an article by an author signed up to Authorship, you press ‘back’ on your browser and Hey, Presto! You’re presented with more articles on the same subject from the same author. This is the perfect type of promotion and will benefit your traffic in no time.
Pros and Cons of Authorship (and, inevitably, AuthorRank)
Let’s take a look at the effects Authorship could have on your business:
– Association with good writers and good content is bound to have a positive influence on your site’s PageRank. AuthorRank will undoubtedly go hand-in-hand with PageRank!
– People will be able to interactively see the merits of your site by clicking the author links on each post.
– Verified quality writers will encourage more people to link to your site. It’ll work wonders for Domain Authority.
– What if that writer who’s earned you all those Click-Throughs leaves? Well, they’ll always be tied to the domain that published their content. So even if they stop writing for you, as long as you both stay on top of your game, you’ll both benefit.
– You’ll get more Clicks because people will trust that smiling Rich Snippet of yours more than they trust a farmed-in link.
– People will be more willing to contact you with their thoughts. That means you’ll be able to engage more with your audience.
– Spammers will be much more easily identified. No Authorship will mean no verified author. Quality content will be rewarded.
– If you rely on one writer for a high ranking/readership and they leave, you’ll have to work extra hard to keep on top and stay fresh. But there’s nothing new there!
– Authorship can’t be attributed to your company, only to your writers.
– Authorship can’t be attributed to a team, only to ONE writer.
– It acknowledges the achievements of individual writers rather than a whole business.
(But the kudos is shared by association, so everyone’s a winner.)
One point which is a mix of a Pro and a Con: a lot of people have been reporting that their Rich Snippets have taken weeks or even months to show up. Generally, Google seems to giving it on a priority basis to people they think have earned it. That is, people who are getting a lot of traffic for a lot of posts. It seems a little harsh to begin with, but at least this way you know Authorship has truly been earned.
At face value, the pros seem to outweigh the cons; and the cons concerning companies benefiting from the writing of their employees seem to be part of an on-going morality battle. Is it OK for an employer to take credit for their employees work? That’s a question for another time on another blog. But in any case it would seem that Authorship unequivocally promotes and celebrates individualism and, to bang the Marxist drum, denies the power of anonymous corporatism.
How Can I Get On Board?
2 Things you’ll need for Authorship before you start out:
– Online Content (you already have that though, right?)
– A Google+ Profile!
I don’t have Google+!
Let’s start from the start. I’ll show you how to set up a Google+ profile from Scratch; using the perfect blank slate: me!
Step 1: We’ll pretend like none of us has a Google account and start from the front door. Head over to Google+
Step 2: Fill in the Details form
Step 3: After a verification process, you’ll be presented with this box:
Step 4: Get your photo up! This will be the photo used in your Author Rich Snippet.
Step 5: … and Get Involved!
There are plenty of posts around the web that can give you a complete overview of what Google+ has to offer, but since this post is about Google Authorship I’ll leave you with one piece of advice:
Use Google+ as much as possible. The more you engage with your profile and the circles you build, the more you’ll gain from the service and the more strength you’ll have around the web.
So how do I link between my profile and my posts?
Well, there’s a lot of ways this can be done. The process can be quite confusing, but Rick DeJarnette gives a decent overview.
NB. It’s still a little jargony in places.
I’ll break it down as best I can in a second, but if the HTML stuff gets too much, feel free to watch this video of Matt Cutts and Bond-Villain-in-Waiting, Othar Hansson looking uncomfortable and explaining the HTML coding in very accessible terms.
For Sites with One Author:
If you have an email address on the same domain as your published work:
Step 1: Head over to the Authorship sign-up page and fill in the form.
Step 2: Click ‘Verify’ in the Verification Email.
Step 3: In the ‘Edit Profile’ section of your Google+ profile, you’ll now find you’re a ‘Contributor to’ the domain of the email.
Step 4: Start writing as much as possible at that domain. The more Google sees people are looking at your content, the more important Google thinks you are and the sooner you get your picture on the Search Page.
If you don’t have an email address on the same domain as your published work:
This may also be useful for posts in blogs where you’re a guest poster.
The best way in this case is to include a hyperlink with an HTML “rel=author” tag at the bottom of each page you write.
Basically, rel=”Author” is a way of telling Google that the author of this page is at the other end of this link.
The complete HTML link will look something like this:
<a href=”https://plus.google.com/101369752982717498462#101369752982717498462?rel=author”>Joe Shervell</a>
And behave something like this:
Now go back to ‘Edit Profile’ on your Google+ page and edit the ‘Contributor to’ section to include the site you posted to. It may be more beneficial to give the exact URL of the page, like this:
But reportedly listing the domain’s homepage will still work fine.
My site has multiple authors.
That’s ok, so does ours!
Step 1: Make sure you have a Bio Page set up for each writer. Something like this.
Step 2: Set up a Hyperlink from the Content Page to the Bio Page, but make sure you include our old friend, the rel=”author” tag.
Step 3: Set up a Hyperlink from the Bio Page to your Google+ profile, but this time include a rel=”me” tag. Simply put, Google will read this as you saying ‘this is me’.
Step 4: Head back to “Edit Profile” on your Google+ profile and enter the URL of the bio page in the “Contributor to” section.
That’s about the size of it!
But I use WordPress. What about me?
If you’re WordPress savvy then it’s really straight forward:
Step 1: Grab yourself a copy of a plugin like this one.
Step 2: Install it (It’s all explained in better detail right here)
Step 3: Fill in the information on your WordPress User Area.
Step 4: Keep posting and sharing and Google will notice you and give you your well-earned Rich Snippet.
So I’ve Set Up Authorship. Now What?
By setting up Authorship you’ve put yourself on Google’s radar as a writer, and that’s a huge step in the right direction. When AuthorRank does arrive, (and it’s not a matter of if, but when?) the more prestige you’ve earned as a writer, the better.
Use your Google+ profile to interact with your community of readers. Write about what you know, and write about it well. Google will see you as someone worthwhile in the field and give you a better rating in the rankings battle. This ‘writing about what you know’ is an important point. If you’re Noam Chomsky, then Google will recognise all the stuff you’ve written on Language Acquisition and if you decide to blog about it, you’ll be rewarded with high rankings based on your previous work. If you’re Noam Chomsky and you decide to write a blog post about Animal Husbandry in the Serengeti; you might not get the same level of respect.
That seems like an important point; one that I’m loathe to gloss over. Google Authorship can reward expertise. If you build a following and recognition as a writer in a certain field, then it will be reasonably safe for Google to assume that anything you write on that subject will be of a similar calibre. That’s not to discourage you from branching out into other fields; but if you do, make sure you have a community willing to accept that change or you might be punished by negative response.
To sum up neatly; Authorship is essential to let Google know you are a legitimate and quality writer who isn’t out to scam or spam. In the future, AuthorRank will come into the equation, and when it does, make sure you’re ready by building a big following and professional group now on Google+.
And even if we’re all wrong about AuthorRank… what’s the harm in having Google’s Seal-of-Approval on your work?