These days it’s rare to find a brand, blogger or CEO that does not monitor his or her reputation by Google Alert or other hair trigger mechanism. Training your feed’s content-creation team to exploit this new reality for systematic blogger outreach can yield terrific results over time with very little added cost. Read on to explore powerful techniques to serve your brand’s feed readers, earn influential friends, garner links, generate buzz and drive traffic to your website.
Humans do what humans do
In high school I heard from a mutual acquaintance that “Joyce,” a young woman I admired from afar, mentioned me in a favorable light behind the scenes at drama club rehearsal. The “mention” tweaked my attention in ways best be described as instinctual and primal. This boy was amped.
My heart beat in time with teenage steps as I cruised her locker, read between the lines of every word in her yearbook profile and respectfully observed her movements the next day at rehearsal. Heightened feelings of affection overcame me as my imagination lit up. It was extremely powerful to hear that I was top-of-mind for such a cool girl. I wanted to know everything about her, simply because I knew she had a predilection to like me enough to tell her friends. Later after we became very close, I learned that her dialog with friends was meant for me to discover because she liked me and thought this would be a good way to catch my attention and interest. Shrewd girl.
Not much has changed. I get between 5-30 alerts from KnowEm, TrackUr and Google Alerts each day, where others somehow mention my name, that of our company or links to something we’ve written. My first reaction is nearly always the same, to follow the notification link real-time to the source in order to ascertain the tone and intent of what the writer just said about me. I wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to engage where our brand is loved or defend turf when disparaged.
Such seems to be human nature, a hard-wired curiosity that as a social media marketer I’ve observed in many. Here’s how to leverage other bloggers curiosity to your brand’s advantage, by employing tactics which instinctively compel people to check out your feed’s content.
Size up your targets
First, automate category-research by setting up alerts for keywords important to your brand. An “alert” means email notification regarding any newly published instances of each keyword indexed in Google. Evaluate the authority of each publication that generates an alert.
For websites (including blogs) we look to mR (mozRank) and domain mT (mozTrust), which are third party measurements of strength from SEOMoz’s Linkscape. We deem domain trust (domain mT) greater than 3.0 and homepage mR greater than 3.5, as the minimum “authority levels” to make the writer a worthy target. Tip: Crosscheck mR with Google Toolbar PageRank. Since Linkscape does not know about Google penalties, a Google PR of 0 combined with mR of anything greater than 0, means there is a reasonable chance Google has spanked the site and the blogger should be avoided.
Also look to RSS subscriber-count, Technorati rating, quality and quantity of inbound links in Yahoo SiteExplorer and PostRank. All of these measurements can be good indicators of the engagement the publication generates. Ask yourself: “If this blogger wrote about our brand, would it matter?”
Remember, these are bloggers posting content on the subject of categories surrounding your brand’s products. Your goal is to build a list if authority bloggers and their posts that feature content that your brand’s feed readers will find interesting. Start a spreadsheet to keep track. Weed out any publications which seemingly may offer direct competition to your brand’s products, including affiliate marketing like AdSense on the page. There’s nothing more frustrating than linking out to a blog post hawking your competitors’ brands. We’re looking for complimentary and non-competitive resources of note to offer your readers.
Cite targets as resources
In your day-to-day process of content creation, find ways to mention bloggers and link out to their posts. Remember how this works. Any blogger worthy of your attention is likely monitoring their reputation. They will find out that their name was mentioned or post linked to. Anecdotally I can tell you that a significant percentage of those you cite will visit your post to see what was said.
There are many methods to incorporate references to blog posts in your content. Here are a few that have worked really well for us.
At the bottom of your content, cite “additional resources” and list several posts related to the your content.
Publish periodic link roundups from the automated category research. Daily, weekly or monthly… it’s all-good. Make sure to mention the blogger’s name. The reason periodic link roundups work so well is that the tactic systematically invites blogger after blogger to your content. A daily link roundup in your keyword space that mentions 5 posts X 20 days a month = pinging the reputation monitoring apparatus of your targets 1,200 times a year. It also serves your readers by providing them relevant resources congruent with your brand’s products. It’s a win, win & win situation.
Link out in your posts to other bloggers’ content to clarify concepts. Look for phrases that the average reader might not understand and use the phrases as anchor text for outbound links that explain things. These types of citations delight the bloggers mentioned and a good percentage of them will follow their Google alert to find out what you said. You get bonus points for anchor text that demonstrates an above average understanding of your target.
Don’t ever gush or be gratuitous. One of the first things we counsel community managers to avoid is being over-complimentary to where high praise begins to sound like bs. Let your tasteful use of the bloggers name and content speak for itself and don’t rant on and on about how cool he or she is. If anything, mute praise and let the reference to someone’s great content do the talking.
Never promote content or bloggers you have not checked out and personally vetted. Google and other search engines take note of where your outbound links point. It’s easy to move too fast and link out to “bad neighborhoods,” which search engines could punish you for. Make sure each mention of a blogger’s name and link to their content is a true recommendation from your brand to theirs.
Getting authority bloggers to check out your brand’s feed content can pay dividends. We live in an era where a plugged-in blogger can send so much traffic from social media sites that it can break your server. Every mention and outbound link serves as an invitation, appealing to the most primal of human instincts—our hardwired need to explore what others say about us.
It should also be mentioned that many SEO professionals believe that quantity and quality of outbound links is a significant ranking factor. In that light, reaching out to good quality publications by outbound links serves SEO needs as well as public relations.
Well-executed use of this tactic amounts to a win for all parties: your readers, the bloggers you ping and the brand you’re building. It’s easy to leverage this tactic by reaching out to authority bloggers with these classic methods adapted for our quickly evolving and hypersensitive reputation monitoring environment.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.