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What I Learnt from Linkdex’s Content Marketing/Authorship Think Tank
Image Credit: Mike Arnesen
Yesterday I had the pleasure of escaping Fluid towers for the afternoon and taking in the sights and sounds of historic Leeds – oh, and also attending a content marketing and authorship think tank organised by the folks at Linkdex and Blueclaw.
After a train journey spent debating whether free toilet use in public places should be a basic human right (seriously, 30p?!), I arrived at the rather grand The Queens Hotel for what was an incredibly interesting and informative conference/seminar/think tank (delete as preferred).
‘Authorship: The Integration of Social, Search and PR’ – Matt Roberts of Linkdex
Opening up with an interesting concept called the Value Equation – that’s content + links, author and social = revenue and traffic -, there were two key words in Matt’s presentation; ‘resonance’ and ‘influence’.
Matt covered the importance of customers, both influential and passionate, referring to the idea of customers essentially being the new marketing, with word of mouth and direct referrals being some of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal. Resonating with passionate – not just influential – people in certain fields and influencing them to spread the word via content and so forth should be considered key to a digital marketing strategy.
Following on from this, Matt presented two ideas that intrigued me; making someone else the ‘hero’ and face-to-face communication with authors. The former refers to providing an influential author with the means to produce content about you rather than producing strongly brand-centred content; essentially, it’s their story that you happen to be involved with and thus looks far less ‘salesy’.
As someone who is guilty of firing off an email to someone I want to work with, I’ve never actually met any bloggers with whom I want to collaborate in the flesh. Matt certainly sold the idea of face-to-face communication well and it’s important to remember that to influence people, we need to treat them as ‘real people’ rather than ‘bloggers’ or ‘authors’.
‘Building Relationships With Authors’ – David Harling of Razorfish
The core message of David Harling’s talk was that relationships fuel content; through building relationships with influential and passionate authors, we can lightly encourage them to produce content about our brand and provide backlinks in an entirely naturalistic manner.
David recommended using a database to find these influential authors, specifically Cision and Linkdex (Gorkana was also recommended in the ensuing questions). The crux of the talk was a case study of Puma Yard, an event held by Puma over the summer in East London to coincide with the Olympics.
Through the case study, David illustrated the effectiveness of crowdsourcing ideas and investing in relationships with authors. Authors were invited to attend Puma Yard with no obligation to blog about it yet they still did, and provided natural backlinks by the hundreds – the dream SEO scenario basically. This is because they were provided with an experience, another key idea David was keen to promote.
Basically, if you build a two-way, transparent relationship with influential authors and provide them with an experience (David also showed a smaller scale experience, a Jubilee hamper, created for George @ ASDA), you can reap some serious rewards.
Author Rank – Mike McDougall, Head of Search at Blueclaw & Matt Hall, SEO Consultant @ Blueclaw
Next up was Mike McDougall and Matt Hall, Head of Search and SEO Consultant respectively at Blueclaw, discussing Author Rank. Author Rank provides power to authors over brand and the associated Rich Snippet is proven to improve click through rate.
I was particularly interested in learning how Author Rank can work for brands, and this was something Mike covered in his presentation – specifically how can you utilise it if you don’t have a single ‘author’. Mike preached the importance of planning ahead and proceeding with caution when integrating authorship into a brand’s digital marketing strategy; don’t place all of your AR efforts into the one employee who blogs the most, because employees come and go and so too does all your hard Author Rank work.
There were a couple of solutions proposed, one of which was spreading Author Rank among multiple authors to minimise the impact of an employee departing. ‘Rel = publisher’ and connecting your site to a brand G+ page was also hit upon, with Mike speculating on the possibility of ‘Publisher Rank’ being introduced in the future.
Mike also talked about the importance of ‘training up’ bloggers and influencers you work with on Author Rank so that you get the full benefit of their blogging efforts.
Afterwards, Matt Hall provided a how-to guide to actually implementing authorship, which he has kindly summed up in a post on the Blueclaw blog.
Authorship Workshop – Paul Speadbury, MEC
And last, but definitely not least, was Paul Spreadbury of MEC. Paul’s authorship workshop summed up Google’s reasons for creating Author Rank nicely, describing it as a way for Google to verify links as trustworthy and as adding a human element to link building. It should also reduce duplicate content issues in which the original content ranks below reproductions.
Again, the power of slowly building up fruitful relationships with influential authors was emphasised (it was a key theme of the afternoon, in case you haven’t noticed), with Paul outlining a good method to find relevant authors using Author Crawl and G+.
Paul closed with some key lessons for anyone producing content on a regular basis; build Author Rank into your strategy now and don’t just publish on sites you control!
So that was my Wednesday afternoon and it’s fair to say I left Leeds a lot wiser than I entered it; I’m sure I’ve missed some points out of this blog post so if any fellow attendees would like to chip in and add their own points, please do!
(NB: check out Blueclaw’s round-up of the event which features some of the presentations in their entirety.)