30 Mar 2015

How to be relevant on Google and G+

So, here's the deal. We were are having a conversation in the Google Semantic Search community on Google+. It started as a result of this image I made on Pablo:

It struck a chord. The concept of Google SERPs no longer being a page of "10 blue links"? Seems alien to most, but if you just take a look now, you'll see how far it is already from the traditional page we're so used to.

The conversation developed from what the SERP will look like to how it will affect us as authors, readers and searchers for knowledge:
  • How will our relationships affect what we see when we type in a query?
  • Can we influence this by social engagement?
  • Where are Google and Bing getting this data from?
Frank Gainsford and I played host to some specific questions, ranging from Semantic mark-up, to fingerprints in our writing, to relevance and trust. It's a long thread, but well worth a read when you've got 15 minutes to kill on you commute.

Theory is all well and good, but…

…thing is, a lot of the knowledge about the Semantic Web is still theory. Those implementing structured data, content that's NLP-friendly and secure, responsive websites are seeing the benefit.

But Semantics are a huge step for many business owners to take. Most are only just coming around to the fact that generic outsourced, cheap content is more likely to get them penalised than to the first page of Google.

That special code has to be written so that they have a 'schema'd' site, too? Structured mark-up to them may seem like just another ploy by SEOs to make more money. Or to replace income, now that back-linking as a service is fading fast. And, like cheap content, a suspicious link profile's just as likely to see your site fall from grace as hit the heights.

What we need is proof. Hard, fact-based evidence that demonstrates how relationships are making us relevant to peers, prospects and industry thought leaders. So, that's what I'm setting out to achieve with a small experiment.

An experiment in relevance

The basis of the experiment will use a method I developed last year to keep tabs on influencers/topics designed to grow a relevant Google+ following. Since then, I've cobbled together an IFTTT recipe to help me record my Google+ posts.

This is important, as trying to share content, keep a record of it and document the topics was counter-productive in its labour intensity. This time, I'm going to more than halve the field and update the master spreadsheet once a day.

The people in the circle I'm creating, with the specific intention to increase engagement with them, I've deliberated over even longer than my "G+49-ers". Their engagement record on G+ and Twitter, their own website content and the main topics about which they post on G+ have all come under scrutiny.

The aim is to identify how relevant each of those people are now, according to Circloscope and/or Google+. Then, over the course of a month of sustained engagement, see how close they become after a fashion.

What I've not done before is see how this social activity affects the SERP. This is the answer most people are dying to find out. Can social engagement really carry over into the Search Results? That's what we're gonna find out.

12 Mar 2015

5 Common Qualities Found in Authoritative Bloggers

Ambling alongside the technical elements of blogging for the semantic web we find human traits. We may not recognise them at first; but that's because we're looking the wrong way.

That's understandable. With SEO checklists, plagiarism detection and NLP to test, bloggers can overlook the humanity in their craft.

That oversight risks connecting their audience with the article's message. To avert that failure, we must remember the power of emotion, subconscious or cognitive, as we slap the digital ink onto our word processor.

Moreover, eliciting human reaction should drive our motivation to write in the first place.

Me and you and a blog that's pooh

Many bloggers miss their mark by tailoring the human elements of writing solely to their readership. That is, if they realise such traits exist at all.

Your readers deserve, nay, demand your singular focus when composing their article. That's fair enough. The benefits for them, your undying empathy and the solution to their life's catalogue of ills should bulge out the veins of your content's DNA.

While that's commendable, what many bloggers don't see is the flip side. Your copy is as much about you, the author, as it is your audience. You must make that distinction before you even dare hope to win over anything more than passive traffic.

You have a voice as unique in your copy as the one that commits your acoustic fingerprint to indelible audio. "You" must shine through in every sentence of your copy.

Readers are hungry; feed the beast

Take, for example, five blog posts cascading down someone's feed reader. Each post headline purports revelations about the same story.

From those five, 90% of readers will opt for the author whose tone they remember enjoying reading last time. The news is unlikely to differ. Through previous posts of the author's the reader has related to, an emotional connection pre-exists. It's this connection that drives the eventual click-through.

Of the remaining 10%, they'll visit a blog because:

  • of curiosity;
  • the killer headline;
  • the domain is a (pre-judged) trustworthy source.

Even then, any established authority is relative to that domain's authors. This trust, in a fashion, has come from topical opinion expressed via the author's 'voice'.

So, whichever way you look to attract visitors to your content, you, the author, are pivotal in the reader's decision-making process.

The attached article relates 5 qualities top bloggers have in common. It has little to do with tech-savvy application of structured mark-up. There's even less about on-page format.

It is about attitude. First, towards getting the job done. Second, how copywriters address their subject and their target audience. Enjoy » http://ow.ly/KdSww

image: Peter Lloyd, unsplash