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Friday, January 11, 2013

Great SEO, Content, and Author Rank
by Blake Barnes

As an entrepreneur, SEO expert, and online marketing consultant I talk to people everyday about how to grow their business.  One thing that even most SEO novices understand is that Google and other search engines always tout “Content is King”.  As a result, I am asked almost everyday about what makes great content. Let’s explore that question by 1st understanding it from the perspective of Google and with that knowledge it may give us a better understanding of good content.

Google wants to reward you and your company with visibility and ultimately that turns into business if your site or you personally are  responsible for creating truly valuable content. Google rewards you and your website with extremely valuable, organic, 1st page results when someone searches for the subject/business you wrote about.  Why you may ask?  

Understanding Google’s mission statement is critical to understanding the “why” behind this.  According to Google, they want to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.  I believe if they do that and do it better than anyone else, you’ll never use any other search tool to find the information you seek and as a result Google can better sell ads because everyone loves using a tool that works.  If Google truly provides value to the search  user, they will keep and grow their audience and ultimately their business as a result.  

If you don't have the time or desire to write good valuable content or hire an SEO company or author to do so on your company’s behalf, you can simply pay for your clicks to get to the top of Google and send people to a landing page.  However, if you pay to get someone to click on your ppc ad and your website or landing page is no good or the content is not as good as your competitors then people will bounce right off your site and go to your competitors site.  You will have paid Google wasted marketing dollars.   I’ll try to spare you from that happening.

Something else to consider is if your content is not relevant to the search, for instance if you try to sell a multi level marketing program to someone searching for coffee mugs, for example, Google won't even let you win a bid in the PPC ad auction because the information you are serving the searcher is not relevant to their search.  Why would Google do that?  It all goes back to what's best for the user is always best for Google.  I believe their mission statement.  If Google can ensure the user has a good experience, they will always have customers lined up to buy their digital ad space because they will keep and grow their enormous world wide audience.  

In my opinion Google has it right.  Traditional marketing is intrusive and pushy but if Google can deliver an ad to someone when they’re actually looking for that product or service then everyone wins.  For example, you want to buy a coffee mug and the ad at the top of Google is for a nice stainless steel mug, a battery operated heated mug, and countless other mugs, chances are most people will probably be ok with seeing those ads at the time they’re searching for them and may not be annoyed with the advertising.  This benefits you as the search user because you find exactly what you want at the exact moment you want it.  It benefits the advertiser selling the mug because you are a qualified potential customer, and it of course, it benefits Google because the advertiser selling their mugs paid them if you clicked on their ad.  By Google taking their focus off themselves and worrying about just delivering you your desired information when you want it, that model truly benefits everyone.  

Our job as SEO experts is to proliferate great content, not Spam the internet with fluffy junk no one cares to read.  We should not be so focused on just mechanics like, backlinks, page rank, domain authority, or any of the other traditional SEO metrics.  If we can actually proliferate great content for our customers then it’s just a matter of time before their intended audience of qualified prospects finds them, organically.   If the content is truly great, it will spread naturally.  People like to share something funny, thought provoking, interesting, informative, emotional, inspiring etc.   People interested in what you’re writing about will naturally spread your ideas.  That’s great SEO and great marketing and provides value and benefit for all involved.  

How might Google ensure that the best content is delivered you may ask?  Well since Google does not publish their algorithm that took them over 1,000 paid man YEARS to create, we can only speculate based on what we know about Google’s intent and mission mentioned above.  

One of Google’s newest additions to their algorithm is called Authorship.   I love the idea here and I truly believe this is going to revolutionize the internet as a whole. .  Let me explain.  Have you ever done a Google search for a product or service you were thinking about buying and read the reviews?  Have you ever read a review that was just a little too lovey dovey and thought to yourself hmm hmm BS.  Well, how do you know any of those reviews are real, even the ones that look ok?  Do you trust everything you read on the internet?  With Google’s new introduction of Authorship you may now do your research on that person who wrote the review and make a judgement of his character.  

It doesn't just stop at reviews.  I have no proof of this but I speculate that with Google’s incredible analytical capabilities it will someday turn into some sort of a rating system for individual authors’ authority on a subject.  For example, let’s say you have a business where you sell widgets. Let’s assume you are constantly publishing great content about your widgits and that the content is so good that those who read your content about widgits are compelled to share it across the internet with their social media network, on a blog, or in a news article...etc.   Google may now assign you a numeric rank based on your subject expertise and audience interaction and now whenever you publish something on widgets you’re more likely to come up high in search results because you are the expert in that field.  This allows for others who read your content or reviews to make an objective opinion on you and determine if they trust you or not.   

To quote the late great Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.  Notice the word content.  In the past, without Author Rank and with little content to draw conclusions upon, how did we know we could trust that person?  Now with the new author rank, I believe this problem is beginning to be solved.  Only those doing good business and providing real value will survive and we’ll slowly see the less credible companies fade out of business.  In my opinion, that’s a good thing for everyone.  

As an SEO expert, I believe that instead of talking to the customer about complicated metrics and technical statistics, we should simply explain the idea of growing their business by providing value to their customers using valuable intellectual property (great content) then it’s just a matter of how we use tools and techniques to get that message out to their target audience so their potential prospects can do business with them.  

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

What is the internet to you?

What is the internet to you?
by Blake Barnes

Do you use the internet?  It’s kind of ironic to ask because if you’re reading this you obviously do but the question has a deeper meaning.  As an SEO consultant and technology expert, I spend most of my time online.  I began thinking how important the internet is and how my job as a marketer has been transformed by it’s power.   Most of us take the internet for granted and treat it as if it’s just something to be used.  If we back up and look at it from a more philosophical perspective and define what the internet has become, I believe we can better formulate our response to the question - what is the internet?  After examining it from that vantage point, it may even challenge your belief of how you interact with it.  It certainly did mine.  

If you ask 100 people the simple question, “what is the internet” you’re likely to get 100 different answers.  How would you answer? I believe that the internet is the single biggest construction project in human history.  The fascinating thing is we didn't even have a plan for what it was to become as we began building it.  It was as if there was an intelligent design behind it guiding its creation as we go.  

If you imagine the internet as a compilation of questions, thoughts, ideas, emotions, creativity, and inspiration of billions of human beings both dead and alive, its a pretty amazing construction project.  According to statistics from there are just over 7 Billion people on earth and as of now there are 2.4 Billion internet users or, just under 35% of the world’s population.   Stop and think about the significance of that for a moment.  It’s often been said 2 heads are better than one.  If that’s true, what is the value of billions of heads?  With collaboration on that scale, literally anything is possible.  During the infancy of the internet, no one could have imagined what it has manifested into today.  How has it changed your life and behavior?  What do you do online now that you used to do in the physical world?  

If great minds think alike and you combine all of those great minds in one venue under one virtual roof, removed any socioeconomic or language barriers and aligned people and ideas from all over the world, what becomes possible?  Imagine if the ideas and creative process of Plato, Copernicus, Socrates, Einstein, and so on were all digitally documented and expanded upon by a global community?   Well the good thing is that all the great minds going forward from here can.  With the internet, the more of your thoughts ideas and emotions that are digitally captured the more of a digital essence of yourself will remain with humanity when you’re long gone.  Once you upload and publish your thought, it can now be translated into any language, crowd-sourced, dissected, added to, and revised to become an even bigger idea.  As that process happens millions of times over and over again across multiple generations, what you believed was just a simple post to the internet has the possibility to become the foundation for something much greater.  How humbling to think just one thought or post has the possibility to have such a great impact for generations to come.      

The internet, not just one social website alone, but the network of ideas has played a major role in our modern civilization.  It has been the venue and forum for everything as simple as shopping to changing entire cultures such as the revolution in Egypt    Are we being good stewards of this amazing phenomenon and are we treating it with reciprocity in mind or do we just use it?