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What’s the most powerful change to search marketing in the past 14 years? If you guessed social media, you’d be partly correct. The biggest change is that search is becoming all about who as much as what.

What in the world am I talking about? Take a look at some of the great work done by the SEOMoz team on Google’s patented new AuthorRank algorithm, predicted to be deployed Very Soon ™. If you’re unfamiliar with AuthorRank, it’s fundamentally a kind of EdgeRank for search (as opposed to Facebook news feeds). The reputation and authority of the author matters for search results as much as the content being searched.

Social is the new SEO 1
Graphic by SEOMoz

Take a look at the criteria making up AuthorRank: reputation in Google+, correct authorship models set up, authority factors on other social networks, citations and mentions in Google Books, Google Scholar, and YouTube, plus many other factors. These are all related to the person, not the content, and if an author with a strong reputation promotes content, that content gains some of the shine and luster of the author in search. (power tip: while we don’t know the specifics of the algorithm, you should be creating content based on the rough outline above)

What does this mean for you? It’s a legitimate game-changer. It changes your content marketing to be a lot more than just cranking out stuff – with metrics like AuthorRank, who writes the content for you for search purposes is as important as what they write. It’s a huge shift for companies; forward-thinking companies will encourage employees to nurture and grow their own authority and authorship and then lend that to the company. Backwards-thinking companies will lose employees who understand that their digital rolodex is part of their value and career path – stifling that will stifle the employee’s career prospects for the future.

Content marketing with things like guest blog posts will be a lot more competitive as forward-thinking marketers look for guest authors who are willing to share some of their AuthorRank with the places they write. This, by the way, must be set up bilaterally in order for Google to count it – the author must declare on their Google+ profile that they’re guest blogging as a contributor somewhere in addition to links in the content itself. Unscrupulous marketers will gain no benefit from digital name dropping without the authors reciprocating.

Even hiring in marketing may change at the most cutting-edge, forward-thinking companies. Companies looking for specific marketing benefits like social authority and search engine marketing may need to adjust their strategies to hire people who have and are willing to share their personal authority with the company brand.

Ultimately, AuthorRank will be incredibly empowering to every marketer who is creating content. Being recognized for your authority and authorship in the world of search marketing lends additional value to everything you do. If you’ve not gotten started on setting up authorship and the prerequisites for AuthorRank for yourself and your company, get started today.

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4 responses to “Social is the new SEO”

  1. Extremely well articulated point! Hubspot (not surprisingly) was way ahead of this curve. In his book, Brian Halligan talked about the importance of hiring “digital citizens” before the concept of AuthorRank existed. But he knew something like that was coming.

    And you’re exactly right about forward-thinking companies. However, this is going to be excruciatingly difficult for companies to embrace. The much prefer hiring replaceable cogs over digital linchpins (to reference Seth Godin). They are going to be very reluctant to empower individuals in this way. But that will create opportunities for companies who do understand and embrace reality.

  2. All of this makes sense to me except for Google+ Engagement Level. Really? Seems kinda forced.

  3. This will be of intrigue to see how the recruitment and negotiations between employer and employee are influenced / leveraged for the benefit of each. How do you measure and compensate commensurable to AuthorRank?

  4. R. Miguel Avatar
    R. Miguel

    Thanks for the eye opener! Makes perfect sense as to we’re Google is heading. Just the other day I was prompted with a msg when logging in to my Youtube account. After recognizing my email — if I wanted to change my user name to the one on my google+ account. I guess this means google+ will be seeing more traffic from me moving on.

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