Search Marketing by the Book

I neglected to post last week’s MediaPost column as it went up, but here it is at last. Tomorrow’s will hopefully go up in a more timely manner.

Search Marketing by the Book

When planning search engine optimization strategies, what if you tried to promote your site like you’re promoting a book?

It’s a timely question, as some social media gurus have recently
capitalized on SEO best practices when releasing their books. It’s a
great time to read many of your favorite bloggers in print, including
Forrester’s Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (whose book is the best you can read on social media), Rohit Bhargava (whose book is next on my list), Joe Jaffe (whose book I panned – nothing personal, of course), Geoff Livingston (whose book I’ll eventually order), and the 103 authors of  "The Age of Conversation "(I’m one of the hundred, so I’ll refrain from a review).

An underlying theme in promoting these books is getting bloggers involved. Here’s why:

1.    Bloggers will link back to the authors’ sites and book blogs.
The added links ultimately lead to higher rankings in search engines.
The authors want to make sure they rank well for any terms related to
their books, and after book sales die down, the benefits of the links
remain.

2.    The other blogs rank for relevant book terms, too. Assuming
that most of the book reviews are positive (all of the above average at
least 4 stars on Amazon except Bhargava’s, the newest, so it hasn’t yet
been reviewed), the reviews add to the pool of favorable search results.

3.    Bloggers perfectly complement book reviews from established media sources. A book review in The New Yorker
has the weight of authority, but a book review on one of your favorite
blogs comes off more like the advice from a trusted friend.

4.    Bloggers make it easier to buy the books. Even if you read The New Yorker
in one hand with a Kindle in the other, there’s still a disconnect
between the review and the purchase. Blogs tend to make it easy to buy.

A few case studies demonstrate how this all comes together.

Interviews Included with Personality Not Included

Rohit Bhargava, who coined the term "social media optimization,"
found a way to get guaranteed coverage ahead of the launch of his book,
"Personality Not Included," before anyone even read it. On his blog, he
offered exclusive five-question interviews
to any blogger who agreed to post the Q&A, and then he linked back
to those interviews. Bhargava had to answer 250 questions, so he worked
for his links, but he got them, along with all the content about his
book, and then the general buzz around it (full disclosure: I took
part).

Bhargava then picked a dozen of his favorite interviews (full disclosure: mine was one of them) and opened it up to voting,
with prizes going to the top five winners (full disclosure: I bombed in
the reader’s choice). Now he had a dozen bloggers all blogging and
Twittering and Facebooking and working their social media mojo all to
drive people to his site, and he allowed room for a write-in candidate. That meant more links, more buzz, more content, and more search dominance.

As of Monday, five of the top 10 first page links in Google for a
search on the book’s title (without quotes) were other blogs’
interviews. Amazon had the top spot, Bhargava’s blog claimed listings
two and three, and in the middle were a Flickr page with the book’s
cover from a Mumbai blogger and then the book’s official site that
Bhargava set up. In sum, Bhargava controlled eight first-page links,
with Amazon taking one and a Flickr fan the other. You can’t do better
SEO than that.

Ready, Aim, Buy with Conversations’ Bum Rushes

Imagine you’re a manufacturer and you tell all your potential
customers when you’d like them to buy something of yours, which sales
channel to buy it from, and to kindly share the word with everyone they
know. That’s the definition of chutzpah, and the mascot, gold medalist,
and chairman of the Chutzpah Olympics is the indefatigable Joe Jaffe.

Jaffe launched a "bumrush" for his book "Join the Conversation"
where he asked everyone who planned on buying the book to buy it on the
same day. It wasn’t the first such event; he chronicled the Bumrush the Charts history
when he ran it last October. Yet he did help popularize the concept,
and in the course of a day, his book went from number 4,840 on Amazon’s
sales chart to number 26 overall and number two among business books.

Last month, "Age of Conversation,"
a massive collaboration whose proceeds were donated to charity, took
the same approach, and thanks to round-the-clock blogging and
Twittering from many of the authors involved, it jumped from number
102,282 to 262 overall and 36 on business.

The bumrush isn’t a surefire tactic. There needs to be a built-in
fan base, a dedicated evangelist or group pushing it, true market
potential for the product, and an appropriate sales channel. When there
is that perfect storm, it creates a community (or groundswell) posting,
linking, and spreading the messages.

While the focus with all the examples mentioned involves blogs due
to their potent SEO cocktails of links, content, and buzz generation,
all of these authors are using a mix of supporting tools that provide
awareness both among bloggers and their general audience: groups on
Facebook and LinkedIn, wikis, Flickr, video, and heavy doses of Twitter.

The best lesson from them is that these authors figured out new ways
to generate awareness and sales when launching a new brand (the book)
supported by an existing brand (themselves). They’re constantly
experimenting, racking up far more hits than misses in the process.
That’s something you can bookmark and highlight, whether or not you
follow what’s in their books.

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