We are living in an attention race. Businesses cry out for it. Fight over it. Buy, sell and trade it.
Attention is light. Energy.
A gift rewarded by clicks, the whoosh of a referral, an accountant’s lame whoop.
Inattention is silence.
The battleground for attention is mobile, 4.7 inches tall, 2.64 inches wide.
And attention spans are shrinking.
From 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 today.
Even my goldfish ‘Ferris’ has an attention span of 9.
So it falls to us — as marketeers, business owners, entrepreneurs — to attract attention and keep it coming ..
But full attention is a reading experience, not an aesthetic one.
The web is not an art gallery, it’s a newsstand chock full of brand stories dying to be read.
And Google is its vendor, unelected judge jury and executioner of the world’s reading habits.
To begin, think of your heroes ..
I’ve been a fully paid up Godin disciple since the first IdeaVirus gave me nappy rash.
Online marketing guru Neil Patel is someone to admire in action.
SEO gurus like Cyrus Shepard, search engine algorithm analysts like David Harry or link master builders like Brian Dean get my vote too.
But what makes me follow them?
Sign up to their blogs?
Read their newsletters?
Apply their ideas in my work?
- Other people follow and link to their sites (like I just did) because they are experts in their fields.
- They have a lot of high-value stuff to say and not just on their services but about the work of their peers/rivals and the future of their respective industries.
In short, they are ‘tribe-leading authorities’.
And I’m not alone in loving them for it: search engines adore authorities too.
So how do you bag some of that authority aura for yourself?
Here are my six steps to turning you — and your online brand — into a levitating, industry-defining Yoda:
Step 1 — Know your enemies
What keywords are they using?
What content do they keep churning out — and what kind of content do they eschew?
Which type of content ranks better on the search engines and garners a shed-load of juicy links from other authorities in your field or actively shared by customers on social media?
Is that content in abundance or thin on the ground — in which case, either something to be avoided or an opportunity to be pounced on?
The goal of SEO Competitor Analysis is not to help you beat your competitors at their own game, it’s to change the game.
Thereby making your authority the only authority in town.
Step 2 — Get the dictionary out
Keyword research and analysis is like detective work.
Words and phrases — especially technical terms — can make or break your website’s ranking.
So find out your market's keyword demand, learn which terms and phrases to target with SEO, and above all learn from your customers.
- Is this or that keyword relevant to our website's content?
- Will customers find what they’re looking for on our site when they search using these keywords?
- Will this result in dollars and cents financial rewards or help us achieve other organisational goals?
Whether you’re a budding startup or a big brand looking to leverage its authority in a new way, with the latest keyword intelligence software and advanced tools you can develop smart keyword marketing plans and strategies that leave your competition scrabbling.
Step 3 — Influence the influencers
Who’s your brand’s biggest fan?
Don’t say your mum.
I mean the evangelizing arch tweeter with a gazillion followers all eagerly listening to every word he/she says about your brand?
Don’t know — worse — don’t care?
Then it’s time to change.
Even Apple, whose previously shunned influencers, are now busy picking them off the tree.
So find your influencers (it shouldn’t be hard).
And by the active and two-way sharing of insights and information that helps both sides influence the creation of better products and services, make them your best friends.
Step 4 — Start out the right way
Do a content audit before you get too far down the line with your project; and certainly at a major turning point during the lifecycle of your initiatives.
Working back from specific business goals, take the time (this can take days or even months but is worth the effort) getting a feel for the online conversations about your industry.
Spot trends that you should be a part of.
Look for gaps that only your brand’s unique expertise can fill.
Insert yourself into the conversation.
Own the conversation.
And do it by being real, not a brand.
Step 5 — Spice things up
Authorities spark conversations.
They change things.
But not always by saying something new.
Or even insightful.
Often it is the way they say what they say that brings in the crowds.
Their content — stripped down — might not be that ground-breakingly different to yours — but they always find a way of making it look and sound fresh and novel, entertaining or educational, and above all eminently sharable.
This might sound like a whole new bag of tricks, but it isn’t.
- Can your wordy new post be converted into a cool word-lite infographic?
- Can you take a large series of related posts and turn them into a shiny ebook or a guide, or a box set style series?
Of course, it goes without saying that every business is different.
But big or small, the DNA of great content marketing is universal and taking time doing this kind of detective work always pays off in the long run because you are getting all the essential genetic building blocks right from the beginning ..
Step 6 — Don’t let it go to your head
With my help of course, but let’s say you followed all six steps and you’re now a bona fide niche market owning authority.
Customers and search engines worship you.
Influencers influence you (and vice versa).
Competitors — grudgingly — respect you.
But that’s not the goal here:
The goal is to sell stuff.
And we'll cover that next ..