We all know that social media links influence our rankings in search engines. They can increase search rankings when customers search for you, both in the local business directories as well as organically. This is because Google has started to give "social rank" authority, or credit for having authority in the social networks.
So what exactly does this mean for franchise marketers? It means that if you have a large following on Twitter, Facebook and Google+; and/or if you are associated with other high authority figures; and if your posts are shared, then you are considered an "authority" with Google and you will get credit for that. Not only will you get credit in the social networks, but organically in the search rankings as well.
Getting higher rankings with Google using Author Authority is not much different. In a new book by Google's CEO Eric Schmidt and Director of Google Ideas Jared Cohen, "The New Digital Age," they write: "Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results."
The significance of that statement is if you are unknown to Google, you are irrelevant. To say the least, this is interesting, but for companies that want to continue to rank high, this will be extremely important.
What should franchise brands do now that Google is starting to build authority by giving authors of good content credit? As we move more and more in this direction, brands need to create content that is engaging and "sharable." Instead of thinking about "keywords" you need to think of ways to encourage readers to share and like your content.
So, how do you get moving on this? First, you need to think about selecting key figures within your organization to start building this "author authority." And we all know that in franchising this is not a simple task. There are multiple layers of organization between the franchisor and franchisees, such as area developers, master licensors, etc. So, when thinking about creating a strategy for author authority it's best for franchisors to consider these tips:
1) To get started, create a policy that establishes the strategy, goals, and objectives, as well as step-by-step process to follow. Also consider describing the type of content you'd like written, along with what is not acceptable.
2) Get the right tools and make sure they allow you, the franchisor, to control your brand, while still allowing the freedom for creators of great content to write and distribute that content. Tools to consider may be ways that easily allow content contributors to post content to websites, blogs, and social media networks.
3) Find someone in marketing/IT to help you take the right steps to technically get credit for authoring content. That means things like:
Usually, when Google starts telling the world that something is important, then they've already been working on it for a long time and in fact, in some way it's probably already in their algorithms.
In addition, considering how badly Google wants to gain more traction with their own social network, Google+, I think this is going to become increasingly important.
How Bing and Yahoo will react to this is unknown. However, social ranking will have to be addressed, and while these organizations may not like the standard, it is here. As Google implements the standard it will also most likely drive adoption of this concept across the entire search ecosystem.
The bottom line for franchise organization is to 1) consider who owns the authority over content being generated by the brand, and 2) make sure you're a part of that and leverage it to your advantage.
Jeremy LaDuque is co-founder and CEO of Elements, a provider of online marketing tools for franchise companies. In 2001, the firm created ElementsLocal, a franchise marketing tool used by more than 3,000 clients to manage their local online marketing activities. Founded in 1999, Elements is based in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Contact him at (805) 547-1160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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