Many of you already know Donna Fontenot (aka DazzlinDonna) who is a very senior SEO and online marketing expert. She is writing todays post, not me! I hope you really enjoy it.
I’ve written about Robert Cialdini in the past and how his six persuasion principles can be used in search marketing. Briefly, the six principles are Liking, Reciprocity, Social Proof, Consistency, Authority, and Scarcity. All six are worth spending some serious study time with, but today I want to focus on just one – Social Proof.
If you’ve read any of Cialdini’s books, you’ll see that he was one of the forces that showed how the art of persuasion could be more science than art.* By conducting methodical, scientific experiments, he showed how to persuade people not through luck, but through strategic use of several principles. One of those principles is social proof, which states that we often make choices based upon the choices of others. In other words, we humans like to follow the crowd, even when we fervently believe that we are individualists who are not easily influenced by others.
The keys to the successful use of social proof is to make use of multiple, similar others. Find as many “peers” of your target audience as possible to promote your message, and everyone else will follow. People want to do what others who are “like them” are doing.
So how does this relate at all to SEO, I hear you asking. There are several ways, really, but let’s devote this article simply to link
If you want someone to link to your site, tell them that others very similar to themselves linked to it.
That’s right. It can be as simple as that. Here are the steps to take.
- Find the right peers. Who are the “names” that everyone in your niche knows? They don’t have to be at the top of the pyramid but they should at least be recognizable.
- Convince, bribe, pay, or merely ask those “names” to link to your site/article/video/linkbait. Once you have one “name” linking to it, use his or her name to convince the next one in the list. That’s right, you’re using social proof to get the names so you can use them as social
proof down the line! Sometimes only a few are needed, but the more you
get the better.
- Now let “the masses” know that these “similar others” loved your site/page/video, etc. Specifically tell them that so-and-so linked to it. You can do this in many ways, either via social networks, twittering, a thank you page, or any form of acknowledgement. Just make sure everyone knows that the people THEY know think your stuff is awesome.
- Rinse. Repeat. (Yes, I consider this the real science – being able to reproduce a successful experiment over and over again).
What happens? You get links, links, and more links because everyone wants to follow the crowd. Google sees these balloons of social love, puts a tickmark next to each as a vote for your site, and concludes that your site is worthy of a higher ranking. Don’t believe me? Just ask Search Engine Watch, Steven Bradley of VanSEODesign, and Yura Filimonov of Improve The Web. They all linked to my previous article on this topic. (Can you see the sly grin on my face right about now?)
* Note: Have you read “Peer Review for SEO” yet? This is a similar, yet different look at the relationship between science and group acceptance, in this case via peer review. That article focuses on a different aspect, but I think if you read the two side by side, you might see some correlations. Just a thought.
Donna Fontenot, aka DazzlinDonna, is an Internet Entrepreneur and SEO, who has long utilized search engine optimization and affiliate marketing to create a successful online business. Her goal as an ebusiness coach is to help others make a living online from the comfort of their homes (and in their pajamas). Her motto is ”You’ll never shine if you don’t glow.”