You should take note of Rand Fishkin, primarily because he’s a phenomenal communicator who’s also phenomenal at building communities around his areas of passion and expertise.
Let’s take a look at one of his recent articles to see a master of community building and content creation at work.
Take The Secret to Ranking at the Search Engines (that’s really no secret at all) for example (and for some sweet robot illustrations).
First, what he does in this piece is drive past the standard SEM secrets like “Keywords in the Title Tag,” “Spiderable Links & Content,” “Anchor Text in Links,” and “Links from Quality Websites.”
Obviously these are important. But not the core. The core, according to Rand, is:
“Your website must appeal to a link-savvy audience.”
This single quote, in large part, defines for you the whole social media marketing movement and points (like Daniel Riveong’s “Website Positioning Strategy”) to a strong definition of “New School SEO”.
That’s the real hook of this piece – it creates a nice handy frame around an emerging marketing method… New conceptual frameworks – for anything – are remarkable, notable and linkable. They are also an expression of lots of thinking and lots of work.
Now. Let’s look at building community around your writing.
Pause for a moment and recognize that there are 78 comments on this blog post (as of 03-20-07). That’s a sign that you’re hitting a nerve with an audience.
Especially the audience that Fishkin’s citing as important in his article – the link-makers. I’ve conducted no formal studies, but my strong suspicion is that people who will leave comments on your blog thread are more likely to be active, content-contributing community participants and therefore linkers.
Granted – Fishkin does well to have his employees – who share his passions and intelligence – spur blog comment conversations along (a practice I noticed he employed on other projects – it’s quite smart to do this).
What is the value of this community?
Beyond the fact that these folks are highly likely to be linkers either to this post or to future posts, the smart ones leave highly intelligent comments that move your ideas forward.
Like this one from inflatemouse:
I think that the “linkerati” are inappropriately defined here. The people who are the 1% active on Labor Law Talk or GardenWeb likely are not “Techy” and may not be interested in “offbeat news” — but they are still good opportunity for links.The link givers are likely Blog/Website owners and web savvy, but you shouldn’t assume a tech slant. That would be like assuming that because someone owns a farm that they love reading about tractors. It is possible but not necessary.
If you are trying to generate B2B links you may be best served targeting a specific web community that touches on the business – find out what they like — or going directly to offline business partners. Don’t let yourself be pigeon-holed by an online mentality. Not everyone who has control of an internet property is active on the web.
WOW! There’s Fishkin’s own community – that he generated by writing about his marketing experiences and tested evidence (etc…) – revising the core of his “new school SEO” definition.
Being “savvy” about links is irrelevant to who your website appeals to. It’s not merely the “Link-Savvy” that we must appeal to, but rather the “link-making target online community contributors…” No matter where they may be.
In short, I would not reject a Digg for ANY of my projects, but I’d far rather see related-industry blogs and forums link to my content creations.
What You Should Learn from Fishkin
1) You have to contribute great content (which I define as Experience + Thought + Passion) consistently to build your community.
2) Your great ideas can always get better by submitting them to your community.
3) Rankings will come with community participation and, ultimately, through creating community on your own site.
4) Creating new conceptual frameworks for industry trends requires great thinking and communication ability combined with passion-driven experience.