A New Way to Measure Blog Influence: Search Term Alignment

by Steve Broback on May 5, 2008

Hey PR people! Want to get bloggers to write about you or your products? Please, please, for all concerned — tear up your Technorati Top 100 list and start over. For most companies, 99 percent of overtures made to the “A” list bloggers will at best be ignored, and at worst could result in negative coverage.

We believe the best bet is to find approachable bloggers with the right topical alignment. The nice thing is that if you are topically aligned to a significant degree, even a relatively popular blogger can find your message of interest.

The key thing is to create a win-win scenario where the blogger being approached is actually glad to hear from you, and you know that if they write about you, someone will actually read it. We think a good way to do this is to find bloggers who are writing about things your customers are interested in, and have aligned posts that are prominent in search.

The main thing to recognize is that significant and growing numbers of shoppers begin their buying process in a search engine. Anyone with a retail site can attest to the fact that their server logs show the bulk of their traffic is coming from search. Blog posts are featured prominently in results your customers are finding, and these are the bloggers to engage. Robert Scoble wrote recently that despite Twitter and Facebook it’s still “a Google world” and we couldn’t agree more.

Here’s an example of how search term analysis can provide a numerical index of alignment with a company.

Let’s look at two bloggers that are not on the Technorati 100 and how they align with two very different companies.

Let’s start with Jeremiah Owyang. He wrote a bit about influence today. Buzzlogic, a company perhaps using the old-world(?) “inbound-links-as-power” metaphor was profiled.

Jeremiah places highly (in the top 20) in Google for 7,900 unique search terms. The top 10 individual words used are: media, marketing, web, social, myspace, strategy, community, facebook, companies, and corporate.

Thomas Hawk places highly with 8,200 terms, the top ten being: camera, media, digital, windows, player, mce, store, center, connection, photo, and slr.

Do these blogs overlap at all? A little. They share 8 popular search terms between them:

That’s an alignment of about .1 percent.

Let’s look at a couple vendors who are buying Adwords search terms.

Awareness Networks provides social networks to the enterprise. They’ve purchased 1,270 search terms. How many align with Thomas Hawk’s organic keywords? Zero. How many align with Jeremiah? 64. That’s an alignment of 5.04% Here those terms are:

Digital SLR Guide teaches consumers how to buy and use digital SLR cameras. They’ve bought 708 search terms. How many align with Jeremiah? Zero. How many align with Thomas Hawk? 50. That’s an alignment of 7.06%. Here are the overlapping terms:

Our sense is that the terms we see here are compelling, and that alignment numbers (purchased terms/blogger organic terms) indicates both strength of “influence” (highly ranked organic terms) and topicality (shared terms).

We’re now starting to use search term analysis in an organized way to both measure influence and to do the needed “matchmaking” between clients and bloggers. Eager to hear what readers think.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jeffrey Smith 05.10.08 at 11:03 am

I think using a drill-down approach to find overlapping keywords and continuity for those who are already enjoying organic traffic is brilliant.

It is thinking like this that revolutionizes puss/pull marketing and allows others to see beyond the short term affects of PPC. If anything, it creates the perfect marriage of supply and demand as far as reach and exposure are concerned for branding, conversion and beyond.

Hats off to you and your SEO tools.

2 Barry Hurd 06.02.08 at 9:05 pm

I have actually been using a similar process to identify clusters of influencers. Reaching out to a non A-list blogger through someone entrenched in the marketplace often softens the blow of the pitch.

The problem with PR folk is that they simply do not understand the new “sales process” and the types of gatekeepers that have evolved in the social media realm. Most “A List” personalities do not have secretaries or receptionists. They simply have information overload and do not have the time to be flogged by hundreds of useless ideas.

3 All Business Info 09.07.08 at 8:58 pm

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4 Kimberly Monday 10.22.08 at 12:33 pm

The key thing is to create a win-win scenario where the blogger being approached is actually glad to hear from you, and you know that if they write about you, someone will actually read it. We think a good way to do this is to find bloggers who are writing about things your customers are interested in, and have aligned posts that are prominent in search.

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