An Interview With Brad Shorr of Straight North: AuthorRank, The Future of B2C Content Marketing, and More!

Content Equals Money is celebrating its two-year anniversary today. During these last two years, we’ve enjoyed meeting many fine folks in-person and online. But, one of our favorite social media and content marketing experts is Brad Shorr.

Brad is the Director of Content & Social Media at Straight North. He’s also a skilled SEO writer who has been in the marketing, sales, and management game for more than 25 years. Brad has been gracious enough to let us pick his brain on Google+, Google Authorship, site design and more!

Content Marketing & Site Design

We see good site design and good content marketing as being inseparable. If your page doesn’t make sense visually, no one’s going to stick around to read it – much less share it. Brad agrees: “Content marketing and site design definitely go hand in hand if you want people to READ and SHARE your content. To a great extent, the visual impact of text determines whether or not a user reads what you’ve written. Therefore, following web typography best practices is a must:

  • short paragraphs
  • bullets
  • descriptive subheads,
  • easy-to-read fonts, etc.”

But, writing for the web isn’t just about short sentences and bullet points. Brad advises, “Proper placement of social sharing buttons can have an enormous impact on content distribution. I wrote a post about this recently on SocialMouths.” (By the way, it’s a loaded post that’s definitely worth your time.)

What About AuthorRank?

As Google’s new approach to search engine rankings – AuthorRank – is gearing up, site design seems to be more important than ever. We’re all writing for Google as well as readers. Now, we all have to start designing pages for Google, too. (Check out what AJ Kohn discovered about design, reading habits, and AuthorRank.)

Brad sees AuthorRank as having the potential to be a game changer: “Google clearly wants to make author credibility a ranking factor; the only question is how much of a ranking factor it will eventually become. Right now, because Authorship is in its infancy, its impact on standard and personalized search is somewhat inconsistent and hard to quantify. In addition, the process for setting up Authorship is clumsy and changes quite often.”

However, some online marketing and SEO experts are concerned that Google may be tipping the search results scale in favor of Google+ users. Brad comments, “If Authorship continues to be driven by Google+ participation by the author, then I think the program will have limited impact. I’m still not sold on Google+ as a social network, and I don’t see a correlation between the authority of an author and his/her activity on Google+. I hope Google isn’t merely using Authorship as a tactic for building up Google+. Unfortunately I think that’s exactly what they are doing.”

Google+, FB, and Twitter Shares

Many experts – Brad included – are suspicious that Google may be giving Facebook and Twitter less credit in the search engine results than they deserve. As the search engine giant works to build the value of its own content, it could be minimizing the significance of shares on other platforms.

While it might be smart to build a strong Google+ presence now, Brad thinks that Yelp and other user-review sites should be the main focus of 2013 for B2C firms. “User reviews on Yelp and similar sites can dominate SERPs, and can have an enormous positive or negative affect on a firm or product’s brand and reputation. Many B2C firms would be wise to pay more attention to this area in 2013, even if it means cutting back on support of Facebook, Twitter, etc. Why? Because in 2013 mobile is going to get really big, and user reviews and mobile go together like wine and cheese.”

On Building Your Website

While focusing on developments in the world of social media and content marketing is important, Brad believes that there’s a lot to be said for having a strong company website. We asked him about some of the biggest issues he’s run into with client’s sites.

“The things we run into most often: weak calls to action, no calls to action, improper placement of key content elements, poor optimization of content and site structure, amateurish design, unintuitive navigation. In addition, we rarely see solid lead tracking – something we highly recommend for any e-commerce or lead generation site. How can you tell if your site is working if you don’t know how many leads it’s generating?”

Another major problem Brad runs into is the classic “information dump” approach. “Because so many companies are inwardly-focused during the web development process, this approach is exactly what gets implemented. I think customer focus has always been important, and always will be important.”

Right on, Brad! That’s really what it all boils down to. Great sharing, content generation, online marketing, site design, and everything else ultimately succeeds or fails based on how much the customer is prioritized.

Check Him Out!

We love promoting our friends. So, we’ll leave you with this tidbit on Straight North straight from Brad himself, “Straight North is very good at building lead generation sites for midsize firms. Our team includes strategists, writers, programmers and web designers, so we can take care of the whole project in-house. As I just mentioned, our ability to set up proper lead tracking is a big plus.” Definitely check out Straight North if you’re shopping for some first-class web designers and strategists!

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Amie Marse is the founder of Content Equals Money. She lives in Lexington, KY with her two dogs: Billie and Lily. She has been writing content for her web based clients since 2005. She launched Content Equals Money in Oct of 2010, home of conversion focused content writing services. She loves to chat about small business development and how to make content equal money!

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