Use Communication Theory to Boost Search Engine Optimization

The persuasion theory behind celebrity endorsements is the same theory behind Google’s new social media search.

It’s called Balance Theory, and when you understand the essence of it, you start to understand why Google is putting so much stock into Google+. And how Google+ can enhance your own search experience.

Balance Theory and Celebrity Endorsements

Without getting into all the scientific language we used when I was in graduate school, balance theory basically says this:

  • I like Celebrity A.
  • Celebrity A likes Product B.
  • That means I should like (and buy) Product B as well.

(Fellow philosophy majors will also recognize this as the 2 premises/1 conclusion logical construction.)

In other words, I like Eminem. Eminem likes Chrysler. Therefore, I should also like Chrysler. (The danger is that if I don’t like Celebrity A, I’ll purposely not like Product B just to restore that balance. It’s why a lot of sponsors drop celebrities who get into trouble.)

This is what marketers are counting on when they put a celebrity’s name and face on a product or company. It’s why Eminem is schlepping Chrysler on the Super Bowl. It’s why Reebok is clamoring for contracts with the NFL. It’s why Nike puts famous basketball players on its shoes.

This is the same basic idea that goes into Google’s personalized “My World” search results. If you’ve used Google lately, you’ve noticed that a lot of your friends are appearing in those results. That’s because Google is relying on Balance Theory to help improve your search results. (Maybe not intentionally, but that’s what’s at play here.)

Here’s what they’re doing with it:

  • I like Douglas Karr.
  • Douglas Karr has talked about corporate blogging.
  • That means I should check out what Douglas has said about corporate blogging.

And if I like what Google has shown me, I’ll continue to use Google.

Google's Personal Results for Corporate Blogging

These are the PERSONAL results for "corporate blogging." But that is not really Jason Falls in the 2nd picture from the left.

How Can You Use Balance Theory in Search Engine Optimization?

If you’re building your personal brand, or you’re doing social media marketing for your company, the best way to use Balance Theory for your search engine optimization is to use Google+, and develop relationships with key decision makers at the companies you want to do business with.

  • Connect with the decision makers at the companies you’re trying to reach.
  • Write blog posts about the key areas and problems they’re dealing with at their company. You can find that out just by paying attention to their conversations on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.
  • Continue to share important articles with them related to those same areas and problems. (This is all part of that “be a valuable resource” stuff we’ve talked about before.)

Then, as these people search for those particular keywords, your blog posts and your articles will rise to the top of their search engine results page. End result? “Hmm, this person seems to know an awful lot about this topic. I wonder what else they can help me with?”

However, this is not a reason to connect with everyone you can find on Google+ or to spam the bejeezus out of them with all kinds of articles and blog posts. You do that, and you’ll most certainly be blocked and ignored by everyone you’re trying to reach. Just write about what you want to write about at an acceptable pace, and connect with a reasonable number of people on a level that doesn’t seem creepy, desperate, or spammy.

With a little effort and just by following some common sense, you can use the Balance Theory — something usually only used by marketers with millions to spend — to start winning higher search engine rankings on your chosen keywords.

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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency in Indianapolis, IN. He co-authored three social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (2nd ed., 2012; Que Biz-Tech), and The Owned Media Doctrine (2013, Archway Publishing). Erik has written a weekly newspaper humor column for 10 papers around Indiana since 1995. He was also the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, FL.

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    1. Improve Your Social Influence with Inbound Links | Get Social PR says:

      […] The decision of the Cision blogger to link to my post tells people she likes it. This behavior is best explained by the Balance theory, which my colleague and friend, Erik Deckers explained in his post, “Use Communication Theory to Boost Search Engine Optimization.” […]