What Dharmesh from Hubspot Taught Me About Google+

Right or wrong, I consider myself a fairly tech-savvy marketer. I’ve built close to a dozen websites, advised companies ranging from Fortune 100’s to two-person team startups on how to optimize aspects of their digital strategy and gotten hundreds of thousands of views and clicks on an assortment of content and conversion destinations. And, given my background, I’ve been well aware of Hubspot for some time. I first got a demo of Hubspot’s lead gen analysis tools in 2010 and recall immediately thinking “Wow. This much knowledge about your inbound traffic is powerful.”  Turns out I wasn’t the only one thinking that by a long shot. And as an active member of the Boston-Kendall-Cambridge tech scene, I’m even more aware of Hubspot’s dramatic rise to prominence in the Boston startup scene, as well as the reverence the entire entrepreneurial community holds for Hubspot Founder and CTO, Dharmesh Shah.

“He’s so impressive,” a friend and Hubspot colleague once told me; “still highly active in the code base – an incredible analyst and tireless innovator.”

So when I caught on Twitter that Dharmesh was speaking at an Intelligent.ly event (aside: in the very cool 500 Harrison BzzAgent South End co-working space, right above Cincocento, the Aquitaine Group’s elegant new restaurant loft), I made the trip over from Kendall to see what I could learn from the Hubspot luminary.

It turned out to be quite a bit. So, without further adieu, here’s why Google+ isn’t [completely] worthless (for content and search marketers, at least), and four other insightful things I learned after an hour with Dharmesh.

1. Why Google+ Deserves a Modicum of Marketer Respect

“There’s one reason you should care about Google+,” says Shah, “and it’s the six letters right before the plus.”

Yep, considering Google’s global stranglehold on search outside of China and Russia, getting favorably indexed by Google is where search discovery more or less starts and ends (sorry Bing!).

To illustrate a portion of this, here’s a sliver of meta-data from my own website:

Note a few things:

SEO metadata

1. Although not visible, I’ve verified by site both with Google Webmaster Tools and Google+

2. I have HTML ‘meta name=”publisher” content=”…”‘ link-referencing a Google+ profile (I also do this for the <code>’meta name=”author”…’ tag, not shown)

3. All of my metadata, meta-content and title are focused and ordered based on keywords I’m interested in ranking for.

By focusing website metadata on keywords, author-linking meta tags and site content like blog posts to Google+ profiles (in particular, personal profiles), keyword anchor text-linking from G+ to your website and frequently pushing content to Google+, as a marketer you can pretty much ensure optimal treatment by Google’s robots given your site content, layout, authority and link-body.

2. Attention to Detail on How Sites Link to You Matters

Even outside of the Google ecosystem, link content matters, says Shah. So while it’s great for Techcrunch to link to your website, it’s even better for Techcrunch to link to you with relevant anchor text for keywords you’re trying to rank for.

3. Make Searchers Happy

Google (and the Yahoo-Bing consortium) care about your “search retention,” so make sure your website is content-rich with videos and great blog posts to keep searchers satisfied they’ve found a relevant, informative, value-creating destination.  The better and more relevant your content, the lower your bounce rate, which also bolsters your SEO standing.  At the end of the day, Google’s massive resources, capital and dev teams are driven by the desire to provide their users with the most relevant search results, a reality which rewards good content, rather than gimmicks, mis-leading link building and SEO tomfoolery.

4. You’re Not Blogging Enough

Seriously. I’m not blogging enough, you’re not blogging enough, even Hubspot probably isn’t blogging enough (although they certainly keep the spigots pumping), according to Shah. If you’re a tech startup in Boston and you’re not blogging, shame on you, considering how many liberal arts students there are in the greater metro area. If I could ever get my prolific prose power-house of a little brother to stop writing papers about the history of the history of science (no, seriously, this exists go look it up) for a few hours a week and contribute me a few more SEO pieces about video marketing, I swear I’d have a content marketing powerhouse on my hands.

5. Twitter Hack Your Way to PR Success

This is a particularly cool Dharmesh hack, at once both really self-evident and quite ingenious.  For content producers, it’s simple psychology: people like to be told “job well done” and have their work shared (particularly when, for some tech journalists, their bi-monthly checks depend on it). My maintaining a private Twitter list of helpful journalists and content creators, Dharmesh says he’s been able to slowly build relationships with influencers over time by repeatedly retweeting their best material. Over time, he says, people notice recurring retweeters, and it can be an effective hack to get a Ryan Lawler-esque media figure to finally take a look at your crappy (or hopefully, not-so-crappy) startup.

Yeah, it was a quality (and at times, humbling) hour, and I’d definitely sign on for the follow-on course.

Thanks Dharmesh.

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