Online marketing today is all about becoming an authority, which means making connections and relationships. Link building is still important, but top Google rankings are starting to go to those who are popular. One great feature that can help you build your brand, both personal and then professional, is Google Top Contributors. This program has actually been available since 2005, but if you’re just hearing about it now, don’t sweat it. This probably isn’t a feature that should be first on your list of influential branding methods, so it’s not talked about much, but if you’re looking to get creative this is one option that may help push you to the brink of success.
Google Top Contributors Program Benefits and How It Works
The Google Top Contributors program is exactly what it sounds like—members can become what is called a Top Contributor, or expert, on a certain topic or subject in the Google Help Forums and get recognized for it by having their answers and thoughts brought to the top of a page. You can learn more about how it works here on the official Google Top Contributor page. According to this page, some Top Contributors have helped up to 100,000 people in the Help Forums, and there are now over 550 members.
Below is a screenshot of a Google Help Forum and an answer by a Google Top Contributor:
As you can see, the Top Contributor answer shows up right at the top of the thread, and there is a green badge indicating that he holds that stauts. If you were to keep scrolling, this Contributor is always the person answering (which is generally how it works). There are several benefits to be had if you hold this title:
- Higher Visibility. Your answers become more visible, meaning you’re helping your personal brand. Not only are your answers shown at the top, but they pop out on the page (as shown in the screenshot above).
- Credibility Booster. You are seen as an authority to anyone in the Help Forums, which could help your company in the long run.
- Chance to Work Closely with Google. You have the opportunity to learn a lot about what is going on with Google as well as potentially test new products. You would be working closely with Google so that you can make sure you’re giving the best answers possible and readers know that you can be trusted.
- Special Access to Events. This is a great opportunity to network and get to know others in the industry.
Keep in mind that it does take a huge commitment to be a Top Contributor, so make sure you have the allotted time needed to keep up with the Forums. You have to be able to answer questions, but test new Google tools and features, start conversations, gather feedback, and oftentimes start to specialize in something specific.
How to Become a Google Top Contributor
If you do think that a Top Contributor is something that works for you, it helps to first understand the different badge options. You earn badges based on several factors, discussed below, and can eventually become a Top Contributor. Below explains the steps to getting started:
- Be active in the forums by answering questions and talking with others.
- Visit the official Top Contributors page and check out videos, get to know other Top Contributors, and more about how to join.
- Complete an interest form so that Google can review your application. You can find the interest form here.
- Earn the rising star badge. This badge isn’t quite as prestigious as the Top Contributor badge, but it’s a necessary stepping-stone. Your answers will still pop off of the page, so you should get extra recognition even just from this badge.
- Become a Top Contributor. The more you continue to stay active in the forums, the easier it will be for Google to reach out to you with the Top Contributor title. It should take about four months.
Once again, it’s important to remember that this is completely voluntary. You don’t get paid and you don’t have to be online at any particular hour of the day.
SEO Considerations: I wrote about this program back in 2013 here and saw value, and it doesn’t seem as though that has changed now, two years later. Top Contributors isn’t going anywhere, and it’s an excellent way to earn a little bit of extra recognition. When it comes to SEO, popularity and then subsequently earning natural links is the name of the game, so this is one extra way to make that happen.
I recommend only getting started with Top Contributors if you have a real passion for helping others. Because it can be time consuming, it’s a great hobby to do on your off hours as opposed to making it a part of a company strategy, for example.
What do you think about Top Contributors? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.