For the past few years, social signals have been heavily scrutinized in the online world. While these signals can be strong indicators of good content, they can also be misused very easily. This is why search engines like Google haven’t said much about how social media affects their search engine rankings – to avoid abuse. Still, we know that social media is important, which gives us an advantage when putting together a marketing plan. Google representative Matt Cutts directly confirmed that organic SEO is affected by social signals, though the extent was not made clear.
Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki
Social media gives ample opportunities for social signals, which are actions like tweeting a link to your article on Twitter or liking your website on Facebook. Users are encouraged to share the best content they find with friends, which can lead to both direct traffic and an effect on your search engine rankings. Here’s what you need to know about the whys and hows of social media.
Direct impact is easy to measure.
Some of the easiest factors to measure when it comes to social signals are direct signals such as sharing your page on Facebook. The most powerful direct impact social signals are people liking your brand’s Facebook page, sharing content from your site, commenting, or liking. On Twitter, the number of people following you and the number of tweets mentioning your brand name or with a website link affect your search engine rankings.
May not be immediate.
If you begin getting social signals right away, you won’t see your rankings jump for a little while. It may take a week or two of consistent social media marketing – or even longer – before the effects show. Various experiments have found that it takes a week to several weeks before social media signals begin to boost your search engine rankings in a noticeable way, so check your ranks consistently to see how they are affected.
Spread it out over time.
A website that goes from having no social presence to having thousands of followers overnight is suspicious to any human or machine who is looking through the database, so make sure you spread out your growth over time. This should come naturally as you slowly get people to begin liking your page, sharing content, and giving you +1s on Google Plus. One or two social signals a day is enough if you get them every day.
Keep your content worthy of sharing.
Content that is high-quality will be shared as long as you give people the option to do so. If it truly helps the individual who is searching for an answer to their problem or question, Google will know – they won’t immediately return to the search page and click on a different result. This may affect your search engine ranking. Over time, Google shows personalized results of sites you have already visited when you are logged in, too.
Add social sharing buttons ASAP.
If you don’t already have buttons on your posts and articles that allow people to share your content, get them on your site today. If you do, make sure they are highly visible and that they work. Make it as easy as possible for people to send tweets, Facebook likes, or +1s your way. You can also ask people to share content if they found it useful, which will strengthen the connection between them and you. They will feel more involved and will be happy to recommend you if you have helped them.
Use contests and draws to your benefit.
One way of getting people to share content in a way that will make them happy to do it is to run a contest. In exchange for entries into the contest, giveaway, or draw, you can ask them to share, like, tweet, and perform other social actions. You can give them an entry for each action performed, which encourages people to take more than one social action. Try not to do this only after you have some socially shared content already on your site, or the sudden boost may look suspicious to Google, however. While you’re at it, ensure you’re capturing leads in a newsletter or email list signup so that friends of the people who share your content may become new prospects, too.
Don’t do it all yourself.
It’s much easier to create a dozen fake accounts than to ask for help, but resist the urge to do so. It’s easy to tell when an account has just been created to spam links to websites or perform social sharing, and while there is no concrete evidence of Google using this to penalize you yet, it’s sure to affect you at some point. It’s far better to ask your readers for help or get friends and family members to slowly but steadily share your page.
Authorship is becoming a big deal.
Though Google is being cautious with Authorship right now, its program allows them to weight content created by the same authors highly across all websites. This means your articles could be ranking higher just because you wrote them and Google already knows and trusts you. This doesn’t mean you should immediately plaster your name everywhere, but consider it as an option if you’re ready to implement this markup.
Google rankings are slowly becoming more dependent on social signals, as it is harder to manipulate them and social proof is becoming more important when it comes to recommending good content. People are more likely to visit and enjoy pages that their friends liked, and assuming all social actions are legitimate, it’s a quick way of weeding out unreadable spam. It’s smart to stay on top of Google’s latest developments when it comes to social media.
If you aren’t already taking advantage of social signals, make sure you start slowly and carefully, then build up your profile. It’s impossible to become an overnight authority, but within a few months, you could notice your traffic and page views increasing as a result of social signals and the corresponding boosts in search engine rankings.
“Lorraine Gray consults small businesses on their web marketing needs. Her articles mainly appear on web marketing blogs. Visit the http://www.satelliteinternetbroadband.com/providers/Alabama/ link for internet deals and information.”