Social media is growing not just in terms of size and reach, but also in how its influencing the ways we optimize our sites for search.
How is social media changing search engine optimization strategy?
To answer that question, it’s important to understand the underlying concepts of social media when used as a tool to boost a site’s ranking. This will help you avoid committing deadly SEO mistakes, as well.
The following are several fundamental ways that social media have influence over SEO — in terms of rankings, traffic, and visibility. Study each of them and try to figure out how you can apply these concepts to your business.
Search results annotation
Not all search results have annotations, but Google and Bing use data from social media to annotate some results on SERPs.
Some annotations include thumbnail images, or indications that people and brands you’re connected to have shared, liked, or recommended the site.
The visual social information displayed on such annotations effectively attracts users’ attention. It could lead to an improved clickthrough rate and increased organic search engine traffic.
Search engines also use social data to personalize the search results that users see, based on several social media factors; for example, social activity and network connections.
Google’s very own “Search Plus Your World” emphasizes social media activities around Google+. But it also takes social signals into consideration.
Bing, on the other hand, since it’s a partner of both Facebook and Twitter, has greater access to data from both sites.
If you +1’ed or recommended a site, that site will more likely appear higher in the search results as you see them while logged on to Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.
Also, if you Liked a brand’s official page on social networking sites, information shared by the brand will more prominently appear in your search results for searches related to the brand’s products or services.
Keep in mind, however, that changes in rankings will most likely occur if you are signed in to social networking sites. For personalization, though, results are affected even for users that are not signed in.
The search engines are also assessing social activities as a whole to gauge how popular or valuable a content is. In addition, they use social data to determine the authority of the content’s author.
This is how social media activities affect overall rankings. Although it’s quite limited at this time, as social media progresses, it will have an increasing overall impact on SEO.
Indirect and secondary links
Links still offer tremendous value when it comes to ranking. At the moment, they still count more than social media shares, likes, and mentions. Links from high-quality and authoritative sites have more SEO power than tweets and Google +1 recommendations.
While a significant amount of social activities center on sharing links, a lot of social networking sites implement a “nofollow” attribute to links from user-generated content, mainly to prevent spam. This renders those links useless in terms of SEO.
But don’t let that stop you from sharing links across your social media networks. Consider the indirect SEO value of links shared on social media. Most people find information via social media shares, and that leads them to other sites such as blogs.
That’s why, if you are constantly updating your blog with fresh content, you should not neglect to share your posts on social networking sites.
It’s a wise plan to try to explore other social media sites that offer do-follow attributes. Social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon are good for this sort of thing. Here’s a solid list of social bookmarking sites that have dofollow attributes.
For some search results, Google now displays or highlights author information. This feature is called Authorship.
The information included in author information consists of a thumbnail photo, some Google+ information, and a link to “More by,” which displays further information on the author’s work.
Take advantage of this social feature. People will start to notice you and your online writings more when they see your profile displayed on search results. This added exposure can lead to better clickthrough rate as well as conversion rate.
To enable this feature, you will need to create a Google+ profile and connect it to the sites you are blogging or writing for. For more information on how to do that, click here.
The Authorank feature
Google and Bing are now exploring the concept of Authorank to give trusted and popular authors favorable rankings in search results as well as on social media.
For years, the search engines used several constant factors for ranking sites in searches. These included domain authority, link popularity, and trust. Today, search engines are exploring ways to use these factors to rank individuals, and social media plays a huge role in determining a person’s popularity.
Essentially, content from writers who are active on social media will be given greater value in determining their search and social media rankings. That’s why bloggers and authors who have solid social media following, who actively engage their audience on social media, and whose content is constantly shared and linked to, will have the upper hand.
The factors to remember are credibility, popularity, social media influence (within the niche that the author is active), and trust. We don’t know where Authorank will go in the future, but it’s worth doing every you can to to take advantage every tool currently available.
The impact of social media on SEO is undeniable. More and more, social media will govern the way we find information online. If you are not yet actively engaging your audience on social media, it’s high time you did. Blog, share, and engage on social media as much as you can.
For more information on getting your business up to speed with social media, contact us for a free assessment.