As many of you know, Google and Bing have both confirmed that they’ve added social linking as another variable to their search algorithms, meaning that social linking effects search engine rankings. Social linking can be very powerful, and when you break it down you begin to hear different terms like social ranking, user authority and the frequency of tweeting, but how does it all come together to form a strategy that will help you increase search engine rankings?
Bing and Google have confirmed that they look at a user’s authority when it comes to social links – it makes sense. Apart from getting an authority to tweet your links (often unlikely), the more proactive approach is to take measures to become an authority yourself.
So, you want to become an authority?
Social authority doesn’t come easy – ignore all the social media gurus and SEO experts. If you want to build authority – yes, build – you need to create a solid and substantial online presence. This is much easier said than done. There are a variety of ways to gain social attention and have it translate into social networks such as Twitter, but content is the key with whatever you do. Remember, content can be anything from news articles, a blog, to videos on YouTube.
You want to create a place for social interaction, a place where people can comment and where you can build subscribers – your network. Posting random articles on Twitter won’t build your follower count in an authoritative way, everyone’s doing it! Think outside the box while building your personal and/or professional brand. You’re aiming to become an authority, so lead like one.
If you want to take a different approach, the approach of building account authority by being associated with authoritative users, you have to consider what makes them tweet and retweet. This will require some analysis, but if you break it down, it’s very similar to building backlinks from high authority sites. From a content perspective, forget “linkable” and get onboard with “likeable” and “tweetable” content. People love entertainment value and you can provide it to them! Think about a variety of ways you can present content like this – text, video, news articles, comics – anything that has some viral appeal for liking and tweeting.
If you’re going to take this approach, consider adding a section to your website dedicated to it. Why waste time posting a YouTube link directly if you can create a blog post and add a quick opinionated blurb with it? Why should you do this? That’s right, it’s to create measurability. You want to see where the users are coming from and what they’re doing once they’ve arrived. Measure success based on types of content, refine, and then measure again. Think strategy.
A lot of people seem to be underestimating social linking and the way search engines are looking at social links and content to present rankings. Google has recently added social functionality [link] so that users will see more relevant results based on “friendly content”. Do not underestimate this; more weight will be placed on social activity through linking and through social enhancements to Google’s existing products. Build your network now and drive traffic to new platforms later. Get your users to Like and share. SEO has evolved.
Content Creation for Increased Conversion
SEO has traditionally worked in one major way: creating content that is highly relevant to what a user is searching for. There was a lot of debate about keyword density, position of keywords, titles, and so on. Of course, evolution takes hold and what was once targeted primarily towards text, now has shifted more towards social conversion. Where should we put the Like and Tweet buttons? There are calls to action to encourage users to share and like their content, creating social interaction. It is no longer limited to text, but video is playing an increasingly important role, as well.
Link Building Evolution
Link building will never die, but the methods have certainly evolved – SEO is beginning to shift and transform into something new. Is it better? Well, it’s different. “Likes”, “Tweets” and “Shares” will ultimately become the new core that powers SEO. In the past people developed comprehensive link building campaigns with the intention of driving and passing as much link juice as possible. There are countless tools to analyze competition, from content to the number and quality of backlinks.
The evolution makes sense; you’re targeting different people now. Quality links are still relevant, but the definition has changed. Placing links on a variety of related sites won’t get you as far as promoting that same link through social media and having people act on it. The new social strategies are targeting the masses, reaching out and asking, “Do you like this?” That relevancy is what will define which websites are worthy of high search engine rankings and which aren’t.
Like any good technology, search engines are continuing to evolve, changing the way they interpret and present data and information. As SEOs and Internet marketers, we need to ride the wave of change and bring a damn good surf board to see it through. Strategy is about creating and adapting when necessary, remember to be flexible and innovative, if you’re not, your competition will blast off and you’ll be left behind.