Social Media Mentions and Search Engines

Filed as Features on September 21, 2011 6:39 am

It used to be that social media and search engine optimization were mutually exclusive domains. People just did not see the connection between these two.  If you do social media campaigns, such as interacting with your customers on Twitter or maintaining a Facebook page for your business, there is really little need for SEO.  Your Facebook page and Twitter account often get marketed on different channels via different means.  Nobody really expected to get a high ranking for their social media pages, unless you or your business has a very unique name.

On the flip side, SEO practitioners know fully well that social media will not help their attempts at getting a higher ranking for their websites.  Most social media sites are no-follow, so even if they have really high page ranks, they do not really offer your site anything. Those that do offer some amount of link juice have been spammed and abused by fellow marketers that it is nearly not worth the effort to be on these sites anymore.

But the Panda update has changed all that.  Suddenly, social media is influencing search engine rankings.  Why?

First, let us be clear that social media mentions are considered only as “signals” and are not seen as an actual “factor” in ranking.    It is an indicator that you have the factors right.  What are these factors?

1.  Great content.  Having entertaining, educational or informative content is a sure way for people to share it on social media.  If you have a funny video, expect people to share it on their Facebook accounts or retweet it on Twitter.  Social media mentions, therefore, are an indicator of the quality of content you have on your site.

2.  Toolbar data.  In the ensuing discussion about the Panda update, various theories and guesses were put forward.  One of the more plausible hypotheses for getting penalized by the Panda update is low toolbar data, or getting short visits, high bounce rates and few returning visits.  This happened to sites that were more focused on SEO, getting traffic on popular keywords, but did not have the right content for these keywords, so people who searched for them leave immediately.  The idea is that if a person took time to share the page on his or her social media accounts, it is an indicator that he or she took time to read the content and would revisit it when he or she needs it.  It also signifies that the page was written for people and not for search engine spiders.

3.  Branding.  It seems that everybody who is concerned about deciphering the Panda update has been quoting Matt Cutts and other people who work for Google who emphasize that branding is essential.  In fact, most of the authoritative sites that suffered after the update were smaller companies with weak branding or that did not have any branding efforts to speak of. Social media mentions tell a lot about how people perceive your brand, and even how people feel about it.  Social media mention monitoring services can give you information on where conversations about your brand start, where your brand is being talked about, and what exactly has been said about you.  This means that social media mentions can easily manifest just how much control you have over your brand and whether you are exerting any effort at branding.

What to do:

1. Encourage people to share your content by making it easier for them.  There are sharing buttons that you could use for your site, blogs and articles.  Say something simple such as “Share this article to your friends” or “Liked this page?  Tell your friends about it.”  Your visitors should be able to share your content with just one click!

2. Spend more time with your social media properties.  The whole point of social media is to have more engaged customers that become loyal customers and ultimately become brand advocates.  If you are not starting discussions about your website or blog post on your Facebook page, for instance, then who will?  Your customers might stumble upon your own shares on Facebook, and if they like any, they would share it with their friends.  It could be as simple as putting your latest blog entry on your Facebook page or tweeting it to your followers!

3. Create a great teaser to encourage them to read your content.  No matter how informative, funny or good your content is, if people do not open it, then it is not going to do you any good. The key to getting people to open, and eventually share your content is to entice them to read it first by baiting them with a good headline, a short description, and a thumbnail image.

In addition to helping clients improve their Social Media campaigns, Search Engine Optimization, Inc. provides innovative Search Engine Marketing Services revolving around a custom fit solution that is aligned with the client’s goals and needs.  Check out SEO Inc. on Facebook.

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