Despite the complex technology and “artificial intelligence” built into their search algorithms, Google and the other search engines have long relied on ordinary people – you and me – to determine relevant search results. In that past, search engine rankings have relied heavily on links. The more links pointing to your website, the more trustworthy it is. Because links imply credibility, webmasters are careful about what sites they link to. But links are getting easier to create and share these days, thanks to mass automation. So Google is looking to again boost the human element in its search results. Thus, search engines are increasing the weight that social media has in search rankings.
In short, the more Facebook Likes, Google+ posts and Twitter followers you have, the more likely your site will rank well in search. To be sure, social signals are NOT a *replacement* for links or well-optimized pages, but they are growing in importance relative to those old standards.
What can you do to take advantage of the social landscape to draw more traffic and business to your website? Here’s a quick primer.
- Get a Google+ page – for yourself and for your business. More about Google+.
- Run social media promotions – do giveaways, freebies, offer exclusive info…. Only for folks who follow you on social media. Give them something for their loyalty. Earn their attention.
- Share everything on social media – new content, photos, press releases… you name it. Any addition to your website should be mentioned on one or all your social networks, whenever appropriate.
- Customize the message – Your LinkedIn followers may be very different than your Facebook fans. Use metrics to evaluate what content they most engage with. Use these differences to share content that is meaningful and relevant for your audience.
- Add +1 buttons and other “one-click share” buttons to your blog and website. Make it easy for your readers to share with their friends, family and colleagues.
- Optimize your social profiles. Especially important for individuals and brands (think reputation management). This not only ensures you are projecting a unified, consistent message, but also can help SEO. Here’s a great how-to article that will get you started.
Do all of the above, and you’ll see a powerful lift in your search results. Keep doing it, and your rankings boost won’t evaporate. Like everything else in SEO, it a sustained effort. As mentioned before, traditional SEO isn’t going anywhere. But as social media becomes more and more integrated with search, it’s simply too important to ignore.
Want to learn what else you can do to capitalize on social media? Attend one of Brady’s presentations on social media this week or next.