Participating in social media is no longer an option for businesses that want to succeed online; in 2013, it is an essential component to increasing website traffic and, ultimately, revenue. That’s because social signals are affecting SEO right now.
What Are Social Signals?
Any time one of your followers on Facebook or Twitter (or YouTube, LinkedIn or Google+, for that matter) likes, shares or retweets your content, it sends out a “social signal” to search engines. Because search engines view these social media signals as “recommendations,” they assign a higher value to them in their ranking algorithms, which impacts your SEO efforts by sending more and better qualified traffic to your brand’s website.
In June of 2012, Searchmetrics released this data on ranking factors for search in the U.S.:
As you can see, social media was already a big player in search engine rankings. In 2013, it will continue to grow in importance as more people use social media in their daily lives.
Boosting SEO through Social
Let’s say a member of your Facebook community shares your content with a friend on the same network. This actually performs a doubly good deed: it passes along your business information as a “word of mouth” referral and it boosts the credibility of your website in the eyes of search engines. The “share”, as shown in the graph above, is one of the most valuable social signals your company can receive.
Similar boosts to your SEO can happen through “likes”, “retweets”, “+1” and like-minded recommendations, which show consumer confidence, trust and loyalty. They also increase your inbound links (still one of the most important ranking factors).
What these social signals do for your SEO is profound. Not only will your website experience better conversion rates (recommendations from friends are far more valuable than recommendations from search engines), but it will also benefit from more time on the site and a decreased bounce rate.
All of these add up to more traffic and greater sales.
What to Do Right Now
In you haven’t already opened accounts for your business on social media networks, be sure to do so on the following:
- Other relevant social media platforms
Then, publish content regularly on each. If you don’t have the time or staff to dedicate to these activities, then hire someone to do it for you. The objective here is relevant content on a regular basis. This will increase your brand’s visibility and awareness, which in turn will generate more likes, shares and comments (i.e. social signals) to help with SEO, and more visits to your website.
Next, set up a blog on your company’s website and publish to it at least once a week. Last year, Google shared that it was including Authorship in its algorithm, which recognized authors with quality content and passed more value to the outbound links within the content. You should consider publishing original content to your Google+ account as well to establish Authorship.
Finally, make it easy for your social media followers and blog readers to cross over. Whenever you publish a blog post, announce and link to it from your social media channels. On your blog, include share buttons so that your readers can like, retweet, bookmark and share your content, and include connect buttons so readers can also connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and your other social networks. In addition, be sure to include high quality images with all of your content so that Pinterest users can pin the photos.