When Google started Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist. This is even before MySpace and Friendster had their 15 minutes of fame. Google’s goal was to provide the best results possible in their search engine, so they used On Page Factors (title tags, meta descriptions, meta keywords, headings, and content) and Off Page Factors (backlinks) to qualify a page’s relevancy and quality for the given search term.
Since then, their search algorithm has grown to 200+ factors that can influence rank, and today Social Media is a significant factor. What better way to provide quality results to searchers than using sites that are actively being linked to from Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. These are known as Social Signals, and they are imperative to any successful SEO campaign.
Setting Up Social Media Accounts
You want to build a following, and have your past/current/future clients connected to your pages. Think of it as a cheap, yet highly effective marketing strategy where you can reach your entire list with a click of a button. Just search for “how to setup” Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. It takes all of 30 seconds to create the profile, and another 2 minutes to invite your friends. For SEO purposes, you want to have a link to your website, some content about your company, an image, and if the option is offered; a location. I’ll talk about growing the Social Media pages in another post, but just setting it up lays the foundation for the future. Post updates on these whenever a new blog post comes out, or when something exciting happens in the company. A few times weekly is sufficient, and try your best to not annoy your followers.
In SEO, building backlinks to a site is a great way to improve keyword relevancy, boost site popularity, and possibly drive some additional traffic. The goal of SEO is to recreate the natural growth in popularity of a normal site. Yes, this is somewhat manipulating the Google Algorithm, but when done properly its to the benefit of everyone involved. If you’re spamming links, and using BlackHat techniques it’s poor SEO, and your results will likely be short-lived. But if you’re building quality sites online with fantastic content, and leveraging the value of certain sites; you can help the searcher find what they need, and improve your rankings at the same time.
-Back to normal growth for a website. If you’re only building one type of link, such as blog comments, it won’t look natural. You want to keep your link diversity high for anchor texts, types of websites, and constantly adjust the building frequency. If you’re building links, but not getting ones from Social Media; there’s a good chance you could raise a red flag with Google. These are probably the easiest links for someone to make, so the chance that you’re receiving other links but have No Social Signals is a problem.
How To Get Them?
The simple answer is great content. Fill your site with amazing content, whether its articles, videos, images, audio, or a random combination; and people will naturally link to it. This is what happens when something goes “viral” online. A few people link to it first and its seen by their social media followers, and then it continues to grow almost exponentially. Think of what people link to and provide them the best Link-Bait you can.
Another technique I’m a fan of is contests. People love anything that’s free things, and often times its in the companies best interest to spend a little money to “grease the wheels.” A simple $50 gift card, or free massage is easily worth the 7 seconds it takes someone to post on their account. There’s some great plugins available that set these types of contests up, and for each social network they share it on; the person receives additional entries. This isn’t only for the backlinks, but think of all the eyes your company/product will be in front of.
Have you ever seen one of those “free ipad” offers that pop up in front of the website, and don’t let you see/access the material until you fill out the form. That’s an annoying way to scare people off your site. These are called Content Lockers, and when used properly can be very effective. One of my clients has a software program where they offer free downloads of the trial version. They put a Social Media Content Locker on the download page, and started getting posts all over internet for it. The user simply clicks where they would like to share the link, and it automatically unlocks the content. Literally a 2 second interrupt. Make sure you’re providing something of value, so its worth having them post on their account.
The Main Benefit
You’re building a community. You can use these portals to stay in touch with your clients. There’s a book that came out about a year ago called “The Thank You Economy” by Gary Vaynerchuk (It’s a great read). It’s all about communicating with your followers and turning them into clients for life. By providing a great product or service that satisfies your customers, you’re essentially creating an entire marketing team that’s thrilled and will sell it for you. If a customer has a question or issue, they can contact you immediately and feel like a “real person” is answering. It’s a lot more effective and personalized than using email.
There’s a ton of benefits that can come from growing your Social Media Footprints, and they’re not only focused on improving your rank in the search engines. Google is not going anywhere, so it’s important to keep pushing up your ranks, but by having these pages in place you can continue to grow your customer base and extend the life of a client. This will do more for your business than you can imagine.
Thanks. ~Ryan England – Executive SEO