Social signals are becoming a critical part of how Google weighs a site’s quality. While links still reign supreme, there may come a time when Google considers +1′s from authority profiles just as important as a high PR link. Even now, there’s evidence that the right kind of social signals can provide tangible benefits to your site’s rank today.
Take the case a single tweet that helped SEOMoz.org rank in the top 5 for a very competitive keyword:
And then there’s the fact that Google now displays +1 information in the SERPs –both for organic and Adwords listings, as you can see here:
In case you needed any other convincing of social media’s growing influence on SEO, take a look at this chart which looked at which factors influenced Google rank in 2011:
Incredibly, Facebook shares were even more important than the number of domains linking to a site –a paradigm shift in the Google algorithm.
How to Take Advantage
The most important thing you can do to get more social shares is to write content that people will want to naturally share. This of course begins with quality but you often have to go the extra mile in order to get significant social traction. Some ways to increase the “sharability” of your content include:
- Taking an opposing viewpoint on a subject or a controversial stance
- Giving a complete system or step by step process
- Display information in a new way (video, infographics etc.)
You also need to be a bit of a squeaky wheel and be proactive about asking people to share your stuff. This means having buttons placed throughout your content and actually building in strong calls to action that will get people to pause and share.
Another important thing to keep in mind is the fact that you want quality social signals. Like in the world of backlinks, Google weighs tweets, shares and +1′s much more from influential people. This means you may need to actively reach out and ask leaders in your industry to share your content with their networks. While you may get a temporary boost from 500 fake Facebook Likes, this can come back and bite you later when Google starts to penalize sites for phony social signals.
Finally, it’s important to understand that Google doesn’t consider all social signals equally valuable. Many industry studies have found that Google prefers Google +1′s and Facebook shares over Pinterest Pins and Stumbles. This is where you should be asking folks to share your content.
This is a guest post by Spencer Mitchell.