Social signals is one of the most notable addition to Google’s search ranking factors this year, as it is a strong indication of user activity or behavior on pages all across the web. These signals are basically retrieved from popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and perhaps soon via Google +1, determining pages that receive a lot of attention and social popularity in order to be returned as results to relevant search queries.
The main principle of Google and Bing in using these signals is to locate fresh, relevant and significant materials over the web (news, resource, etc) through viral sharing and natural prominence. However, these search engines do have factors to consider in measuring the durability of the content, for them to truly return quality sites on their end such as:
- Quantity of social mentions on Twitter and/or Facebook.
- Quality of social mentions measured through the social authority of the Twitter account.
- Domain authority and Trustrank of the site hosting the content.
Getting the Targeted Search Terms to Rank
In using this model of off-page optimization, aiming for your post/page to rank on its targeted keywords heavily relies on the on-page factors – mainly with the inclusion of the target keywords in the page title (headline), URL as well as to have its content strictly pertain to the subject (your targeted keywords), given that the title of the page is more often than not used by people when they start sharing your content through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
On April 10, 2011, I published a blog entry about getting natural editorial links, and it did well as it was able to get tweeted several times in just minutes after being published. In less than 12 hours, the blog post managed to rank for several search terms on the top page of Google.
Position #10 for “editorial links” in less than 12 Hours – via SEOmoz Rank Tracker.
Position #12 for “in content links” in less than 12 hours – via SEOmoz Rank Tracker
Position #1 for “get editorial links” in less than 12 hours – via SEOmoz Rank Tracker
Position #2 for “get in-content links” in less than 12 hours – via SEOmoz Rank Tracker
Social Authority Plays a Big Role
After a few hours of being published, that entry reached several influential SEOs and bloggers, and they were quite generous enough to tweet about it.
Seeing as that post was being mentioned by authority Twitter users, it has carried a huge amount of quality signals, which I think allowed it to reach the top page of Google in a short period of time for exact match phrases.
Rankings Garnered through Social Signals Fade Fast
Sending social signals to search engines can certainly make your pages rank high on SERPs instantly, although rankings obtained through it doesn’t last that long if compared to pages that have slowly reached that level through enduring link building efforts.
Not within Top 50 for “in content links” after 3 days – via SEOmoz Rank Tracker
Not within Top 50 for “get in content links” after 3 days – via SEOmoz Rank Tracker
Getting high rankings through Social signals is just the first phase of the strategy, as it is important to sequentially support the page’s optimization process by acquiring high quality incoming links to secure or further improve its rankings.
In this case, I continuously created support pages linking to it (both through internal and external content), and at the same time, it was also generating natural links from those who have genuinely liked it – with anchors varying naturally – after a week of publishing it. And up to now, the post has managed to secure some of its keyword rankings.
Rankings as of May 19, 2011 – exported via SEOBook’s Rank Checker
Applying to Landing Pages
A week ago (May 9, 2011), I tried testing this on my services page by changing its main targeted keyword – which was originally targeting for the search term “search engine optimization services” – to “link marketing services”.
Tweeted the page right after the title page modification
Retweeted by Don Rhoades after a few minutes
I didn’t build any links using the new keywords to direct to my services page, and all I did was to just share it on Twitter. That page wasn’t also ranking for the term “link marketing services”, not until that very same day, where it ranked from unranked to position #11.
Position #11 for “link marketing services” after few hours – via SEOmoz Rank Tracker
Special thanks to these cool people who have made this study possible:
- Don Rhoades of DonRhoades.com
- Etienne Depaulis of Junior-Enterprise
- Mihajlo Vidovic of Logo Design Professional
- Jessica Obermayer of Leverage Technology
- Gary Lawood of Lawmacs
10 Ways to Improve the Sociability of Your Content Strategy
1. Produce content that’s worth sharing
Everything that’s good in SEO starts with great content, the same as any effective link building tactics. A socially engaging content is mostly crafted through basic elements such as striking headlines, design, length and value of content as well as its reach (if it’s able to engage different sorts of readers – like from beginners, advanced, pros, etc). It’s vital to provide content that can generate interest and has the potential to go viral, basically to enhance its chances of getting more exposure on social networking sites. Here are some of the usual types of content that get shared:
- First of its kind
2. Leverage social sharing through strong call to actions
Most readers have tendencies of forgetting to share excellent content that they find, and leading them to take the action by simply mentioning it on your content’s closing part is as good as getting a sale, given that you have compelled them to not only help you market your piece, but also to make them remember who you are.
3. Making social sharing buttons very visible
Make the process of sharing easier for your visitors by placing social sharing buttons on noticeable sections of the page. Allowing the number of tweets, shares or likes to be displayed can also entice visitors to reading more and eventually attract them to share your content.
4. Engage influencers through content
Targeting people in your industry that have strong fanbase on Twitter by citing or linking to them within your content can extremely enhance its chances of getting tweeted and retweeted by many authority and influential users. Several ways that you can do to engage influencers:
- Blog round ups
- List of best
- Statement citations
- Thematic resource
It’s also important to let them know that you have linked to them, through personal email or by mentioning them on your tweet.
5. Get invited to reach multiplier sites like Triberr
Triberr is a free online service that was created by Dino Dogan and Dan Cristo. The system simply allows your newly published content to be automatically tweeted by your tribe members and be shared to their followers, which basically amplifies the market reach of your content.
The best thing about this system is that you can get to choose the tribe you truly want to be a part of or invite/accept the members that will exclusively pass your tribe’s standards (number of Twitter followers, authority, etc…).
To join Triberr, you’ll first need to be invited by someone who’s already a member, as signing up for a new account is disabled, and I personally think that the site’s exclusivity will be its x-factor in keeping the program spam-free.
6. Sponsored tweets
Another option to improve social visibility to your content is to avail paid services from sites like Sponsoredtweets and Buysellads, where you can choose from their wide selection of authority Twitter users – that have thousands of followers – from different industries.
7. Personal networks
Sending direct requests to your personal networks is perhaps the easiest method to implement on any Twitter-outreach campaign, though it’s also the trickiest part, since we all don’t want to be abused in being consistently requested to share things.
It should be a two-way process in which the other end will also benefit from the relationship, which means you also have to help them in other means (like sharing their content to your own network, etc…). It’s best not to overdo this process and only implement it when it’s really necessary.
8. Sponsored FB shares on popular Facebook fanpages and groups in your industry
Buying advertising spots from popular pages and groups on Facebook can boost your content’s social shares, specifically on Facebook, given that these pages are able to reach thousands of individual news feeds who are really keen on your niche.
Searching for groups and fanpages is basically done through Facebook’s advanced search feature, where you can key in your targeted search term (industry) and then try getting results from groups and pages’ tab.
Once you have determined the pages/groups which you think can help amplify your content’s visibility, the next best move would be to identify the pages/groups’ administrators. The easiest way to acquire this information is by first checking their info, where the website or email address of the group is usually mentioned.
You can choose to immediately contact the page or group’s admin to inquire for paid advertisements (in form of FB shares) or you can also choose to establish yourself as a regular, and eventually an authority, contributor in the group to get those FB shares for free – particularly if you are genuinely contributing relevant information such as answers to questions posted by other members and in sharing other content (not yours) that can be useful to the group.
9. Build a strong and approachable brand
Developing your own social network accounts to be an authority is one of the best ways to enable your site in creating its own powerful signals, as having a strong social media presence will make it easier for your content to be more visible – to both users and search engines – through your own followers.
- Responding to comments and Twitter mentions
- Interacting and socializing with other relevant users on Twitter and Facebook
- Increase your followers by providing solid content and by effectively marketing your brand
- Connecting with people whom you think can help increase your Social popularity (by following their blog, retweeting their tweets, offering guest blogs, etc…)
- Assuring your brand’s quality by utilizing Social Media as a channel for customer support
- Constantly knowing what your followers want by asking questions.
- Sharing more content and information that your followers would want to know more about and not links that will only benefit you.
10. Offer incentives
It’s easier to manipulate readers to take actions on things that you want them to act on if doing so will be advantageous to them. Offering incentives to those who’ll share your content can get you more chances of getting it in front of more possible site visitors. Below are some of the ways to get tweets and Facebook shares through incentives:
- Use Cloudflood in your blog, wherein people who wish to download freebies (files such as free report, video, ebook, audio, excel sheet, etc…) from your site will be obliged to promote the hosting page via Twitter or Facebook.
- Offer links to those who have shared your content (which what I’ve done on the experiment above).
- Contest prize, where you can include social sharing as part of the contest’s mechanics (including actions such as liking on Facebook, following on Twitter, etc…).
If you enjoyed this entry, here’s what to do next:
Image Credit: Monstermagnet