How To Get Social With SEO (because you have to)

Between Facebook’s expanded deal with Bing and the recent launch of Google’s +1 button, it’s clear that search is becoming more social. So while Facebook isn’t about to take over search and become the next Google (per se), one thing is clear: if you want to rank, you’re going to have to get social with your SEO strategy.

Of course, many traditional SEO practices will still be important. You’ll still need strong onsite SEO and a robust backlink profile (even if exact keyword anchor text is dying). But if you really want to outrank the competition, you’re going to need to tap into users’ social graphs and send search engines “social signals” that your pages deserve to rank.

1. Get Tweeted

Traditionally, social media links in general, and Twitter links specifically, didn’t carry any SEO juice because they were no-follow links and devoid of any anchor text. Indeed, shortened URLs on Twitter even stripped URLs of any brand value they might have had — i.e. “MyBrand.com”.

But then, in an interview Dec 2010, both Google and Bing confirmed that Tweets now impact rankings. So part of your SEO strategy should be a Twitter-outreach campaign to get your content retreated.

Of course, it probably won’t always be easy to get your product pages tweeted (unless your products can be the butt of some trending joke meme). But producing other valuable content that gets tweeted should lend your domain that much more authority, helping it rank better overall.

2. Get Influential (or Influencers)

And it’s not just enough to get Tweeted and Retweeted like mad. You actually have to get Tweeted and Retweeted by influencers.

As both Google and Bing disclosed in that same interview (linked above), they both look at the social authority of the person sending out the Tweet. So being tweeted by someone with a lot of followers (and many more than people they follow back) is going to carry a lot more weigh than being Tweeted by a handful of slew of “nobodies”.

Of course, a big benefit of getting tweeted by influencers is that their tweets are more likely to get retweeted, resulting in a ton of tweeted links. Case in point: when Smashing Magazine tweeted about SEOmoz’s “Beginner’s Guide to SEO (and it got retweeted a ton), SEOmoz started ranking on the first page for just “Beginner’s Guide”.

3. Be Likeable

Google can’t get in behind Facebook’s wall. In fact, Google can’t even read the Facebook Like buttons that show how many people have liked your content.

But Bing can. That was part of the point of Bing’s exclusive deal with Facebook: to give their algorithm a social edge over Google. In fact, Bing will even personalize search results based on whether your Facebook contacts have like something.

That doesn’t, however, mean that Google is working to catch up. That’s what the whole +1 button is about.

Through Google’s +1, users are starting to be able to vote up search results, and soon search results will be recommended to you based on whether any of your contacts have +1ed something. Of course, we’re still not sure exactly how heavily this will factor into rankings, but the intention to crowd-source relevance and personalization is clear.

So if you’re going to prep your sites/pages for tomorrow’s ranking factors, you better start thinking of how to be Liked and +1ed today. For starters, you’re going to want to build these buttons into all of your important pages.

More importantly, you’re going to want to think of ways to encourage users to Like/+1 your site and its content. Part of this will be user-experience and A/B testing to see what layouts get the most Likes/+1s. But a bigger part will be producing socially popular content (such as infograhics and awesome blog posts) that will garner your overall domain more popularity, authority, and traffic.

4. Diversify Your Community

It’s one thing to go after the big guys (like Facebook and Twitter and possibly +1). But your social SEO strategy shouldn’t be constrained by the fishbowl. In other words, there are other social content sites out there, and getting links and traffic from them is going to be equally important.

As SEOmoz recently pointed out, diversifying your traffic sources is essential for SEO success. This means you should be working to get links and traffic from other social sites such as Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Digg.

Of course, to actually diversify your traffic through these content sharing communities, you’ll need a content strategy capable of reconciling your brand’s messaging with the culture of these communities. This means finding a way to produce branded content that’s interesting, has nothing to do with your products/services, but is still somehow on topic for your industry. Rackspace does this well with their infographics, but it can easily be done with Top 5/10 list blog posts.

Then you actually have to go out and seed it across these content sharing sites. This usually involves having access to “influencers” or “power accounts” on these networks, so you should either find a way to cozy up to an influencer, or hire a consultant/agency who controls such accounts — and don’t worry, they’re out there.

5. Build Your Brand

One of the next generation of ranking signals is going to be your brand. That is, if you have an established, trusted brand, it’s going to be easier for you to rank.

This is why it took Google so long to penalize Overstock.com and JC Penny. Both were trusted brands that got the benefit of the doubt because Google could be certain that these sites weren’t doing anything malicious, such as drive-by downloads or injection scripts. Of course, that wasn’t enough to save them when they got caught doing black-hat SEO, but it just goes to show how far some brand trust can go.

So whereas a site such as exact-product-name.com might’ve had an easier time ranking, search engines are now looking more towards brand name recognition. Granted, there’s a lot of ways to build a brand, such as through a multimillion dollar national ad campaign, but the logical (and cheapest) place to start is certainly social media.

First consider having a comprehensive social media presence, and making sure that your brand activity is frequent and consistent. This includes everything from Tweet and Retweets to running Facebook Ads and contests.

Then, find a way to step up your game. In addition to pushing content out across content sharing sites, try to come up with some kind of publicity stunt, either online or off. In other words, look at how you might be able to generate news mentions or stir up community conversation/controversy about your brand without getting directly involved.

About CT Moore

A former Staff Editor here at Revenews.com, CT Moore is a recovering agency hack with over 8 years experience leveraging search and social media to help brands meet their business goals online. He currently provides digital strategy consulting to both SMBs and enterprise level companies through his consultancy Socialed. CT has worked with both start-ups and multinational brands alike, including Acquisio, Microsoft Canada, and Luxury Retreats. He is also an accomplished blogger and speaker who educates groups and companies on how they can better leverage different online channels.

Twitter: gypsybandito

27 Responses to How To Get Social With SEO (because you have to)

  1. Seogeeker says:

    Good point on #4, need to get traffic from all over not just the big T or F

  2. Arcanysj says:

    A good point of argument. To broaden your community really means a lot to provide quality is ones work. Being social is the game’s name and not as you say be constrained in a fishbowl.

  3. “Not because you have to” but “because you want to”. If you do not see the power in people or if you don’t like people then you should not get into social networks. I don’t do B2B nor B2C but H2H (Human to Human)

    • CT Moore says:

      I really like “H2H”. I think it really captures what we’re doing as marketers as more and more media gets interactive. Even search engines are doing this, from personalization to local search, it’s all about giving really human beings something that’s relevant and valuable to them.

  4. Andyjrmorris says:

    So bing has an exclusive deal with facebook. Too bad Bing has such a low user rate (in comparison with Google). It actually isn’t that bad a search engine.

    • CT Moore says:

      Well, I think that’s part of their strategy. By (1) powering Facebook web search, and (2) offering FB functionality to searchers, they will probably be able to capture an extra 5-10% of the market over time. Of course, that won’t make them the next Google, but with 35-40% of market share, it will make them the Pepsi to Google’s Coke.

  5. [...] the original post: How To Get Social With SEO (because you have to) | ReveNews Tweet Previous postWordPress SEO strategy | WPCandy Next postFree Seo training in [...]

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  7. info says:

    I agree with Martin Decelles. If it is a have and not a want, your content is likely not engaging enough to have a viable social following. Then getting Tweeted and Retweeted by influencers ups the ante even more.

  8. Jeff says:

    Great article, I know I am always trying to get a handle on social networking. I still do not fully understand it all, though articles like this definately help.

  9. [...] I can’t believe, as long as I’ve been participating in Social Media and researching how to make the most of Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing I haven’t heard of   reve news!  Twitter is such a great resource because there are so many knowledgeable people online and even more looking to learn.  I really enjoyed the post titled How To Get Social With SEO (because you have to) [...]

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  11. Devin says:

    Very informative / cutting edge – thanks.

    Juts a copuple of typo’s, though:
    - … tweeted by influencers is that their tweets are more likely to get (retreated)
    …That doesn’t, however, mean that Google (is) working to catch up.

    Cheers .. Devin

  12. Jb2534 says:

    Its no wonder that so many up and coming marketers are dropping out of the race. Google and I name Google because they pretty much lead the field and most others follow are making it so expensive that only a “guru” making millions will still get the rankings. This will cause many good “Up and Coming” Internet marketers who would otherwise hang in to this SEO crap to drop out because some stupid ass at one of these outfits don’t have a clue as to how to read true results. I for one couldn’t give a damn about Social Media marketing because I will make my money on line with or without Google. Bing and Facebook and their social crap. Hell, you do well and try to play the game correct and Google shuts you down for no investigated reason, and Facebook slams you shut for even less a reason. Try to make contact with 20 of your family that you haven’t seen for years in one or two days and see how fast Facbook shuts the door on you.

  13. roylyn says:

    You also have to show versatility. You can’t keep hammering on one subject. You get too predictable and that turns people off.

  14. Greg says:

    I enjoyed the article. It’s great to be up to date on info.
    Thanks

  15. Anonymous says:

    Social and seo when does it all come to a head a stop being about a big chase about a product with a good description. Then the end user checks it out and decides to buy or not.
    http://zerofrictionmarketingpro.com

  16. Kiera Pedley says:

    Awesome article, so many users of both SEO and Social media look at the two as mutually exclusive, but they’re both integral parts of any brand’s marketing mix.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Great, practical advice! Thanks.

  18. SEO practitioners should indeed reach out to their customers more. Word of mouth is as potent a tool as proven SEO techniques.

  19. SEO practitioners should indeed reach out to their customers more. Word of mouth is as potent a tool as proven SEO techniques.

  20. Anonymous says:

     SEO is better option for online outsource to getting for business developing. Through Search engine marketing tricks to it’s handling to developing with which a getting perfect announcing with accruing to prohibited.

  21. Good point of view. There are many websites that need to be optimized but because of insufficient idea of proper optimization of a website they just let SEO as the last part of their needs in building up a website.

  22. Filsupport says:

    I think that it’s just right that the search engines should also look at the things that social networking site’s users like the most.

  23. SEO is a web marketing item that is dynamic and changing due to the terms of service and placement by search engines. Searches have gotten broader and more niche-oriented.

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