How Social Media Affects SEO Rankings and Conversions Simultaneously

“People buy from people they know, like, and trust” is an old saying, but it couldn’t be timelier. Your authority, derived from being a thought leader with great content, is a huge asset to your overall web presence. By having lots of fans, blog subscribers, likes, shares, +1s, and followers, you are seen as a leader. When you rank high in the search engines results, you are seen as a leader. These things go hand in hand, and when you do both at once it creates a domino effect that helps your Internet marketing reach levels you never dreamed of.

Google can potentially monitor who comments on your blog from an authority perspective, so you want real people to comment, people who have weight in Google’s eyes. When your golf club blog content gets a comment from the newest PGA champion retweeting it, Google (if not now, in the future) could use that directly as an authoritative signal. It’s all about author authority, and the source of it is what really matters moving forward. This is why Google created Google+ Author Rank to indicate an author’s value, not just a website’s or a page’s value. We will have more on this in the section on Google+, but first let’s look at what the search engines are doing with social signals.

Personalized Search

Many people don’t realize that search results are based on location and the recommendations of your connections. If you are signed in to your Google account, you will be given results based on what your Google connections have +1’d. If you are signed in to Facebook and conduct a search in Bing social results, you will be given relevant sites that your Facebook friends have “liked.” People trust their friends and family and the search engines are now struggling with how to incorporate these signals.

Google believes in social so much it built is own social network (Google+) along the lines of Facebook, while Bing chooses to integrate data from sites like Facebook and Foursquare to enhance the user’s experience. The things that used to be only in the minds of people (like their opinions of restaurants and travel tips) are now index-able and usable by others.

Social Signals

Danny Sullivan, one of the most famous search engine marketing experts, interviewed Bing and Google representatives in December 2010 on how Facebook and Twitter may impact a company’s search engine rankings. He asked about the weighting of Twitter users and links shared in their tweets.

Bing: “We do look at the social authority of a user. We look at how many people you follow, how many follow you, and this can add a little weight to a listing in regular search results.”

Google: “Yes, we do use [tweeted links and retweets] as a signal. It is used as a signal in our organic and news rankings. We also use it to enhance our news universal by marking how many people shared an article.”

(See http://www.seoconsult.com/seoblog/social-media-optimisation/confirmed-twitter-facebook-influence-seo-rankings.html for more.)

Sullivan also asked, “Do you track links shared within Facebook, either through personal walls or fan pages?”

Bing: “Yes. We look at links shared that are marked as ‘Everyone,’ and links shared from Facebook fan pages.”

Google: “We treat links shared on Facebook fan pages the same as we treat tweeted links. We have no personal wall data from Facebook.”

So some social signals influence ranks directly in small ways, but make sure to build them for the right reasons, while keeping an eye on the future.

Consider this quote from Matt Cutts of Google in his keynote address at Pubcon 2010: “Don’t look at us where we are today, but look at the direction we are moving and what we are focusing on, the big five are the mobile web, local search, social, blended results in the search engine results, and HTML5.”

Even now in 2013, these still seem to be largely where Google is focused.

Here’s another quote from Google’s Matt Cutts: “By doing things that help build your own reputation, you are focusing on the right types of activity. Those are the signals we want to find and most value anyway.”

Are you sold yet on where things are headed and how you can leverage social media in a variety of ways?

photo credit: Intersection Consulting via photopin cc

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