With social media adoption and the volume of content generated through the various platforms increasing with such velocity in 2010, there was much debate on what effect this will have on SEO. Some of the questions we have fielded from our clients include:-
- Do the search engines think links from social networks are important?
- Can social media content help elevate our brand up the search engine results pages (SERPs)?
- How do we do it?
The Value of Social Media SEO
One of the main arguments against the value of Social SEO is the issue of the “nofollow” attribute which some of the major social networks use for links posted on their platforms. A “ nofollow “ tag tells thethat crawl a web page to not recognize a link and therefore doesn’t issue any link juice…or SEO love of any kind. Twitter applies no follow tags, so does Facebook and Wikipedia. So, if that’s true then it would seem there is no SEO benefit from generating content and links through these channels.
Well, first off, let’s have a look at what Matt Cutts from Google has to say on the matter. Or, if you don’t like videos, then read what Danny Sullivan (who knows more than most about SEO) has to say in this excellent post at the end of last year.
We are a trusting bunch here at Weever Media so let’s buy that the search engines are recognizing and counting ‘social signals’ in their results (surely they wouldn’t have paid all that money for access to the social platform data if they weren’t?) and social SEO should be part of the marketing mix.
How You Can Leverage Social SEO
Two of the direct benefits of social media activity (leaving aside the plethora of other business benefits such as brand awareness, better customer service, social research etc) are, increasing traffic to the website by way of referrals and Social SEO ‘link juice’ coming from blog commenting, user reviews and, according to the search engines, the quality and amount of links passed through social media.
The process to start generating activity on the social web that will lead to Social SEO isn’t very (if at all) different to other social media/internet marketing programs:-
Listen to Social Communities and Networks
Start off by doing your research. There are loads of social media monitoring tools (Free and Paid) that will help you identify which communities and networks are most relevant to your brand or market. You can also build a list of who the influential voices are and what type of content goes down well and gets shared. Any major SEO dude will tell you that keyword research is vital for a successful campaign and Social SEO is no different. Check out what social keywords are cropping up and use these as a guide for your own content.
Plan Social SEO
Take on board all the data from your listening and build a content plan around it. Content is going to be your main weapon, as it is with traditional SEO…the name of the game is to figure out what is being talked about and searched for by your customers and then build your content around that.
Talk through the Social Media Channels
Start producing and publishing to the relevant social media channels. Concentrate on providing useful, quality content for our market. Connect with influential people, comment on important blogs, share interesting links in the networks. We talked about the ‘no follow’ issue earlier and while this is still largely a grey area for some sites, here is a list of do-follow social media sites where you will get that link juice if you are active.
Measure Social SEO Impact
In the same way, as you would measure the effect of an SEO program, you need to apply similar tactics to Social SEO measurement. What impact is it having on your site analytics? Keep tabs on how your ranking in the SERPs, use your monitoring tools to see how much your content is being shared around the social web.
Optimise & Repeat Social SEO Link Building
See what has worked and what hasn’t. New, better-performing keywords and types of content will crop up over time so you need to be fluid with your ongoing strategy. You are producing content for your customers, that is relevant and current so be prepared to tweak, change and experiment
Just like social media isn’t the holy grail of digital marketing, nor is Social SEO for search, at least there isn’t enough evidence to prove otherwise. It needs to be used to augment SEO and amplify content around the web to
encourage it to be shared. Over time, we will see more and more personalization in search and that will include data and insights from individuals’ social graph and online social activity. So, if you haven’t considered social as well as search…it might be time to take a look.