Leave it up to search engine giant Google to constantly re-engineer the architecture of its search engine results pages. A few years ago, an exact match domain or a keyword domain was almost always a guarantee of high rankings, but today, it’s practically useless.
Probably one of the most important changes that Google made (aside from Penguin and Panda of course) is incorporating social signals into its SERPs. After a couple of years, this is still a hotly debated topic among SEO professionals. Some say that social signals are not ranking factors, while there are those who are saying that social media presence is a ranking factor. Despite the two seemingly opposing sides, the clear thing is search has collided with social and it’s either you ignore this fact or use it to your advantage. Hopefully, you prefer the latter.
So, how do you strengthen your site’s social signals to boost its SERP performance? Here is a five-pronged guideline.
Make Sure You Have Optimal Social Media Presence
Be hyper-social and create a profile for your brand or company across different social media platforms. When doing this, think beyond the “Big Three” of social networking (Facebook, Twitter and Google+). Don’t forget about LinkedIn nor overlook photo-sharing driven platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest.
Ideally, you need to know where your audience is and be present in social channels where the conversations are happening. However, it is still recommended that you create a profile across all these social networks to cover all bases.
Ensure Your “On-site Sociability” by Integrating Social Buttons
This really is a no-brainer and if you’re not doing this currently, you’re losing a huge opportunity to amplify the reach of your content. Make sure that relevant social buttons or social plugins are integrated into the relevant pages of your site. For example, your site visitors should be able to share a blog entry that they really liked to their respective networks by clicking on a Facebook Like button or a retweet button.
Post Social Content that are Worth Sharing
Here’s an unorthodox advice: when you create content about social media, even if you’re doing it in line with your SEO campaign, forget about rankings first. Rather, think about what type of content your network would really want to see and would be compelled to share. Think of quality content that are worth sharing first and this will give off the signal to Google that you are indeed credible in your niche and deserves one of the most coveted spots in its SERPs.
Use Social Media as an Extension of Your Customer Service to Encourage Positive Reviews on Local Review Sites
This is especially important for small businesses with limited geographical reach. Use you Twitter account or your Facebook page as a tool in customer service – answering customer queries, addressing concerns, thanking customers, etc. This can significantly increase the positive reviews for your company in local review sites such as Google Local and Yelp. This is extremely important as more consumers get more mobile and having stellar reviews on these local sites can quickly lead to sales.
Be Consistent and Persistent
Social media is not a “launch-and-leave” endeavor. You have to be there constantly. You need to build trust and drive conversation. Social media is no longer a fad. It should be viewed as a long-term SEO/marketing commitment.
For sure, Google will unveil more surprises in the near future. But for sure, the integration of search results and social media will be clearer and stronger in no time.