The modern face of SEO is no longer about manipulating search engine spiders, stuffing content with as many keywords as possible or threading the web with as many spammed links to your website as you can.
Instead, the optimization environment has changed and things have become much more human focused than they have ever been before; especially in the wake of major Google updates such as Penguin or Panda, both of which focus much more intensely on filtering out low quality content that does not engage human readers.
In this new landscape of SEO, you as a website owner or SEO services provider absolutely need to focus your or your clients’ optimization efforts on creating a strong presence with real human fans, and using this to build your ranking in the search engines.
In this same modern landscape, one of the best ways to pull that aim off is by taking full advantage of social networks!
Currently, nearly half of all web traffic is being generated through the lenses of various social networks that have sprung up in just the last several years.
Over one billion people—more than half of all internet users—regularly find their online content through the organic word-of-mouth sharing networks that exist on the world’s top social network systems.
The Real Impact Of Social Networks On SEO
Platforms such as Facebook—which is the largest of all social systems with over 1 billion members, followed by Twitter (more than 250 million users), LinkedIn (170+million users) and numerous other global social networking systems are slowly becoming some of the digital world’s top means of spreading news, promoting things and advertising in a classical sense.
Obviously, with these trends emerging at a dramatic pace all over the world, you need to learn how to take full advantage of them if you really want to fully optimize your website ranking.
The bottom line, as far as social media’s impact on SEO is concerned, is that these immense, powerful and largely organic platforms for content and information distribution have come to have an enormous influence over where web users shift their attention on the net.
Since social networks don’t base the popularity of a given link on algorithmic decision-making systems, the nature of SEO itself has become far more human interest-based instead of depending on software bots.
In its effort to keep up with this trend (and compete with social network-powered content distribution), Google itself, the most dominant of the search engines, has begun to integrate the same organic value metrics into their machine-based ranking scripts, further reinforcing the value of natural popularity and value-building strategies over rules of optimization.
Whether social signals affect your website rank in search results is still debated. There’s a correlation that may or may not be causation, but the end result is clear: Google is moving more and more toward serving up results based on the perceived quality of content. And quality is determined primarily by the way content is linked to and shared across the internet.
Some Social Media Tips For Your Own Site Optimization
Given all the uncontrollable trends, you absolutely need to adapt to the shifting politics of online search rank if you want your own domain to stay out of the dust at the side of the highway.
This means discarding more than a few old practices that revolved around manipulating code and learning how to engage real human readers on a practical, continuous level. Here are some key basic guidelines.
Forget About Search Algorithms, Focus On Value
Focusing too much on algorithms is exactly what got so many site owners in trouble with their web rank in the last couple of years; instead of concentrating on creating lasting content that people want to pay attention to and share, they put too much of their SEO effort into designing link profiles and websites whose main quality was their attractiveness to a bunch of soon-to-evolve search algorithms.
Don’t continue this mistake.
Instead, do what many should have done from the start and create a well-organized website that’s had good research effort put into it so that it can identify genuine human interest niches and deliver the goods for the people searching in those niches.
This should be your most basic and fundamental step; it’s what will make your social media-based efforts much easier to develop successfully because you’ll have something to actually offer in this new content environment.
Join The Social Network Landscape
Having created the kind of content you at least hope is going to make an impact and get people’s attention, you now need to build your own branded space in the social network landscape.
This includes opening accounts in all the major networks and at the very least networks where the majority of your niche fan-base candidates are found. Open your accounts under the brand by which your online domain presence goes and start integrating them with your actual website.
The more visible and widely shared your content, the more natural links you will build without the “gaming” factor that Google has made extended efforts to penalize.
Thoroughly Integrate Your Site Pages With Social Media
Your site may deliver the goods to real human viewers, but you’ve got to fully embed it with a social sharing infrastructure; you obviously don’t want to have a situation in which people love your work but can’t easily spread the word about it.
Integration of easily visible, fully operational sharing buttons needs to be done for every page of your site and at the very least for every major content page that is share-worthy.
Also, these sharing features should be both up-to-date and as hassle free as possible—viewers and potential fans are quick to note a convenient feature on a site, and likewise to become impatient with one that isn’t.
Keep Promoting And Creating
If there’s one thing that social media and search engines really love and largely depend on, it’s freshness. Take as full advantage of this as you can by constantly growing your social fan base and frequently post interesting new links, tools, apps and any other valuables you think your fans will love or get something useful out of.
Self-promotion to a human audience is absolutely crucial in the new, less black-hat-friendly digital landscape, so it’s a skill you’ll have to master as much as possible if you want to create a decent list of social followers that will also raise your general SEO rank.
Have you made an effort to integrate social sharing into your website? Have you noticed any effect on traffic and rankings? Let me know your thoughts.
Join the discussion 13 Comments
Great post Matthew and glad Carol had you share this information with us.
I do still get traffic from the search engines but I get the majority of my traffic from referrals sources. Facebook and Twitter are my top two sites but I get a lot from other blogs as well. I personally am glad that being more social and sharing content is starting to move up in the ranks of traffic myself.
I’ve harped enough in some of my posts about sharing other people’s posts and why it’s so important. You just proved this point right here so thank you for that.
I would much rather go this route then worry about SEO. It’s just so hard sometimes to write naturally around the keywords you’re going after.
Thank you again for sharing this.
Totally agree Adrienne, I hate forcing keywords into things because of search. It’s so much better to write the things you and your readers will love that you can then count on getting shared! I’ve done both – some writing using keywords and some just writing. And either way I get shares. Sometimes I get better search traffic. So it’s something to balance but not obsess about. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!
Well, probably my favorite sentence in your article is “forget about search algorithms”, because, gosh, I so remember when they used to tired me up, with this algorithms thing 🙂
In a way I guess it can be said that Google itself led internet marketers to that mess, and therefore all they could think about was ways and tricks to get to that first page.
Now, the truth is that I always hated keywords, when I had to think about them more than the common sense needed. Yes, I tried to use keywords, but I hated to be obsess about it. I like to use my keywords “naturally”.
I always write fresh and original content, once a week on each my 3 blogs and I am on all the main social media platforms, so I think I’m doing OK, then.
Thank for this very interesting guest post at Carol’s 🙂
I’m with you, Sylviane, I don’t like obsessing about the “technicalities”. I much prefer to write something I believe in, something I enjoy and that I know my readers will enjoy than something “for Google”. Yes, they did start the whole thing, didn’t they! Fortunately they seem to be taking more of the social side into account, which is great because ultimately the more people share our stuff the better off we’ll be. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!
Good to meet you here on Carol’s Blog! After reading this article, there was a big sigh of relief from me. I used to get all mixed up with the old SEO algorithms. I just kept blogging and decided not to get all flustered about it.
Glad I did because now Google see’s it all the way it is supposed to be. And that is Social! My readers come back over and over again. I also get new readers each week. I guess it is because of my interaction with other bloggers.
If we “Pay It Forward” and leave good comments on other people’s blogs, we will get attention that way, and others will visit our blogs.
Of course, we must write good content on our blogs, and have a regular presence on the social sites.
All I can say about these changes is “Amen!”
Thanks for explaining it all,
Hi Donna, You’re right, the social revolution has made a huge difference in how we get traffic and our ability to reach more people. I can’t imagine completely relying on someone searching Google to find my site. I’m glad Google is coming over to our side 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
What a Great Post Matthew! I know that I am supposed to do keyword research for all my post but for the main part I just write, If I get a call that morning and someone asks me a question, well then I write about this. Same goes for my posts, if I have someone as me a question on this, well then the next day, I will write abut this.
I know I know everyone tells me I need to go and do my keyword research first and then write based off my search. HUM What are your thoughts?
I do get the majority of my traffic from Yahoo & twitter, but lately I have been more active commenting and getting advice from others who are basically in the same niche.. Thanks for sharing looking forward to reading more of your posts Chery 🙂
Hi Chery, you brought up a good point, and actually, questions can be a great way to optimize a post. I bet if you used a keyword tool to search for that question, you’d find more people asking it. Turning customer questions into posts is a great idea because if one person asked it, there are probably many more who didn’t – but many who search for it! It might be worth it just to do a quick search on that question to validate the fact for you.
Great article Matthew, social media really is the next step forward! It is worth mentioning, in regards to Facebook – the user should also integrate the open graph meta data. This will not only share the images, title and description you want, but it will also indicate behind-the-scenes stuff, such as part type etc. It is also important for users, as it will improve click through rates and simplify the actual share – you say it needs to be easy, and and scrolling through to select a photo for the article isn’t as quick as it should be.
I always find having a second set of eyes is a great way to improve your site
Interesting addition to the mix, thanks for sharing that tip!
This is great info. My last boss tried to have me do all of the stuff you say you shouldn’t do in your first paragraph and included requesting me to misspell words in a blog post if people misspelled them when searching (i.e. phesant instead of the correct pheasant). Which I refused to do. Reading posts like this confirm that I know what I’m talking about and I appreciate it! 🙂
Oh no, Lauri! I’m not sure I’d want a bunch of typos in my content just to (maybe) grab a few people who misspell it in search! Besides, Google autocorrects really well and will give you the correct spelling. Glad you didn’t succumb!
Parts of Google actually rate your content, grammar, spelling etc, and this would actually result in your site being penalised as well – even if you think having a misspelled words would work