With all of the recent talk about Google’s algorithm updates and penalties, especially Panda and Penguin, SEOs are scampering to adjust to the changes.
Of course, Google is just enforcing what they have told us all along. Create great content, do it consistently, and play by the stated rules of the game. This means no backlink trickery, automated comment spam, or any of the black hat SEO practices we have seen from the SEO industry for years now.
All of the biggest offenders are forced to adjust their practices to make up ground now. Unfortunately, while focusing on penalties, they are missing the real game-changer: Social has become a key piece of Search Engine Optimization.
The following are the four key areas where Social Media impacts SEO.
Backlinks remain the most important metric in Google’s almighty ranking algorithm. Site and page authority are both impacted by links, the higher quality the better.
In the past couple of years, they have changed their focus – rather than looking only at overall number of backlinks, they now consider two more things:
- Quality - A link is no longer a link. Paid links can get you delisted. Links from low authority sites typically will not help, and may actually hurt your website. The days of hiring an SEO company to build link farms and post to a million directories are over, so stop paying for it.
- Overall Link Profile - Link profile has become very important. Google wants to see a mix of follow and nofollow (which is typically from blogs and social networking sites). They want to see likes, tweets, +1s, and conversations. All of this now factors into how your site ranks.
Social media is important to both of these factors. The leading sites are of high quality/authority, and you need to be present and active on those sites to break above the pack on the SERPs.
Social Bookmarks remain important, especially for hastening the indexing of new content on your website. Several years ago, SEOs had to submit URLs directly to search engines in hopes that they would index it. Now, if you keep an updated XML sitemap and your content is bookmarked right when it goes live, the search engines take notice.
The Kevin Bacon Game
Have you ever played the Kevin Bacon game? The premise is that any person is only six degrees of separation from any other person.
How does this translate to social media and SEO? We absolutely must influence the influencers. When a high authority social personality takes notice, shares our content, or engages with us, it matters more for Social SEO than when we tweet our own links or like our own page.
It surprises clients to learn that Google looks at how authoritative YOU are on social media. You need to be influential and informative. You need to engage with others. Your content and comments need to elicit both shares and conversations. Any of your original content should also be properly marked up to show Google and your social contacts that it is your work. And when you curate other content, it should also stimulate action.
If you are failing at some or all of these, it’s time to get serious about social media. The health of your web presence depends on it.