Social Search: How to Maximize Your Online Visibility Using Social Media

Social Search is a huge priority for Google, so it should be for you as well. They have gone to great lengths to make progress in figuring it out, because their own future depends on it.

If you are still struggling to enhance your SERP placement, the following are some tips you can use to increase your visibility online using social media, social networking, and social bookmarking.

Content Marketing: It’s Role In Social Search

Social search is focused on providing you with relevant and timely content, customized to your preferences, behavior, and social connections. Your previous search behavior, the types of content you share and consume, and content that is popular among your circles are all deemed highly relevant to you. This is the premise behind Google’s Search Plus Your World functionality.

Another indicator that often gets overlooked is the content you actually create or compose yourself. Google has also worked very hard to tie authority to source, so if you are using authorship markup properly, they know who you are, what you write about, and how that impacts your social behavior.

When you put all of this together, you need to be driving a stream of self-generated content to increase visibility via Google. Blogging is the most common way of doing this, but video, podcast, infographic, and a laundry list of other content types can help as well.

Google Plus

A lot of folks have criticized Google Plus, comparing it to a party with no attendees. That is a shortsighted view of it.

Google Plus is the key to Social Search, Search Plus Your World, and the future of Google as a whole! They want you to tie the whole platform together to get a more granular view of you and your behavior, including your social networks and interactions.

Tips to Help Google Plus Provide More Exposure for Your Website

  • If you are not on G+ yet, get on there and create a profile for yourself.
  • Complete the profile and add an avatar or picture of yourself. Don’t just set it up and walk away.
  • Start building circles. Circles influence what you see online, but more importantly, it influences what your network sees online. More contacts = more chances to show up in Search Plus Your World.
  • Connect your Google+ profile to your website via Authorship Markup.
  • Curate and share content on Google Plus.
  • Network with the contacts in your circles, paying close attention to the topics your interact about
  • Stay active and consistent.

Twitter

Although Google lost access to the firehose from Twitter during the summer of 2011, they actively crawl and index tweets. The question still remains about how they are using those tweets for SEO purposes.

Through casual observation, one can easily figure out that Google Plus is the highest correlated to SERP visibility  But tweets still show up in search, just not always as a verbatim reference. Often you will see that certain contacts of yours “shared” a piece of content, which they did not share on Google Plus. I’ve found that Twitter is typically represented among the shares, just not overtly revealed as the location of the sharing.

Facebook

Facebook Likes are definitely important to SEO, but it has some tradeoffs. Publicly shared posts, likes, and shares are crawled by many of the search engines. However, on Facebook, many of us are now sharing only with Friends or “Friends of Friends” for privacy or security reasons. The only way for Google to view those activities is for one of your connections to share the same thing publicly and reference you.

Unless you want to move full tilt to posting for all to see, focus on Facebook as a networking platform only. Or build a page for your company, cause, or website and post publicly on there instead.

Pinterest

Pinterest is so new that many of us are still figuring out the right way to use it. The most common way is to post compelling images that link back to your website in hopes that viewers will click through. This actually works for a lot of B2C businesses, especially etailers.

When it first came out, Pinterest provided full link juice for images shared on the service. Back in February, they switched fully over to nofollow for all links. You had to see that one coming, right? Even though the links are nofollow, Google does in fact track how many nofollow links you have back to your website, so there is value for social search. After all, the reason they started tracking follow vs. nofollow backlinks to your site was in pursuit of Social Search capabilities, and to analyze whether your link profile looks natural or manipulated.

Quora

As a very thorough question and answer type of site, Quora is very well indexed by Google. During searches for references to help write this blog post, I found at least four conversations on Quora that related to the topic. They showed up very high on page 1 of the SERP.

If you aren’t using Quora, take time to go check it out. It works very similarly to LinkedIn Discussions or Yahoo! Answers, except you’ll be surprised to see what caliber of contributors post on it. You’ll find CxOs, thought leaders, authors, artists, and a whole variety of personalities posting answers that align with their areas of expertise.

Social Bookmarking

In the old days, the smart way to get content indexed was to publish it and then immediately submit to Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. Today, there are much better ways to get your content naturally indexed, as some SEOs have suggested that submitting directly can slow down the process, believe it or not.

Aside from the standard SEO techniques such as providing an updated XML sitemap, pinging to popular services, and Fetching as a GoogleBot, Social Bookmarking plays a key role in helping search engines find your new content. Some of the social bookmarking services even provide dofollow links, so aside from getting the content out there faster, you can acquire a small bit of link juice for it.

The main services I always bookmark my content to are StumbleUpon, reddit (be sure not to only post links on reddit, also engage in conversations), Digg, delicious, and Jumptags. Coupled with shares on the major sites listed above (plus sharing to LinkedIn as my status update), I have found that the content gets indexed quickly and even receives some good visibility across my social graph.

Summary

There you have it – some basics for optimizing your content marketing and sharing efforts around social search. This is only a high level overview, so there are many levels deeper to take this topic. But start with a manageable set of activities like the above, and expand it later when you have mastered the basics.