The Secrets to Leveraging Social Media to Improve Your Search Rankings

@Kevin | Search, Social

Over the past several years, the impact of social media on brand’s search results has expanded beyond the content they are creating for their blog and video channels. The content that marketers are creating in social media is displayed in ‘social search results’ for people that they are connected to, or in some cases, where they are influencers.

Shared content significantly expands the reach and influence of a brand because it demonstrates its engagement value.  Search engines place significant importance on the relevancy of the shared content – and rewards it with the highest rankings!

Traditional Search Tactics

  1. Optimized Content: For years one of the most effective ways for companies to improve their search engine rankings has been to create relevant and properly optimized content through their blog and back it up with fully optimized websites.
  2. Video: With the growth of video and the way search engines have implemented videos into their search results, there has been a larger push for companies to produce video content. After all, YouTube acts as the second largest search engine and to be frank, there is a lot of poorly optimized content. This creates a massive opportunity for companies who know how to create and optimize content to do so.

Social Media Requires a Revamped SEO, SEM Strategy

Today, not only do you have the major search players improving how they use social search, but Facebook has now stated they are interested in getting into the search arena and leveraging the ton of data they have from their users.

Facebook Graph Search

We could all see a Facebook search engine in Facebook’s future since it handles 1+ billion search queries every day, 1/3 of the current amount Google currently handles. When Facebook launched Graph Search earlier this year, it has arrived in a much different format than many expected. Facebook’s not using its data to provide a better search than Google but providing a new type of search  that leverages their ‘social graph‘ (vs. Google’s ‘knowledge graph.”

Basically, if content is ‘liked’, it drives relevancy much like Google’s links do. But Facebook has an added advantage in its inherently social platform – it can also provide a richer search result including content from friends and family that act as referrals.

Google + Search Plus Your World

Much like Facebook, Google+ is leveraging its social graph with the introduction (albeit forcing down your throat) “Search, plus Your World,” which finds both content that’s been shared with you privately along with matches from the public web, all mixed into a single set of listings. Google describes in the following manner:

“Search has always brought you information from across the web. Now, search gets better by including photos, posts, and more from you and your friends. When signed in with Google+, you’ll find personal results and profiles of people you know or follow. You can even expand your world by discovering people related to your search.”

Watch Google’s  fun video that illustrates how this feature works.

Google Authorship

Another feature Google has recently introduced that ties into Google+ is the Google Authorship program. Google developed this as a way to cut down spam content and duplicate content. By taking the time to verify your content, Google rewards the blogger by giving them a little more exposure in search results, such as an author picture and additional links. You are also able to check the impact this has through Google Webmaster Tools, which gives you post-by-post data.

The impact of this is large, as these enhanced results bring with it a higher click through rate.

Bing Social Search

In Mid 2012 Bing overhauled their search results to heavily include results from individuals’ social networks. Users can even ask questions directly to their Facebook friends.

“Most things in life are better with people you trust; in fact, more than 90 percent of people reported they are likely to seek the advice of friends and family as part of their decision-making process around events, purchases, travel, and said they will even delay a decision to first get input from family and friends. We designed the new social features in Bing to make it easy to exchange ideas, share opinions and take action, giving searchers the same confidence they get from bouncing an idea off a friend. With Bing, it’s easier than ever to get that input and go from searching to doing.”

Bing Social ViralSearch

Moreover, Microsoft recently announced a new research project named ViralSearch. ViralSearch lets you search and navigate cascades of people passing content on social media and distinguish between things that are not just popular but also became viral in a sense that they are being passed from one person to the next over many generations. ViralSearch does this by analyzing news, videos, and photos shared within Twitter. It looks to see how many shares there were throughout the user base, over time and over generations of users.

Leveraging the Power of Social

Ultimately, what does this mean for marketers? The content you are creating for your social channels now has ways to extend even further into search results and provides further justification for investment in social. It is also time for you to optimize your Google + profiles and get your authorship established for your blog.

According to eMarketers, the top three most effective social marketing tactics were also the most difficult tactics to execute. These findings mirror growing research that while content marketing is one of the latest and greatest marketing tactics, it is also difficult and time consuming to produce.

It is good to know that your content marketing efforts will be rewarded by the search engines. Be sure to take the time to optimize your profiles and content across the board, and more importantly, remember that content is still king  – continue to build your editorial calendars mapping out your strategy for targeted and engaging content.

Additions & Feedback

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