Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year (maybe years), I’m sure you know there’s a high correlation between social media shares and rankings. Yep that’s right, shares + SERPs = <3. Getting active in online communities is no longer an option for businesses in today’s marketplace; it’s required. Not only will it help your site rank better, but your customers are getting savvier, and if you don’t have a legitimate online presence, they’ll find someone else that does. Besides adding the appropriate buttons to your blog and website (which helps a lot), here are some less obvious ways to use social media to benefit your site’s rankings.
1. Facebook comments
Do you want comments from your blog to populate Facebook as well? There’s a plugin for that. I first noticed this on TechCrunch, but it’s so easy, everyone should be doing it. If a user decides to leave a comment on your blog, they have the option to post their answer on their Facebook profile or page.
When their Facebook friends or fans comment on that post, their responses show up on your blog too. I don’t know about you, but a lot of my Facebook friends wouldn’t normally read TechCrunch, but they might if I recommended it. Just think about the maximized reach of your content!
If you embed this box on your blog, make sure to grab the comments from the API and render them in the body of your page behind the box (details here). Now you’re getting long tail traffic from a whole new world of commenters. Beautiful.
2. Build “shareability” into your strategy.
A wise man once said “your content is only good if people share it.” Who? I don’t know, but he was good. Gary came back from Social Media Breakfast last week and mentioned that Chris Cantore builds compelling content by looking at comments on other blogs and meeting reader’s unfulfilled needs. I like this strategy, and also think it’s a good idea to find out what types of posts people are sharing before you write your own (yes, I did that).
Trunk.ly is a pretty cool tool for this kind of research. It compiles all of the links you have shared on Twitter, Facebook and more, giving you a place to quickly search and see links you’ve shared in the past. Not so obvious way to use it: look at Trunk.ly profiles of “power users” in your niche and see what types of content they’re sharing. In SEO, this guy is Rand Fishkin, and if I’d like him to share one of my posts, I want it to be better than previous posts he’s shared. This also works if you’re trying to see what types of people shared a specific link. Figure out who is sharing the post Does The Google+ Interface Remind You Of Facebook? You’re Not The Only One and dig around a little. What other types of posts are they sharing? Can you connect with this person on Twitter? Possibly get them to RT your post in the future? Browse the other posts with similar tags? Find new ideas for great content? Do it.
In the design world, Pinterest is great for this kind of research. Just plug in your URL here: pinterest.com/source/[YOURURLHERE].com (e.g. pinterest.com/source/mintedcondition.com) and see what types of content people are sharing from your blog or competitor sites. Here’s a snapshot from Bekka’s blog, which she could use to create a content strategy moving forward. Quick glance tells me that her readers like feathers, motivational prints and Simpsons type. Sweet!
3. Twitter sleuthing
I used to laugh when people told me they used Twitter for link building, but now I understand. Good links come from relationships, and Twitter is a good place to ask someone out, figuratively speaking of course. Say you have an infographic that you want other people to see. I’ll pick this home brewing infographic because us Thunder Cats love us a good brewskie. But, you don’t follow any beer geeks on Twitter yet and how do you find them? Searching on Twitter.com isn’t very intuitive, and unless they’re actively tweeting about hops and barley, you probably won’t find them very easily. Allow me to introduce my pal Follower Wonk. Do a quick search for home brewing and voilà, you’ve got yourself an outreach list.
Of course you should tread lightly. Spend some time building up a legitimate Twitter presence before @mentioning your link to a bajillion tweeps. Maybe respond to a few tweets with your amazing beer insight, RT their posts, add them to your “home brewing” Twitter list, and then mention your sweet new infographic down the line. This is a relationship people, you don’t make a move on the first date!
4. You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.
Having an online presence isn’t enough, you have to establish your expertise as well. Question and answer forums are a good place to get started. Quora has a variety of very specific questions to answer and follow, and while some questions are super advanced, many aren’t complicated. Remember to be helpful and direct people to the most appropriate resource, even if it’s not your own. Also check out LinkedIn Answers and Aardvark too.
Set up a Q&A section or forum on your own site. Not only will your website turn into a place for engaging conversation, but it will bring in a substantial amount of long tail keyword traffic from content you didn’t even have to generate (AKA UGC). SEOmoz has a wonderful Q&A forum for their pro members, which is an obvious sign that this strategy is good for SEO.
I probably don’t need to tell you that online video is huge, but there is a lot out there besides funny cat videos (don’t worry, I like those too). YouTube recently announced that 48 hours of video is being uploaded every minute, and there are 3 billion video views per day! Holy wow. Creating unique video content for your blog or website can be really fun and rewarding, and it doesn’t have to be expertly edited. Watch videos related to your industry, and try to create something different for your customers, colleagues or peers. SEOmoz does this well with Whiteboard Friday, which is a weekly series that focuses on a common issues or challenges, helpful tips, or expert advice in the search field. Not only has this created a captivated audience in the SEO community, but they also use a service to embed a crawlable video transcription in every post and Wisita automatically submits a video sitemap for every video. More long tail goodness, better ranking videos and chances to show up in the blended results!
You can do this with other people’s video content as well. Ross Hudgens tweeted the following, which got me curious about what was ranking well for his name (which I don’t see on my machine BTW).
Turns out he just grabbed a popular video, wrote a short summary paragraph, and embedded the transcript in his post. Better yet, the video was a topic that Ross wouldn’t normally discuss on his blog, and now he has the potential to rank for more programming searches. Of course this isn’t as beneficial as creating and embedding your own video content, but if it’s going to help with your long tail traffic and reputation management, why not try it out while you’re in the process of creating your own rockstar videos?
What are some ways you use social media to create and build up your SEO presence? Please let us know, we’d love to get this conversation party started!