SEO Beyond Your Site

Jun 16 2011 by Alex Galasso | 38 Comments

SEO Beyond Your Site

The most common initial SEO strategy is to follow best practices for building user-friendly, well-formed websites. Optimizing your content and HTML, using good web page titles and generating links to your website are all ways you can help search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing index your site better and more accurately.

However, because of an updated Google search ranking algorithm (dubbed "Panda") — which aims to reduce the efficacy of content farms with shallow content that often have artificially inflated backlinks and black hat search engine optimized content — the status quo has drastically shifted.

Google, along with other search engines, has gotten smarter and now includes social signals as a top ranking factor.

In order to succeed in this new search engine landscape, we must therefore look beyond our own website.

In this article, I’ll share some tips for using social media to help with SEO. The fundamental idea I want to convey is that these tips are good practices to begin with and, when applied correctly, will stand hand-in-hand with your social media engagement efforts. Just like with any successful search engine optimization plan, when you put your users’ interest first, good search engine rankings often follows.

The New Era of SEO

Google has made it clear that social signals are now an important part of SEO. I like breaking down social signals into two main categories: Virality and Social Media Presence.

Virality

Virality is when your content has a strong reach in the social media realm. Websites like TechCrunch, Mashable and The Oatmeal have strong virality because the content they publish — breaking news, controversial topics and humor — is sharable and well liked by social media users. These sites also have strong communities and loyal followers who are vocal and who love to share content.

Social signals defined in this category are thus a mode of voting. Each retweet, Facebook Like, Google +1, Digg upvote and so on can help search engines distinguish which links their users will likely prefer over another.

Social Media Presence

If your site is just starting out and hasn’t garnered a large base of fans yet, it will be an uphill battle to rank well with virality. However, creating and actively maintaining a presence in social media has proven to increase the authority of your website in the eyes of search engines.

You don’t have to produce viral content on a regular basis, but if your Facebook Page gets comments and your Twitter account gets mentions, then it’s good for your site.

If you’ve neglected social media as part of your site-growing strategy, SEO is a reason for you to start paying attention to it.

How to Optimize Beyond Your Site

Let’s talk about some strategies and tips for optimizing your site through social media.

Being the most popular right now, the obvious social media sites that we should talk about are Twitter and Facebook, so let’s begin there.

SEO Using Twitter

Google looks at specific elements from Twitter and Facebook to use as ranking signals, as discussed by Google’s head of webspam team, Matt Cutts, in this video.

For Twitter, Google looks into a Twitter profile’s biographical data such as links it mentions, its geographic location and the number of tweets, mentions and retweets it has.

The more a Twitter account is mentioned, the more authority Google will give it. Thus, a Twitter account with more authority tweeting about a web page on your site could have a bigger impact on your search engine rankings than one that doesn’t have as much authority.

Another important ranking factor is the keywords that surround a link contained in a tweet. For instance, SEOmoz, a highly-regarded SEO blog, reported an unexpected Twitter case study a while back that showed a single tweet being able to help generate a fourth spot Google ranking as well as 160 unique visits.

Because the tweet contained the words, "Beginers Guide", even in its misspelled form, a Google search query of "beginner’s guide" ranked the post it was linking to in the first page of the search engine results on the day the tweet was made.

Source: A Tweet’s Effect On Rankings – An Unexpected Case Study

SEO Using Facebook

Facebook optimization is very similar to optimizing a regular website. Content should have SEO-friendly titles and text when being posted to a Facebook Page.

In terms of Bing, which has some different SEO requirements, the number of Facebook Likes and Facebook shares help organic rankings, as highlighted in a post on TechCrunch by Erick Schonfeld. In the post, Schonfeld says that Facebook could soon look at social signals to "identify experts related to various searches," including those who aren’t part of your friend’s list.

Another benefit of having a Facebook Page and Twitter account is they take up space on the first page of Google search engine results when a search query mentioning your company is made. This can help replace spam and unrelated web pages that share the same keywords.

SEO Using Facebook

Less Obvious Social Platforms to Optimize

Aside from Twitter and Facebook, there are other social media web services you can use that you might not necessarily have thought of before. Let’s talk about two of those platforms.

Using About.me for Personal Rankings

The beauty of an About.me page is it acts as a virtual business card. It can hold personal information you want to share with your network and to the public.

When a search query is made for a name of the person, the About.me page could be one of the top search results.

How does this help a website? In many cases, your staff becomes an extension of your site. A search related to a person connected with your website may generate leads in organic search.

Q&A Sites and Their Impact on Search Engine Rankings

Sites like Stack Overflow and Quora have been on the rise in recent times. They have had positive impacts on businesses because the questions asked on these platforms are starting to rank for competitive keywords.

One of the reasons for this is the increasing number of keywords that are questions. For example, phrases like "where can I buy an iphone" and "how to unlock an iphone" are beginning to replace keywords searches such as "buy iphones" and "unlock iphones".

Q&A sites accumulate questions and answers from their community, which is eventually indexed by Google. Where this is interesting for other websites is if they can provide an intuitive answer to a question related to their industry to generate clicks.

Related Content

About the Author

Alex Galasso is a tech enthusiast with experience in online marketing, startups and videos games. Alex is currently co-founder at Groupideo which is a social video application. Feel free to contact Alex for any inquiries at alex [at] groupideo [dot] com.

38 Comments

Martin Molenaar

June 16th, 2011

very intresting article thanks!

Joe

June 16th, 2011

I can’t say I agree with this latest change by Google.

It should be a choice of the business owner to develop Social Media campaigns. They are important in some venues, but this move would make it in some effect required to develop these campaigns.

A sale is a sale, networking is not. Networking is a tool that could potentially create a sale. True, it doubles as an additional point of contact but if it doesn’t convert, it’s still not a sale. If a business owner is content following other means that may work, you should be leveraging those and not worrying about tweets, facebook updates and the “like”.

Despite my gripe with the concept of this method, thanks for taking the time to write this post.

Brian Ambrozy

June 16th, 2011

@Joe “It should be a choice of the business owner to develop Social Media campaigns.”

Yes, it should also be the choice of a business owner to develop a website or even attempt to have a presence on search engines as well… That’s kind of a luddite look at technology. Social media is just an evolution of the web, not some newfangled thing that is being “forced” on business owners.

Networking IS sales. It’s called word of mouth, and it’s been around since before technology. You’re looking at SM as some kind of new entity, when it’s just a new tool, like the telephone or email or website before it.

It’s the same as it’s always been: Those who provide good service and get the word out to as many as possible will continue to be on top in business.

Pam

June 16th, 2011

Great article Alex! I am relatively new to social media marketing but I do it for our web development business and a couple of our clients. There are still some people who don’t see the value in it, but this just gives me one more way to justify it as a valid marketing tool.

Alex Galasso

June 16th, 2011

Thanks for the comments. I just think Google is feeling pressure from Facebook and Twitter to make a social application on their end that sticks. So far Wave and Buzz have failed so they are looking for a feature that works. Whether it be measuring the amount of tweets a link gets versus likes versus +1s… It’s a tough position for them.

Megan F.

June 16th, 2011

I really loved reading this article. It reinforces two important items in SEO – a quality-built website with good content and social media. I’m curious to know what you think of the impact of sites like LinkedIn and newer up-and-coming social media channels like tout.com, foursquare, and Google +1 on SEO. Is it simply to soon to know?

Minimal

June 16th, 2011

Very useful for me, thanks a lot !

ptamaro

June 16th, 2011

Helpful information Alex, thanks! I really like this part, “when you put your users’ interest first, good search engine rankings often follow” it just feels like great advice :)

Carlos R

June 16th, 2011

Great article, I also read the article on SEOMoz about twitter and sent it to my co-workers. It is interesting how social media is become more relevant now

Riyaz

June 16th, 2011

As rightly pointed out, social media presence is vital and useful. I recently released a WordPress plugin called Social Metrics which provides insights into blog’s social media presence – Social Media Presence. Read more here – http://www.riyaz.net/social-metrics/

Zach

June 16th, 2011

Another tip that you simply can’t forget about…social media is where it’s at right now. Very valuable article. Thanks a bunch!

Diagonismos

June 16th, 2011

Great article, fresh and clean.

Adrian

June 16th, 2011

Nice article! I’ve stayed clear of twitter up till now, but it’s looking like I’ll probably have to start using it sooner rather than later, if I want to keep on top of the SEO game!

SmashinGeeks

June 17th, 2011

Nice Information, I really was unknown of what Twitter can do in SEO field, but Alex, you made me know. Thanks

OneResult

June 17th, 2011

Thanks for this post- some really actionable advice here. I think the last point is very useful- I have noticed this for a while now. I also suspect that Yahoo Answers is a site that business owners could make more use of for SEO and Social Media.

SEOMonkeyz

June 18th, 2011

Alex,

This was insanely insightful.
Thanks.

Dzinepress

June 18th, 2011

i must learn from your guides about SEO.

Robin

June 18th, 2011

Once again a great article.

I mainly design websites for new businesses/ artists with little or no marketing budget so Facebook and Twitter immediately get them ranked highly as well as adding good traffic under the circumstances.
I think Four Square will be a useful tool for certain businesses.

Molyv Design

June 19th, 2011

Thanks for sharing! moving on to the usual seo tactics around.

Zap Media

June 19th, 2011

This is a very useful article. Wow, I didn’t realise Twitter & Facebook could help with SEO in such a big way.

JoshBedo

June 19th, 2011

Very good article covered a lot of basics for SEO but i had no clue about about.me for personal rankings.

Neethu Stephen

June 19th, 2011

Hi,

Interesting post Alex, and written in very easy to follow manner. Thanks for the same.

Young

June 20th, 2011

Fantastic article. As much as I don’t like to believe in Twitter as a place to share valuable thoughts, the SEO aspect can’t be overlooked…

Offwhitedesign

June 20th, 2011

Great informative content. Thanks!

Did not realize that twitter feeding into the site help too.

Craig McPheat

June 20th, 2011

Few interesting developments these past months, with the Google +1 button (would seem it can help getting pages indexed) and schema.org (search engines collaborating over microformats style markup).

Stuart Bazga

June 21st, 2011

Hi Alex,

Very informative post.

I know what you mean, I have had first hand experience with Googles latest changes.

One of my sites seems to have gone from page one to not being ranked in the top 100, to being back in the top ten. It doesnt make sense.

As for having a Social Media presence, I whole heartidly agree with you. It seems that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are bing used more and more to find products and services. Espically now that you can set up ppc ads on Facebook at a fraction of the cost of Adwords and the like.

Bratu Sebastian

June 21st, 2011

Interesting ideas, I also believe Google is doing everything for social now, but there are businesses that are a bit closed in this area.

G3 Creative

June 24th, 2011

Interesting post and one worth thinking about.

Cheers.

Swamykant

June 26th, 2011

Interesting points and it is an awesome article. Thanks for share :)

Mark Vaesen

June 27th, 2011

Veyr interesting article Alex, thank you. Some interesting comments too, particularly about whether this is the way Google should be going. For me, it highlights the need to have a well-rounded strategy – cover all bases…

Tim

June 29th, 2011

The article shows how Google adjusts its rankings based on what people are doing. That makes it crucial that Internet Marketers stay on top of the latest trends.

Devin

July 4th, 2011

This is a very good article about the effects of sociL media on rankings. Google +1 for you

James Patton

July 6th, 2011

Excellent information. I have recently started recommending about.me as another avenue for individuals. In many cases, a complete profile there can rank very well. Quora and Viadeo are also gaining exposure.

rai_g

July 20th, 2011

very informative and up to date article. thanks for giving a heads up!

Brian

July 28th, 2011

Awesome, Thanks for the share !! Great article

Minimal

August 15th, 2011

Thanks Alex, very useful ;)

Honee

November 13th, 2011

Thanks a lot Alex! I’m so happy I stumbled upon your blog. The tips you gave are simple to execute. I’m going to apply what I learned from you now. :)

Jeff G

June 18th, 2013

Make sure to do some guest blogging. It’s still the best way to do SEO beyond your site.

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