Almost everyone is into social media these days and it seems like it is a good place to promote your web site and begin building links to improve the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your site. However, it may be difficult to know how to begin. In this article I will talk about social link building and how you can use this technique to get higher rankings and more page views from your site. It is not the only SEO strategy you should employ, but it is one of the more critical ones that takes time to materialize into SEO gains.
What is Social Linking?
Social linking is the practice of getting your site linked to social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and others. Since people like to share sites that they like to these social media services, these social mentions are a hot SEO topic. These links are often a unique opportunity to leverage the pools of people your mentions are going out to and aggressively build other mentions based on that initial link.
The basic idea here is that your site is doing something to get a social link shared in the first place and than their pool of friends think it is great enough to send on to their friends, and so forth.
What Social Links are Best?
While search engines are definitely looking at all types of traffic and social mentions that link back to your site, some sites are better than others due to the search engine’s link valuation method that they apply to these social media sites. The value of a social link can be broken down into four categories: Authority, Recency, Frequency and Influence.
Both Google and Bing incorporate the concept of authority into the value of social linking. Authority, or user trust, is the most powerful metric when it comes to these types of links. The authority comes from the information that the search engine has on you and the things you are interested in. They also look at the information you are producing. If there is a common theme to your Facebook posts or Tweets, the search engine will begin to regard you as an authority on that particular topic. However, it doesn’t end there. For example: Tyra Banks may be popular on Twitter but she wouldn’t be viewed by search engines to be an authority on anything because of the diverse nature of her posts in contrast to the number of followers that she has. On the other hand, a social mention by someone like TechCrunch or Wired would hold authority on technology issues since they primarily Tweet about those topics and have many followers.
With services like social news sites, search engines can see the content that you share and subscribe to and they begin to learn what topics you are an authority on based on that data. You can become a more trusted source on a particular topic by being consistent. You should also connect with other authorities on your particular topic to grow your network. This will also lend more authority to you.
Recency is the amount of time since a social link was shared and the relevancy of the information. If you are sharing information that happened several months ago, most likely your social media circle will not care. But if you shared information about the Cardinals winning the World Series right after it happened, most likely your social media circle would have been interested. If your site is the first one with hot information on a particular topic, you will get a higher ranking due to the recency of the information whether you are an authority on it or not. However, if you are not an authority, recency will not help you from falling back to the bottom when other, more authoritative, sites post the same content.
This is backwards from the way we would normally think about SEO since traditional SEO says that dated links are good and show that you are established. In social media, recency is the key to link growth.
Most people tend to think that link quality is better than link quantity, but with social media this isn’t the case. Content that is more frequently shared is better but you have to walk a fine line. If you are consistently sharing content that is relevant to the topic then everything is good but if the content is the same link over and over, you will be penalized for spam.
The keys to frequency are to share new content that is relevant but not so much that you are flooding your social media circle to the point that they are ignoring you. You should also not share the same link over and over or you will be treated as spam.
Influence has to do with your social media circle and what they did with the information that you shared. For example: if you share a link on Facebook and many of your friends share it as well, your link had a lot of influence. The same goes for retweets on Twitter and votes on sites like StumbleUpon.
The trick to better influence is to understand your audience. If your audience is following you because you talk about SEO topics, they are most likely not going to respond well to a link about car racing. Only share content to your media circle that is relevant to their interests so it will have more influence.
Reciprocation also falls into the realm of influence. If you like/retweet/upvote the recommended links of your social media circle, they will most likely reciprocate in the future, helping both of you.
Driving SEO Results
You most likely know that there is a wrong way and a right way to drive SEO results and traffic to your site. Using the information in this article you can find creative ways to attract new social traffic and mentions to your site. There are many ways you can track this information as well. Software can support and track your social link building and let you know about the effectiveness of the information you are sharing. Understanding how search engines work can give you a competitive edge and allow you to maximize their value.
Google and Bing are finding new ways to look at user data and incorporate signals such as the +1 button and the ability to block sites in search results and you need to understand how your site is viewed by your visitors in order to compete. There are lots of tools and information out there that can help you get the data you need to get to the top and stay there.
Right now, social media is creating an impact on traditional search results in a new way. The key to being successful is to have authentic, relevant information that your social media circle can use that doesn’t require spamming to get out there. Having a well made site with content that your users want is the main, driving force behind the acquisition of more social links. You need to motivate your users to share your information or website regardless of the fact they do not know you.
At the end of the day you can look at it this way: if you are having trouble getting new people to share or visit your site, how hard will it be to convert those visitors that do come, into customers? It doesn’t matter how many social media links you have if your site fails to convert.