Will social networking really change how site rankings are calculated?
With Google + only weeks or months away from public release, we all knew this question was coming. The +1 button, which was released by the search engine in early June (pre-Google +), allows users to essentially suggest their favorite sites to their Google contacts (and will presumably be fully integrated with Google + in the future). It only makes sense that, once this integration takes place, the sites with more +1s are the sites that are going to show up higher in the SERPs because they are voted, by their users, as relevant and authoritative.
As a Google user, you aren’t going to +1 a spammy site, right? Or a site that has no new information? No. You are going to +1 a site that you find informative, and that you feel your friends will agree is interesting and authoritative in its niche. Informative, relevant and authoritative are three SEO buzz words: they describe content that Google would be more likely to decide is of high-quality and deserves to rank higher in the SERPs. That’s why Google + and Google +1 are so revolutionary; with millions of users already on the new social network, it’s only a matter of time before we see a change in how SEO as a whole works. Soon, a huge part of SEO strategy will involve figuring out how to get the most people to +1 your site so you can move up in the rankings. Given, a lot of the usual SEO tactics will still matter – and they may even also contribute to how many +1s you get (for example, good site content and other on-page factors may actually make more people +1 or like your site); there will likely come a time where good SEO practices feed into how many +1s your site gets, and how many +1s your site gets will feed into your SEO.
With 57 +1s, it’s highly likely that this site is an authority in its niche (SEO). So, for instance, when someone whose Google contacts are big wigs in the SEO world types in “SEO blog,” the likelihood that Seobook.com comes up first, second, or third in the SERPs is extremely high. With high +1s, this site should be considered an authority by Google.
In the future, it is probably that +1s will play a large part in determining how effective your SEO campaign is, because Google highly values relevancy and +1s indicate the content that is relevant to the person viewing it. Essentially, the anatomy of actually obtaining high rankings may change as the burgeoning social networking and search integrations continue to take place across the web. For instance, in an earlier post, Social Tools are the Newest Statistics in Google Analytics (and Webmaster Tools), we discussed how Google had added ways to track how social media is affecting your site traffic. Specifically, we touched on the following:
“In your Webmaster tools, you will now see something called the “Search Impact Report,” which shows you your click-through rates and search result impressions both with the +1 button and without it (so that you can compare the two).”
“The ‘Social Actions report’ – This report shows you how many tweets, +1 clicks, and Facebook likes have occurred on your site.”
With the advent of these new ways to track social media effectiveness, Google has been hinting at the importance of social media and its integration with rankings determinations. Why track them if they aren’t central to your ranking strategies?
Though social media is touted in the search engine marketing community as important for customer engagement and improving trustworthiness, its actual concrete importance (meaning, the actual presence of likes on Facebook, for instance) is building in places other than Google.
Bing is clearly taking Facebook “likes” very seriously. They have created an entire portion of their site called “social search” that allows people’s results to be affected by what their Facebook friends have liked.
Microsoft’s Bing’s “Social search” allows you to see, within your search results, what your friends have liked on Facebook. Bing also announced that the sites that are liked on Facebook frequently will populate the results earlier.
When I search “likes,” in the social search box, I see results influenced by my Facebook friends. The more likes, the higher a site shows up in my results.
How do you get more +1s and Likes?
Your site should appeal to people to the degree that they are willing to give your site their public approval. With excellent, useful content, you should not have a problem garnering +1’s and likes to help your site on Google and Bing. This all ties into the collective effort to make the internet a place to find high-quality content. There is no better way to root out low-quality sites and content than to have every user give their input on the sites that they visit. A user +1ing a site or liking a page indicates that the site is navigable, of high-quality and is trustworthy.
To garner “likes” on Facebook, you can run targeted ad campaigns, hold contests, and provide knowledge in an engaging way so that people will have a reason not only to give your Facebook page their stamps of approval but also will have reason to return. Posing questions and giving away useful information is a great way to keep people interested in your page and to get people to recommend your page to their Facebook friends.