“Here’s what we do know: Google pays attention to social interactions such as likes, retweets, shares, and even +1’s.”
I like his analogy that Google is an “independent filing system” for a continually ” expanding library of virtual content” online. He argues that Twitter gets our content indexed more quickly and social search measures performance.
More importantly, all social networks are indirect link-building mechanisms. The more your content is shared across social media, the more likely a content creator will find it and decide to link to it.
Targeting the Right AudienceJust getting content shared is not enough; the point is to get content to your target audience. Targeting the right audience is just as important in social media as it is in SEO. Start with this tip from Capital Merchant’s “Tips to Improve Your Social Media”:
The most important thing is to define your audience. Think of your ideal customers and write down any and all information you can think of about them. Be specific with regard to gender, race, age, and profession. The more info you can think of, the better. Now expand it a bit — you want to have three to four different target audiences that will get your messaging at different times, letting you cast a wider net and still be able to figure out what messaging resonates with what customer.
Nothing is more important than reaching potential customers and clients, rather than wasting marketing money on people who aren’t interested in what you have to offer. It is not just a matter of getting impressions. The point is to get interactions: favorites, retweets, reshares, likes, +1s, stumbles, and especially clicks.
Those interactions are likely to also be important to SEO value. Mentions on social media improve brand recognition, increasing clicks during searches. The tighter your focus on the correct audience, the stronger your results will be.
SEO Specific Social Media StrategiesIn his Forbes post “6 Social Media Practices That Boost SEO,” Jayson DeMers argues there are six social media strategies that definitely improve SEO. His first strategy relates to growing the number and quality of your followers.
Our social media profiles have their own trust flow and page authority, which is affected by the quality of sites linking to them. This is easily seen by comparing Twitter accounts for writers who contribute on major sites to non-writers.
Look at @Kikolani, @GrowMap or @SEOsmarty and compare them to the average Twitter account. This holds true on all social networks. They are authority sites, and although the links are typically nofollowed, they are still considered valuable as indicators of trust.
According to “How Valuable Is That Link?,” a post gleaned from a forum discussion with SEOchat member PhilipSEO:
“Some observers think that a nofollow link from a trusted site still passes along some kind of SEO value, even if it doesn’t pass any link juice. Phil states that ‘Many have reported and speculated, for example, that nofollow links from Wikipedia and similar high-trust sites can provide a great boost to rankings in spite of nofollow.’”
It seems safe to assume that social media accounts can develop higher trust rankings dependent upon where the links originate. This could include which other authority sites mention them or reshare their content. If those links are dofollow, the Page Authority (PA) of those social media profiles will be higher.
How to Use Social Media to Boost SEODoes it then follow that shares from higher trust and PA social media accounts are more valuable for SEO purposes than shares from ordinary accounts? I would say, yes. It is possible to use social media to boost SEO.
SEOGenius Director Bruce Smeaton drills down even further:
“I think the key is in understanding what ‘more valuable for SEO purposes’ really means.” It stands to reason that a highly trusted social channel is, by default, going to generate more shares than a social media property with lower authority. And by doing so, the likelihood of these shares turning into links increases accordingly. This in turn results in higher traffic volumes being directed to your site… and this is where the magic starts. No, it doesn’t matter whether the links are “follow” or “nofollow.” What really counts here is that the traffic generated indirectly via social media interaction must impact positively on your site’s perceived value and authority. To quote the words of Search Engine Journal’s Dario Zadro, “What is more likely happening is that Google is recognizing these social signals as ‘brand signals,’ which they love.”
If higher trust and PA matter, it is highly likely that relevance does as well. There are tools like Klout and Kred that measure influence. Kred is of particular interest because it measures influence by topic.
No doubt Google algorithms can measure what is most relevant to any particular social media account. By identifying which social media users are most influential on any particular topic, they are also most likely to be valuable for SEO purposes.
SEOs need to be thinking about how identifying and using influencers will impact their SEO rankings. Those who do not will be wondering why competitors are outranking them without having any idea why.
Google has announced a new change to its webmaster policy – from now on, if your website gets a manual penalty, it may not get a second chance to dominate the listings.
In a change that is designed to hurt black hat SEOs more than the Penguin and Panda updates, Google has stated that it will no longer tolerate those who repeatedly breach Google’s webmaster quality guidelines.
The announcement was made on September 18, 2015, in a blog post on the official Google webmaster central blog: Repeated violations of Webmaster Guidelines. Unlike many of the blog posts that appear on the webmaster central blog, this was written anonymously. Being banned by Google is every webmaster’s worst nightmare and some people take it very personally, so it’s no surprise nobody wished to put their name to the change in policy!
Why the Change Now?
In their blog post, Google says that the change in policy is to further improve the quality of the search results. Google has carried out many major changes over the last five years that have made great progress in improving search quality, but one problem still persists – some people are still gaming the search engine.
Google started cleansing the SERPs with the Panda series of updates. These penalised websites that had low quality, poorly written, duplicate and thin content pages. The old SEO trick of creating a new page for each target keyword and filling it with spammy, keyword stuffed text was over.
Google followed this with a series of updates that tackled the problem of link spam – the now infamous Penguin updates. Suddenly, SEO was no longer about getting more links that the competition. Links now have to be earned, and acquired from very high quality sources. The inner workings of Penguin are still unclear, but it seems that just about every easy-to-get link is now devalued – many are probably totally worthless. Directory links, comment links, blogroll links, forum signatures etc. are now deemed by many to be ineffective for SEO.
However, some SEOs are still doing very well because although Google has improved its search algorithm. With some careful planning and some excellent links, you can still rank well. In short, unnatural links are still working for many people.
Google works hard to identify and manually penalise websites that buy or sell links. Whenever Google has good evidence that somebody has been selling links to pass PageRank, it applies a manual penalty.
However, in these cases, manual penalties are easy to recover from. All you need to do is remove the links (or add a nofollow attribute) and submit a reconsideration request, explaining how very sorry you are and beg to have the penalty lifted. In the past, Google trusted webmasters enough to grant them their wish, and would lift the penalty.
Unfortunately, some webmasters have exploited this and, after having a reconsideration request approved, they would start selling links again or remove the nofollow tags. This is Google’s main bugbear at the moment, and this latest change in policy directly tackles this problem. Google says that it will no longer tolerate webmasters who repeatedly breach its quality guidelines.
Google has not said exactly how harshly it will treat repeat offenders, saying only in its blog that “repeated violations may make a successful reconsideration process more difficult to achieve”. In some cases, Google may still allow a website to recover – but in other cases, there may well be no way back in the SERPs after a repeat offence.
We have already seen some websites, most notably known link sellers, completely drop out of the Google index. We predict that in the future, more sites will suffer a similar fate. If you are not a white hat SEO, take heed – your days may be numbered!
The advent of mobile has made it obvious that many sites are badly designed. Many site owners will have to have their sites redesigned to make them mobile friendly. When choosing a web developer, find one that knows both mobile and SEO.
Strong Demand for SEO Savvy Web DevelopersAccording to this new Freelance Guide, web developers are among the best paid of all freelancers. That is not surprising given Google’s push to rank only mobile friendly sites. Anyone interested in freelancing or hiring a freelancer should check out that guide because it contains thorough advice.
Web developers who understand SEO, responsive design, and are wise enough not to want to custom code everything are worth their weight in gold and all too rare.
Developers who think of themselves as coders often build really awful blogs. Instead of using a quality, professional theme and plugins that already exist, they insist on their own coding – even when they have no eye for design. Avoid these developers or risk truly bad results.
Most ecommerce sites and almost all blogs are best built on existing platforms. Professional themes handle more than just appearance. They are built by teams who know SEO and handle the internal linking and navigation far better than a custom coded site (unless the coder is truly brilliant).
How to Evaluate Web DevelopersProfessional web designers should have an online portfolio of sites they have built. For example, look at the portfolio page for this major Sydney responsive web design company.
Click through to any of the sites they’ve built and view them on your portable devices. Or use a mobile test site to see how they appear on various size monitors.
Be sure to check multiple sites. Examine the navigation and the design. Do searches in Google and see if the site comes up for the company name and tagline.
Look at the descriptions. View source on the main pages of the site and look at the meta tags. Copy and paste the pages into an html validation service to check for errors.
If the sites in a company’s portfolio are not mobile response or SEO friendly, look for another company.
Web Developers Are Not Necessarily Web DesignersMany business owners do not realize the difference between a web designer and a web developer. A developer installs the framework and plugins. Developers may edit CSS and html. They set up email addresses, security, and how to backup the database.
Developers create excellent sites based on existing themes. Some of them can choose color schemes. They should all be able to adjust the width of the columns and the overall site. They know how to use WordPress and configure it properly.
Blog developers are not necessarily experienced at building ecommerce sites. Some are; some are not. Make sure you hire a developer with experience creating the type of site you want.
Most web developers are not web designers. A designer can create custom imagery. They are graphic artists. If you see a site with rounded corners or a unique header, those are created by web designers. Go to TeamThesis.com to see an example.
How to Find an SEO Savvy Web DeveloperThe preferred method of finding talent of any kind is to ask people you know if they can recommend anyone. Request an email or Skype introduction and ask for examples of their work and any contracts they use.
If you don’t find anyone directly, do some searches and look at sites. Find some you like that are ranking for keywords in their industry. Look in the footer for their developer’s name or the name of any theme they are using. (Not all sites provide either one.)
View source and search for the word WordPress. If it is an ecommerce site, look for an indication of what ecommerce platform is being used. Call the business and ask them directly. Most won’t mind telling you who built their site.
Remember that the developer may have only SEOed the main pages. If blog posts or product pages do not have SEO information on them, blame the site manager – not the developer. If the main pages are not SEOed, look for a different developer. The most important SEO factor is to design a site correctly in the first place.