It is crystal clear in 2014 that social media now plays as significant or more a role in Google’s search engine ranking algorithms, as other commonly used traditional Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques, such as back-linking. However, due to the complexity and secrecy surrounding the vast amount of search engine algorithm updates that major search engines, such as Google have performed over the past year or two, including the Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda updates in 2013, it makes it just about impossible to know the exact amount of weight that social signals, such as Facebook likes, shares; Google + 1’s and Twitter Retweets and Shares are given in determining how high your website is ranked on Google’s SERP’s. That said, there have been numerous studies performed by top social media metrics and SEO firms, such as Quick Sprout (www.quicksprout.com) and Social Metrics Pro (www.socialmetricspro.com) where they have found that Facebook Likes/Shares, Twitter Shares/Retweets and Google + 1’s have the greatest impact on website’s SERP rankings. Nonetheless, in what follows I will explain the top 5 ways that you can leverage your businesses social media accounts to improve SERP rankings in 2014.
Since Google is the largest search engine on earth it is not surprising that Google +’s main social signals (i.e. Google page/post + 1’s) rank highly in their SERP’s. For instance, as Quick Sprout CEO, Neil Patel illustrated in a recent Social Signals Experiment Quick Sprout performed on six similar businesses in a medium sized city; one of the businesses surveyed showed a 14.63 % boost in their SERP rankings, due to obtaining 100 Google + followers. Whereas, Facebook Likes, Shares and Tweets accounted for significantly less increases in the six businesses SERP rankings. For example, one of the businesses surveyed in the Social Signals Experiment received 70 Facebook Shares and 50 Likes, which resulted in an increase of 6.9% in their SERP rankings. Moreover, Patel (2014) asserts that Facebook Likes/Shares, Twitter Retweets and Google + 1’s make a significant impact on increasing your businesses SERP rankings for low competition keywords.
In addition, having a professional and complete Google + Local business page is important for increasing your website’s SERP rankings, and especially if you are a local business owner, since Google reported recently on its Google Places Stats and Facts page that “20% of all Google searches are location based”. And also according to a recent study done by ComScore in 2013, 56% of mobile phone owner’s use their phones for local searches.
Furthermore, if you own a business that has a physical location you should definitely sign up for a free Google Places For Business account so that your customers can easily find information about your business, regardless of the device (mobile or desktop) or platform (Google + Local, Google Search or Google Maps, etc.), which they are searching on (see image below for example).
Today with the ever-increasing use of social media apps, websites and increased importance of social signals influencing businesses SERP’s, it is absolutely crucial that businesses create high quality, multimedia rich content which is catered to their core customer base. For instance, I recently signed up for SEO website, Quick Sprout’s newsletter, in which they send me their latest SEO blog posts about every day or two, and which are typically very informative and media rich (i.e. including info-graphics, images, etc.). For example, Quick Sprout CEO, Neil Patel’s latest article How Social Signals Impact Search Engine Rankings (2014), which has a variety of informative and interesting looking gifo-graphics to demonstrate to the user what social signals have the greatest impact on SERP rankings and how best to optimize your businesses use of social media to enhance your SERP rankings. For instance, Patel (2014) asserts that “adding images to your social media posts increases your brand’s chance of social media engagement by 200% and that creating a contest will increase your chances of obtaining social engagement by 39%”.
Using high quality social media management and analytics tools, such as Hootsuite in which you can manage and track the results of multiple social media accounts simultaneously on all of the main social media networks, including Facebook, Google +, Twitter and LinkedIn. And which in turn allows you to plan and efficiently promote your businesses key social media messages and content by automating your social media messages. Thus, allowing you to spend more time focusing on other more important aspects of your business, while still promoting your brand’s products and services on social media. And in turn, will if done in a strategic way, significantly boost your business website’s SERP rankings.
The introduction of Facebook’s powerful new Social Graph search feature in early 2013, allows social media marketers, online advertisers and business website owners to discover new target audiences by searching for more specific local, national, international businesses, interests, people, or combining certain Facebook Interest pages or people who like certain pages to come up with new and interesting target audiences for their social media marketing and advertising campaigns. For instance, instead of just targeting one certain group of people, based on their age and interests, such as Conservative 18-24 year-old Catholics from the United States, you could search for Catholic Conservative And 18-24 years old from the United States And University of Harvard Graduates. Thus, this clearly would give you an entirely different set of people than just Catholic Conservative 18 to 24 year olds from the United States.
Although the active user base’s of Pinterest (over 70 million active users) and Instagram (150 million active users) are still relatively low compared to the main social media networks, such as Facebook (1.2 billion active users), Google + (300 million active users) and Twitter (over 259 million active users), these social media platforms can still have a significant impact on increasing your businesses brand awareness and sales via referral traffic to your website. For instance, according to a recent article by Craig Smith on Expandedramblings.com entitled (January 2014) By The Numbers: 50 Amazing Pinterest Stats : “the total number of Pinterest social referrals to commerce websites was 20%, as of September 2013”, which is pretty significant. However, as Smith (2014) points out: most Pinterest users (80%) are women and reside in the U.S. (60%), so unless your business target audience includes women from inside of the U.S; perhaps it would be more efficient for you to use other social media networks such as, Facebook, Twitter and Google + to enhance your business website’s SERP rankings on major search engines such as, Google.
Clearly in 2014 social media signals are playing an increasingly significant role in determining how the main search engine algorithms, such as Google’s Hummingbird algorithm rank businesses and individual’s websites on their SERP’s. However, as Patel (2014) and Yu (2013) point out; not all social media signals and authors are valued the same by Google. In fact there seems to be a growing consensus among SEO and social media experts, such as Patel (2014) and Yu (2013) that Google + 1’s of Google pages, Facebook likes, shares and Twitter shares and retweets are among the most highly valued social signals in determining websites SERP rankings on Google. Nonetheless, depending on the target audience of your current core customer base and the types of products and services you are selling, it is also definitely worth checking out Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest to see if they are the right fit for your business.