Social SEO – Social Factors Contributing to Ranking

Have you recognized the social evolution happening on the internet?  If you haven’t, the future of your website may have a very bleak outlook.

Today’s internet is dominated by social activity.  The popularity of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus is unmatched.  Millions of users each day communicate, share and interact with each other and businesses on these sites.

Until recently, social marketers dominated most activity here.  However, search engine optimization (SEO) experts are seeing social factors contributing to rankings.

The merger of SEO and social marketing has occurred and social SEO is the new reality.

Google’s dominance in search is being impacted and threatened by the popularity of the social networks, acknowledged in part by its leap into the social realm with its new Google Plus social network.  This has signaled a true merger of the social internet and search.

There have been many changes to Google’s search algorithm impacting how well content ranks based on social factors.  Everything from Google Buzz links, Facebook likes (and shares), Google +1s and Twitter Tweets contribute to a web site ranking in the search engines.

These social factors determine user experience and those sites with a better user experience are ranking higher, making it necessary to engage readers across as many social channels as possible.  Increasing the social experience of your readers will result in more links, likes, shares, comments and +1s.

These actions have become indicators captured by the search engines indicating more of a social importance of the content, making it more likely to rank.

Social SEO must account for the emerging social factors such as

  • Social distribution of your content
  • Quality of friends & followers on social networks
  • Quantity of friends & followers on social networks
  • Social influence of friends and followers
  • Relevancy

What is the impact on you as a website owner?

You must accept that social factors are real.  If your site is based entirely on content stuffed with keywords it will become difficult to rank.  As these factors increase in importance for search, keyword ranking becomes less likely.

It is more important for your content to provide some value and contribute to a positive user experience.  You must use your social influence over the user and have them distribute your content in their own social circle.

This is more likely to occur if you have already established a relationship with your readers.

For users with a large social reach, it is likely to mean more social distribution and a more positive influence on ranking.  The more times these links are clicked by other users, the more positive the influence as well.

However, it doesn’t mean you just befriend or follow everyone.  The relationships you make must be meaningful as this is another social factor being seen to influence ranking.  It isn’t about having the most friends or the most followers.

If you have influential friends/followers, the more weight will be assigned to what you say because it is more likely you will be part of the online “social elite”.

This social authority is being seen as a clear indicator in search.  Both Bing and Google have confirmed social authority as a factor affecting ranking.

Factors such as numbers of followers and author quality determine the weight assigned when determining rank.  Google has even gone as far as indicating author authority is completely independent of its Page Rank indicator.

For example, if your technology article is tweeted by the editor of a very influential technology magazine it would hold more weight than a tweet by someone of less social influence.

Does this mean backlinks are not as important as these social factors?

While it isn’t clear exactly how much weight is being given to these identified social factors, it is clear Google does value them.  As a site owner, you can no longer focus your entire effort on finding backlinks to provide a boost to your ranking.  You must consider the social internet.

Just as relevant links will boost ranking, relevant social factors will have a similar impact.  The same general rules of relevancy used in traditional SEO circles come to play in social SEO.

To obtain better ranking it becomes important to reach out socially, engage and be engaged by people with social relevance.  Embracing these social factors will mean more organic search traffic for you.

Social SEO is here to stay.

The sooner you recognize this, the more likely your success online.

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About Barry Wheeler

Barry Wheeler is a blogger, novice SEO, geek and passionate Newfoundlander. Operating several successful websites and online communities, Barry has started exploring the social internet and its impact on all facets of society including personal life and business relationships. Find Barry on Twitter @barrywheeler and FaceBook or on his website Barry Wheeler - Blogging for Success.
Filed under: SEO / SEM, Social Networking Tagged with: , , , , . - permalink.

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