Search algorithms love social sharing and that will drive you up in the rankings quickly and ethically. But how do you get those prized social signals?

Using social signals to boost website traffic and search engine optimization

Frequent readers of my blog understand that search engine optimization can be easily broken down into a set of easy to implement steps. If you are new here, you can come up to speed quickly by learning about optimizing your content for SEO and fixing problems on your website. The focus of today’s blog is a subject that many business owners struggle with when it comes to keyword ranking. The topic is social signals. Sound scary? It certainly does for some. We get questions every day from businesses looking to increase their website ranking but are unclear how to leverage their social networks. More on that in a moment.

Listening to Social Signals

First, let me share with you a¬†killer SEO tip. Google wants to be your best friend, your go-to for all internet things. And while Google probably understands that you’re not going to spend all your time together online…because you have other online friends like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc…The Big G still wants you to know that it’s there for you when you need it most. When you are searching for something. One of the ways Google keeps you coming back is by working hard to better your experience with search results. One of the easiest ways to do that is for the search index algorithms to keep an ear to the ground when considering content that is being discussed, shared and linked to from social channels.

It only makes sense for Google to do that. The one thing G doesn’t want is for you to go off searching for things on other web properties, so, to prevent that, Google shows you the relevant and meaningful content you’ll find on those social channels right within it’s search results. No matter how you slice it, Google is in business to make money. That money is made though myriad sources, one of which is AdWords and if Google keeps doing a great job providing you with relevant search engine results, you and millions of others will keep coming back. A percentage will click on those AdWord links and the money machine will keep spitting out green. I really think that’s the part that most people miss, Google wants you around. Google needs you around.

Seven Steps to Social Signal Success

Back to the social signals. You’ve likely heard that quality, contextually relevant backlinks to your content are a solid SEO ranking technique. Nothing has changed there. You should always be looking for those backlink opportunities. In addition to that, you should also be working hard to increase the amount of backlinks you get from social properties. These backlinks, or social signals, not only help the humans more easily discover your content, but also provide a serious clue to the search algorithms that others are finding your content meaningful and authoritative. So much so that it’s being shared in social circles.

It’s that social sharing that the algorithms love and that will drive you up in the rankings quickly and ethically. But how do you get those prized social signals? That’s the part that requires some work. Here’s a step by step set of recommendations that I share with businesses every day.

Pre-requisite, your website should be properly optimized for search. This means you should have good, solid content that educates people and that is highly sharable. If your content stinks and your site does not employ on page SEO, stop and take care of that now.

1. First, you need to establish your social channels. Pick the ones that make the most sense to you. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ (if it’s still around) are a great place to start. If you have company videos, YouTube (a Google property, by the way) should be added into the mix.

2. Next, you should optimize your social channel profiles. Upload your company logo, a visual banner that makes sense, complete your profile and add information about your business.

3. With your channels setup, it’s time to build your audience. Let your customers and clients know about your social channels, ask them to like or follow you. A great way to do that is to first like or follow them, more often than not, they’ll return the gesture without you even asking.

4. With your social channels optimized and your communities built, it’s time to start social sharing. I always recommend sharing content that educates and is not a sales piece or pitch. I know it’s tempting to use these channels to directly pitch your products or services but resist that urge and, instead, provide content that is of pure value. I promise that by giving away your knowledge, you will build credibility and authority and people will be more likely to share. Whenever you post new content on your website, share a link to that content with a quick introduction to the topic. This will help drive people to the website and will also encourage social sharing.

5. Make it easy to share your content. When you post content to a social channel, make sure it’s public so that when it is shared, the audience orgnaically increases. On your website, use social sharing buttons right near the content so that is is simple for a reader to quickly share your content with their own social channels. In some cases, it might also be appropriate to ask your followers to like and share your content, but use that tactic sparingly and let things happen organically.

6. Thank and follow up with the people who do share your content. One of the simplest rules in business and life is that what gets thanked, gets repeated. Use your social channels as a way to communicate with your clients and let them know you appreciate them and that they shared your content.

7. Rinse and repeat. Soon the search engine algorithms will recognize that people find your content valuable and you will star to move up in the website rankings.

Yes, it takes a lot of time to manage your social channels and it might not be easy, but the results are meaningful and measurable. Further, these SEO tips are immediately employable and a cost no more than the time it takes to follow the steps above. So, get to work, start nurturing those social signals and enjoy the increased web traffic and search rankings.

It’s my hope that you liked this article. If you learned something, perhaps you’ll consider giving it a like or a share! (See what I did there?)