Social SEO is Here

Google Plus might not be popular with people, but it's important to SEO.
Google Plus might not be popular with people, but it’s important for SEO.

Social 101 for the SEO-minded Company

SEO practitioners have seen the writing on the wall for years. If you really care about ranking well in Google, now it’s past time to pay attention to social. Almost two months ago we learned empirically that more +1 on Google+ means better ranking in Google.

I’ve spent a couple of years hinting to my clients that they should pay more attention to social; now I’m *strongly* suggesting it by outlining a few simple steps they can take (or I can take for them) in the social realm.

Step 1: More Social Outlets

Google Plus is a must. (Edit: You know what else is a must? Making sure you’re reading timely advice instead of an article from 2013!) People don’t use it, but Google relies on it for organic rankings, so your organization should use it. If you want to pick your battles and only use three outlets, pick Facebook and Twitter too. But why stop there? It’s so easy to work once and have it propagate to multiple outlets.

Step 2: Maximize Social Efforts

Use Hootsuite or similar services to make social management easy. Type once and your words post on all of your social sites at once. With tools like this there’s no excuse for not also posting on sites like LinkedIn, YouTube and the like.

You can even schedule your content to post at specific times allowing you to compress a portion of your social time investment while taking advantage of peak social interaction times to get your message seen more. Hootsuite is free, and if you’re lucky enough to outgrow the gratis version, it’s only nine bucks a month to upgrade.

Step 3: Encourage Website Visitors to Share

While many sites already sport social icons linking to their Facebook page, that’s not enough. We want a more usable page that enables our web audience to use their social networks to vote and share. Employ action icons like Google’s “+1” to let visitors make note of your specific content. Some might use a +1 as a social bookmark, others as an endorsement. Either way, we like it because Google uses it to rate webpages.

Step 4: Search for Social Engagement #

Hashtags (#) are your friend. Naturally, you should use them in your social posts to tag and categorize your content, but there’s more! Type “#hashtag” (without the quotes) into Facebook’s search bar and you’ll get a list of all posts tagged with #hashtag. But how is that useful?

An acting school might search for #audition and then comment on a post or two every week. A luggage shipping company might search for #lostluggage. A local business might search for people discussing an upcoming local event totally unrelated to their business and then share excitement about it. Etc.

Step 5: Follow for Social Engagement

Have you ever heard of the reward theory of attraction? You can follow that link, or trust me when I say that if you follow others, they might follow you too. This ties in well with hashtag searching. You can’t comment on EVERY related post you find, because that looks spammy, creepy and annoying. Instead, follow people and businesses who are posting about stuff relevant to you. …They’ll be more likely to follow you. Wikipedia says so.

Don’t lay it on too thick

Finally, the overlying/underlying philosophy here is that while social is going to help your other marketing efforts, most of the time, you should not wear your traditional marketing cap while you’re engaging with social networks. When you meet somebody on the street and they try to sell you something, how do you feel? Who wants to follow somebody who’s always talking about themselves? Well, some people do, but you’ll find the people with the most engagement aren’t exclusively self-promoting. Sometimes replying, “ugh!” or “I know, right?!” to share frustration, or asking a question, “How do you find out about _____?” or “Why?” will be more valuable than posting about something more related to your business. Remember: your business name is next to everything you post, so you can just lean on that!

This article only scratches the surface of social best practices, but follow these instructions and your social efforts will be well on their way to helping your search engine optimization.

Dan Dreifort consults on usability, SEO, and now social. If you ask nicely, he might let you subscribe to his private and otherwise unadvertised SEO/usability/social tips email list. …But maybe not.

6 thoughts on “Social SEO is Here

  1. Top advice.Great advice about HootSuite (an excellent tool) or other services to share to multiple platforms from the one platform. HootSuite is also an excellent platform for monitoring your social channels from the one site as well, though this was not your focus here of course.
    I like the closing advice about not laying it on too thick. If you are only talking about yourself and your products, it is not really social. It is really just another platform for advertising. To be truly social, you need to connect with the customer in a way that they feel you really care about them as people, not as potential customers, if that makes sense.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. If providing content that generates more +1s ranks better in Google, that doesn’t mean Google did it intentionally. Correlation doesn’t always imply intentional causation, but to deny a relationship ignores the importance of social engagement in today’s search algorithms.

      1. The author of the article I cited had this to say in response to the article you cited:


        I appreciate you weighing in the discussion, but your article seems to focus on +1s, and not the larger debate about sharing on Google+ that the post sparked. A few points:

        -Matt and I agree that Google doesn’t use +1 directly in it’s algorithm. That isn’t what the post is about, but instead the larger implications of sharing content on Google+.

        – Matt didn’t debunk the blog post itself, only the conclusions many were drawing from the title.

        So I am guilty of a bad title. If I were to change one thing about the post, that would be it.

        – Most respectable SEOs who read the post agreed that there was every reason to suspect that Google+ sharing had very real SEO benefits (you pointed out 4 nay-sayers, but they were in the minority of the 3000+ folks who tweeted the article in a positive light) A read of the comments shows this pretty well.

        – Matt Cutts never denied or refuted these other SEO benefits of posting on Google+. A full read of the Hacker News thread shows that.

        Your article focused on +1’s (I get it, that was the title of the post) but ignores the larger SEO implications of sharing on Google+. A person reading this article and only this article is going to miss the larger, and frankly more important debate – “Is sharing on Google+ beneficial for SEO?”

        The evidence seems to suggest the answer to this question is yes, and that has not been debunked.

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