26 Nov 2011

Social Engagement is the Way Forward for SEO



SEO is one of the most used—and most mysterious—words in the blogging world, but it is one of the best ways to gain free organic traffic for your blog.
Till now, the strategy for SEO has been to create a new post with good on-page SEO techniques, and do the promotion to create a great off-page SEO. This ends up generating a good rank for your post and brings traffic.

A change in tack

Have you noticed a shift in this strategy? Check out the below screenshot. I took this while I was searching for “Web world” on Google.

You can see that two articles from my site, Makewebworld, are featured on the first page of results for this very competitive term. Is it actually true?
Well, if you do the search you will not get the same result. My domain name contains the term “web world, nut other than that, I’m not optimizing my content for that term. So how would my site end up on the first page of Google results?
It happened because I was logged in my Google account while doing the search. I have shared these posts with my circles in Google+. So Google showed me results based on my user account, rather than general rank system.
Now take a look at the result below, which I saw when I logged out of my Google Account.
If I am not logged into my Google Account, I don’t see Makewebworld on the first page. It only shows when I am logged in.

Social engagement and SEO

Social Engagement is the new shift in SEO.
The search engines are moving toward a non-static ranking system, which will be based on a user and their groups. Google is trying to create a more personal and refined search in which a user has more chance of finding the required information (always a goal for Google).
I’m not saying that on-page SEO and off-page SEO techniques are useless, and only social is in. But the social element has started playing its part in SEO. Google has started mixing social recommendations and their ranked pages in the search results.
Social recommendations were there earlier, but they merely played a part in the rank system. Now it can take you to first page of Google for at least some users or groups.

Why social engagement is important

Why are the search engines making this social transformation? To understand the answers, we need to dig into some stats. If you are using Google Analytics for your blog, you can check the details under the Social tab.

The stats show that people who are socially engaged have much higher page visits and average times on your blog. They also have much lower bounce rates—in fact for Makewebworld I have bounce rates as low as zero.
Go check your stats and see if they’re similar. I expect they are. Google has started taking notice of these stats, since they say that these people like your blog and they want to interact with your blog.
Why wouldn’t their friends like your blog? Why wouldn’t they want to come back in future?
You can check how many social activities happen on your blog, and which content has attracted social activity, from your Google Analytics account.

How can you increase social engagement?

There are many way you can try to increase social engagement on your blog. Main aim is to have readers share your content across the social networks.

Install the Google+ button

If you have not done it yet, you should do it now. Google has already indicated that they are going to use Google+ button for many purposes, and that they’re moving to single account structure.
Google has started using Google+ recommendations in their search results, so if you don’t have the button installed on your blog, you are likely losing some traffic.
It is easy to install Google+ button: check the official page or look up some free plugins to do the job. I’d suggest you treat the Google+ button as a backlink for your blog, because it can rank your blog higher for some people or groups of searchers.
As an author, you should also look for and verify your Google profile. Darren was one of the first few people who verified his account and shared the importance of it on Google+. If you’re looking for a how-to guide, check the Google Webmaster page help.

Install Sharebar

This is another good way to get a few extra social engagements. A basic rule of thumb is that people take action when they’re invited to. Sharebar is a great way to show social buttons all the time.
I know that this is not used on problogger.net, but do they need it? Each post on Problogger gets the required social attention. But if you’re not getting that kind of attention, do some split testing with Sharebar, or install it for a trial period on your blog.
Also, because it floats along the page movement it catches the attention. There are many plugins available like sharebar and you can use any of them.

Use Tweet Old Post and Twitter @Anywhere Plus

These plugins are good for Twitter activities. They really provide a nice and easy way to share your content.
Twitter @Anywhere plus enables the @Anywhere feature to allow readers to share your content easily on Twitter. This plugin utilizes includes easy tweet options for your readers.
Tweet Old Post is a plugin which will tweet your old posts randomly. It has options that allow you to avoid tweeting some content categories or posts, and it’s a really easy way to get some attention to your old content.
One other thing which I would like to point out here is your Twitter handle. Twitter provides a very nice and easy way to remind people to follow you if they tweet your content.
So if you use tweet buttons on your blog, you wanted to make sure that your Twitter handle is included in your tweets. If you have any issues, you can generate the Tweet button code here.

Utilize the Facebook Send button

Almost all blogs have Facebook Like buttons, but do you have Facebook Send button on your blog? Facebook Send is not similar to Facebook Like: Send has more visibility than Like on Facebook. I know that Google does not count Facebook shares in its ranking system, but Google does collect the data—you can see that in your analytics account.
They have started using the Google+ Shares and you never know when they will decide to start using the Facebook Shares. Shares have their own benefits in providing links and traffic to your blog, but they might have other benefits later on.
So what are you doing for Social Engagement on your blog? Let’s share and see how we can benefit from this shift.

by Sanjeev Mohindra of Makewebworld.
Sanjeev currently writes at Make Web World and offers his latest ebook “5 steps to WordPress Blog” for free, you can get the ebook by subscribing here or can connect with him at Google Plus.



 

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