The web is full of articles about how “social shares” (i.e. mentions and link sharing on popular social networking sites) will be the “next big thing” in the world of link building. But do you really think Google is going to be played by the thousands of “+1” votes or the hundreds of automated followers you bought on Fiverr or a related site?
Here’s the real deal on how social shares could influence link building, as well as opportunities to promote your brand successfully…
Objective #1 – Increase overall total shares
Although believed to be a relatively weak signal, Google and Bing report that the total number of social shares your content receives on Facebook, Twitter, and G+ is used to demonstrate social authority.
Obviously, using the total social signals metric as an indicator of authority has its limits. It’s incredibly easy to game the system by buying followers or encouraging social sharing in a way that goes against Google’s recommendations for link building. At this point, however, it’s unclear to what extent Google and other search engines can separate purchased stocks from legitimate signals. However, if they can’t yet, chances are they can in the future.
For this reason, it is not a good idea to go out and buy social signals. Even if they lead to a short-term improvement in rankings, there is a good chance that they will be devalued at some point in the future, which will waste time and money.
For this reason, it’s best to encourage social sharing of your content using calls to action and social plugins, but naturally focus on building momentum. To do this, make sure your website blog uses tools such as Digg Digg or ShareThis that allow users to quickly distribute your articles to their favorite social media sites.
It’s also a good idea to embed specific calls to action in your blog posts. You might be surprised how effective adding statements such as “If you enjoyed this article, please click the icon below to share it on Facebook” is effective!
Goal #2 – Increase Perceived Authority
One of the biggest benefits of social networking sites is how they break down communication barriers and allow you to easily reach and connect with new audiences who might then share your links. For this reason, using social media sites to increase your perceived authority is just as valuable as working to increase the number of times your content is shared.
In addition to confirming that social signals play a role in SERP ranking algorithms, Google and Bing also reported that a user’s relative authority takes into account the weighting of these signals.
Evidence for this claim comes from a December 2010 interview with Google and Bing representatives, conducted by Danny Sullivan of Search engine countries. In response to the question, “Do you calculate if a link should carry more weight based on who tweets it?” the representatives replied:
“Yes.” [from Bing]
“Yes, we use it as a signal, especially in the “Top links” section [of Google Realtime Search]. Author authority is independent of PageRank, but is currently only used in limited situations in ordinary web search. [from Google]
Being seen as an authority figure on popular social media websites clearly offers a number of different benefits. Not only will your number of social shares increase as your total number of followers increases (because people are generally more likely to share content from industry leaders they admire), but the simple fact that you seem to be a thought leader is reflected in the increased weight given to your social signals.
Obviously, however, increasing your social authority on these sites takes time and effort, as you will need to invest energy into connecting with new people and posting varied content that enhances your reputation. However, since these efforts take no less time than traditional link building (and can ultimately lead to more viral link sharing and inclusion of your content in more personalized SERPs), it’s clearly worth the effort. invest your energy in this pursuit.
Goal #3 – Connect with Authority Users
While one of the biggest advantages of social media is the low communication barrier that allows you to reach and connect with potential new followers, it stands to reason that this situation can also be manipulated in the opposite direction. By connecting with other authority users on social media sites and getting them to share your content with their followers, you could further multiply this effect.
According to SEO expert Eric Enge, writing for Search engine monitoring:
“There are many reasons to engage with social media, including those that go far beyond SEO. You can get significant direct traffic, you get brand equity, exposure to your target audience, and However, having an authoritative person in your space to share your content will likely be a big win, and it’s a great goal for your social media campaigns.
Of course, you probably already have an idea of the success you’ll get just by dropping an authority user and asking them to share your content without establishing a relationship first. These authority users are busy and their reputation is at stake with every tweet or status update they post. But while they can be incredibly picky about the content they choose to share, that shouldn’t put you off pursuing these valuable opportunities.
Instead, take the following steps to increase your chances of an authoritative figure in the industry sharing your content with their followers:
- Identify authority users – To begin this process, you will need to identify a few potential Authority Users to connect with. Keep in mind that not all thought leaders will be a good fit for your business model or audience, so keep an eye out for attendees who are considered authorities on the specific topics you want to build yours around. own perceived value.
- Build your relationships slowly – The best way to get the attention of an authority figure is to promote their content. Share his blog posts with your audience, retweet his Twitter content, and generally do your best to drive traffic to his website before yours. You can also start encouraging a relationship to grow by leaving thoughtful blog comments or responding to posts on social media sites in a way that complements the authority figure while asserting your own expertise in your niche.
- Reach out when opportunities arise to benefit both parties – Don’t expect your chosen authority figure to simply share your content unless there’s also significant value to their audience. For example, if your chosen leader recently published a “tell it all” article on a hot new topic in your industry, ask them to promote your article on the same topic instead of the tired old “evergreen” article. hanging around your blog.
As with all the strategies discussed for improving your social media results, building relationships with authority figures in order to get them to share your content takes time. However, the instant increase in traffic and increase in overall perceived authority will likely make your efforts in this area well worth the time invested!