I’m regularly asked by businesses how they get their website to perform better on the search engines. It’s as if they think there is a magic lever somewhere, all they have to do is be told where it is, pull it, and thereafter they will live in blissful harmony, with an endless supply of traffic and leads coming their way.
Social media optimization
The reality is, that there are over 200 factors determining how your web pages will rank on search engines, and in more recent years your social graph i.e. what social media properties you have, the size of your communities and the level of engagement that is occurring on these activities, can also impact on how well your website performs.
At the end of 2010, amidst a lot of rumours, Matt Cutts, currently the head of the webspam team at Google and much revered blogger on Google topics, posted a video on YouTube saying that Google was starting to use ‘social media signals’ in their search engine results and Bing followed.
Since then, many companies have become ‘more social’, with some aiming to appease the search engines, while others simply aware that a strong social strategy can pay off other dividends too.
Because Google doesn’t obviously give away its algorithm secrets, and changes the goal posts often, some companies have resorted to running interesting tests on how much social affects search.
How much does ‘social’ affect ‘search’?
In one example I am aware of, a company created several websites, in similar markets, and established different social media accounts per website property, with varying levels of social media integrations with the website i.e. icons and feeds, to better understand how much of an impact social can have.
Google +1 button
Probably not many surprises that Google’s own networks i.e. a website that was linked to a Google+ business page helped its search position, as did websites that had Google +1 share buttons embedded. So there’s tip number 1. If you haven’t got a Google+ business page, and weren’t so keen on it from a social networking perspective, consider the search perspective too.
YouTube video on front page
We’ve also had good word direct from Google itself that they LOVE websites which have a YouTube video embedded on their front page. Some kind a ‘show reel’ video of who you are and what you do is obviously good for the user to better understand quickly and easily who you are and what you do, but Google owns YouTube, so more views means more advertising dollars to it. By enabling this on your site, Google may well be compelled to bring you more traffic to see that very video.
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But apart from its own properties, who else does Google favour? Well this is purely opinion based, and like a lot of stuff when it comes to Google, even by making the next few statements, they could change the goal posts on us overnight.
For the time being, we do notice correlations between those clients who are active on Facebook and have a high level of engagement attracting increasing numbers of users to their website, which in turn, also boosts their rankings. Out of the 200 factors that Google uses to rank, one is the volume of traffic going through your website.
Pinterest is also performing exceptionally well when it comes to providing ‘Google Juice’.
Ever since Pinterest launched its business pages at the end of 2012, and savvy businesses have found ways to promote their various business initiatives on this image driven network, we’ve established our own Pinterest business accounts and carefully monitored our Google Analytics to see how it’s performed, and we’ve been surprised to see Pinterest outperforming Twitter as a key source of visitors in a very short time frame and with minimal effort invested.
The bottom line is it’s high time to get social. Not just because social media is good for your business (and I could give you many more articles on why this is), but because through tests we have conducted as a company, as others have too, for the time being, your social graph seems to be playing an important role.
Yvette Adams is a serial entrepreneur having started 5 businesses from scratch, the first a newspaper when she was just 17, and 2 of which she has since sold. She is the founder and owner of The Creative Collective, a creative agency offering website design & development, social media, seo, ppc, emarketing, marketing, PR as well as an extensive array of training including webinars, BYO Laptop trainings and more. A multi-award winning business woman her latest online business is awardshub.com – an online portal for business owners wanting to find business awards they may be able to enter. You can follow her on any of her social networks: @yradams, @creativecollect, /thecreativecollective or connect with her on Linkedin.
Top image: Matt Hamm