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Social Engagement is the Way Forward for SEO

This guest post is by Sanjeev Mohindra of Makewebworld.

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.

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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Comments

  1. Tim Huntley says:

    Sanjeev,

    A question and a comment:

    In Google Analytics, does the field “Socially Engaged” mean that the user has pressed the Google+ button?

    My GA results were interesting as well. 20,000 visits and only 5 of them social engaged – Ouch. But of those special 5 people, the number of pages viewed was 3x a “normal” reader.

    …Tim

    • Sanjeev says:

      Socially engaged includes everything, you can click on that and it will show you how many plus one or how many Facebook shares you have. They are trying to track all kind social engagement.

      • Tim Huntley says:

        Thanks Sanjeev,

        Looks like I need to do some mods to have GA pick up Facebook and Twitter – JetPack (ShareDaddy) isn’t doing this automatically for me.

        …Tim

        • Tom Parker says:

          Hey Sanjeev – I’m having a similar problem. I’m definitely getting Facebook likes and Tweets and these are being reported in Shareaholic (the social plugin I use). However, Google Analytics is saying that I have 0 socially engaged visitors.

          If anyone comes up with a solution to this problem I would love to hear it as it’s driving me crazy.

  2. Faizan Elahi says:

    Very useful article.Reading this, I realised I should install the Facebook send button on my blog.

    • Sanjeev says:

      Facebook like and Facebook send button has different visibility in the Facebook feeds. And if you see Google Analytics they also track them as a different things.

  3. Excellent tips but I think you missed the most valuable tip of all. Install the Stumbleupon button! My traffic increased exponentially after I did that.

    • Sanjeev says:

      I always felt that stumbleupon is a good source of traffic but it does increase bounce rate also. A choice for webmaster but yes, it is also a part along with Digg, Reddit. These should be considered, I defiantly missed adding a line in article for that.

  4. Hi Sanjeev

    Thanks for this post, very interesting. I noticed straight away the other day once I’d joined Google+ that my search results changed.

    I’m new to Google+ so only have a couple of connections at the moment (from within my company). What will happen though when I have lots, will they completely populate my page 1 search results when I’m logged in?

    Michelle

    • Sanjeev says:

      No, you will get best of both world. They are trying to mix the results, so first page is mix of other results and your friends recommendations. I think the numbers are fixed now but it can be changed if they see more people are clicking friends recommendation.

  5. Tumbleweed says:

    I would argue that social media has resulted in the creation of a ‘new’ SEO that search engine marketing professionals must apply in order to be successful, and below is an article that I have written on the topic: http://tumbleweedmarketinganalytics.com/2011/08/16/analytics-social-media-and-the-new-seo/

  6. This is an excellent blog post. Probably one of the the best I’ve read in the last few months. Social Media definitely plays a large role in SEO. Perhaps an even larger one too now that Google+ has begun to dominate the social space. A lot of people still don’t understand this though. Even some seasoned SEO professionals and so-called “gurus” don’t understand the concept. The reason Google has incorporated a large portion of social media into its organic results is because that’s where relevance and freshness comes from. Additionally recent Google Panda updates reflect on just that as well. When a user attempts to search they are looking for the latest information on a particular subject or topic. Social media provides freshness and therefore by including it within the organic search results delivers satisfaction for the end-user. Static content matters tremendously still for visibility although dynamic content now also matters.

    That’s really my .02 cents on social media/engagement and SEO. Anyone else care to argue this statement feel free to do so.

  7. Drewry says:

    Darren,

    this is a very thought provoking post about social engagement and search engine optimization. I had no clue that the search engines would be looking more for recommendations and everything else, and making their determination to bring certain with pages higher than others.

  8. James Greg says:

    Useful post and it sparked a question in my head. Do you think in the future Google search would be made available after you log in? I think they might discourage open search so people would use their services more and this would also make them track things easily.

    • Sanjeev says:

      Ya, they might not stop open searchs, but users will tempt to login to get better results. This is only one aspect of it and it may be good for searchers, but this is not that good for webmasters as Google have changed the defaults and those searches will not give search terms in analytics account.

  9. Doctor J says:

    Social networking is the SEO of the future, as Google bubbles begin to override general search function.

  10. Muhammad says:

    I observe that most of the users are logged in while doing their routine activities on their PC, the same was observed by me when I was logged in and on searching from other computer my site was not on first page. At that time it was confusing for me. Thanks for clearing my mind about one aspect.

  11. Abhijit says:

    Thanks for this thought provoking article.
    Social interactions of people definitely seem to be the road ahead for getting better search engine results. google started with its page rank algorithm on the basis that those who get linked more would be the more popular sites. the same logic applies to shares and likes.
    just thinking of the day of what will happen if google and facebook merge someday.

  12. Nick Jones says:

    I have always found that true engagement on social media returns the best results. It is very time consuming, but it is worth it for me! I can’t tell you how many of my readers I have made relationships with and they just naturally started reading my blog! It always feels great when I get a new follower or reader that I have worked to build a relationship with for some time!

  13. Ileane says:

    Sanjeev, I agree with you 100%! I noticed when I looked at my blog on Google search results, the only one that was giving my blog posts a +1 was me – that was kind of sad…So I installed the share bar and right away the +1′s started coming in. I really like that and the same thing with Facebook shares. Great post my friend!

  14. mmcguire says:

    I am really starting to notice this trend. Starting yesterday I see a link for personal results in google. Something must have changed.