After Google’s Web-spam head Matt Cutts, in the fall of 2010, said that Google looks at social signals as an important factor in ranking a site, businesses became more and more conscious about their social media campaigns. However, much before that social media had been exploited for many, many purposes: expanding reach, building community, improving customer service… But in the wake of Matt Cutts’ statement, it’s been widely used for one more purpose – SEO.
Though we know social is not as important as links today, Matt Cutts, in the recent SMX West, gave us a hint that it can be the other way around in the coming years.
In this article, I’ll discuss how you can give an amazing experience around your content in both search and social spaces, and make it more sharable, rankable and clickable.
Embrace Twitter Cards – And The Open Graph Protocol Of Facebook And Google+
Used by more than 150K sites, Twitter Cards are more or less like Google’s rich snippets, as many say. According to Twitter, they “make it possible for you to attach media experiences to Tweets that link to your content.” Twitter Cards are of six types – summary, photo, gallery, app, player, and product – all of which can help you make your content more and more likable to and retweeted by your followers. While Twitter Cards might not have a direct connection with SEO, they do help amplify the number of retweets (and hence followers), which is considered one of the major social signals by Google and Bing.
Just like Twitter has Twitter Cards, Facebook and Google+ have open graph protocol, which performs a similar function – providing articles an overview and a small image preview, videos a video player, and images a bigger preview. One thing I’ve noticed is that these cool schemas are not properly used at times, especially in the absence of metadata. For example, if you’re posting www.example.com and there’s no metadata available, you should rather don’t use metadata at all instead of giving a not-so-good experience to your followers. In such cases providing a description with that why-a-person-should-click-your-link element becomes necessary.
Embrace Google+ Authorship
Authorship of content around the Web has been talked about a lot lately. It’s no more a mystery – unless, of course, you’ve been living under a giant rock – that content of the authors with verified social Google+ profiles is predominating and eclipsing anonymous content in SERPs each passing day. Even searchers are getting carried away by search results with those cool headshots. This means that going Google+ has become a necessity today, one that brings along many, many benefits.
A case study by Jeff Sauer shows that Google+ authorship can help new web pages index and rank fast and retain those rankings. However, Matt Cutts recently explained that new pages are likely to rank well for some queries initially but their rankings might decline over time. Cutts, however, didn’t say anything about the role of authorship in ranking new pages.
Moreover, that Erich Schmidt quote, from his upcoming book The New Digital Age, is a powerful push every time we talk about authorship:
“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”
Probably social is not the be all and end all – because nothing in this world is. It’s about how soon you embrace the inevitable changes and what you make of them to give everybody a beautiful Web experience and at the same time better the bottom line for your business.