The following is a guest post by Kristen Bradley.
We’ve all been pitched the social media hype about how setting up a business profile will miraculously make our businesses more popular or successful. The unavoidable media frenzy proclaims, “Your business needs to be on Facebook and Twitter NOW!” Although sale conversions on social media sites might not be worth your time, money and effort, setting up social profiles to direct additional traffic to your site and build relationships with customers certainly should be.
When well thought out and carefully implemented, a company’s social media presence allows for additional — and most importantly, free — marketing avenues. Maintaining a strong online presence via social media platforms also allows businesses to engage with new and existing clients.
In the recent past, a company’s presence on social networking sites lacked any significant impact on its search engine rankings, but that trend seems to be changing. Search engines, specifically Google and Bing, are now using “social signals” to help determine a web page’s ranking in search results.
Now professionals are trying to grasp the actual effects that social sites have on their SEO. For example, Google and Bing generally say that social profiles give off “human signals” as opposed to traditional “link signals.” Since the use of human signals is new in determining a web page’s authority, they don’t have as much of an impact on rankings as do link signals. On one hand this is entirely logical; otherwise linkaholics would just use their social accounts to add juice to their floundering sites. On the other hand, this formula limits reputable businesses that use social profiles to provide valuable information their clients.
Another key takeaway regarding this new social media juice is that articles referenced in tweets are tracked by both Google and Bing. Both search engines evaluate the “social authority” of the user to help determine the link’s signal strength when it comes to actual SEO, which essentially means they’re calculating the weight a link holds based on who exactly tweets it. For example, a link in a tweet by President Obama will hold a much higher authority than one posted by a college student. Links shared on Facebook are calculated in the same way, though only public status updates are included in the formula.
If you’re not buying into the potential effect that social sites can have on rankings, take a look at this tweet from Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz.org, an industry leader in SEO. Trust me, it’s a worth a look.
Building on this knowledge, I’d like to offer three key suggestions to improving a small company’s online marketing plan.
Kristen Bradley works for SuretyBonds.com, a nationwide surety bond producer. SuretyBonds.com works to educate business professionals and other entrepreneurs about the steps that they need to take before opening new businesses.
Photo by Matt Hamm.