The Convergence of Social Media and SEO
Realtime search, Google Instant and social media are changing how people find information about your company. Both B2B and B2C markets are changing as search gets more social and social integrates search. Your customers are interacting on an increasingly social level, and the online conversations they’re having are directly impacting search results. This is why it’s essential for businesses to make sure they’re at the intersection of search and social.
In an Optify-hosted webinar, experts Liz Strauss, CEO and founder of SOBCon, Rand Fishkin, CEO & Co-Founder of SEOmoz, and Erez Barak, VP of Products and Co-Founder at Optify, led an open discussion on the convergence of social media and SEO. The speakers shared insights and strategies for leveraging this new world of search and social. Following the discussion, attendees were invited to participate in a Q&A session with the panel.
Missed the webinar? Watch the recorded archive now:
Want more? Check out these resources:
- Download the presentation from the webinar
- Read our blog post Search Might Not Be Moving Into Social, But Social’s Moving Into SERPs
- Get this guide Build Your SEO Campaign in 15 Minutes
Q & A
Here are some of the questions we received from attendees throughout the webinar. The following answers were provided by Liz Strauss, Rand Fishkin and Erez Barak.
- Any comments about targeting multiple audiences (LinkedIn audience wants certain content/info, Twitter prefers my tweets of photos, Facebook prefers my silly musings) and how it helps/hinders SEO and Social Media presence(s) (separately or together)?
- Do realtime updates (for all search engines) hold more *temporary* weight on search results? If so, how do ‘promoted’ trends from Twitter weight as far as authenticity?
- If you are trying to optimize for keywords on your site — is tweeting or using social networks using these keywords — can this help you rank better for those keywords?
- Social authority measurement sounds a lot like PageRank. Thoughts?
- Sites that rank, have more power to drive Facebook Likes because of their current traffic, correct?
- Do privacy settings affect your Facebook Page’s rank?
- How do you figure out if you are producing quality content vs poor content? How do we measure it?
- Aren’t social and search channels to genuinely connect with customers? Shouldn’t ALL time be spent engaging REAL customers?
- How do you get the ranking for URLs in Facebook, as not all pages are able to be crawled?
- Don’t the 301 redirects used by link shorteners maintain and pass the anchor text of the original link format?
When developing your social media strategy, make sure you’re focusing on leveraging as many prominent and relevant social networks as possible rather than just one. Of course, you may have a much larger audience for one channel than another, depending on your business, and some social media sites might just not be a good match for your company. Investigate the space and make your own conclusions for your business specifically. For example, the B2B will likely have more success with networks like LinkedIn and Twitter, whereas the B2B might be better suited to Facebook as a channel. One mistake a lot of people make is using their social media channels to deliver messaging that’s misaligned with their overall company messaging and branding. Make sure that all of your marketing channels are in sync, by aligning your overall SEO strategy with your social media channels. Start with your core message and mold, shape and customize a variant of the message to match each channel. Do this carefully without changing the meaning and intent of your original message. When done, test for alignment with your SEO keyword strategy to ensure you have not lost any of the value in the channel customization.
If you want to use social and search hand in hand, all the while being aware of that temporal trend, the way to make it stronger is by targeting audiences in multiple levels. Use Twitter to connect to the professional voice that you have on LinkedIn and to the more social voice that you have on Facebook. While Facebook’s more like the “company picnic” and people aren’t necessarily there to do business, they might meet with their business friends there. Your impact via social networks can become a whole lot less temporal if those tweets and the source from which those tweets are coming from are grounded in YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn and your blog, as well as Twitter, so that they’re coming from multiple platforms from multiple times.
There’s not a huge SEO component here, at least not directly. Certainly, though, from an audience building perspective, you need to be strategic and considerate. Brands don’t run the same ads on the NFL network that they do on Lifetime, and neither should you (or your brand) be pushing out irrelevant or unwanted content across all the networks at once (unless you’re fairly certain your engaged users/friends/fans/followers are using those services in the same way).
As far as realtime trends and how they affect the actual results, we’ve seen a temporary effect from some of the samplings we’ve done. When a topic was trending on Twitter that rank improved, then when time passed, the effect of that trend diminished. Again, this is just early stage data. We don’t yet have clear aggregate data about how temporary that is and whether it’s temporary for all types of keywords. Optify’s actually part of the beta program for Promoted Tweets. It’s pretty early on in the cycle, though, so we don’t really have significant data to point out the effect of Promoted Tweets on rank. It appears that the more promotion you do and the more organic tweets you send out (not just paid tweets), probably has an impact on how you rank on search engines.
It’s becoming evident that tweets are exceptionally powerful, as well as Facebook shares, in the short term and they appear to have an occasional impact in the long term. There appears to be some lasting impact to that social sharing, particularly if it comes from a wide, diverse range of sources and appears to be authentic and from people with high author authority. Google and Bing seem to be treating those more and more like links, as opposed to temporal impact. People trying to rank in the short term, though, should tweet with that temporal nature in mind, but certainly don’t ignore the kind of long term value that could be coming from tweets and shares. As Google and Bing refine their algorithms and see more people sharing, it’s quite possible that those metrics will shift in one direction or another. Either because they see social becoming more spam-like and manipulative and they tone down those signals, or they see it being more authentic and choose to turn up those signals. Unfortunately, we’ve neither tested, nor been able to observe how Promoted Tweets impact the engines (I’d surmise that, since they’re marked as advertising, the engines would exclude their impact).
When you tweet or share content on Facebook using a URL either in a shortened form or a non-shortened form, you’re not getting the anchor text that you normally would with a link, so optimizing anchor text is less of a part of the social sharing experience. My suspicion is that Google uses context around a link in a share or in a tweet, similar to how they treat phrases and words surrounding links in a document. If there are terms you want to rank for you need to do good on-page SEO, internal/external linking and social sharing. Don’t use irrelevant headlines in tweets or Facebook shares to promote a link. Of course, this can be a disconnect for marketers wanting to use teaser language in their tweets in addition to tweets using their keywords.
When executing a Twitter campaign, aligning with your keyword strategy helps align these “new found links” and “new found votes” from Twitter with your actual content. Use the same approach as on-page SEO. You don’t want to overwhelm the user or overdo it. You still want to stick to your original message, but you want to make sure you use the right set of keywords. If you view social media optimization in a similar fashion to how you view SEO, they align to an overall strategy.
I think social authority is likely based on more signals, and may not be as singular in its math. However, from a usage perspective, the goal is certainly similar.
Many measures are being tested for social authority, all depend on difficult to define factors such as engagement, influence, and authority. Some tools to check that offer consistent, though very different results are Twitalizer, Edeleman’s Tweet Level and Klout will give you a good start.
Yes, it’s a similar concept in that search engines appear to be looking at social signals much like they look at links. While it’s not entirely clear how Google and Bing determine “social authority measurement,” Google has released initial statements that they are placing more emphasis on the quality of a user’s followers and the authority of Twitter users who retweet and @mention your content. This also applies to Facebook Likes. Expect continued evolution in their testing of these “social authority”elements into their ranking algorithms as they tweak and tune the balance to ensure customers are getting the most relevant results.
Sites that rank are a prime target to drive likes but just because a site ranks well doesn’t necessarily mean they’re also doing social media optimization (SMO) effectively. With search engines now looking at social signals in addition to links, it’s going to be increasingly important that businesses are doing on-page SMO well, too. Sites with a lot of traffic who simply add the Tweet and Like button on pages throughout their website won’t immediately or necessarily drive more Facebook Likes. In addition to giving users the option to share content, sites have to build great content, engage with users to encourage Likes and retweets and cultivate a relationship with their social audiences.
Probably, though we’d also want to look at the ratio of visitors to Facebook engagement in these cases. A site that’s better at converting visitors to engaged, Facebook fans, may actually succeed in this arena more than a site that simply has a lot of traffic.
Yes, definitely. Google/Bing can only see updates/shares/comments/pages/etc. that are public, so private forms of sharing won’t be seen or counted.
Search engines are unable to crawl pages from Facebook unless they’re able to view by “Everyone.” If you want to ensure that Google and Bing are able to crawl your company’s fan page, and discover the content that is being ‘published’ on your Facebook pages, make sure to double check your privacy settings and make sure your page is visible to all.
Make sure your content aligns with whatever industry you’re in and your audience’s interests. Offer a fresh perspective instead of writing the same content that readers could find on multiple other blogs. Write in a conversational, though informative tone and ensure that your content is easy to read, straightforward and provides value for your audience. For example, if your business is selling textbooks, you shouldn’t be writing blog posts about the state of America’s real estate industry. Measurement is key. For company blogs, make sure you’re tracking page views, blog subscribers, social sharing and comments. Also track how users are responding to content you syndicate through your social media channels, like number of RTs and @mentions from tweeted content and number of Likes and comments from content you share on your Facebook Page.
Quality content is easy to read, to the point and relevant to the audience it’s meant to attract. It uses the language of the readers, avoiding industry jargon when it can. It’s written to an intelligent audience who doesn’t have or may have forgotten the information it puts forth. Sentences are shorter on the web. Paragraphs are shorter too. Subheads and lists are helpful because they allow readers to scan to the information most useful to them most quickly. To measure success, check your bounce rate, the time spent on a page and the number of pages read per visitor. Also ask people whether they enjoy reading the content you offer.
The smell test is certainly a powerful tool – most educated human beings with expertise in a given field can tell fairly quickly whether a piece of content is useful/valuable/credible/accurate. In addition to those soft metrics, the level of user-engagement, sharing and feedback (via comments, tweets, etc) can be good metrics to track as well.
Social channels also offer a chance to connect customers to other customers and to information they’ve been searching for. Customers want two things — information about ways to do things better and connections to people like themselves. By writing articles on blogs and curating content via Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn we can attract new customers before they are ready to have a conversation. By pre-selecting great information around the problems and issues common to customers, we can show them that we know the field, their problems, and changing trends. We help them stay informed and this raises the curator to the level of an expert. This way customers get a chance to see and experience our expertise and watch the conversations we have in those venues.
If you mean being authentic in your creation of value through your product, your brand and your products, then yes, absolutely. But if you’re suggesting that reaching beyond your established audience is manipulative, I’d disagree – marketing is fundamentally about reaching new ears, and search/social are great ways to accomplish that in a very organic/natural way.
Only those pages Google can crawl and see will be used.
Yes, it does.
Today we have three very knowledgeable and influential speakers in the fields of search and social media here to discuss this evolving phenomenon. First we have Liz Strauss, CEO and Founder of SOBCon, a very famous event that she does each year. Liz will be starting us off with a high-level view of the social landscape.
Next up we have Erez Barak, Co-founder and VP of Products at Optify, who’s also our sponsor, which provides an integrated software solution that helps marketers improve their online marketing and provides real-time insights into search and social media.
Third up we have Rand Fishkin from the equally famous SEOmoz, who has a very active blog and community in the SEO and social space. Both of those guys, Erez and Rand will be giving us real-time research results on social and search and how to improve and track your social content. Liz, I’m going to let you jump right in here and start us off.
Liz Strauss: Awesome. OK, [laughs] I’m looking at a picture of me, so I guess it’s time to go to the next slide, “Social Web Complicates Relationships.” I spend a lot of time talking to people who worked before the web, people who worked after the web. And there’s one thing that happened before the web and after the web. When the Internet came along, we’ve moved from a place where we were geographically niched before we got on the Internet. So before the web, you really only had to do two things to grow a business. You had to give people more things to buy and more opportunities to buy them. Then suddenly along came the Internet, and those customers not only have a world of more things to buy, but they have a world of more opportunities to buy them. They can buy them online, offline, via the mainstream media, via email, direct mail, and telephone the way they used to.
But now they can also buy them from places from Alabama to Zimbabwe via Google, social sites, e-commerce, etc. And now a third thing has been added into the mix because I used to only be able to tell my neighbors and my friends and the people I worked with whether I liked your product or your service. But now I can tell my 72,000 friends on Twitter that you have or you haven’t delivered and how much I love you or I don’t.
If we can look at the next slide for a minute. Go ahead, TJ. So the thing that’s really important about knowing this is that a loyal customer can’t actually ever be replaced. You can go get a new one, but the new customer doesn’t replace the old one. You’ve lost revenue. The average order of an old customer doesn’t get replaced by a new customer. You always could have gotten the new customer. You’ve lost the opportunity cost of finding that new customer. Oh, lovely. You’ve lost the chance to lifetime order/buy of that new customer.
So if I spent $5 a month or $60 a year for 10 years, I’m worth $600 to you. If I’ve spent $5,000 a month, I’m worth $60,000 to you per year for my lifetime. So a new customer doesn’t replace an old customer. Even more important than that, research shows that if I desert you I’m likely to tell at least three of my friends about why I did that.
So you’re likely to lose three customers that you might have had as new customers. So if we can go on to the next slide, this is just a little background. Go ahead, TJ. So when we moved to the Internet, we’re back to what really changed when we moved to the Internet?
And one of the things that changed a lot is when my father opened his saloon in 1933 at the height of the American Depression on the day that prohibition was repealed–which by the way it was good marketing to open your saloon on the day that everybody was ready to have a legal drink–it was important to be at the corner of State and Main or in Chicago at the corner of State and Madison because that’s where all the traffic was.
All the traffic went by there. Traffic is really important because that’s how people find you. Now where all the traffic is on the front page of Google or Bing or Yahoo. So what brings traffic to the front page of Google, Bing, or Yahoo is not geography anymore. It’s not location, location, location. It’s solutions.
Unconsciously, we think that Google is in the business of search, but Google is really in the business of selling ads to people who want to be found. So if you want to be found and you don’t want to buy those ads, you have to be answering the questions that people are searching for.
What people type in the solution box there or the search box are questions that look for information that solve their problems, and search is really only half the equation. Findability is where we’re really at. Search is what brings people to you. I have a story about my husband. He’s an engineer and though I carry an iPhone, he carries a Blackberry. So we get along really well. [laughs]
He got a new BlackBerry and as happens, BlackBerry did a push application to his phone and suddenly he had Flickr. As an engineer he liked it and played with it for about a day and a half. Then he decided it was taking up too much space on his phone so he wanted to remove it. Being an engineer, well, he had the firmware. So he went back to yesterday’s firmware and sure enough the Flickr app was still there.
So being an engineer he went back to the days before his firmware and sure enough it was still there. And being an engineer he had the firmware from three weeks ago and he reloaded that, still there. And over the course of that Saturday afternoon he got a little more and a little more and a little more upset until he finally said Monday morning, “I am calling RIM, I am calling AT&T, I have done everything to get this app off my phone.”
Because being an engineer he looked at the Internet like a book. And I said, “Well hold on one second,” and I went to my computer and I typed in, “Uninstall Flickr from my BlackBerry.” And sure enough I ended up on a page, on CrackBerry.com, printed it out, handed it to him and three minutes later his Flickr app was off his phone.
That’s the ultimate in findability and CrackBerry had two new fiercely loyal fans, one was my husband who now had the Flickr app off his phone and the other was me who had, because my husband now had the new Flickr app off his phone. And so findability, the ability to speak in the language of the people who are searching so when they type they can find you is the ultimate solution.
OK, TJ, if you’ll move it on. Awesome. So let’s look at some of the tools that like work online to help us make those relationships with people. I think one of the most awesome sites on the Internet is the Apple Education site. And in the days of broadcast we used to be able to like put our message out there and hope it landed wherever it landed, now because I can talk to my friends and neighbors about you, now because everybody’s talking to me from Alabama to Zimbabwe, I have to have a clear signal from the noise. And one of the ways to do this is to respect the fact that my time is important. So does your website really work for people? When was the last time you looked at your website? You know, is it faster, easier and more meaningful?
I’m trying to look at this question over here. Ah, let’s save that question for later, Nick. Your blog, so if your website is like your store, your blog is like your meeting room, your coffee shop, a place where you can have conversation. It’s really a place where you can build extra teeth. I have 4,300 blog posts on my big blog, and you know the average website I think has between 10 and 15 pages on it.
Now if you go back to the idea that Google is in the business of selling space, ad space for people who want to get found, I have 4,300 pages that Google can index and hang ads on. Whereas your 15-page website only has 15. Who is Google going to index more, pay more attention to me or you? No wonder Google loves blogs. But people love blogs too. It’s a chance to find out who you are and what you’re about. It’s a chance to be helpful not hypeful.
Now one of the best examples I’ve ever seen of the use of a blog was by a web-hosting company who basically wrote all their blog posts about their customers. They wrote about customers, one I remember clearly and distinctly was a customer who built sculptures out of leftover metal and they told the whole story of his business in a blog post and suddenly you had this picture of a web hosting company who really cared about their customers and the business they were in.
So you can use your blog to build a relationship and the relationship builds trust and from that trust, “Oh my God this webhosting company cares about the people that they do business with.” And suddenly you start to care about the people who run the webhosting company. Trust is really what sets the stage for the size of the offer you can make to people because most offers that don’t work, don’t work because what I’m asking or offering you is far too big for how much trust you have in me when I’m making the offer.
If we can go to the next page. So now, let’s take up the other big sources and put them in the room. LinkedIn is like the world’s biggest chamber of commerce. Imagine if you could have a chamber of commerce that actually pulled resources from all over the world and really brought in great intelligent lives. You can find people and resources of all kinds, all over the world and ask questions and gain their expertise. You can also put out a question that shows your own expertise.
LinkedIn is primarily a professional site so it’s not a place where you go to sell. It’s a place where you go to learn and share what you know. So go there knowing what you don’t know, the same way you might go to your local chamber of commerce.
The next page. Do we have the next slide? Twitter, I call Twitter the world’s largest networking room and possibly the new executive washroom. Twitter is a really powerful tool and if you think that we’re talking about what we eat for lunch on Twitter then you probably don’t get the power of the tool.
By nature of the content that you curate, the things you share on Twitter, you can identify yourself as someone who cares about business, or healthcare or, or daycare centers, or that you care about the law. That will attract people to you because they care about those things, too. There’s an unwritten rule on Twitter that for every one thing you promote for your own good you promote 12 other people.
Chris Brogan, a friend of mine, who has 179 — probably by now 184,000 — followers on Twitter is a master at using Twitter to promote other people. If you know him very well, what you see is Chris promotes 12 people, and then 12 people say Chris is a nice guy. The best promotion is promoting other people.
The other thing that’s beautiful about Twitter is it gets relationships started, but people who don’t use the tool don’t understand it. We don’t keep those relationships online. We take them off line and have things like Tweetups or Meetups.
One of the things that’s much more attractive about an offline Twitter party as opposed to another offline networking kind of party is that when you walk in the room, you know for sure you have something in common with everyone else in the room. That makes it a much more common experience and a much more comfortable experience for those of us who aren’t really good at networking.
So if you start following people who are your potential customers and listening and talking to them online and engaging with them online and then meeting with them offline, you’ve already self-sorted into a set of qualified relationships that can turn into some serious business. If we can go to the next slide. It’s like I feel like I’m running a race here. So go.
TJ McCue: All right, Liz. Thanks so much for the high-level view of the new social landscape. Everyone, if you’d look to your right side on your browser or your WebEx dashboard, you’ll see that there’s a poll there. We’re going to do a fast poll for 30 or 40 seconds here and get where do you spend most of your time online? Then I’m going to turn it over to Erez Barak, Co-founder of Optify, who’s going to give us a lot of great insights on some research that they’ve done on social and search. We’re going to show the real-time results in just a second here. Thanks, everybody.
Erez Barak: OK! Hey, everyone! This is Erez Barak, and when we’re looking at this convergence of SEO and social media in Optify, what I’m mostly hearing is a bunch of questions. How do I do this? Does this matter? Which metric should I look after? Is it really important to go after that or focus on SEO? For this webinar we took a data-driven approach and boiled down these set of questions into five main questions we hope to give you or I hope to give you actionable answers for. So the first question is where do people spend their time? I’m happy to see the results of the poll sort of aligning with the data we’re getting from Nielsen. So if you look at the slide, this is a nice description of where people spend their time.
What Nielsen did is boil it down into one hour a day and said, “OK, assuming you only had one hour a day on the web, where would you spend most of the time?” Now the blue section on the dial is about 25 percent of the time and that really aligned to social networks and different blogs people spend their time on.
Now I’m looking at the results coming in, and I see 32 percent of everyone who answered the question is really about social networks and blogs and spend most of their time on social networks and blogs. If you compare that to search, that’s seven X. So this small light blue sliver on the bottom left of the dial, that’s search. And that’s about two minutes a day.
Now the impact is still huge, but you could see that the differentiation between the time is really key here. Most of the time is spent within social media, social networks, and blogs. This is also driving behavior, so as more people spend their time on social networks, it drives the rest of their behavior as I’ll show in my next slide.
So, one more point on this question before I move to the next slide, we were looking at where people spend their time, it’s also important to note where people spend their resources, where people spend their budget. We took this great set of data out of MarketingSherpa, who back in the summer were asking online marketers if you’re budget is going to decrease or increase for the different online marketing services you see.
So the top two after maintaining and building great websites were searching or search, which 62 percent of the people said they’ll spend more on, and social media, which 53 percent of the people said they’ll spend more on. So answering where do people spend their time is quite clear. It’s clear from our poll. It’s clear from the data from Nielsen. Most of the time is spent in social media and networks. Add to that where most of the people plan to spend more budget, and you’re seeing a lot of alignment between search and social media.
The second question is are they connected? For example, there’s a great tidal convergence of search and social media. Prove to me they’re connected. So I’m looking at two types of trends. One is the over=time trend and one is the real-time trend. I’ll start with the over-time trend. A big surprise was the top Facebook status trend in 2010 happened to be this acronym: HMU. Hit Me Up. That means give me a phone call, page me, text message me, or email me. So Hit Me Up and you’d expect that to be very common in a social network world.
So it started as early 2009 where 20 posts a day were saying, “HMU.” Then by the end of 2009 you could see this Facebook chart start trending up. There were 1,600 posts a day mentioning HMU. In 2010, aggressive growth global HMU ending at, by the end of the summer 2010 about 80,000 mentions a day for HMU.
Now the interesting thing is, and I am looking at the chart from Google Trends is that the same acronym, the same keyword also started trending in search. Now you won’t really expect people to search for HMU but looks like what’s happening in the social network — what’s happening in Facebook in this case — is really driving what’s happening in search.
Looking at a real time trend and that is a very specific, I am going to show a very specific example. And I will show some aggregate data to back it up. Fleet Foxes is a band. It’s actually local band in Seattle. They’re a folk band. And what’s interesting is they trended on Twitter. They trended on Twitter on Monday. So I went to Google Instant and I started typing F, then l, then e and what I got from search from the Google Instant results — and you can see that on the bottom of the slide now — as the first recommendation as Fleet Foxes.
So the Google recommendations for Google Instant, feed off a lot of metrics. One interesting metric is that trend in real-time. So you see a nice connection between what’s happening on Facebook, what’s happening in Twitter, and what’s happening on search. Now don’t take my word for it. You could see the two big engines, Bing and Google claiming, hey, we are now taking into account social signals, both messaging that out loud and clear at the end of December. First Bing expanding to use Facebook likes, and then Google claiming to do the same.
So they seem to be connected. Now drilling down, my third question is OK, let’s look specifically at Facebook. Does Facebook matter? And the chart I put together is based on aggregate data, based on Optify’s research. And on the Y-axis you see the search rank, so Bing on top is good. Number one, then going down all the way to position 30, that’s the Y-axis. And the X-axis what I put in is the average or median number of Facebook likes, the URL whose ranking it is getting.
So if you look at number one on the top, it looks like there is good correlation, or interesting correlation, between ranking and number one, and then having a big blue bar which means my URL has a ton of likes in Facebook. And as you drop down the rank, there is a pretty evident correlation between how well you rank. And this is based on Google Data, and how much you are liked in the Facebook world, how much this URL is liked in the Facebook world.
So seeing great correlation there. It does raise the question, sort of a chicken or an egg. OK, so if I rank, people are going to share my URL. And if it is a great URL, other people are going to like it. So ranking can drive likes. On the flip side of that, I could have a URL, I share it. Everyone likes it and that just like the HMU example, starts driving more search.
So as a second step what we are doing is continuing this research and seeing what has more effect on the other — is it ranks to likes and likes to ranks? And this is where head terms and long tail terms are probably going to differ. So to answer does Facebook matter, I would say it is an easy absolutely. Whatever is happening out in the social network is really affecting our ranks.
Question four, reminding with a title of this webinar, the convergence of SEO and social media, I want to make it clear, it is not only about social. Social is coming in and really affecting the search landscape. But engines in the search engines are constantly changing. You have Bing changing, you have Google changing, you have new metrics that are constantly changing that search landscape and your search engine result pages. And you still need to optimize and align to these new metrics.
So what I have on the chart on this side, I wanted to show everyone is again based on Optify’s research, the Y-axis is my rank. Bing on top is good, so rank number one, going all the way down to rank 30. The red dotted line is where page one ends. And below that is page two and on. And what we’ve plotted is the average page load time for those URLs ranking on page one. And then those URLs ranking on page two.
And we’ve also plotted a trend line. And what you could see is a clear correlation between ranking on page one, and having a faster page. This is just an example of the latest metric we’ve seen from the search engines.
But it does, the main takeaway here it is social. Social does affect this. But keep your eye on existing new metrics as you execute your SEO campaigns.
To my last question before I turn this over. What do I need to track? And maybe the question should really be, do I need to track? So it is a world of change. Search engine is changing. Social media is evolving. They are both affecting each other and converging.
Now some changes affect the long tail. Some changes affect the local long tails. Some changes only affect head terms. So the key here is while you choose your tactics, choose your strategy, try to fit the metrics that matter, keep measuring in real time how it affects your business.
Now there are three pillars or three dimensions for measuring here. One, I would call them the classic SEO indicators. Am I ranking on keywords? How am I doing in Google? how am I doing in Bing? How am I doing internationally? How am I doing locally? How am I doing for specific set of focus keywords, in terms of rank? Important but not sufficient.
Second is page score, so my on page activity. I am using custom rules. I am using baseline rules. What do I need to do in order to make my pages shine when it comes to the search engines?
And third, completing the SEO trifecta is links — make sure I am going after the right link opportunities, getting links along with my keywords and my page content. So that’s around SEO.
The second piece, and we’ve started talking about convergence are the social indicators. So keep tracking things like Facebook likes, Facebook shares, Facebook comments. Keep tracking Retweet and Follow Us, and more importantly in order to test their effectiveness, make sure they’re in line with the SEO metrics as well as check the social influence of the different contributors in the space.
And last, and at the end of the day as you execute an SEO campaign or execute a social media campaign, think of the business outcome. Think of the business indicators. So if your business or your blog is all about pages, go for it. Keep testing that. Keep testing that in comparison to SEO metrics, social metrics and your actions. If it’s about number of visitors, again make sure you have that visibility.
Where it really gets interesting is when you start checking conversions. OK, so people come to my site, I’m getting an exciting number of pages and visitors, I’ve got a visit, but am I getting them to convert? And the fourth piece is am I getting revenue out of it? So I’ve ran an SEO campaign. I’ve taken social media metrics, social media activities into account, does that at the end of the day not only provide traffic and conversion but how does that align to revenue?
So being able to measure your SEO metrics and indicators, social metrics and indicators and business metrics and indicators gives you the full picture of how effective your campaign is. So I’ll hand this over to Rand and I hope these five questions sort of helps set the tone of how to think about executing your strategies in the context of SEO and social media conversions.
TJ: Thanks, Erez. I’m glad this is going to be available for download, that was a ton of great info. So everyone who’s not able to keep up on the note taking which I was doing as well, it’ll be available for download, we’ll email it to you. Next up is Rand Fishkin, Rand is the founder and CEO of SEOmoz, a very popular SEO firm, has a great active forum, and can answer tons of questions on the SEO front and, Rand, take it away.
Rand Fishkin: Thank you very much, TJ. So actually SEOmoz doesn’t do any consulting, we’re purely software. But we do have a blog and we certainly love to have people come there. So I have a bunch of info that I’m going to cover as well. I’m glad this is going to be available for download and I saw some of the questions. I answered a few of those in the chat and I’ll continue to try and do that. So the first one, first thing that I want to dive into, is talking about this impact that Erez talked about. So he showed some interesting correlation data. Yeah, I’d be totally curious to see sample size stuff and data about which types of queries are in there. We’ve done a bunch of correlation data collection, obviously, at SEOmoz too and we hadn’t seen that impact. But the last time we did it I think was October of last year, so it’s awesome to see that potentially this correlation on Facebook likes and maybe Tweets is increasing because we certainly observed this behavior. And I’m going to show some specific examples that will back up kind of the aggregate data that Erez shared.
So first off, if you haven’t seen it yet, Search Engine Land — oops, is this, there we go — Search Engine Land did this great interview with Bing and Google, Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land did this great interview with Bing and Google and check this out right, this is Bing and Google literally coming out and saying, “Yes, it’s true. We use tweets and we use Facebook shares as signals similar to the way that we use links and not you know because of the no followed links or because of where they appear elsewhere on the web, like we literally use them directly.” And obviously this means quite a few things right.
So for those of us who are wondering, “Hey, that data that Erez showed is that correlation or is that causation?” I think it’s very likely here that what Google and Bing are saying, there’s some causation or causal elements going on there. So that’s pretty sweet. Now, what’s interesting too is that both of these, in this interview they both talked about this concept of author authority. Right, that essentially an individual participant in the Twitter-Facebook ecosystem has this metric calculated about how important they are.
And that they’re essentially trying to determine the same kinds of things that yeah, Ryan brings up clout, for example, right — Clout which is a measuring tool for the influence on Twitter, Facebook and the social world — and essentially Google and Bing are trying to determine how important people are. And I think you know Clout’s metric, I’ve talked to them about I think they’re, they make intuitive sense but I’m not sure they, what they calculate towards or that they’re calculating towards something, does that make, Google and Bing obviously are trying to favor relevancy. So they’re going to be looking at a bunch of metrics.
Yeah, let’s go one slide further, should have a bunch of arrows pointing, doo, doo, doo, doo, ah, awesome. So you can see right, cool stuff like here’s the number, right, there’s all sorts of metrics that Google and Bing could be considering when they look at someone like Neil deGrasse Tyson who’s my personal favorite person to follow on Twitter just because I think he’s awesome, you can see he wears that astronomy moving vest there. Right.
So there’s things they can look at like who’s following you and how many people are you following back and what’s the ratio and who are the people that you are following and are they important people, are important people following you, do you have a verified trusted account? Right?
Twitter and Facebook both have these things where they’ll figure out this person, right, maybe celebrities or politicians or influential people on the social services, “This is actually this person, we have verified it with them. We know that it’s owned and controlled by them. Right, this is their real account.” Do they Tweet quality stuff? Are other good accounts re-tweeting them? Do they ever tweet spam?
All these kinds of metrics can go into that author authority stuff and so if you are sharing content via Twitter via Facebook, you’ve got to be thinking pretty hard about this, not just about your own account, right which is definitely important. You have to be thinking, “Well how can I make myself look good in terms of metrics through the engines and make sure that my Tweets and my Facebook shares and all that kind of stuff appears authentic; it draws in comments; it draws in clicks; it draws in re-tweets and re-sharing on Facebook.” Those kinds of things.
But also thinking about, “Hey, if I’m approaching other people to help me with marketing my social media, do they have these good metrics too?” So let’s move to the next slide. We actually did a test, right. We were curious and we thought, hey there’s this good correlation data. There’s Google and Bing saying that it matters. Let’s see. Let’s see if it really, really matters.
We tried this test with a nonprofit here locally in Seattle — Sierra Impact, which does awesome work. We love these guys. We don’t do consulting anymore but we help a couple few nonprofits; these guys and Seattle Children’s Hospital or United Nations and a few others with some SEO assistance on demand kind of thing. They produced these pages specifically for us. They wanted to rank for fighting hunger, ending hunger in Sierra Leone — specifically around this issue which is a big problem — Sierra Leone having one of the world’s biggest problems around starvation and poverty and these kinds of things.
Here you can see Page A, which they launched. We essentially launched a blog post that said, “Hey, Dear SEO fans like this is a good test. Let’s give this a shot. Please link to this one and tweet about this one.” Lots of people participated in that test. We’re lucky to have a very engaged audience on our blog.
You can see there are 36 linking route domains — 36 people, at least according to Open Site Explorer Data, Linkscape Data. You can see 36 linking route domains, 620 external followed links. It’s got a fairly substantive miles rank. But no tweets. People were very respectful. They did not tweet to this page, which I thought was pretty cool.
But Page B, which is the ending hunger version of the page, it has only one link. It comes from Top C, which is a tweet aggregator. They saw that this was a very popular tweeted page so they linked to it. They’ve only got one link. It’s 1.25 miles rank. That’s pretty low. Miles rank being similar to Google’s page rank and how we calculate it. But 521 tweets according to Tweet Me. That’s a lot of individual people tweeting.
Let’s go to the next slide and see what happened after we did this experiment. Oh my goodness. That’s the tweeted page. This is generated as of few days ago, here’s page B ranking for Hunger Sierra Leone. Hm, where’s page A? It’s no where to be found. If you search the exact title, Fighting Hunger Sierra Leone, you will see it in the result. But the Ending Hunger one is clearly outranking it, which I think is absolutely fascinating. It suggest that hey, you know what, Google maybe is putting a lot of weight on the tweets specifically.
This experiment certainly is not perfect. You can imagine that there could be conflating factors or other variables that we don’t know about. They’re going to do this. Certainly Open Site Explorer doesn’t or Linkscape doesn’t crawl all the page that Google has. Maybe there’s other links that point to it that we just haven’t seen.
I would strongly go out on a limb and say, hey this seems to suggest that tweets have more than just a temporal impact. That they may have long lasting impact. And in this case particularly, one thing that I would note is I believe, I can’t say for certain, but I believe that Google is looking at the two pages and thinks they’re duplicate content, and therefore is ranking one over the other. The fact that they’re ranking the tweeted one over the link to one is shocking to me, very frankly.
I would not have expected that. I would not have predicted it. Like I said, it’s only one test. But I think it’s really interesting to see this type of a result and to take away the fact that hey, you know what, those tweets really matter.
This is really important. Because when you about your SEO and your social media, they’re no longer two separate knowledge divisions of a marketing platform or of a marketing team. That knowledge needs to be institutionalized and overlapping. If you have someone who’s doing SEO, they’d better know all the things about social housing spread. What are good metrics that matter there? How to measure it. How to improve it.
Likewise, with social media folks, they better know how to do SEO. What matters in terms of that. That they’re tweeting and sharing links that are going to help them rank in the search engines as well. Because these social media factors are very temporal. The clicks that you get if you use something like that, you can see that click stream trails off. Search engines continue to drive relevant traffic — usually much more relevant traffic and much more action taking traffic — over time. Really interesting stuff.
Let’s go on to the next slide. Cool.
One thing I wanted to talk about really quickly is with Facebook privacy sharing. It’s real important that if you are participating on Facebook thinking about having an SEO impact, that you realize that only those people who share publicly are going to be able to be seen by Google. Google is allowed to crawl into Facebook, but no more so than the average browsing human. For that reason, you’re not going to get any value if you put your privacy sharing setting up, or if people who are sharing and liking and those kinds of things, have their privacy settings turned up.
Do be aware of that and make sure that you use the appropriate setting. The day they announced that Facebook had all these super privacy settings, I went in and changed mine so that everyone could see everything. Because I just kind of figured, you know what, I’m going to treat Facebook like a blog. They seem to have some issues with privacy anyway, so I might as well just pretend that everything on Facebook is public because it likely could be.
Obviously this is a good thing from an SEO perspective too. Let’s go one more. All right.
Some quick things to think about with content marketing with Facebook. Obviously you can claim your company page. Usually those are public unless you specifically make them private. I would strongly recommend doing that. You can then promote that stuff on your website, which means that you attract Google’s crawlers and attention and other people’s attention over to your Facebook page. Which then means you could get more likes and more shares of your content which can then help you rank in search engines. It’s this virtuous circle of search and social.
One of the things that we do that we really like to do, is using the RSS feed from our blog to post stories to our wall. That works tremendously well for us. It means that we actually get quite a bit of engagement with of Facebook. Actually if we go to the next slide, you should be able to see some of that. Yeah.
This is Export.ly. Someone was asking earlier about some tools. I think actually it’s not quite as pretty, but it mimics some of the cool functionality that Optify has. I didn’t realize that you guys had such cool stuff. So looking at Erez’s slide I’m definitely going to be looking at that. Maybe recommending that to our community manager here.
We’ve liked using Export.ly a little bit. It shows stuff like this, with the fan page activity, fan activity over time, and engagement I posted. You can see in there, right? That video content has got the highest engagement for us on Facebook. So that’s kind of cool.
In fact, I was going out with a friend of mine last Friday night. And she mentioned — she’s not in the SEO world at all — but she said, “I watched your white board Friday, and it was kind of cute.” I thought to myself, “Yeah, well, you know.” It’s one of those interesting things about sharing on Facebook, is that you get, you attract new audiences, right?
So I’m going to wrap up with just a few quick thoughts. Let me go to the last site here. One of the things that I would highly, highly recommend, if you haven’t checked it out already. OkCupid does this, does this great content that — in addition to being interesting and funny and clever around analysis of dating profiles and what attracts people to dating websites and those kinds of things, what photos work on dating websites versus don’t, what messaging people have, etc. — they do this really cool thing which I think a lot of blogs have been starting to do.
There’s a WordPress plug-in for it now, where if you scroll to the bottom of an article on their blog, this little pop over appears, saying, “Hey, OK, trends. Send it to your friends.” And there is the share, there’s the stumble upon, Google buzz, and the re-tweet button. So it’s slick, because it invites you at the end of the reading process, the consumption process to get that.
Can folks still hear me OK? Did I somehow go on mute? No?
TJ: I believe you’re still up.
Rand: OK, all right. So my [laughs] , my takeaway here would just be two things. Number one, sharing content that people are likely to share, or producing content that people are likely to share, is a huge win for both SEO and social. And the over off is beautiful. And the second one is, if you can take those actions that incense the sharing, and make the sharing easy, you’re going to win even more. Let’s… Yeah. So talking about this, creating content that users want to share. It’s just a beautiful thing, right? Go check out who those folks are, who can spread your message and pursue them, right? That audience is going to be really, really effective. Cool. I think that’s all from me.
TJ: All right, Rand. Thanks so much.
Rand: Yeah, oh yeah. No, no, that’s OK. I think we can… I’m a little over time.
TJ: All right. Well, thanks for summarizing. You added a couple of great summary points there, and so I’m going to quickly summarize from Liz. What I took from this presentation, Liz, was lead from relationships, not tools. And the second one was solution is the new location. And then for Erez, we had social media is changing. The inner working of search algorithms is impacted by that. And the second summary point that I took from Erez’s presentation was changes require the tracking of SEO, the social and business KPIs in real time. And so there’s a lot of tactical to be done.
And Rand, social, summarized himself there very well, social media requires SEO expertise and vice versa. And build content for groups that are more likely to share.
So we’re going to jump to the Q&A section right now. We had a ton of really great questions and I want to comment that we’re going to answer all those in an upcoming blog post, and we will email that link to you. But we’ve got three questions, one for each presenter.
And I’m going to start with Erez. Nick asked the question, do real time updates for all search engines hold more temporary weight on search results? And if so, how do promoted trends from the Twitter weight, as far as authenticity?
Erez: So I’ll actually answer Nick offline, but I’ll repeat my answer. And I’d love you to jump in on this as well, and Liz, if you have any insights. So I’ll talk with the second part of the question. How do promoted trends from Twitter, weigh in as far as the authenticity? Well, we’re actually part of the beta program for promoting tweets. And if you look at the Twitter home page now, you have promoted trends from all of the tweets, promoted companies. It’s pretty early on in the cycle, so we don’t really have good, significant data to point out the effect of promoted tweets on ranks.
I would, however, make the, or suggest a theory that the more promotion you do, the more organic tweets you get. Not only paid tweets, which I am looking at the data Rand shows, probably has an effect on how you rank and how you show up in the search engines.
As far as the real time trends and how they affect the actual results, do they affect them over time or just a specific point of time? From some of the samplings we’ve done, when, we’ve seen a temporary effect. So, by the time it tops people’s trending on Twitter, that rank improved. And then when time passed, the effect of that trend or the effect of the, in that real time activity, diminished.
Again, we are yet to have clear aggregate data about how temporary that is, and is it temporary for all types of keywords, but that’s the early data we’re seeing.
Rand: Yeah, I would 100% agree with Erez’s assessment on that. What we’ve observed time and time again is that tweets are exceptionally powerful, Facebook shares as well, in the short term. And occasionally in the long term, they appear to have an impact as well. So the example I showed with the experiment, foresee your impact. I think it’s just that there is some lasting impact to those, that social sharing, particularly if it comes from a wide, diverse range of sources and appears to be authentic and it’s coming from people with higher author authority and those kinds of things. I would suspect that Google and Bing are treating those more and more like links as opposed to temporal impact.
But in the short term, a couple hundred people tweet this, maybe it’ll rank really well for the next 12 to 24 hours. So I would strongly recommend that for those of you who are thinking about temporal campaigns — and trying to rank well for the things that you know are going to be hot in the search world, hot in the social world — that you prepare those things with that temporal nature in mind.
But certainly don’t ignore the potential power of long-term value that could becoming from tweets and shares.
I think as Google and Bing refine their algorithms and learn more about the social world, see more people sharing stuff, it’s quite possible that those metrics will shape change or shift in one way or another, either because they see social becoming more spammy and intuitive so they tone down those signals more, or they see it being more authentic which is sort of what I’m seeing, at least, and they turn up those signals.
TJ: All right. So, Liz, this question was for you. Any comments about targeting multiple audiences? LinkedIn wants certain info. Twitter prefers tweets of photos. Facebook prefers my silly musings and how it helps or hinders SEO and social media presence, separately or together. That question came from Nick.
Liz: Nick, I partially answered it in the chat box. Actually, it segues really nicely with what was just being talked about. I think the really intelligent strategy on what Erez and Rand were just saying is that if you want to use social and search hand-in-hand, being aware of that temporal trend that you’re seeing. The way to make it stronger is to target the audiences in multiple levels. At the same time use Twitter to connect the content to the professional voice that you’ve got on LinkedIn and to the more social voice that you’ve got on Facebook. Facebook is sort of the company social or the company picnic, and people aren’t necessarily there to do business, but they meet with their business friends there, YouTube and Flickr.
It becomes a whole lot less temporal, I would think, if things are grounded, the tweets and the group from which those tweets are coming from are grounded in Flicker and YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and your blog as well as Twitter so that they’re coming from multiple platforms across multiple times.
And so, for example, if you’re putting on an event like our event, we also have a monthly chat, and we always link to all of the people in our community. And we talk about it on Facebook, and we have a group on LinkedIn. And so, the things that link to our event are going on all year long, and they’re going on in all places.
We bring different things to YouTube than we bring to LinkedIn. It’s a more formal discussion on LinkedIn, a more fun discussion on Facebook, a more visual, educational discussion on YouTube. Often, they’re the same audience and I suppose the best analogy in the real world. I just found out recently that the Lifetime Channel, TLC and Bravo all have the same audience, but they all buy significantly different content.
Packaging your content for the audience, where the audience is going to consume it, I mean, I go to McDonald’s and I also go to the top of the Hancock. I expect one thing in one place and another thing in another. Is that what you were thinking?
TJ: Yeah, thank you, Liz. Our last question comes for Rand, and Liz and Erez you can chime in as well. Rand, if you’re trying to optimize for key words on your site, is tweeting or using social networks using these key words, can this help you rank better for these key words? That came from Allen, and I think some of the chat may be his.
Rand: That’s actually a really good question. I think what you’re saying is essentially, when you tweet things, when you share on Facebook, you’re often using the URL, either in a shortened form or a non-shortened form. So, you’re not getting the anchor text that you normally would with a link and so, therefore, optimizing anchor text is less a part of the social sharing experience. My intuition says, and, Erez, you guys might have some data to back this up, certainly we will in the next few months as we run these correlations. But my suspicion is that Google uses, much like they use phrases and words surrounding a link in a document, that they’re going to use those same things surrounding a link in a share or a tweet. And that, I think, I really, strongly suggest.
If you want to rank things, you should obviously do good on page SEO types of things, good internal linking type of things, good external linking and probably good social sharing, right? You don’t want to be using irrelevant headlines in your tweets or your Facebook shares to promote a URL that you want to rank for something different.
At the same time, I know that that editorially, especially for press folks, sometimes conflicts with the… Well, I want to have my attention grabbing headline that’s more click inducing than the other one that uses the key words. I would just say when those can overlap, it’s a beautiful synergy. That would be my overarching goal when you’re mixing the SEO and social stuff.
Erez: Yeah, Rand. I absolutely agree. We don’t have the full set of aggregate data, but I think a great example is when you execute a Twitter campaign using Twitter for business, and you execute a campaign aligning with your keyword strategy helps align these new found links or new found votes from Twitter with your actual content. I think the best analogy is how you do on page SEO. You don’t want to overdo it. You don’t want to overwhelm the user. You still want to keep the original message that this is about, but you want to make sure that you use the right set of key words. If you take the same sort of ethical approach to on-page tweets to on-page SEO, it’s aligned with the overall strategy.
TJ: All right. Well, thank you to everyone. For those of you who are in listen only mode, we are going to have a recap. The Q&A and recording presentation are available for download at optify.net/blog. And thank you to Liz Strauss from SOBCon and Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz and Erez Barak from Optify. And thank you, everyone, for joining us today. We’ll catch you on the blog.
Rand: Thanks for having us.