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Exploring the Impact of Social Signals On Organic Rank @ #PubCon

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PubCon Vegas  /  Social Media

Welcome back to aimClear’s coverage of #PubCon Vegas 2011! After an inspiring opening keynote with Leo Laporte, the morning of Day 1 launched in warp-speed fashion towards the first round of sessions. Salon B of the lux Las Vegas Convention Center housed a special treat for those interested in the crossroads between search and social, an intersection of increasing value and significance to any serious online marketer.

Search engines are some of the granddaddies of the Internet, and social media, once (arguably) perceived as the trendy-edgy-nose-pierced-teen-punk on the block, has blossomed into a sophisticated, powerful, influential and beloved friend. Savvy to the global use (and continued growth) of social media, search engines get that they have to pay mind to social media if they want to continue to be relevant to users. If search engines recognize this, you better, too.

John Ellis,CEO and Owner, Crescent Interactive, and Michael Gray, President, Atlas Web Service joined forces to dish out tip-top tactics, techniques and best practices for making sites more SEO-friendly social media friendly. aimClear live-tweeted this session via @beebow. Read on for the full scoop.

First up – John.

Search Engine’s Have Gotten More Social Over the Years…

  • Google introduces iGoogle
  • Google introduces Google Friend Connect
  • Google introduces Google Wave…
  • Google introduces Real Time search (2009)
  • Google introduces Buzz (hmm, a Twitter competitor?)
  • Bing search engine integrates with Facebook
  • Google’s relationship with Twitter ends, google.com/real time redirects to homepage, Google rolls out Google+

John points out that Google is putting all its efforts into Google+. Just last month, Google scaled down other apps in an effort to really focus on Google+. Even if you don’t use Google+, it will come to you by way of some other app you use.

News alert: Google+ business profiles just rolled out yesterday (11/7/11). I foresee continued growth.

Current-ish Market Share, According to Hitwise:

  • Google – 66%
  • Yahoo – 15.25%
  • Bing – 12.99%
  • Ask – 3.31%

How do you optimize different areas within social?

  • Author highlighting
  • Establish social authority in Google
  • FB optimization
  • Brand saturation
  • Google + optimization

Author Highlighting
It’s all about implementing rel=author, so Google can give props / influence / authority to a given author:

  • Step 1: From author name on blog post, link to author page of blog. On that link, add rel=”author” to that link.
  • Step 2: On author page, create link to your Google+ profile. Tag link with rel=”me”.
  • Step 3: On Google profile page, create link to author page of your blog. Be sure to check “This page is about me” box.

Social Authority in Google
Factors to consider:

  • Number of replies / comments
  • Automation vs. manual…
  • Relevancy of messages (how often does your account stay on topic with what you want Google to know you as?)
  • Stay on topic, but be social! t

Tips for gaining authority:

  • Automate minimally
  • Associate with people who will share
  • Mix up the sharing. Don’t look predictable. Don’t always RT– mix it up, share someone’s post originally. Don’t overexpose the message.
  • Meet IRL! Meet the people you connect with online at networking events.
  • Keyword focus – like anything with SEO, remember what your KWs are, what you’re going after, stay KW focused.

Facebook Optimization

  • Optimize status updates & page elements with KWs you want to rank for in Google

Brand Saturation

Google+ Optimization

  • What you publish as a public post will show up in SERPs
  • Link to other profiles
  • Stay fresh
  • Use and optimize every field
  • Use your name multiple times
  • Content is still king!

Graywolf (Michael Gray) was up next. Appropriately, on the menu: SEO & Social Media. “Conversations and community building have value,” Michael begins, “but you cant pay the rent with them.” (This comment was met with some pushback from SEOmoz’s @jennita ;) .)

Michael went on, “You need to find a balance between those efforts and actions that help SEO strategy with links, social signals, and attention.” He dissed whinny marketers who claim:

“There is no ROI in social media, wahhh!”

If you identify with this complaint, you’re just not being creative [enough] about the way you leverage social media.

Link Building, Content Marketing, & Why They’re Essential
“Link building is probably the biggest thing that will bring you results,” Michael stressed. Regarding social media and link building, your goal is to generate attention for your brand and your website. This converts into links and social signals.

Regarding content marketing, your  goal is to push out good content that solves problems, is entertaining, makes ppl laugh, cry, think, angry…  in short: BE EXCEPTIONAL.

“I love making people angry. When people get angry, they lose control, they don’t think rationally. They write a rant on their blog and link to you. I’ll take that link.” -Michael Gray

BLOGS, & Why They’re Essential

“It’s 2011! I can’t believe people are still asking, ‘Do I need a blog?’ Do you need links? ‘Yeah.’ Then you need a blog.”

Michael points out that a blog is a super easy way to get links, not to mention - blogs are still the best platform to push out this type of content.

Tips for making the most of your blog content:

  • Use social buttons on blogs, for Twitter, FB, StumbleUpon, Email This, etc.
  • Have short, catchy titles that get the point across (avoid verbose titles). You want your title to reach through the screen, grab you by the shirt, slap you in the face. Sacrifice KWD value for viral attention grabbing quality.
  • Folder, subdomain, or separate domain?
    • For building link equity, trust and authority to your site, a subfolder on your main domain works best.
    • If you have security or IT concerns, a subdomain is the second best solution.
    • DO NOT use a different domain UNLESS you have a reputation management issue you need to solve.
  • Keep URLs as short as possible. Again, sacrifice KWDs for “viral-ness.”
    • If piece has long-term value to drive traffic, links, etc. – keep content intact, add links to commercial pages of your site.
    • If piece is a “throwaway,” DO NOT 301 to another page – search engines don’t dig it. Revise content to make it commercial.
  • Regarding blogs and dates, most blog systems pull date on pages and those dates will appear in SERPs. But keep in mind, people don’t like clicking on blogs with “old” dates.
    • Remove or reformat dates you don’t want Google to show.
    • Update post with new info and change the date.
    • HIGH RISK TACTIC – forge the dates. But remember: “You want your zombies to look as natural as possible.” :)

Tweet Tips: The Social Push

  • Tweets have a lifespan of 3-5 hours
  • Tweet for maximum visibility
  • RT if yourself for max value
  • Stagger your self tweets
  • Stagger your friends’ RTs

One retweet from a real trusted account is more valuable than 1,000 retweets from zombie drone accounts.

What We Can Learn From Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga’s lifestyle is all about gaining attention for unique or bizarre behavior. Her mentality: “If I wear slabs of meat, the media will talk about it, everyone will talk about it!” And guess what, we did. But if she only did it once, we’d forget about her quickly.

Social media attention is brand building – you are competing for attention and mind-share. You need to repeat the attention-grabbing on a regular basis without getting boring or repetitive.

Would you know “Will It Blend” Blenctec guy if he only ever blended one thing? Nope.

Key Takeaway: With Social media, your goal is not to make sales! It is to:

  • capture attention
  • build brand awareness
  • build links
  • build social signals
  • inspire people to start searching for YOUR BRAND KWS, sending those signals to search engines

Last Minute Gems From the Q&A:

  • “If you buy a gray evening gown and want to show it off, you have to go out to a club. You can’t stay home and watch What Not To Wear. Trust me. I know.” -Michael
  • “You’re never gonna make a shot you don’t take.” -Michael
  • If you have a brand new blog, brand new company, what’s a good strategy for getting links? Come up with editorial calendar, schedule for when you will push out fresh content, look for seasonal or timely things you can leverage. -Michael & John
  • There is no magic number for how often you should blog. You should blog in the interval that you’re able to be good. Putting out 30 blogs each month that suck are not as good as one post per month that is super deep and rocks the universe. -Michael
  • “Something that’s exceptional is always going to give you more value than something that’s not.” -Michael
  • Use FB to drive the traffic away from FB and to your homepage. -Michael
  • Google+’s impact on the SERPs will definitely happen… eventually. (While not many of us in the audience are on Google+, next year – we might be.) -John
  • Your audiences across social channels differ a bit – consider pushing out different content for each, or at least tailoring the content differently for each community. -Michael

Big thanks to John and Michael for a primo sesh! Tune into the #PubCon hashtag for more live-coverage comin’ atcha from Vegas!

Photo credit: ykanazawa1999
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2 Comments

  1. John Ellis on November 11, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks for attending and the great notes. – John

  2. Matthew Rideout on November 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Some things never change though. It’s still all about creating great content and providing users with such a great experience that they link back to you, socially, through their blog / website, etc..

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