Many companies engage with customers through social media. And they know SEO is important to attract new customers. But as search becomes more social, do you need to adjust your social media efforts? Tweak your SEO strategy? A little of both?
I’d say it’s a little of both. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind as social media and SEO continue to converge in 2011:
Quality—and not necessarily quantity—of followers counts. Google’s Matt Cutts confirmed in a recent video that the authority of your followers on Facebook and Twitter matter to Google when determining how to rank your social media posts in Google’s real-time search results. Cutts also said Google is studying how to use follower authority as a signal when determining ranking for broader search results.
Cutts didn’t explain exactly how Google determines the authority of someone on Twitter or Facebook. It’s safe to assume, however, that authority comes from how active someone is on Twitter and Facebook; how many followers they have; and how authoritative those followers are.
One way to determine authority is to look at the PageRank of someone’s Twitter page. For instance, Alltop co-founder and former Apple chief evangelist Guy Kawaski’s Twitter page has a PageRank of 8 (with 10 being the highest ranking). He has over 300,000 followers and has posted over 80,000 tweets. Now that’s authoritative. Technorati also ranks blogs by how authoritative they are in a given category (such as business).
Tweets and retweets can help with your SEO link building efforts. As Google and Bing incorporate more social media signals in their algorithms, having a page from your site linked to in tweets and retweets by authoritative people will help that page rank more highly in search results.
So when trying to build your base of Twitter followers and Facebook Page fans, or when embarking on a link building campaign, pay attention to the authority of your social media followers. Court those you know to have influence. The more authoritative your followers are and the more they tweet about you (with links), the more visible your site will be on Google and Bing.
James A. Martin is an SEO copywriter and consultant based in San Francisco.