Will Social Media Make You Money?
This article is written in response to a heated discussion my business partner Nicola Cairncross and I had about social media…
I wrote it to back up my position that social media is not right for most businesses, but as you’ll see I ended up with something MUCH different.
First up I think it’s important to say that this is a long(ish) and slightly in-depth article. If you want the short version skip to the bottom For those of you that want the science behind this, then lets begin.
I filmed a video back in May 2010 where I said that we didn’t use “social” as a signal, and at the time, we did not use that as a signal, but now, we’re taping this in December 2010, and we are using that as a signal.
So the question really isn’t if social media affects SEO. It’s more so on how it affects SEO, right?
I’m going to give you a VERY clear and visual demonstration just how it affects things in just a mo, but first, more back ground.
In December 1st, 2010 Danny Sullivan interviewed Bing and Google representatives on how Facebook and Twitter may impact search engine rankings. One of the questions he asked was the weighting of Twitter users and links shared in their tweets…
Bing responded with:
We do look at the social authority of a user. We look at how many people you follow, how many follow you, and this can add a little weight to a listing in regular search results.
And Google responded with:
Yes, we do use [tweeted links and RTs] as a signal. It is used as a signal in our organic and news rankings. We also use it to enhance our news universally by marking how many people shared an article.
And in response to the question, “Do you track links shared within Facebook, either through personal walls or fan pages?” the search engines had the following to say…
Yes. We look at links shared that are marked as “Everyone,” and links shared from Facebook fan pages.
And Google said:
We treat links shared on Facebook fan pages the same as we treat tweeted links. We have no personal wall data from Facebook.
Based on their answers, you can assume that social media plays a role in influencing the search engine results by giving preference based on the authority of the author and the number of times a piece of content is shared on social networking sites.
And that just makes sense right?
All the search engines want to deliver search results that are relevant to the searcher. It’s obvious that the amount of people using social media now will create opportunities for search engines to better understand the intent and the authority of an article based on its interactions through social media.
With all that in mind I decided to conduct a simple experiment.
My hypothesis was “Given that social cues affect search engine results then it follows that when I am logged out of all my social media accounts I should get different results”
So with that in mind I set up 2 computers, one I was logged into my social media accounts (Google +, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest) and one where I was logged out of everything.
To make sure that the search results were not influenced by my IP address, I “borrowed” someone else’s WiFi network so I’d be on their network and their IP address.
Here are my searches and their results:
The first was for “plumber in Manchester” this is a great test as the term is competitive and most good plumbers are using some social media.
Up first is the logged in:
Now for the non logged in:
The most surprising fact is the complete loss of 90% of the results from the logged in.
That and the Gumtree listing ranking no 2 (note to self include Gumtree in our clients SEO).
What do you draw from this?
Next I wanted to test a product vs a service (products tend to get less social signals than people).
So I chose “indesit washing machine Birmingham” as my search term. Here’s the logged in SERP:
and the logged out:
Again VERY interesting results!
This time Yell steals the show (again note to self, get products onto Yell).
Ok, my final test.
This time I wanted to see if social signals would affect an industry where they are traditionally secretive and don’t go online to social media much, so I chose lawyers
My reasoning was that if social plays a role then it should make no difference at all if I’m logged in or not, I should get the same results:
and not logged in:
Just as I suspected no difference at all.
Now if you’re a lawyer reading this, here’s a tip. If you want to dominate Google SEO, start using social media, the field is wide open for you!
You need to get with the times and start expanding your presence on social media sites, instead of endlessly chasing the latest SEO tricks.
If you don’t believe me just think about the following quote from Matt Cutts:
Don’t look at us where we are today, but look at the direction we are moving and what we are focusing on, the big five are the mobile web, local search, social, blended results in the search engine results and HTML5.
Social media is impacting search engine results and if you want to get more traffic from search engines, you need to:
- Build an active, engaged presence on social networking sites – this isn’t exactly rocket science… If social media engagement is a new ranking factor, you simply can’t benefit if you aren’t there. If you haven’t already, now is the time to build profiles on these sites and invest time in connecting with your followers.
- Optimize your sites for social media sharing – if your sites are built on WordPress, installing a plugin like Sharebar (like the one we have on this post on the left) to enable social sharing is something you have to do. Don’t rely on your users reading good content on your website and then taking the time to navigate to social networks to share it on their own. Instead, you have to provide them with the tools necessary to get the job done in the easiest way.
- Encourage your readers to share your content – smart marketers know that assuming people will take the action you want without you explicitly telling them to do so is a lost cause. You have to use strong calls to action in your posts, encouraging readers to share your content via social networks if they found it useful.
And most importantly, this doesn’t mean you should give up on traditional SEO. On the contrary you should use traditional SEO in conjunction with social. Everything counts.
There will always be people who hate social networking or refuse to build their Google Profile. These people will only ever see the traditional search engine results, so you still need to follow all of the regular SEO best practices.
There’s no doubt that traditional SEO is slowly fading in importance when you compare it with the new social optimization indicators. So if you aren’t yet active in the social media world, you better start running because you don’t have time to walk.
Will Social Media Make You Money?
Original blog posted by : Neil Asher
If you want a deeper understanding about how Nicola Cairncross thinks and works, or you would like to get in touch with her, feel free to do so here: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website – http:/