Quote from Google: YES, we do use it as a signal. It is used as a signal in our organic and news ranking. We also use it to enhance our news universally, by marking how many people share an article.
The great guys from SEOptimise have put together a quick fix list of the 10 top actionable ideas for you to implement for your business. The idea behind this was to provide actionable ideas based upon Matt Cutts’ announcement in December that social signals are a ranking factor. Here are the tips:
1) Use social media buttons – encourage your users to share content on facebook and twitter by using the social bookmarking button plugins. Like Addthis
2) Build a Facebook fan page – build a presence on Facebook where people can subscribe to updates and you can publish latest content. Ideally you’d want to build up a strong number of fans so that people can frequently “like” your posted links.
3) Use images – Facebook walls display photos far more frequently than other updates, such as statuses. So make sure when you publish links they contain an image where possible as this may improve it’s chances of being featured as top news on facebook homepages.
4) Fake it until you make it – firstly make sure you don’t overdo it and this doesn’t suit all brands. But on Fiverr.com you can pay $5 for someone with lots of friends to invite people to like your fan page. The idea here isn’t about targeting quality, it’s a numbers game so that you can get towards the tipping point which boosts the popularity and trust that people have when visiting your page in order to become a fan.
5) Promote via social bookmarking – while seemingly not a social signal itself, if you can promote your content via sites such as StumbleUpon, this is likely to indirectly lead to facebook shares/likes and retweets. Especially if you are already using the relevant social button plugins.
6) Create a branded Twitter profile & build relationships – firstly this gives you a platform to tweet your links. But by interacting with and retweeting other users you will greatly improve the potential coverage of retweets for your own content.
7) Use hashtags – a great way of finding popular discussions to contribute to is to follow the latest hashtags and trending topics. Again don’t overdo this and keep it relevant – but many people monitor and search the latest trending topics, so by tweeting about these it could be a good way of getting some extra retweets and picking up some new followers along the way.
8 ) Use great headlines, but leave space for retweets – make it easy for twitter users to retweet your posts by ensuring it is concise enough that it doesn’t need to be edited when adding an “RT @username” etc. And of course headlines are not only the first thing people see on facebook and twitter, but normally the only thing. Poor headlines means these won’t get clicked, great ones are gold!
9) Run social media competitions to give incentives – compared to Facebook advertising, the ROI of getting signups to a fan page should be greatly increased when running a competition. iPad giveaways have worked very well recently and it’s a great way of boosting your social media presence. Just make sure you read the terms and conditions as Facebook and Twitter do have rules on how these should be run.
10) Most importantly, have great content – the above tips are all very limited if your content is average. Look at top performing sites on Tweetmeme, such as Mashable, who consistently write great content with a social media audience in mind. Top lists, infographics, how-to posts etc all generally perform very well.
What is working for you?