Social Media Signals

November 8, 2011
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Carolyn Shelby is moderating and makes everyone yell to show they’re awake.  All the hungover people in the room wince and shoot her looks of death.  Well, I’m assuming that’s what they did.  The yelling was really loud.

Up on stage and ready to go we have Kristopher Jones, Joe Hall, Rob Garner.  Carolyn doesn’t waste time with small talk (we’re already starting late) so we hop right to it.  Ready?

Up first is Kristopher Jones.

Why care about social?

  • Reputation management – put out negative reviews, manage your brand, etc.
  • Increasing integration – Influence social in real time search results, organic SERPs.
  • More and more consumers are looking to social networks
  • Your Klout score may end up more important than link authority over time (…really? We’re saying this now?)
  • This is the year your Grandma joined Facebook
Social media influence – it’s not enough to just have a Facebook and Twitter account. That’s a start. You need to engage and be engaged to move the needle in search rankings and influence. All of the entities attempting to measure social media signals are fixated on influence.  Social media influence will continue to grow in importance in nearly all relevant elements of search ranking.
Social Media Signals
  • Seems a lot like what Google leveraged about links – relevance through link authority
  • Search engines continue to look for QUALITY signals.
  • Quantity of social interactions – easy to game, will be less important as algorithms, analyzing social media signals become more sophisticated
  • Quality of social interactions will become increasingly more important over time, think human, real, substantive engagements with important people.
What is Klout?  Your Klout score is a measure of your social media influence.  There are three primary drivers of your overall Klout Score
  • True Reach: How many people you influence.  It focused on people that engage with your content.
  • Amplification: How much you influence them. Looks at when you post a message, how many people respond to it or spread it further. If people often act upon your content, you have a higher amplification score.
  • Network Impact: The influence of your network: Looks at how often the top influencers share and respond to your content. The more interaction top influencers have, the higher your score
Five Tips to Influence Your Klout
  1. Be real and authentic
  2. Get influential Tweeters/Facebookers to share your content
  3. Engage strategically with influencers with high Klout scores and share interesting content. Be the first to share information
  4. Prune your followers/friends
  5. Focus on your niche
Gaming Your Social Media Influence
  • Integrate your Facebook and Twitter feeds
  • Follow people actively in your field by leveraging twitter search
  • Automate the twitter follow process using Tweet Adder
  • Share/Retweet thoughtfully and frequently
  • Engage
Next up is Rob Garner.
We treat social media and search engine marketing separately. We should stop that, he says. Because social helps your natural search presence.
Shift in Linking Measurement
Links are the cornerstone of natural search algorithms. But influence of links has shifted greatly from webmasters and technical influencers to the average Internet user. As a result, the social graph has taken a massive bite out of the link graph. Examples of this include:
  • Tweeting
  • Publishing via blog, CMS
  • Rating, commenting, posting
  • Bookmarking
  • Etc
Meet the Share Graph – a new kind of social link graph
Search engine’s view of sharing activities across the social graph. Takes into consideration:
  • Authority of the network sharer
  • Theme of the user, or related concepts of the network sharer
  • Depth of the sharer’s network and the authority of those in the network
  • Trustworthiness of the network sharer
  • Velocity of keyword usage across a network and the spreading of that keyword or phrase over time through shared networks
  • Velocity of link being shared over time based on time frequency, volume, and level that it cascades through various networks.
It’s kind of like a cross between the link graph and the social graph.
Social relevancy – it’s just common sense SEO.  It’s thinking like a search engine in social networks and sending social signals to search engines. How engines are looking at Twitter.
Consider the parallel aspects of Web sites and Twitter accounts
  • Domain authority : Username authority
  • Duplicate content : Retweets
  • Blogging freshness : content freshness : microblogging freshness
  • Links ; Number of followers
  • Quality of links : Quality of followers
  • Inbound links vs outbound links : ratio of followers in contrast to the number of people followed.
  • Link to bad : good neighborhoods
  • Themes of Twitter users
Social Signals That Affect SEO
  • Increase in the amount of links toward your own content and site domain
  • 2nd tier SERP visibility: Creation of pages within networks, such as profile pages, tweets, forum discussion threads and so on, which create new pages that rank with your message in the search results
  • Comments, which in aggregrate are a signal that people are reading your content and indicates social activity around a particular discussion or asset
  • Facebook Likes and Tweets: Used by Bing to help rank content
  • Views: Helps search engines like YouTube determine the relative popularity of a particular asset within their neetwork
  • Status updates: Help Google determine the velocity of sharing popularity toward an asset, which can allow for quicker ranking or a particular asset in search
  • Keyword sharing velocity: Type of analysis performed by Google and Bing.
  • RSS feeds
  • Gadgets and widgets
  • Personalization
  • Freshness of content
  • User generated content
  • Microformats
What’s the big deal about real time search and Google+?
Real time is a long-time primary initiative of Larry Page, going back to 2001.  To be successful real time needs these two unique elements:
  • It must have a crawler-based algo
  • It must have a human driven social layer
Trust and authority are paramount to its success. Real-time elements are part of the backbone of Google+.
  • Keyword search velocity: Google trends the rise and fall of keyword usage over time.
  • Sharing: Google+ is tracking the speed of traffic by time-stamping every click
  • This helps determine QDF factors and rank sites accordingly
Sparks: Similar to “most shared” stories on LinkedIn or “most retweets” in Twitter.
Should you +1 your own stuff? Absolutely. 1-ing other sites adds a level of trust for others in your network. Authoritative and aggregated plus-ones shares will provide increased visibility.  Plus one pages you really like.  Google says: Plus one annotated URLs receive a 20 percent higher CTR in the SERPs.
Last up is Joe Hall.
Social media needs to be part of your overall SEO strategy, don’t replace the tactics with what you’re already doing. This needs to be something you add on the side. Social will never take away from SEO. Social makes search better but it doesn’t take away from link building, content creation, etc.
Brief History of Social Search Signals
2004: Eurekster launched. They were the first personalized social search engine. It was a concept, not a great working model. The only big network at the time was MySpace. It was hard to get quality signals from a network that only took a small population.
2004/2009: Yahoo introduces TrustRank. First time a large-scale search engine wanted to be trust on Web pages.
2005: Yahoo integrates MyWeb as Personalize Search
2006: Yahoo files for patent that uses “user” annotations as anchor text to create a “Social” TrustRank
2008: Yahoo files for patent that rates user generated content, referred to as AuthorRank.
2009: Twitter explodes
2009: Facebook’s annual growth is over 200 percent
October 2009: Google launches Personalized Social Search.  They launch Real Time Search Results in December of 2009
December 2010: Google/Bing admit in interview with SearchEngineLand that they are using data from both Facebook and Twitter
April 2011: SEOmoz releases data showing high correlations of FB shares and rankings
May 2011: Facebook busted by bloggers for a secret PR smear aimed at Google.  Google “may be improperly” usind data they have scraped about Facebook users.
June 2011: Matt Cutts denies Google uses Facebook data.
June 2011: Google+ launches in beta. It’s a shit from outside data.  In July 2011, Google does not renew its deal with Twitter and Google Real Time Search dies.
That’s where we are now. Google has no public relationships with other providers and they just launched Google+.
Personalized Social Search – Ranks content based on social connections. Highly influenced by quantity.
How to Game Personalized Social Search
  • Target sub groups
  • Facebook groups
  • Google+ circles
  • Niche Twitter Influencers
How is social media affecting global rankings?  Different types of social media content consumption. Think about the relationships that each sites allow you to have.  There are two kinds:
  • Symmetrical Consumption (Facebook)
  • Asymmetrical Consumption (Twitter)
Symmetrical content consumption is great for basic quantitative metrics, but it’s hard to measure influence.  Just because me and Joe Hall are friends on Facebook doesn’t mean he really cares about me as much as I care about him. No, really, that’s the example he uses. IN FRONT OF EVERYONE!
With asymmetrical content consumption, it’s easy to measure influence but there’s no basic quantitative metric.
Google can easily take a look at content being shared on Facebook, count the number of likes it has, make a list of who liked the content, and judge their influence on other networks. That’s how you fight spam on social media. It’s easy to make 6,000 Facebook accounts. It’s a lot harder to give those accounts influence on other networks. Google can use both of these types of relationshps to find content and judge whether that content is being shared by people with trust and authority.
But there’s a huge problem with this. They don’t own social data. Right now the biggest value asset companies like Twitter has is their data.  So because of that, Google introduces Google+ to harvest data for social signals.  They integrated both symmetrical and asymmetrical measurements.
Gaming Social Media Signals
Encourage dialog to drive signals – he shows an example where people thought they were +1ing a cute logo, but they were really  +ing the site. Some rowdy guys behind me cheered.
Encourage content sharing to build authority – Go to Reddit, find content already being shared and then tell people to reshare it.
And it’s it.  Which is good…because I have about 3 minutes left of laptop battery. See you later!
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