I created this diagram (in the course of a recent post-Penguin SEO audit) to help you understand how to interconnect your social distribution networks while also getting an SEO link benefit.
Social Media vs. Social Networking
Let’s break it into two things- social media vs. social networking. On the left side of the diagram I have social media, which I define as being social around media (content). The example is an “alien dog table” which someone might have in their living room as a conversation starter and also might make you think about leaving as soon as possible. The point is that great content stimulates conversation. A lot of people say social media is about conversations, but we’ve seen a big movement toward content marketing also, and the relationship between the two is clear: content creates conversation. This happens most effectively on Pinterest and Facebook (Tumblr and Blogger could also qualify) because they are built for a great multimedia user experience. It’s harder to enjoy photos and videos on Twitter.
Social networking is on the right side. You’re more likely to have textual interactions on Twitter and LinkedIn, because they don’t do a great job of displaying photo/video content. But you can also distribute content there and get retweets and shares.
Social Media Distribution vs. SEO Links
Two things happen with most of your social media and social networking activities. You distribute or interact with content and people, and you create links that can count towards better rankings on Google and other search engines.
It doesn’t matter how great your content is if you have no power to get it out to people. It can’t go viral if no one sees it in the first place. So you need audiences and networks on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and others. Typically, these audiences overlap one another- they aren’t the same people, because each person favors different sites. But you want to reach the people on Facebook AND Google Plus, so you need to grow your networks on all of them.
How does the SEO side work? Your Twitter profile is probably indexed by Google (you know it is if you can Google your name or your company name and see it in the search results). Google keeps looking at your tweets every so often, and then when it finds now things you’ve linked to (for example, a new blog post you wrote), it indexes those webpages. The same process happens with any social media profile you post to that is public and indexed by Google. So posting webpage URLs creates links to those pages. And links are one of the biggest factors in how highly you rank for Google searches.
Social Media Links and Google’s Penguin Update
Most SEO authorities believe these “social signals” (links Google finds on social sites) are still a minor part of the ranking equation, but I and others also believe these will increase. The latest Google update, Penguin, was the most disruptive since 2003 or 2005. It was a major shift away from a certain type of links (anchor-text heavy, which means they have keywords in them like “social media expert”) toward another (not anchor-text-heavy like “this” or “click here” or the website domain name like “www.example.com”). Now, blogroll links (often containing keywords) don’t help as much and can hurt you. Social media links, which often are just URL’s, were not made dangerous by this update, and by comparison, are more favorable. Many SEO people are scrambling to try to get these keyword-anchor-text links taken down.
The change we now smell in the wind is that high-quality content that wins deserved links is better than trying to fake out Google with linking schemes, blog networks, or link building software. The days of Russian spam machines dominating Google are numbered. The future is in high quality content, and the best content comes from inspiration, not reverse-engineering, so you need some creative people on your team. Any company that’s been trying to market on social media has seen this already: you need a lot of content, and it’s not easy to create good content.
So create it, then distribute it, and you’ll win in SEO too.
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