Social Engagement and SEO: Comments, Shares and Likes Can Boost Search Rank

How does social activity help boost your search discovery? More and more, the algorithms that run search engines are beginning to incorporate social signals that help them determine what content people find valuable, relevant, and interesting. At SXSW Interactive, representatives from search giants Google and Bing shared some insights in a Q&A on just how important social is to search and how to optimize your site around some of these factors along with some other insights into SEO on the web today.

Content is Still King
Overall, the panel’s sentiment was resounding: in terms of SEO, content is still king. Not only is rich, original content appealing to search engines, it appeals to people. Great content spurs people to take action, signaling to search engines that the content is relevant and interesting. So, the fundamentals of creating compelling, dynamic, fresh content on important keywords are still critical in helping your site rank well in search engines.

TIP: Start by creating content people will want to read and share, and do keyword research to optimize content for search engines to find.

Quality Comments are Critical
Not only is the content you post on your site an important signal, the content others post on your site is something search engines are paying attention to as well. A thoughtful, on-topic, in-depth comment tells search engines that people are engaging with the content. For example, 15 shallow, one-word comments like “awesome post!” may be ignored by search engines, while two or three thoughtful, on-topic sentences that contribute to the conversation can be a powerful signal to search engines that your post is resonating with people, helping boost your site.

TIP:  Educate frequent commentators on your site to write thoughtful comments to help boost your site’s rank.

Similar Links Boost Time on Site
The time users spend on your site is another important factor search engines consider, so creating content that compels people to take time to read and a site that facilitates exploration are both important for SEO. And, by fostering reader engagement, you can help boost the time they spend on your site. Plus, these internal links are also valuable in and of themselves to search engines.

TIP: Add a list of hyperlinks to similar post titles at the end of each post to increase the amount of time people spend on your site and to increase internal links back to your own content.

Shares Are a Signal
According to Matt Cutts from Google, the search engine has been using social more and more in search engine results to determine how to organize and display information. Search engines are still determining exactly how to incorporate signals like Facebook likes, Tweets, and other social shares, but factors such as the reputation of Facebook or Twitter accounts are important. Also, social sharing is an important way to make sure people see your content and visit your site, both critical factors in its overall rank.

TIP: Make it easy for readers to share your content on the most popular social sites like Twitter and Facebook by making sure there are share buttons on each post or page of your site.

Want to know more? You can read more Q&A tidbits from the archived Tweet stream from this conversation, or check out some of our related articles:

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