By Pam Dyer On May 12, 2012
If you manage a website, you know the importance of search engine rankings. Since more than 90% of all online traffic is driven by search results, search engine optimization can be vital to businesses. If your site appears on the first page of Google results, it can make a huge difference in brand recognition, sales, and your bottom line.
But there’s more to harnessing Google’s search algorithm than simply optimizing your site with keywords and meta descriptions. Social media activity is becoming increasingly important in organic search results. Google’s Social Search taps into your social networks to determine the people you trust and makes sure that you see content from them in your search results.
What is social media’s impact?
The folks at TastyPlacement, an SEO and digital design firm in Texas, wanted to find out. They created 6 websites figuratively based in 6 U.S. cities of similar size. The websites were all in the same niche and had domain names that included the city name and the specific home service, like “www.City-Home-Service”. Ten months later, the 6th site was used as a control and sites 1-5 were promoted using only 1 social media outreach initiative, each with the goal of increasing:
Facebook shares and likes
Followers of a site’s Google+ Business Page
Google +1 votes for the website
Tweets and retweets
Though the study wasn’t statistically ideal, it showed that social media has a measurable impact on Google organic search results, with Google properties impacting the websites’ organic search rankings the most.
Increasing the number of Google+ Business Page followers yielded the biggest change in position: +14.63
Tactics to grow the number of Google +1 votes also paid off: +9.44
Facebook promotion finished in the middle at +6.9
A better Tweet and retweet strategy resulted in +2.88
Focusing on getting more Twitter followers came in last and actually decreased search rankings: -1.22.
The control site, which had no social media activity around it, didn’t experience any meaningful change: -0.11
What you should do
Even though this study was small, it has significance. It’s logical that Google properties would be favored in Google search results, though the company would have us believe otherwise. Please refer to my last post, Using Google+ for Business, to take a look at the platform’s advantages.
If you’re just starting out with social media marketing, it makes sense to begin with a couple of small initiatives and go from there. Add a Google +1 button to your website and blog and set up a Google Business Page. Use social media campaigns and other messaging that encourages people to give you +1s and become one of your Google followers.
If you’re already using multiple social media outlets to market your company, try focusing more on Google +1 than on the other platforms you’re using and measure the results.
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