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Social Media and Backlink Synergy

Jason Roy

Social votes and shares affect SEO. 

Unlike when we wrote our article on social votes and SEO, the fact that social media impacts SEO results is common knowledge now.

What isn’t so common knowledge is the how. How do social media votes affect SEO? Should you forget backlinks and focus solely on social media? Is it a numbers game with likes and shares? 

Backlinks haven’t gone away – we’ve talked about that before. But in today’s article, we’re going to bring it all together. 

Social Shares – Ranking Without Links?

Although the Panda and Penguin algorithms have been getting a lot of attention lately, let’s not forget about another algorithm update that’s still in play today: the Freshness Update.

With Freshness, Google made it abundantly clear they want fresh content ranking on page #1. Panda, Penguin and Freshness work together in an attempt to give Google’s users the best experience possible.

Social media is—and has always been—about freshness. When something unique and exciting comes out, the social media world explodes. Then the explosion subsides until the next unique and exciting piece of information is found.

Here’s how Google is using this to improve the user experience.

When something gets “shared,” “liked” and “retweeted,” it impacts SEO – big time. Sites with no backlinks whatsoever can rank on page #1 for ultra-competitive keywords. This is freshness in play.

If an article is getting a ton of attention in the social space, Google wants to make sure that’s available for people using their search engine. So they use the social votes to boost that site’s rankings.

Here’s the catch: it’s a temporary boost.

Just like viral content has a relatively short lifespan, so will any rankings gained from an influx of social media “likes” and “shares” alone. It makes sense, too – Google doesn’t want trending results to rank above authorities unless people are actively searching for them. Once the searches stop, the ranking stops as well.

So What about Backlinks?

Here’s where the synergy all comes together. Google realizes there are two types of viral content:

Flash in the pan content – something funny or interesting that gets a lot of attention for a very short time, then disappears. 

Long-lasting value – content that explodes due to its level of value and continues to be in demand after the initial viral explosion fades.

To sort through the two different types, Google uses backlinks and social media shares. It’s brilliant, really – people, in general, will not give a backlink to flash in the pan content. They’ll share it on Facebook. They’ll retweet it. They’ll like it.

Valuable content, on the other hand, attracts backlinks like a magnet. As a result, after the viral explosion fades, the content will retain its rankings. 

The social media explosion allows a page to rank above authorities temporarily. This is the “trial phase,” so to speak. if the page is truly unique and offers long-lasting value, Google wants it on page #1 permanently.

However, if the page contains something funny or controversial that will subside in a week, Google only wants it on page #1 for a short amount of time. By using social media and backlinks together, Google’s developed a great way to populate their rankings with the highest quality content possible.

Now, Let’s Talk About How to go Viral!

 “Viral” – the new buzzword of the social web.  

And it’s easy to see why. With the new interconnected web, no-name websites can make a HUGE name for themselves in just a week! We’ve seen it time and time again – people making videos or writing articles that boost them to the top of internet stardom.

Want a quick example? Look no further than the web’s favorite singer-songwriter, Rebecca Black.

At first glance, Rebecca Black looks like an ordinary teenage girl. And she was before YouTube made her a massive star. This happened in about a week’s time. 

Thinking it would be a fun idea, she and her parents contracted a private music/video production crew to write a pop song for Rebecca to sing. The production company wrote the music, lyrics and filmed the video. Then Rebecca uploaded it to YouTube, where it sat dormant for six months.

But then things started picking up. Several huge social media sites started sharing the link around. The more people who saw it, the more people shared it. Within a month, Rebecca Black’s “Friday” music video had millions and millions of views. Additionally, she was being featured in national news stations and eventually got a recording contract.

This is all thanks to the viral potential of the web. 

And yes, internet marketers and online business owners are currently using this to skyrocket their customer base.

At first glance, it might seem like viral marketing is luck-based. If you write a high-quality or entertaining piece of content, if the right people see it, you have a shot at going viral. 

Truth is, although virality does require a bit of luck, there are several things you can do to help increase your odds. In today’s article, we’ll be taking a look at a few.

The User Experience

First and foremost, if you want your content to go viral, it has to be good. More than good, it has to be exceptional. Now, depending on your niche, there are a few ways you can go about doing this.

Usually, viral content is either extremely informative or extremely entertaining. So if you have an online guitar teaching site, going viral will take one of the following:

Creating an incredibly informative lesson/series that blows the minds of every person who watches it.

Creating a funny and entertaining guitar-related video.

Now, be careful with this. It’s true: if you go for entertainment, you’re more likely to go viral. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll have increased business. If people are only watching your videos to be entertained, they’re not really going to care about what your guitar teaching website does in the first place.

On the other hand, if you go for exceptional information, it’ll be a bit more difficult to go viral. Once you do, though, you’ll see a huge increase in business – an increase that will likely be permanent.

Besides the content, the layout of your website matters – big time. If you have a website that’s cluttered with advertisements, it’s not going to matter how valuable the content is. Your visitors are going to take one look at your page and exit immediately.

It’s a tradeoff. Do you want to earn more money immediately when people visit your site, or would you rather have a chance at going viral and “hitting it big?” The choice is yours.

In general, clean, modern websites have the best chance of going viral. So if your website looks like it’s from 1997, your odds of going viral are significantly reduced.

Jumpstarting the Process  

Most people understand that “going viral” requires fantastic content. So they create some awesome content and wait. Unfortunately, no one is ever exposed to their content. As a result, their website flounders, even though it has great content.

The solution? Borrow authority and traffic from other highly respected websites in your niche. Websites that already have a fan base and tribe built up.

But don’t directly ask for them to share your content. Take a different approach. Write some fantastic content that’s very unique. Then, reach out to the experts in your niche and ask for their feedback. Don’t even mention sharing! Just ask them if they like it, if they would change anything and if their fan base might enjoy that type of content.

If your content really is spectacular, they’ll most likely share it without you even having to ask!

Takeaways

For SEO’s, this should be an “A-ha!” moment. Social media gives us a wealth of new tools for ranking our sites.

And yes, it is possible to rank on page #1 very quickly – even if you don’t have any links. If you’re able to deliver long-lasting value in the viral form, you will likely gain a permanent boost in traffic.

Additionally, for SEO’s and internet marketers looking to use trends to gain traffic, using a strategy that relies on social shares and the Freshness Update is a great way to take advantage of what’s hot at any given moment.

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