Yes, I know. I know. If you live by the Google, you’ll die by the Google. Even so, the truth of the matter is that search engines continue to represent a very large proportion of referral traffic for an overwhelming majority of websites on the Internet and there’s a good chance that your blog is no exception. To ignore search traffic is to leave a ton of money on the table and that’s just foolish.
Absolutely, you should write for the people first — good content will always be king — but that doesn’t mean you should forget about search engine optimization altogether. The thing is that the algorithms at Google continue to change at a breakneck pace and the keyword stuffing and paid link buying of yesterday is just going to get you punished. Instead, Google is looking at other indicators of quality content, including social signals.
Even if the keywords, URL and site structure aren’t optimized, if a blog post gets a lot of tweets on Twitter and +1’s on Google+, then there’s a good chance that it’s a pretty important piece of writing. What can you do on your end to help boost the “social signal” of your blog posts? It’s hardly an exact science, but you can tip the odds in your favor by following these three tips.
Focus Your Efforts
There are so many social media outlets, it can be difficult to decide where to begin. What ends up happening with most bloggers is that they take on a shotgun approach, trying to accommodate users from all the networks all at once. But diversification could be working against you.
Think about it this way. Does it look better when a blog post has 10 shares on Facebook or when it only has one share, plus one “like” (or equivalent) on several other networks? By offering too many options, your social signal gets diluted and loses its potency.
Even though Facebook continues to screw you over in terms of organic reach, you can’t deny that Facebook continues to be one of the most popular social networks on the Internet today. It could be a very valuable and viable source of traffic for your blog and it’s a great way to build up your brand awareness too.
The particulars of your blog may vary, but as a general rule of thumb, you should be paying the most attention to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ if you want to boost the social signal of your blog posts.
It’s About “You”
No, it’s not actually about you. It’s about “you.” As in the word “you.” The more relevant you make your content to your readers and your followers, the more likely they are to share, like and tweet it. And that involves using the word “you” whenever possible.
Even looking at the title of this blog post as an example, I could have gone with something like “Boosting the Social Signal of Blog Posts,” but I opted to include the word “Your” in there. That connects the post directly to the reader rather than speaking about blog posts in general.
In the context of social media, “you” and “your” can be incredibly powerful for this reason. How can you “you” lose 10 pounds. How reading this post will change “your” life. What “you” can do to succeed right now. It’s a subtle psychological cue that could work wonderfully for “your” social efforts.
Ask and Ye Shall Receive
It seems like such a simple idea, but it really does work when you use it strategically and don’t overdo it. Do you want your Facebook fans to “like” a post? Ask them to like the post. Do you want your Twitter followers to retweet a tweet? Then add “please retweet” to the end of your tweet.
Reports have indicated that the simple act of asking for some help in a very specific way can dramatically increase the social performance of your updates. Asking to “please retweet” can double the number of retweets you actually get and mentioning the word “like” in a Facebook update can more than double the number of likes too. It really works.
Does this mean you should add these tags to every tweet and update? No. Never. The problem with using them all the time is that they lose their potency and your followers will start to ignore them. If you reserve this power for posts where you really want a boost, though, you can reap some incredible benefits.
What have you found to be the most succcesful way to bolster the social signal on your own blog posts? What strategies have you found to be less successful?