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by Oliver Ewbank on 30th March 2011
In a web ruled by links it’s hard to imagine that there can be other external influences on a search engine ranking. Can social media citations play their part? You would be crazy to think otherwise.
Once a search engine looks at your content and backlinks what else can it search for? A brand’s popularity is the next logical step. One of the best ways to measure brand popularity is to monitor the number of social media mentions. SERPs are starting to display brand mentions and in particular ‘Tweets’ more regularly which shows search engines are giving authority to social citations.
Growing a Twitter account is an excellent way to interact with your target audience. It can also give search engines ‘popularity signals’ helping you rank in competitive search results. Retweets, brand mentions and authentic citations can only add value to your website’s external profile. Should you be proactive with your Twitter account to improve rankings? No, you should be proactive with your Twitter account to improve your followers – this activity will have positive knock-on effects.
Citations and reviews represent an important ranking factor for local search. The citations are displayed on Google Maps and a large number of reviews can influence your local ranking (and Place Page). Again, being proactive with your reviews can have a positive impact on your rankings. For example, a hotel should encourage or reward guests who leave a review on their Yelp profile. The impact of this citation will lead to good PR and improve their ‘popularity signals’.
Long Term vs Short Term
Although social media citations may influence rankings the effect would appear to be more short term than long term. For example, if a company has a large amount of ‘social activity’ at the time of ranking then this could benefit their search results. However, in comparison to a quality link the long term impact is minimal.
If citations are starting to influence search engine rankings you would be mad to not include social media in your overall strategy. Twitter and Facebook are an excellent way to interact with your primary audience and build up quality users. If you invest in social media the worst case scenario will be a quality list of followers. The best case scenario will show search engines that your brand is popular when jostling with competitors.
Working in new media for over 8 years, Oliver Ewbank has worked for a range of brands including eBay and SportBusiness.com on SEO, PPC and Social Media Management. He has won awards for his SEO work and been featured in a number of publications, including Virgin online.