The days of websites standing alone on their own merits are gone. Nowadays it’s all about who shares your URL and drives visitors to your site. And that means mastering and nurturing social networks.
For two years, Google’s mission has been eliminating falsely-inflated spam sites and blogs that drove people to social media for information and shares in the first place. The old formulae of exact-match domains and skimpy, empty posts that were just excuses to place advertising and affiliate links all over a site dooms sites nowadays to SEO obscurity.
Today you have to start with a website that passes all Google’s latest requirements as one worth ranking highly. Your site needs to:
- Offer high perceived value to its target audience
- Entertain and inform Google editors. (You want the Search Evaluation team members reading your content and saying “Wow!”)
- Include regular, fresh content
- Include interactive elements
- Include links and plugins to and from top “Google approved” social networks
- Include a minimum of advertising above the fold
- Be mobile-friendly
Making sure you take care of each of these listed requirements means your website will not only please Google, but attract those all-important social media shares.
1. Install Social Buttons – Intelligently
Just about everyone knows it’s important to install social buttons, driving people to “Like”, share your posts or “Follow” you on social networks. But not everyone makes the most of this SEO boosting strategy. Thousands of website owners install plugins such as Sociable into their blogs and WordPress sites, grateful that the buttons appear at all – but all too often, the choice of blog themes and other options such as column size leaves websites with social buttons that…
- Disappear below the fold
- Are swallowed by more eye-catching content (or distractions)
- Don’t “read”, because they are in an illogical place the eye skips over
- Don’t have a call to action associated with them
- Look plain ugly
You need to make sure your social share buttons, badges and icons appear in the most logical place. They should feel totally natural in their spots – so natural people can barely resist the impulse to click on them.
Proven tips that work:
- Place them in sidebar widgets (making sure they appear above the fold, preferably in the right-hand upper side of the page
- Place them under web contact forms or contest announcements
- Choose plugins that allow you to put them under or on top of each post
- Study top websites and decide which placements are the most effective
Once you’ve done the latter, decide which types of placement would work best for your particular website layout – and purpose.
Don’t overdo social share buttons, either: Only include the most relevant ones to your target audience. Ideally, at the very least, you should have the top four networks: Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Remember, people will rarely share website content if you don’t make it one-click easy for them.
2. Mix Your Content Media
Make sure your website includes both static content and interactive (anything you can click on and get a new result).
Loosely translated, interactive can mean as little as: “Anything you can click on”. You can use your website to inspire and drive visitors to…
- Your Facebook and Twitter polls
- Pin your graphics to Pinterest
- Visit your YouTube or Videos
- Access your SlideShare Presentations
- Join your Google Hangout
- Use your apps
- Enter formal – or informal – interactive contests
Not every post has to directly drive people to your website – but it should inspire them to visit!
The more organic (Google translation: “Natural-feeling”) traffic that flows between your social sites and websites, the higher your Google search rank and the more visibility Facebook and other social networks will grant you.
And that means more shares.
3. Maintain Regular, Natural Social Site Activity
Our last general point on making sure your website gets more social media shares: Interact on your social media daily and regularly.
Don’t bombard your contacts with posts – but do be there at the same time every day, responding and posting. People should never see “3 months ago” on your last feed.
Strive to stay focused on your goals – building relationships, driving traffic to your website content and whatever other goals you decide each social network can further.
Unless your fans actively see you there, they won’t share your content or visit your website from your post links, “About” section apps or Facebook Page app signup. You won’t be there to supply them with post links, photos, videos, polls, questions, Slideshare presentations, infographics, Instagram posts… or any other form of entertainment or education, leading them to your site.
And less visits to your site means less shares from your site.
4. Facebook Sponsored Posts
Now let’s get more specific with our strategies. Let’s take a look at how Facebook Sponsored Posts can grab you more traffic and ultimately net your site more shares.
Don’t confuse these with “Sponsored Stories”, where actions you have taken through an advertiser’s site (such as clicking a “Yes” or “No” in a Poll) are broadcast to your Facebook friends. You can be the advertiser who uses such tactics – but you have no control over what appears where, since Facebook’s algorithm decides how it is shared and who sees it.
When people talk about “Sponsored Posts”, they usually mean Page Post ads. You can create these out of any sort of content you like – photos, videos, text or whatever you like. They are created from your Page content.
Katherine Leonard from Lonelybrand has provided a wonderful tutorial on how to create one – complete with visual examples of the variations you can choose.
You can even promote your event through a Page Post ad – and you can have these shown to anyone on Facebook, even when the people seeing it are not connected to you through Facebook friends, Groups or Pages.
5. Get on the Waiting List for Facebook Graph Search
Graph search promises to allow you to quickly find targeted shares from Facebook contacts. It is currently in “very limited” Beta, so check out the page and join the waiting list now.
You will be able to search by a variety of media and categories. And the more targeted you can be, the better your targeting – and shares.
6. Maximize Your Pinterest Potential
One of the easiest ways to ensure your website content gets shared – optimize it for Pinterest. Not only does this mean adding the “Pin it” button to your photographs, but making it clear that people are allowed to share your photos.
There are two powerful ways to do this, beyond adding the “Pin it” button to each photo or graphic…
- Put your photos in a right-hand, vertical widget. And add a Title to that column saying “Share these on Pinterest”.
- Create infographics. People love learning things about their chosen niche at a glance.
When creating an infographic, jot down and summarize all the information you want to share. You can even use a mind-mapping app or tool to help you sort things into the right categories with the right “relationships”.
Then eliminate anything complicated that you can’t “get right” (this means it probably doesn’t belong in the infographic). Make sure you’re sharing information your audience really wants to know about.
Post your infographic on your website – then drive people to share it or visit it via:
7. Make Full Use of SlideShare
We’ve been talking about using different types of content media to encourage more shares. One of the hottest ways to do this is by using SlideShare. If your demographic is younger than 35, you should especially use SlideShare, which is in the ballpark with the top sites previously mentioned on Alexa graph comparisons, currently ranking 143 globally – a top rating.
Write a post on your topic featuring the link to a SlideShare presentation summarizing or clarifying that topic.
Just make sure you optimize your slides with large print and a minimum of distraction, since SlideShare also comes in a mobile version.
8. Provide What They Need
Finally don’t just ensure you create variety in the different mediums you use to create content – photos, charts, videos, text and the like: Also ensure your content provides a useful balance.
This means ensuring your site has different types of content:
- Evergreen content – Posts that are always “in season” and relevant
- Up to the minute “hot” content – breaking news, new methods, changes (especially to social media, if that’s relevant to your niche)
- Resources visitors will return to access – infographics, lessons, diagrams, charts, templates, apps (e.g. calorie calculators) and checklists
- Sign-up incentives – Reports, templates, checklists, tip sheets
But above all, make sure your website content is shareable.