The launch of Google+ Pages for business last week and the many other social networks has meant content creation and community engagement now play a vital role in any successful digital strategy.
With the growing number of social networks also comes a greater choice of social sharing buttons for businesses to add to their websites and growing uncertainty about where to place them and which pages to promote.
I’m astounded at the countless examples I’ve seen where social sharing buttons are added to pages that offer little value to the end user.
I recently received the following email:
Can you please do <business name> a massive favour and help us by clicking the +1 button on our website page? All you need to do is go to <sales page> and click on the +1 button on the top right of our website (above FREE QUOTE). This will help us rank higher on the Google search.
It’s easy to understand the desire for business owners and marketing managers to want to promote their acquisition pages higher up the SERPs, but the addition of social sharing buttons on these pages isn’t likely to have much impact – and the likelihood that a non-affiliated user will like or share such content is limited.
The email is correct in saying that +1’s help boost search engine rankings however a static sales page like I was asked to +1 isn’t likely to receive much benefit from it.
The Google +1 button (and other social sharing buttons – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) are designed to be placed on bespoke, quality content that provides value and utility to the end user.
Search engine algorithms are smart enough to crawl and understand various types of content – and having a select number of people (6 in the case of the email above) all +1 a static sales pages isn’t deemed to provide value and utility.
The recent Google Fresh update and ongoing Google Panda updates mean businesses that produce regular, high quality content are more likely to have people share that content with their social networks and for search engines to display that content higher in the search results.
Duane Forrester, Sr. Product Manager at Bing wrote the following about content in a recent post:
Content is king, but not all content is fit to rule. What the engines seek is compelling, unique content… Your job is to create content so compelling that visitors to your site feel no need to look elsewhere to have their needs met.
Facebook also suggest visual content has a greater chance of being Liked by your community and shared with their network than static text-based content.
Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land reported that Facebook Like buttons get 5 times more clicks if:
- Versions that show thumbnails of friends are used.
- They allow people to add comments.
- If they appear at both the top and bottom of articles.
- If they appear near visual content like videos or graphics.
See Tom Critchlow’s Guide to Innovative Content Types for other types of content that social networks and search engines are hungry for.
While useful, the Google +1 button, Facebook Like and other social sharing buttons are still only one of the signal collections in Google’s constantly changing multi-signal ranking algorithm.
What we do know is that social communities and social authority along with regular, high quality content go a long way to improving brand awareness, search engine visibility and overall website authority – which in turn can help drive sales.
Photo credit: Star Blogger