February 19, 2013

Google - Social Signals & SEO

Social is Here
It’s now quite obvious that social signals for SEO are here to stay. The next question is how to approach this, how can you create an effective social engagement plan? As with all new beginnings, a lot of time and effort is spent on learning how to achieve the best results in the most efficient way and the trial and error process can be grueling. Luckily (and perhaps unbeknownst to most) Google released a social signals map which minimizes the trial and error process of social engagement and gives SEO’s a jump start for building the most effective social SEO game plan.

'The Signals Map
In August of 2009 Google’s new and innovative PuSH protocol- PubSubHubbub made its debut. The basic premise: social networks adopt the protocol (for free) and feed social activities from their network to Google’s Social Data Hub. In January of 2012 after a positive initial response including adoption by Delicious, reddit and Diigo, Google took the next step and integrated the data from the protocol with their Analytics software. The integration between the info coming from PubSubHubbub and Analytics gave rise to the new Social Reports section of Analytics.

To help illustrate how the protocol works Google released a map of the various social signals that SocialReports (PubSubHubbub) tracks, with the signals displayed as small hubs feeding into a central Social Data hub or “your social ecosystem.”

 Google Social Signals Map

At first glance the map might not look like much, but a deeper look reveals that it can act as a great roadmap for building an effective social SEO plan.

What we can learn from the map
1) Not all social networks are created equally. 
This is not a new concept but it does get a different meaning in light of the map. Considering that information from a social network linked to Pubsubhubbub is fed directly to Google, it is fair to assume that social activities from connected networks get more attention than activities from networks that haven’t adopted the protocol. Therefore, it’s a good idea to try and focus on engaging through networks which have linked to Pubsubhubbub.

*Of course, every rule has its exceptions, and Facebook and Twitter are the exceptions here (non-connected networks that nonetheless get a lot of Google attention).
A list of some sites which have adopted the protocol:
AllVoices, Badoo, Blogger, Delicious, Digg, Diigo, Disqus, Echo, Gigya, Google+, Google Groups, Hatena, Livefyre, Meetup, Read It Later, Reddit, Screen Rant, SodaHead, TypePad, VKontakte, yaplog!, Cliqset, DotSpots, Dreamwidth, LiveJournal, MySpace, Six Apart, Tumblr, WordPress               

2) Social activities (signals) should be diverse.
Just as Google doesn’t like it when one keyword is exclusively focused on, it probably doesn’t like to see a single type of social signal associated with a site or signals coming mainly from one social network. The map tells us that Google has unique receptors for 5 signals: posts, comments, bookmarks, votes and reshare. Therefore, we should aim to make our social engagement as diverse as possible and ensure that each signal is well represented in our social profile.    
*Keep in mind that any social signal coming from network that hasn’t adopted the protocol will be indexed as a post.

If you aren’t already engaging in a wide variety of Pubsubhubbub-linked social networks it’s better to get started sooner than later so that when social signals receive even more SEO weight (in the near future) you’ll already be at the forefront.' -Social Media Today


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