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A number of website owners are waking up to a realization that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are having a bearing on their rankings on SERPs. Yes, it’s come as a shock to many of them actually. They sleep at night thinking everything is hunky dory with their rankings and in the morning they are in for a rude shock. All hell’s broken loose with their ranking, courtesy the fact that their Facebook and Twitter presence has not really been up to the mark.

Let’s begin at the very beginning. Likes and Tweets? What are they all about? Then we can go into why something as innocuous sounding as a Like and Tweet is making webmasters sit up and take notice.

First Let’s Talk about Likes

I just about managed to control myself from putting ‘Baby’ at the end but that neither here nor there. Let’s get started.

What is ‘Like’?

The word like means ‘fond of”, if you are fond of something you ‘like’ it. And this is what the Facebook ‘like’ feature is all about. It is a way of giving positive feedback about something that you have read, seen, or heard on the World Wide Web.

You can integrate a social plugin with your website or blog to give the option to website/blog visitors of Liking your content and recommending it to other readers through their Facebook page.

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Why are ‘Likes’ Important?

The World Wide Web is one become Network and social media sites like Facebook allow you and your website, blog or business to become a part of this network. The Like button integrated onto a website or blog can trigger a word of mouth marketing campaign for the content on your website. A single ‘Like’ has the potential to kick start a promotional campaign that develops a life of its own.

When website visitors click on a Like button, it is called a social media activity. The fact that your website is being talked about on the internet through a social media activity earns brownie points for your website and its rankings. The more Likes your content gets the more its promotion on the social network and the more authority that it gains. When your website gets mentioned by various people on Facebook, it gets the same ranking consideration that is given to other ranking factors like backlinks etc. Of course the degree of importance might be lesser, but it does play a major role in getting search engine rankings into high gear.

The doubts regarding ‘Likes’

Although I have already made my stand clear as to whether a Like button affects a website’s ranking on SERPs or not, but don’t worry it’s not just me who is saying Like make a difference. There is no doubt that Google considers social signals as ranking factors. Google has cleared the doubts of many webmaster in this regard, when directly asked questions regarding the value of social activity with respect to rankings on SERPs

There is no doubt that you might get conflicting signals from that end, but here’s the thing –

Say you have a website and the Like button on it has been clicked by a person who has around 400 odd friends on Facebook. As soon as he clicks on the Like button, your page will appear on the NewsFeed of each of his friends. Essentially, your website has been exposed to hundreds of people with a single click. Isn’t that enough to integrate a Like button onto your website pages?

How can you get more ‘Likes”?

The key question isn’t it? “If there is something that seems to working when it comes to search engine rankings, I want to derive maximum advantage out of it” – This statement is the driving force of all webmasters.

Well, the first thing you can do is, ensure that your website or blog provides high quality relevant content. It must be the kind of content that makes a difference and provides readers with a solution to their problems and satisfies an intrinsic need or requirement. I know doing this is difficult but who said getting more people to click on the Like button was going to be easy.

Of course you can also use your personal Facebook page or a Facebook business page to promote your website.

Now something about Tweets

What is a Tweet?

A tweet is essentially a post on Twitter that is made up of 140 characters or less. It can also be called a status update. A Tweet is sent over the Twitter network to people following the senders Twitter account.

Twitter has emerged as a social network that has a bearing on the search engine rankings of a website and a Tweet has no small role to play in it.

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Why are ‘Tweets’ Important?

Twitter updates were included in search results by Google Yes; it was way back in 2009 that Google agreed with Twitter to make Twitter updates a part of their search results. Since that time Tweets were making their presence felt as search engine ranking factors.

But this agreement between Google and Twitter expired on July 2, 2011. So, far they haven’t renewed this agreement. Now it’s only publicly available Tweet updates that are crawled by the Google algorithm.

A word here on Bing, which recognized the enormous potential of Twitter much before Google and had already made it a part of its search engine algorithm. Also, Twitter has renewed its deal with Bing. So, there are no doubts whether Tweets will play a role in your Bing rankings.

What a webmaster needs to do is provide real time information about the website and its updates to people in the form of Tweets. What a search engine does is that it gives a score to each Twitter account, and the more influential the Tweeter the better his/her score. But remember, that now its only publicly available Tweet updates that are crawled by its algorithm.

If this Tweeter links to your website, it has an effect on your website rankings. But it’s not just authoritative Tweeters that matter. As a ranking factor, it is the sum of all Tweeters that link to your website through their Tweets that matters. The more your website’s content is Retweeted, the better its estimation when it comes to search engine algorithms. Search engines regard Retweets as an indicator of the reputation and trust that readers have in your website/blog content. So, each tweet has a bearing on how high your site climbs on the search engine page results.

How do you optimize your use of Tweets?

Something everybody wants to do, but very few can get right! It’s surprisingly really because it’s very easy to leverage the potential of Tweets to get high rankings on SERPs.

Firstly, you need to ensure that your Twitter page contains your targeted keywords. What this will do is that it will ensure that you attract only those followers who are a part of your target audience.

Secondly, you need to use the age old SEO methods of generating backlinks. In this case you need to ensure that these backlinks link to your Twitter account. This has a two fold benefit. It not only improves the reputation of your Twitter account but also contributes towards your website’s SEO.

Thirdly, you should make it easy for people to search for your Tweets, so use Hashtags, which is incidentally also one of better ways of building followers.

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Twitter Button

Now, I know you must have noticed that while I focused more on the Facebook Like button, but didn’t focus as much attention on Twitter button integration. This is because a Twitter button is not all that different from a Facebook ‘Like’ Button. When a user clicks on a “Tweet” button, the link of the web page is shared with the followers of his Twitter account. Of course, the fact that the web page has been tweeted has a big role to play in its search engine rankings, and this role is more clearly defined as compared to the contribution of Facebook Like for SEO purposes.

How do you increase Tweets?

Become a twitter power user. Hmm, this is difficult, but interesting and not impossible. It’s difficult because you want to use methods that offer long term results. You must first start off by targeting authoritative tweeters, the ones that have influence.  If you grab the attention of these Tweeters, you improve your chances of getting more followers for your profile and as a result you improve the readership/followers of your blog/website. These influential Tweeters are opinion makers and shape the opinion of other Tweeters.

Something else that is also important is that you understand that your website/blog and your Twitter account don’t exist in a vacuum. If you follow others, they will follow you. Yes, it’s a simple matter of give and take and the unwritten rule of the social network. You can’t develop a following without becoming a follower.

To Conclude

To put it simply, both Twitter and Facebook, offer social media signals that have an effect on SERPs, they also help your website/blog and you as a webmaster build an authoritative reputation, and at the end of the day it is all about brand awareness.

I have tried to veer away from the technical side and focus more on what is evident, logical, and practical. But, there is every chance that I might have missed out on listing out some points that might have a bearing on the relationship between SEO and these two highly popular social platforms.

This is a vast subject and with an every growing scope and scale. Something that is relevant today might be redundant by a development that is going to happen tomorrow. So, each one of us has to keep eyes and ears open to make sure that we stay on top of things.

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About Pratik Dholakiya

Pratik Dholakiya is an SEO Consultant working with E2M Solutions, a full service internet marketing company helping all size of internet businesses to grow their business by providing advanced guest blogging services, social media marketing, PPC, reputation management, and through other internet marketing strategies. You can follow him on twitter @DholakiyaPratik

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