Social media can play an important role in your online marketing as a way to engage your target audience, but it can also be used in your link building strategy if you know what you’re doing. Here are the main three ways that you can gain additional backlinks to your website and boost your rankings using social media.
1) Look at social sharing as link requests
Once a link builder has found a prospective link opportunity, their next task is sending link requests. This is where a link builder asks a webmaster or website owner to add a link to a particular page on their website. While there are automated means of doing this (most of which I would not recommend), a large majority of the link builder’s time will be spent looking for contact information then crafting a personalized message in the hope that they will get a link. Depending on the link itself, the percentage of positive replies to link requests can vary.
So what if I said you could send an essentially generic link request to possibly thousands of people at a time? Well you can, thanks to social media. Whenever you share a link with your social media audience, you are creating the opportunity for others to discover your link and possibly link to it on their own blog or website. The best part is that someone else in your audience might also share your social media update with the link to their network, increasing the reach of your request.
Essentially what happens is this. Let’s say you share a link on Twitter. That link now has the potential to reach all of your followers. If you have 1,000 followers, that’s 1,000 people who could potentially see your link. Then, maybe assume that a measly ten of your followers retweet you and their total number of followers is somewhere around 10,000. Under the assumption that the link you tweeted was valuable, someone out of the 11,000 people you might reach is bound to link back to that link. Even though that number sounds small, building one link by taking approximately one minute to craft a tweet is more efficient than building one link through taking an hour of finding a potential link opportunity and crafting an email.
For those of you who are fighting to convince a CEO or a client who invests heavily in SEO and link building to also try social media, let them know that it could be a supplement to your link building strategy. Tell them that a percentage of the new followers or fans they get could also become a link partner as well.
Also let them know that by being on social media, you have the potential to reach more than just your own followers. Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn have groups where you can also share links. So instead of just reaching your 100 connections on LinkedIn through a status update, you could reach 5,000 people in one or more groups within your industry.
The keys to making social sharing and promotion work for link building are:
Connecting with the right audience. Don’t just look to get any followers or fans. Try to follow and interact with people who will be interested in your updates. Particularly try to follow bloggers in your industry - they will be most likely to link to you within their posts, and there’s nothing better than an in-content link
Creating “linkbait” content. This includes infographics, videos, tutorials, how-to guides, lists, podcasts, and other valuable information.
Sharing your link at different times. Remember that just because it is 9am to 5pm for you doesn’t mean it is for everyone else. Maybe your next potential link opportunity is still asleep a few time zones away. Be sure to tweet a few times a day, and to keep your account from sounding like a broken record, vary the text in the tweet to make it sound unique.
The only disadvantage to link building in this way, as opposed to the old fashioned link request via email, is that you can’t specify any anchor text. Of course, since one of the new criteria for getting busted by the Google Penguin algorithm is over-optimization of anchor text, it might be a good thing that you will be building very natural links with varying anchor text.
2) Create social profiles for links
While major networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all use nofollow or redirected links, it doesn’t mean that the rest do. There are hundreds of social networks out there that allow you to sign up, create a profile, and include a link to your website. And since the jury is out about whether or not nofollow links can still count, it doesn’t hurt to create them.
So where can you find all of these social networks? My favorite source is usually KnowEm
You simply enter your desired username (usually the one that ends up in your URL such as twitter.com/username) and KnowEm will search hundreds of networks of various types and in various industries.
- 37 blogging networks including Blogger, Disqus, Posterous, Tumblr, and Typepad.
- 42 bookmarking networks including Delicious, Diigo, Pinterest, and StumbleUpon.
- 53 business networks including Active Rain, Biznik, BizSugar, LinkedIn, and Tip’d.
- 90 community networks including Facebook, HubPages, MySpace, and SlideShare.
- 24 design networks including Behance, DeviantArt, MyFolio, and ThemeForest.
- 62 entertainment networks including Cracked, Fanpop, RedBubble, and TMZ.
- 28 health networks including Active.com, BikeJournal, 43 Things, and Steepster.
- 48 information networks including About.me, Answers.com, Blekko, CrunchBase, and Wikipedia.
- 23 microblogging networks including Formspring, Foursquare, Friendfeed, and Twitter.
- 25 music networks including Blip.fm, Last.fm, Lifestream.fm, and Stereogum.
- 27 news networks including Digg, Huffington Post, LifeHacker, and Technorati.
- 38 photo networks including Blurb, DailyBooth, Flickr, Photobucket, Piczo, and Zenfolio.
- 35 tech networks including Bit.ly, Gizmodo, Jive, Slashdot, and Techspot.
- 25 travel networks including Dopplr, Fodor’s, OnTheRoad, and TravelPod.
- 27 video networks including Blip.tv, DailyMotion, Hulu, Vimeo, and YouTube.
As you can imagine, out of just these networks, you’re bound to find some amazing link building opportunities within your niche and beyond. When you’re creating your profile, just be sure to look out for any opportunities to add your link. While you may only get the direct http://www.domain.com version, be on the lookout for any information boxes that allow you to add HTML for anchor text links.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of networks with nofollow links and their clickthrough rates. Even if the anchor text doesn’t count for SEO value, like the three profile links you get with LinkedIn don’t just ignore the fact that you can use keyword-based anchor text. Just think about the anchor text you use as something that will encourage people to click on the link. Also, on networks like Facebook, be sure to place your link where it will get noticed - like at the end of your About information.
After all, the ultimate goal is to get traffic back to the website, right?
3) Use Google+
What if a social share led your link to the first page of search results? When you use Google+ you have that opportunity with anyone you are connected to, thanks to personalized search results. Take a look at this query for link building, for example. The two results that have the little blue person icon next to them are only at the top of the results based on my connections to people who have shared that link.
You can see the difference when you take away the personalized results.
Not only did one of the results completely vanish from the top five results, but those links also lost their “recommendations” by those who shared them on Google+. This shows just how powerful your usage of Google+ can help influence search results with your connections.
So what does it boil down to? If you want your Google+ experience to make a dent in search results, you need to do the following:
Include good keywords in your profile/page information. This will help more people find and connect with you on Google+. Your profile/page might even come up in Google search results themselves for a particular keyword.
Link to important websites on your profile/page. For your profile, you can link to a website using the Other Profiles, Contributor To, and Recommended Links section. For your page, you can link to a website using the Recommended Links section.
+1 important websites with your profile, as this will help links show up to your connections. You don’t have to share it on your profile (although that definitely helps it get more exposure), but you do have to click that +1 button. If the website or page in question doesn’t have a +1 button, just use the Google Chrome +1 Button Extension
Connect with people who you want to find your link on your profile/page. If you have a local business, be sure to connect with local people by adding them to your circles in hopes that they add you back. Before you start adding people, make sure that your profile’s About information is fully completed and publicly visible, along with some of your updates, so that people will see why they would want to add you to their circles.
There you have it! Three great ways to get started with using social media for link building! Once you have mastered these three ways, then you are bound to find even more opportunities to earn more links and better rankings through social networks.
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