This interview with Travis Bliffen of Stellar SEO is an excerpt from a recent webinar: Are Social Signals the Future of SEO…Or the Present?
The Convirza Webinar Series contains a host of valuable data and perspectives from marketing experts across North America.
The Q&A portion of the presentation can be read below.
McKay: Okay. So to summarize the impact of social media on SEO I just want to go through some specific examples, and you just, yes or no, whether it impacts. So if I post an article we read on our blog on our Facebook page, does that alone impact SEO?
McKay: If someone shares that article does that impact SEO?
Travis: Yes, and that’s where it begins. If you share it in one place, one time that’s not the impact. The impact begins when the more people share it or the more places that it’s shared. So if you had 1,000 Facebook profiles of your own, and you shared it on all 1,000 of them, it would have more of an impact than if you shared it on one.
McKay: Okay. What about if someone likes it or comments on it? Does that impact SEO?
Travis: Likes and comments on Facebook, the Facebook of the social media profiles is the worst indexed. So likes and comments are not really a very good social signal to rely on.
McKay: Okay. Let’s go through Twitter now. So if I just tweet something, is that tweet indexable or does it need also to be retweeted, as well?
Travis: Yes, if you tweet something it can be indexed. But the index rate the last one that I saw was around 55-60%. The person tweeting it has a very large influence on how beneficial it is. If an authority within an industry shares or retweets something you have, it has more benefit than if you share it, and you have five followers. Now that could be because of the add-on session and they shared it to people. Other people shared it, and somewhere in there, somebody linked to your content.
McKay: That makes sense. Then talk about video. You did a little bit, and I love that. So I’m seeing more and more YouTube videos, and other types of videos, show up in the actual organic ranks and it shows a little thumbnail of the video or even bigger than that sometimes. Is posting a video on YouTube, if you optimize it with the correct tags, and description, and things could that get it indexed or does it also need to be viewed a certain number of times or shared a certain number of times, on other social media platforms?
Travis: Right, so with videos, if it’s very low competition, the phrase that you’re optimizing for, sometimes just uploading it, and optimizing the description and the title tag is all you’ll need to do for it to show up. If there are other people that are targeting that, then you have to look at adding social signals to it. Also with YouTube videos, the big things are is it being watched and what percentage of the video do they watch? How many times is the video being shared or embedded, and are there people actively commenting or engaging with the video? So those are all factors that come into play.
McKay: Okay and then also, we’ve got people asking about specific use cases. I call them use cases, but situations. Let’s say you’ve got a blog, a corporate blog that’s getting 400-500 visits a week. What would you do, steps one through five to increase the number of organic visitors? What would Travis do on day one through step five or whatever ti is to increase the number of visitors?
Travis: Well, the first thing you’d is when you’re coming up with the next content topic is you would want to check using a program like BuzzFeed, to find out what articles performed really well on that topic, step one. Step two, you go to the same list of articles, and the top five or ten about that topic, in general. It doesn’t have to be a specific topic, but the general topic. You find out who linked to those blog posts. So you would just plug it into the Majestic SEO and you would pull the back links from people that linked specifically to a post about a similar topic.
Number three, you would quickly view the other posts on the topic, and find out what it was that they have in common. What was the secret sauce that made all these popular? And number four, you take that, and you implement it into your own content piece, so you add unique perspectives. You make it fresher, update it. You make it more in-depth, more detailed. Number five, you email all the people that linked to the other popular articles, and you let them know, “We have something that’s better,” and they will do the work for you at that point if you’ve created a piece of content that really stands out.
McKay: Awesome. Have you done any research or seen any research, relating to the type of content Google likes? Like obviously it’s about content that’s going to get shared and read, like you said. But do you think length plays into it? Do you have an ideal length about the blog post, for example or we’re seeing more and more websites, especially of technology companies that actually have very few words on them. Like, if you look at a company like Marketo’s website. Actually there are pretty few words on that site. Is that where things are headed? What do you think in terms of length of content? What are your rules around that stuff, Travis?
Travis: So Neil Patel of Quick Sprout and Crazy Egg, he has released some information he had, and it was in conjunction with it might have been the Marketing Institute. Anyway they did a study that showed that based on the length of content written text, what the average article was in the top positions, and it showed clearly that articles 1,200-plus words and 2,0000-words, both performed better than shorter articles, in the results. The other question you asked me is, “In the future are our sites going to have less tags, and how does that play into it?”
What people think is sometimes that in order for SEO to work you have to have every single component in place, perfectly. But the fact of the matter is, if you’re getting a ton of authority sites linking back to you, and you’re getting talked about, and you’re getting a lot of social shares, and you’re getting traffic to your site, and people stick around for a while, then the fact that you have less content on your page is not going to prevent you from ranking. Just like the fact you could a 5,000 word article, and not get any links to it, and that’s not going to perform any better. So it’s about the totality things.
If you look at every single aspect of your entire marketing, and website strategy and you find you’ve got 99% of them right, the one missing element you have is in most cases, not going to prevent you from performing well. So I think that if Google better understands a website, they understand it’s relevance, and if they can understand that the website’s popular before a search, if they can learn to understand that this website’s tied to this company and this company is what people are actually looking for most of the time, then having less content on the page, or having more content on the page will not necessarily influence it. It won’t be the deciding factor.
McKay: Great to know. One more question, then we’ll let you go, Travis. So when you sit down with a client, and evaluate what they’ve done, and what you’re going to do with them, what is the biggest SEO mistake you think companies are making?
Travis: The biggest SEO mistake I see right now is companies that have just failed completely to stay up with the times. A lot of companies are still, “Here’s this keyword. We’ll rank you for this keyword, and we’ll charge you this much to rank you for this keyword.” You literally will pay for months and months and months, and once you rank for the keyword, then that’s great if you rank for the keyword. What that leaves out is the accountability in the meantime.
If you’re a customer and one company comes to you and says, “We’re going to rank you for this keyword, and it’s going to take six months, and in the meantime, you can twiddle your thumbs because nobody’s going to find you.” You’re not going to be that happy. If the other company says, “Okay, here are the targeted keywords, over a 12 month period, we want to rank for these keywords, but in the process of we want to build a diversified traffic source for you. We want to leverage for traffic. We want to leverage social avenues, and in pay-for-click avenues, and other profiles, and videos.” and you’re getting people to their site.
Then they’re going to be happier for a lot longer than if you have a very outdated, one-track mind about just SEO as ranking a site for a keyword, and going from there. So I guess the biggest mistake to sum it up, is that people have yet to realize that SEO is marketing.
McKay: I think that’s a great point is it’s really the core of marketing now. Everybody should focus on it as really the hub of everything else they do. Travis, that was awesome, man, any last words, any last… not last words. That indicates that I’m about to kill you, which I’m not. But any last thoughts before I close the webinar out?
Travis: Well I’m glad to know you’re not going to kill me…Yeah, the last thing is for the next year or two you’re going to hear a lot of hype back and forth about social signals, whether they work, or whether they don’t work. So instead of really tying yourself up on whether they’re working or not, personally use social signals, and get social signals, and make that one your key things just to get people talking about you, and not just for signals’ sake, so people are actually sharing and engaging.
If you do that, then it’s 100% beneficial. There’s not ever a scenario where you get shared so much on Facebook that you get penalized. So whether or not it impacts SEO and if you want to even argue to what percentage it has an impact, you can’t argue that when done right, it provides traffic directly to your site. If it’s sending people to your site and into your sales funnel, and turning them into clients, but maybe if the SEO impact is small, is it really a bad thing? No, not really. So let go of focusing on the headlines that say is it this or is it that, and just focus on the big picture and SEO and link building, both are not going to die in 2015.
Although, I am sure that will read at least 100 articles or see at least 100 titles that indicating that one of the two things have happened. It’s not going to happen, and they’re not going to happen anytime soon. Matt Cutts himself last year stated that they’ve tested a version of Google without links, and the results were much worse than with links, even though links are manipulated right now. So don’t buy into that, and don’t buy into any magic one-size-fits-all solution, where you only have to do this one magical thing, and everything is wonderful.