In 2009, when experts in SEO were asked what they thought was the most important thing in SEO, 43% said links. In 2011 however, that number dropped down to just 22%. The remainder now believes that in the near future, social metrics are going to play a much more important role in SEO.
Here are the most important metrics to pay attention to in social media.
Two Twitter Metrics
The two Twitter metrics to pay attention to are the number of tweets and the authority of the tweeters.
The number of tweets plays a critical role because Twitter is primarily a viral engine. People are encouraged to retweet content and regularly pass things along.
As a result, search engines like Google know that good content is content that’s passed along. If you get a high number of tweets, that will help your rankings. Most social metrics experts believe that the number of tweets and retweets is more important than the authority of the tweets.
The authority of the tweets are, of course, a measurement of how powerful each tweeter is. If they have a lot of followers and a strong brand, a tweet weighs more than if they were a brand new account.
The two Facebook metrics to pay attention to are similar to Twitter: the more shares you get, the better it is for your page ranking.
Again, authority comes into play. Having high authority shares will impact how your pages rank.
In addition to shares, however, a few other things come into play with Facebook.
Many believe that the number of comments you get plays a factor. High-quality content tends to generate discussion.
In addition, the number of likes you get on your content also plays a role.
Can Google “Read” Comments?
One hotly debated topic is whether or not search engines can actually read the sentiment inside comments and tweets.
After all, if there are 1,000 tweets about “I Love Brand X,” it shouldn’t have the same impact as 1,000 tweets about “I Hate Brand X.”
The general consensus is that Google can actually read comment sentiment to some degree. Of course, it can’t read highly complex comments yet, but by and large, Google can distinguish between positive sentiment and negative sentiment.
It’s believed that sentiment plays a large role in rankings – as large as the number of shares itself.
Other Networks: Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon
Getting up-votes on social bookmarking networks can also help your search engine rankings.
Anytime you post new content, submit it to the social bookmarking websites as well. If it doesn’t take off, there’s no harm done. On the other hand, if it does take off, you have a strong ranking factor on your side.
These are some of the main social metrics that search engines are looking at today. The use of social metrics in SEO is still relatively young, which means it’s likely to change and evolve as both SEOs and search engines get smarter.