Like the time of the Elves in Lord of the Rings, the reign of Google search algorithms is in the past. Gone are the days when you could load up your website with SEO tactics like backlinks to bump up your position. What’s more, using these kinds of strategies today can even hurt you.

When it comes to driving traffic to your website now, it’s out with the old and in with the new. What’s new? Take a clue: when Google makes its own social media platform a priority, it’s time to examine the role social media could play in your SEO success.

Today, social search rules

Today, social search not only identifies the current trends but drives new ones. Think of trends like flocks of birds, quick to group and take flight, instant to turn seamlessly after the leader. Search algorithms struggle to do much more than join in the backdraft. Today, SEO is driven by social search attributes such as the degree to which content is SHARED. What the masses share, where the masses go, there go the search results.

Social networks win more of our trust and time

Social networks are grabbing more and more of people’s leisure time. People watch less TV, do less housework, spend less time on education… you name it. Instant access and convenience may be just a couple of the reasons. Whether you’re seeking a real connection or passing distraction, you can always check your Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter feeds any time of day or night. A Mashable infographic in November 2012, showing that “social media accounts for 18% of time spent online.” My money is betting that number is way up this year.

Increasingly, we also turn to social networks for trusted references. Do you rely on product and business reviews from your circles and online friends? Everybody I know does, and we’re quick to let the online world know when something doesn’t measure up. If a business ad pops up on a trusted page or site, you’re more likely to trust the business as well.

Here are some tips you can put to work today to boost your search rankings via your social media.

1. Install buttons to make sharing easy

Today, content that is shared climbs up the search ranking. So want to bump your rankings? Install the Google+ +1 button and the g+ follow icon.

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And make sure you do the same — take full advantage of every way — to make sharing easy for all the other major social networks: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 2.  Get personal with your domain — and optimize profiles

Here are two things you must do to quickly advance in Google’s search rankings. Number one is to purchase a domain in your own name (if it’s not already taken). Next, join the top social networks and optimize your profile within each one.

Why?

Let’s take my name as an example– “Georgia McCabe” – and type it into Google’s search bar.  We have 243,000,000 results. And out of that 1,620,000, which results come up in the top four positions?

Let’s take a look…

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Top place went to me because I was lucky enough to secure my namesake domain – GeorgiaMcCabe.com.

Second, third and fourth results belong to me as well, given my profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, YouTube and Twitter. This is a great example of leveraging the power of strong social sites – and in fact because I am active on these sites, I dominate almost 4 pages.

3.  Make your content share-worthy

What kind of content gets shared? Fresh, newsworthy, original, useful, entertaining, and authoritative… to name a few. So before you put together your next post, ask yourself: Is this worth sharing — would I share it with someone important, whose opinion I really valued?

Take time to study what’s working in your target market and for competitors. You can lift inspiration from successful businesses of all kinds. Find posts that are heavily commented on and shared. Do certain types of topics work best? Newsy, controversial, cutting-edge, challenges, videos, photos, instagrams… what works for your audience? Ask others for input, ideas, and critiques on your content before you post.

It’s simple. If people like your content, they share links to your site. This is a post I did for H&H Color Lab on How to Use Google+ Local to boost your business  http://blog.hhcolorlab.com/guest-post/use-google-plus-local-to-boost-your-photography-business.  You can see that it was shared across multiple platforms.

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People love the dynamic, interactive and emotion-evoking content that social media dishes up so well. So whip up some and dish it out!

4. Stand out with rich media

The social media networks have made it easy to publish videos, photos, links, and audio clips, and this rich content has loads of appeal. Grab some attention by beefing up your posts with interactive content that will drive traffic to your website.

The social networks are competing to bring you more and more of these kinds of features. For example, do you know about Twitter cards? These let you add media experiences to tweets or retweets with some control over the presentation, as Adam Burrell shows in this example.

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Simply install a little code in your website HTML. Get instructions at the Twitter developers link. WordPress users, check out this handy WordPress plugin. Social networks are focused on helping you drive more people to your pages and website. You can now also add a photo or location to Tweets.

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 5. Be found by location / local apps

If you have a local businesses, be sure to create an online presence so you’ll show up location apps like Foursquare) and Google+ Local searches.

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People look for reasons to “check in” and tell the world where they are, and apps like this are happy to accommodate them. People also love finding local businesses using apps, on the go, so be there, and don’t forget to rack up some great reviews.

6. Be reviewed on location sites and apps

One of the best things about the location apps and especially Google+ Local is support for customer and client reviews. Be sure to claim and optimize your Google+ Local business page, including posting photos and videos of your business and products. Consider some incentives for growing your Likes and positive reviews. Some small businesses have ricocheted to fame by publishing their unique story, so let your one-of-a-kind personality be heard. As your positive reviews add up, you’ll increase your search ranking as well as drive traffic to your website and business.

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All in all, good news for you

The dominance of social search is good news for your good business. Instead of gimmickry, climbing up the search rankings is all about doing great, share-worthy content marketing and delivering great products and services that people will want to recommend to their circles and friends. You can focus on your business and on providing the social media presence and content for your fans to find you, get to know you, and then do much of your marketing for you.

 

Georgia-ProfileGuest post by Georgia McCabe follow her on Google+ – As an author, speaker, trainer and social media and photography evangelist, her perspectives on social media appear in print in her newest book entitled “SocialMorphosis – Transforming Your Business through Social Media”. Georgia is also a co-author of the book “The Relationship Age”, with social media guru Mari Smith. Georgia is a frequent guest blogger for our professional photography lab.

 

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