The search engine web crawlers cannot effectively measure the value of content on a website on their own. They can see the keywords, but they can’t tell whether the information actually benefits the reader. Increasingly, Google and other search engines rely on social proof to evaluate the merits of a site’s text and graphics.
Here are four social cues the search engines use to determine whether a website has content that inspires confidence in readers and will satisfy future searchers.
1. Inbound Links
One important consideration is the number of websites that link into a particular site and the value of those links. Websites with a high page rank or a well-considered domain are given more weight. Websites that end with .edu and .gov provide the most respected link value.
Increase your inbound links by providing useful content and developing relationships with other blogs and websites.
2. Social Media Shares
Another consideration rising in importance is the number of shares on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. As with inbound links, developing quality content and online relationships will lead to the social media sharing Google and other search engines recognize as social proof.
3. Bounce Rate
When a searcher chooses a web page from the search engine results page and leaves without delving deeper into the website, Google and others take this as proof that the information does not measure up to searchers’ expectations.
This is unfortunate when a website offers the seekers the information they seek. If, for example, a web page offers a definition, it might appear to the search engines that searchers land on the page and the leave looking for better information when in fact they found what they wanted and needed only seconds to process this information.
To combat this sort of problem, it is best to build pages that encourage further clicking. Instead of offering an answer on a landing page, offer just enough information to entice a searcher to click through to another page.
4. Google +1 and Facebook Like Buttons
In addition to sharing links, many social media sites allow users to vote up your content with buttons like the Google +1 and the Facebook Like. In order to make the most of these buttons, you have to offer them on your website in a place where readers will see them and click on them.
Social proof in the way of inbound links, social media shares, a low bounce rate and voting buttons helps the web crawlers interpret your content in ways that they cannot on their own. Developing online relationships and designing a site that is friendly for sharing will help show the search engines your social proof.
Do you agree or disagree? Perhaps, I missed something? Either way, I would just love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic… just let me know your alive!