Posted on January 31, 2014

Interpreting Social Signals for Your Medical Practice as Part of an Overall Internet Marketing Strategy

Cartoon Surgeon with Idea Balloons floating above himWe have been told that this is the year where social signals will become a factor in SEO. We now have more reason to invest in social media activities than ever before, but how do we generate social media focus that will be effective? The social signals generated by your online activity is now key, and Google+, Facebook, and Twitter are at the heart of it. What I like about the new semantic SEO and social interpretation by Google is that those practices that put in the effort of social media will be rewarded with higher positions when it comes to SEO ranking. We are going to need to think about social activity as voters. This does not mean for one minute that social signals are the end all, be all for SEO. Let’s be clear…social signals are only part of the picture. Traditional elements of SEO are still in play when it comes to ranking.

How do social signals work to help SEO?

Social signals work in various ways. We are still in the beginning stages of understanding exactly what works.

While any answer to this question is highly debatable, I believe that social signals have both a direct and indirect impact on organic search rankings. Direct impact comes from:

  • Number of people that like your bran on Facebook
  • Number of Facebook shares and comments
  • Number of Twitter followers
  • Number of Tweets mentioning your brand name or including a link to your website
  • Number of people that have you in their circles on Google+

Comments are also important, but to what extent, I am not entirely certain. The current debate isn’t about whether social signals impact on search engine rankings; it’s about how much of a factor they are. And while we do not know for sure if they are close to or have even surpassed traditional backlinks as a ranking factor, my believe is that they are on the rise. I believe that a steady regimen of social activity will play into your exact organic ranking, and practices that choose to ignore this will lose ground. For practical purposes, a share is an endorsement for your content in the same way that a link is. It’s a positive sign that your content is valuable. So more shares equal more positive vibes being sent to search engines about your content.

Considerations for social signal involvement

1. We may also need to consider some enhancement programs to increase Facebook likes. We have done various social media contests and utilized social media apps to help clients gain more likes on their Facebook business pages. This will be very important for your success with social signals. Gaining more likes on your Facebook page takes hard work and lot of persistence. There is also a debate about getting quality likes on your Facebook page. Quality likes are followers who actually participate in your developing social footprint by commenting, sharing and liking your page’s activity.

2. We might want to look into the idea of publishing items via Google authorship. Google implemented the authorship feature as a way of distinguishing the original authors of content from duplicate content. It’s also a nice way of attributing content to an author – who may publish on multiple sites – rather than to a website. AuthoRank as a measure of an author’s reputation is also a ranking signal. Going back to social signals, when someone with a high AuthoRank likes and shares your content, it will be weighted more heavily by Google.

3. Content should be a mix of pop culture, community items, and health related objectives. Based on research, it is evident that popular items that pique followers’ interest will generate more commentary than a post about, for example, the medical definitions of glaucoma or cataracts. Currently, there is a big focus on how to achieve content quality and social signals to show authority for SEO reasons. You will need to guide your social media team as to what this all means because posting things that followers do not pay attention to will not get you the desired SEO impact. You may need to find that crazy blogger in your practice that can produce engaging content because bloggers have now won some public trust. 63% of readers are more likely to be influenced by blogs than by magazines when deciding on a particular purchase.