Why Your Search Engine Optimization Strategy Must Now Include Social Validation

You probably have heard me preach it before: if at all possible, for search engine optimization purposes, your web site should include a blog or other section of your web site that includes articles. To rank well in the search engines, your web site needs new, fresh, topical content added on a regular basis. But to fully take advantage of the search engines and social media, you need to socialize your website’s content. Here is why any good search engine optimization effort must include a social validation program in order to be successful.

Back about two years, I wrote a blog post about social media and search and how “success in social media means that you’ll get noticed in the organic search results. The search engines love fresh, unique content–and they love to find new URLs and links. If your site gets a link on a social media site, it will get noticed and crawled.”

For over two years now (actually a lot longer than that), I continue to combine search engine optimization efforts (both on-page SEO factors as well as off-page factors like a linking campaign) with a very specific targeted social media marketing or what I now call “social validation”.

In order for an article on your web site or even a blog post on your blog to rank well in the search engines, the search engines (Bing and Google) are looking for social validation. They see your new URL and index it, but will rank it higher in the search results if they can find some reason to: and one of those reasons includes social validation.

What is Social Validation?
When you create a new article, blog post, or a new page on your web site (a new URL), the search engine will crawl that URL. They might even see some links form other web sites to that new URL. But if the search engines see real people mentioning the URL and interacting with it, they consider that the URL is validated, socially. The URL is “accepted”. And it’s that human interaction that the search engines are looking for. If the search engines can figure out some form of social validation of a URL, then most likely it is going to be a page that they will want to show in their search results. Social validation is that human SEO factor that the search engines have been looking to include in their algorithm for a very long time.

Social Validation is now a search engine optimization factor. Just like all of the other Search Engine Optimization Ranking Factors out there, anchor text, keyword use in the title tag, diversity of link sources, and trustworthiness of the domain, I am now adding a new search engine optimization factor to my list, social validation.

Social validation is really a dream come true for the search engines. Rather than hire hundreds or even thousands of employees or contractors to review web sites, social validation is a factor that the search engines can rely on in order to do that job. Sure, it’s not as good as hiring real people to review web sites. But it might be even better: the users who use search engines are the same people who frequently participate on social media and social networking web sites. So, it’s only logical that if a URL is liked on a social networking or social media web site, it’s also going to be liked if it shows up in the search results.

If you would like to take a look at social validation more in depth, take a look at this December 2010 article at Search Engine Land. Below some of the questions that Danny Sullivan got answered, along with responses. (For the full list of questions and answers, see the article I just referenced):

1) If an article is retweeted or referenced much in Twitter, do you count that as a signal outside of finding any non-nofollowed links that may naturally result from it?

Bing:

We do look at the social authority of a user. We look at how many people you follow, how many follow you, and this can add a little weight to a listing in regular search results. It carries much more weight in Bing Social Search, where tweets from more authoritative people will flow to the top when best match relevancy is used.

Google:

Yes, we do use it as a signal. It is used as a signal in our organic and news rankings. We also use it to enhance our news universal by marking how many people shared an article [NOTE: see the end of this article for more about that].

I believe now, more than ever, is a time that you need to start implementing social validation as a part of your overall search engine optimization strategy. Perhaps in a future post I will tell you about some of the actual techniques you can use in order to implement true social validation campaign. So for now, I am including a social validation campaign as a critical part of an overall search engine optimization strategy, just like a link building campaign.