I remember a time when it was the case that if you had a website for your small business or organization, you were doing pretty well. Now, everyone knows that it’s no use having a website if nobody can find it, and everyone is talking about search engine optimization (SEO). But what a lot of website owners don’t realize is that optimization is an ongoing process that must be maintained and kept current with changing technology.

Some people talk about optimizing their website as a one-time occurrence, like adding an About Us page or putting up social media links. But with every new release of Google ranking technology, the standard for what it means to be “optimized” changes with it.

Standard SEO best practices are still a necessary and fantastic start – like adding a site title and description, populating your page text with desirable keywords, and adding fresh content regularly through a blog. But they are no longer enough to keep your site above your competition. As I wrote awhile back for the Webs blog, posting content on social media sites that links back to your website is a very important part of optimizing your social media presence.

The next evolution of Google’s relationship with your social media presence is only now being fully recognized, as some very interesting studies have recently been released. These studies have to do with social media signals. A step beyond having links to your website on social media, these signals include things like Facebook comments, Pinterest pins, tweets, and – perhaps most importantly – the number of +1s on Google.

The chart below shows the results of a June Searchmetrics study on the correlation between certain social signals and Google search results. Note that 7 of the top 10 ranking factors come from social media interaction:

(click image to view larger)

(Source: MarketingCharts.com)

Similar results were found by the search company Moz when looking at the correlation specifically between Google+ and Google search rankings. If you’ve spent much time in the SEO world, you’ll likely raise an eyebrow at the last line of this quote:

“After Page Authority, a URL’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor. In fact, the correlation of Google +1s beat out other well known metrics including linking root domains, Facebook shares, and even keyword usage.

(Source: Moz)

So what can you do as a website or small business owner to take advantage of this emerging trend? First, you’ll want to walk before you run. Make sure that you’ve followed all the current best practices for search engine optimization on your website. Check out Google’s Starter Guide for tips. Next, set up or check in on your social media profiles. You don’t have to be on everything ever invented, but you’ll want to hit the major players like Facebook and Google+ for sure. Then start posting great original content (using Pagemodo Posts, of course) from your website and/or blog on a regular basis, giving your followers (and anyone who finds your posts organically) something to interact with. Start racking up those +1s, comments, shares, and likes and see how it affects your Google ranking over the following weeks.

The last step? Come back here and tell us all how it goes!

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Online Content Specialist and resident blogger at Pagemodo. Loves social media, branding, whales. Get more from Sarah on Pagemodo’s Blog and Google+.

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