Our last two blog posts have delved into the conundrum of something that we glossed over last year: The value of backlinks on social media for search engine optimization (SEO).
Here’s a summary and recap of where we’ve been, so far.
Where We’ve Been: Social Media, Backlinks, and Freshness
Our first post in this three-part series covered the basics of backlinks on social media. There, we reviewed how backlinks worked to boost your site’s rankings and then showed how social media outlets provided a great opportunity for you to get those backlinks. However, we finished with a confusing reality: Even though social media is a great way to get backlinks to your site, nearly all social media outlets use universal no-follow tags to eliminate the SEO value of those links.
In essence, we said that social media was great for getting backlinks to your law firm’s site, but also that those backlinks didn’t matter.
Our second blog post in this series resolved that dilemma. One piece of Google’s search engine algorithm, codenamed Freshness, watches for signs that a particular webpage is new and attracting lots of attention. Importantly, Freshness pays a lot of attention to social media, and makes note of the backlinks that it finds, there. When social media generates lots of backlinks to a particular page, such as a legal blog post, Google’s Freshness program sees that as a sign of popularity and gives that page a temporary boost in the search engine results for relevant search queries.
Excellent, you might think. And then: So what?
Where to Go From Here: Social Media Strategies
You can utilize your social media activity to target Google’s Freshness program and make the content on your law firm’s legal blog jump up in the rankings, bringing more traffic to your site and helping your site’s overall SEO score improve, as well. Here’s how.
Update Your Legal Blog Regularly
Google’s Freshness algorithm is all about finding hot, new content that’s being shared widely. Not having that kind of content on your legal blog makes it very difficult to share it on social media in ways that attract the program’s eye, reducing the impact of your legal blog, as a whole.
Keep Getting New Backlinks
Backlinks are good, but fresh ones are even better. In the eyes of Google’s Freshness program, a backlink from yesterday and a backlink from two years ago both say volumes about how current your page is. Sharing new material on social media is a great way to get the likes, retweets, shares, and other action that the Freshness algorithm looks for.
Write Posts that Continue to Satisfy Readers
Increasingly, search engines are moving away from traditional ranking signals towards user experience signals. This means they’re paying less attention to things that you can manipulate, like keyword density or word counts, and towards things that users generate, like bounce rates or dwell time. One thing that Google’s Freshness program notices is when a post starts leaving readers dissatisfied. Dissatisfied readers leave your post and look for others in the search results, resulting in lower “time on page” statistics like dwell time, and a higher bounce rate. The Freshness program sees this as a sign that the post is no longer hot, and stops boosting it in the search results.
By writing posts that keeps readers satisfied for weeks or even months after publishing it on your legal blog, you can keep it from losing those freshness points that are keeping it high in the search rankings.
Distribute Backlinks Over Time
Finally, one of the most important social media strategies that uses Google’s Freshness algorithm is to try distributing your backlink gains over time. A legal blog post that gets published and then shared a hundred times in the first day but then only once afterwards will get a huge but very fleeting boost in the search rankings. On the other hand, a legal blog post that gets shared five times the first week, seven times the second week, and continues to attract strong numbers for months will maintain its Google Freshness score for a considerable time.
Of course, doing this successfully isn’t easy: It’s the same thing as writing a strong topical post that then becomes a successful evergreen one.