Anyone who has ever created content has a common goal in the back of their mind: Make this one go viral. Even if it ends up like 99 percent of the content produced every day, and doesn’t spread far and wide, you still want users to share it and spread the word. After all, the more your content is shared, the more traffic your site sees — and more traffic often means more conversions.
Social shares do more than drive traffic, though. They also play a role in your site’s search rank and SEO, though there is some confusion and disagreement about how exactly they do so.
While most agree that social signals don’t have much to do with the authority of a site, the backlinks and social presence generated by content on social sites do play at least a small role in determining page rank in search results.
Not to mention, content that is shared on social sites does appear in search results, so there is undoubtedly value in considering the social aspect of your content when planning an SEO strategy.
When including content in your SEO strategy, the number-one priority is to create quality content. Without that, your content not only isn’t likely to be shared, but it could even hurt your search rankings. However, once you have the quality piece in hand, you need to focus on the actual look and feel of the content.
Much like your website itself, even when you design your own site using templates, your content’s appearance should reflect your brand, and provide users some clues about what they can expect from you. Everything from the photos to the fonts plays a role in the “shareability” of your content, so you want to take the time to get everything right.
Based on trends in the most successful — i.e., most shared — content in the last year or so, we’ve determined some of the factors that can increase the number of social shares your content receives.
Brand Your Content
Have you ever found a great piece of content and wanted more information, but had no idea where it came from? Make it possible for users to return to your website no matter where they find your content. This means including your website, or better yet a link, on all graphics you create.
However, it’s just as important to give all of your content a consistent look and feel. This means using a template or two, incorporating the same fonts and colors in each. When someone sees your content and recognizes your brand as one he or she trusts, the likelihood of a share goes up more than if they have to wonder where the content came from.
Use Less Text and Better Photos
Creating visual posts adds visual interest to your blog post, and says “share me” to your site visitors. When a user shares your visual to a site like Pinterest, your visuals — when created correctly — gives others the information they need to decide whether to click on it or not, so sharing increases.
So what does doing it right look like? It means using less text and higher quality photos. The whole idea of a visual post is the visual aspect of it, so don’t cover up or hide the photo with excess text.
Keep your titles short, compelling, and action-oriented, and place them in “empty” space in the visual to draw attention to them. Choose fonts that are easy to read, but still consistent with your message. This might mean foregoing the “prettiest” font for something more utilitarian, but you want people to know what your content is about at a glance, so they will be more willing to share.
And about those photos? Invest in some high quality photography. Nothing says “amateur” more than grainy, blurry, or cheesy images, so take the time to find great images. Even if you are on a budget, you can find affordable images that reflect your brand.
Use Screen Shots
Screenshots can be invaluable when explaining a process or answering questions, and for giving users a “behind the scenes” look at what you’re working on. Including screen shots in your content can increase the chances of the content being shared, so don’t be afraid to use them when appropriate. They may not always be the most attractive images, but they might be the most useful.
Of course, the best way to make your content more shareable is to make it easy to share in the first place. Don’t spend time creating amazing content only to forget the social sharing buttons. It may take time for your content to get noticed, but when it does, your attention to these details will pay off.