In April, Facebook released the latest widgets to further extend the reach of Facebook by allowing site owners the ability to easily integrate the 'Like' button, which is so popular within its native environment, into any webpage. This is an enhancement to the ubiquitous 'Share' button, as it requires only a single click and also passes back personalized information about other friends that like the same content when a Facebook user is signed in. Given the reach and continuous growth of Facebook and the increasing importance that social media conversations play in organic search visibility, site owners should strongly consider taking advantage of this new offering.
Implementation of the Like button is relatively simple, using either an iFrame:
<iframe src="http://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?href=http%3A%2F%2Fampagency.com&layout=standard&show_faces=true&width=450&action=recommend&font=lucida+grande&colorscheme=dark" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" style="border:none; overflow:hidden; width:450px; height:px"></iframe>
Or Facebook's proprietary markup language, XFBML:
<fb:like href="https://www.ampagency.com" layout="standard" show_faces="true" width="450" action="recommend" font="lucida grande" colorscheme="dark"></fb:like>
The size and appearance of the button can be customized to align with the look and feel of the site. In addition, there are some additional custom meta tags that can be used to define the way that the 'Liked' content is present in the user's Facebook profile.
While the net result of the 'Like' button is not dramatically different from its predecessor, the 'Share' button, the new feature represents an expansion of the borderless web. Sites like Facebook and Twitter continue to grey the lines between their social networks and the Internet around them and all signs indicate that users approve of these changes. As demonstrated by the explosive growth in active Social Media usage and RSS feed consumption, Internet users are making it clear that they want a more fluid and consolidated web experience. This change will require a shift in the way that site owners think about their content and also how they measure the performance of their site. Sites will need to be developed with a focus on content portability by providing the necessary sharing widgets and expanded RSS feed offerings. In addition, site owners will need to actively push content out to the masses. Finally, clean, analytics-driven site measurement models will need to adapt to take into account the consumption of content outside the confines of the website. While social media monitoring tools can help fill this tracking void, this is an area that still leaves a lot of room for improvement.
From an SEO perspective, content sharing tools play a critically important role. It is no secret that Google and Microsoft are in a mad dash to figure out how to effectively integrate the millions of conversations that are going on within social networks each day into their organic ranking algorithms. Some initial attempts include mixing social conversations in to the organic search results for time-sensitive searches. While interesting, there is a long way to go. What we don't see is the fact the search engines are updating their algorithms to consider these conversations as a way to filter public sentiment about a brand or event. In recent history, the SEO world has relied on the inbound link as its currency for site authority, but it is plausible that day to day ramblings from the universe of social networking users may take over this role. The ways that companies actively engage and how well they facilitate content sharing in social media will be integral in shaping the way that search engines assess their authority in the years to come.