Social Interest test

What does it do?

Checks the amount of social interest that individual pages within the website have. How many Facebook Likes, and Tweets does the website attract?

Example results

Example social interest test results

Why is it important?

  • Social is increasingly displacing search as the primary means of reaching and promoting websites.
  • High social interest suggests value; it is a form of social proof.
  • Conversely low social interest suggests low value.

How is it measured?

The number of Facebook Likes and Tweets for each page in the website is checked individually. Only pages found by Sitebeam are checked.

Technical explanation

The “Tweets” count refers to any tweet pointing to that exact page, even if they use a URL shortening service. The number of tweets is obtained from Twitter themselves, and should be the same as what the official Twitter “Tweet” button would display for that page.

The Facebook “Likes” count encompasses all of the following:

  • Clicking a Like button for that page.
  • Sharing that page, e.g. in a message or wall posting.
  • Commenting on a link to that page.

This count is equivalent to what Facebook show on their “Like” button, if you embed this on your own webpages. The total count is called “Likes” for brevity.

Potential problems

Any discrepancies between what this test reports, and what you see, are almost always caused by a difference in the URLs you are comparing. There are several possible causes:

You may be testing a different website

Some people mistakenly confuse two seemingly identical websites, e.g.

  • http://example.com/
  • http://www.example.com/

They may look the same, but they’re actually different sites. If you test a different one, you’ll get different social interest scores, as the Likes and Tweets will only point to one of those sites.

Similar problems can occur if you have your website hosted on web addresses which change, e.g.

  • http://www1.example.com/
  • http://www2.example.com/
  • http://www3.example.com/

These are all issues with the website itself, and should be avoided where possible. You can choose whichever single site you wish to test, but Sitebeam will only see social interest for that one site.

Sitebeam only tests pages it spiders

Only pages which Sitebeam has spidered will be tested. If the website uses a confusing URL scheme – for example, if it embeds session information into the URL – then Sitebeam may see different counts to what some of your users see. This is a fault of the website and would affect the official Facebook/Twitter plugins in the same way.

Similarly, if the website has more pages than Sitebeam is testing, the pages which are not tested will not have their social interest measured.

How to improve this score

  • Bear in mind not all websites need to score highly. Consider whether social activity is relevant and achievable for this site.
  • Ensure that pages you wish to share have consistent URLs, i.e. they don’t contain session parameters or similar.
  • Ensure that one-click Facebook Like and Twitter Tweet buttons are on relevant pages.
  • Ensure that any social buttons are placed appropriately. For example, with blog articles, we suggest including them at the top of the article and at the bottom.
  • Ensure these icons are extremely clear and where possible use icons similar to what most users will expect (e.g. the standard Facebook “F” icon).
  • Produce high quality and relevant content that is worthy of social attention. In particular, try to be one or more of the following: timely, original, valuable, entertaining.
  • Share your most socially attractive content via your own channels (e.g. your e-newsletters, Facebook page, Twitter account).
  • Share your most socially attractive content with relevant websites and content networks. This will depend upon your industry.
  • Consider optimising the use of your social icons to include relevant extracts and/or images in the Facebook posts and Tweets when clicked upon. Done well, this will increase the chance of people following a link to your site.

How to use this test effectively

This test is an excellent measure of how much social attention a website is getting.

Don’t assume that your websites must always score a perfect 10 for this test. See Perfectionist fallacy.

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