The search industry is always abuzz about how social media can influence SEO. Social media SEO refers to how social media activities can boost your website’s organic traffic through search engines. It’s a topic that never gets old. The reason being simple: social media is important for SEO in more than one way. It not only makes your SEO activities effective but also lucrative. Yes, social media and SEO might look different, but there’s no doubt that they help each other.
However, contrary to popular belief, social media doesn’t directly contribute to SEO. In other words, social signals don’t directly help rank better. The links that you share on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest may help your brand get more exposure, but they aren’t seen by Google as a ranking signal.
Now, here’s the thing: even though social media is not a ranking factor on a superficial level, it has significance if you look deeper. Indirectly, it does have a positive effect on a page’s ranking. So yes, there is a definite correlation between a site’s position in the SERPs and the number of social signals it has.
If you study the websites that hold top ranking positions in Google, you will find many of them having strong social signals.
So, if you are investing in social media marketing, then you are in essence also improving your chances of performing well in the search engines.
Why Google Ignores Social Signals
Does Google crawl and index social media profiles/pages from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? Of course it does. Does it view the content and the links published on them any different? No, it treats them like a regular HTML page of a website.
Coming to social signals, Google doesn’t take the number of social media shares or followers into consideration when ranking a web property. Because it would be too easy for anyone to cheat the system and have an undeserving site ranked higher than a deserving one.
Also, it’s important to note that social media shares happen 24/7. And they take place quicker than Google can catch up. Which makes it difficult for the search engine giant to crawl and keep track of them.
We do not know how much of data does Google has access to from the major “must-login” social media sites, and we’re not sure if they use it for ranking purposes. What we do know is social media plays an indirect role in helping people find your brand in the search engine results. And for now, that’s all that matters.
3 Reasons to Up Your Social Media Game
Search engine optimization is about gaining more visibility and getting more people to organically visit your website. Social media marketing on the other hand, is about making the most of social networks and getting found on them by the right people. They both might look different but have overlapping goals. In essence, they work together. This is why search engines are becoming more social, and social networks are turning into valuable search engines.
An effective social media strategy has to have a solid SEO plan in place, because both of them go hand and in hand. Let’s look into three valid reasons as to why you should focus your efforts on social media if you want to enhance your SEO results.
Reason#1: Social Media Content Gets Indexed
The right type of social media content published on a regular basis can make a huge difference to your overall content marketing campaign. And when you find out that your social media posts can get crawled by search engine spiders and get indexed, things get better.
Now, this doesn’t mean that every tweet or post you make finds it way to Google’s vast index. It has to be relevant enough so that they can be found by people searching for similar content. For example, if you search for Oprah Winfrey, you will find most of the top results are her social media profiles/pages. Because it’s relevant to the search query.
What’s even better is that social media can help you get your website’s content indexed faster because of how search engines treat social media content. If your blog post gets a lot of attention on Facebook or Twitter, it will end up getting in the index at a quicker pace. Search engine spiders are able to find such content easily because of the social factor. So if your post goes viral on social media, the ripples can be felt in the search engine result pages.
Reason #2: Social Media Helps Build Authority
Search engines give a lot of weight to a website’s authority, making it a critical SEO factor to focus on. In the eyes of search engines, if your page or domain has high value, it has high authority. And a better chance to rank above sites with not-so-strong authority.
The authority of a webpage or site grows over time. As you keep publishing top notch content and gain more relevant backlinks, your authority keeps growing. The content that you publish, if valuable, gives your audience what they’re looking for. Which in turn earns you backlinks, giving you a number of positive votes.
Back when social media didn’t exist, the link-building world was different. Fast forward to today, you can’t ignore social media when talk about building backlinks. Why? Because a good chunk of content on the web is distributed via social media. It’s the biggest content distribution engine. Which means your influence or authority on social media networking sites has a direct impact on the level of authority.
By focusing on building an engaged network of social media followers, your content has more relevant places to live. And the more relevant places it lives in, the more authority you gain. For instance, if you create content about Yoga and get backlinks from blogs that specifically write about Yoga, you get more brownie points from Google and other search engines. They’ll know that you’re publishing content that is reaching a relevant audience.
Reason #3: Social Media Involves Real People
While SEO has a technical side to it, it’s not only thing you should be focused on. Most of the blackhat or unethical SEO practices are technical in nature, and yet fail to give long-term results because they take the “user” out of the equation. These methods are not about people, when search engines are specifically looking for a human touch.
Search engines have always tried to find a better way to serve users and move beyond the technical stuff. If you want to rank a web property in 2017, you can’t just depend on technical factors such as keyword optimization. Your SEO has to have a human element to it in order to get real-world results. Or else it will get beaten by someone who took the time to create valuable content.
With social media growing at warp speed, it is becoming an unavoidable part of SEO, especially because it is made up of real people. After content, social media can be seen as an integral factor in search. It lets you segregate your audience and target who you want. It gives you a bird’s view of everything. You know where your content is, who it is being consumed and shared by, and the kind of impact it is having. Which if you ask us, is huge in terms of SEO.
Here’s How Social Media Helps SEO
Now that it is established that social media isn’t a direct Google ranking factor, here are five ways social media actually does help you rank better.
Get More Quality Links
Backlinks have always been an important factor when it comes to a website’s ranking in the search engines. Both, the quality and the quantity of backlinks has a strong effect on how well your site ranks.
By focusing your efforts on better social media marketing, you are more likely to attract the right type of backlink opportunities. When your content has a higher number of social media shares, it is gets noticed. Not only by influencers/power users, but also by many relevant webmasters/bloggers who might want to link to you.
According to a study conducted by Dan Zarrella of Hubspot, there is a definite, positive correlation between the number of social media shares your content has and the amount of backlinks.
Gone are the days when social media was only about shares. Today, it’s about making leverage. It’s about making your content engaging enough so that it is shared and seen not just by anybody, but by the right people. Given that you are publishing and sharing high quality content on social media, your content should be able to generate a higher amount of engagement and backlinks.
Build a Strong Audience or Following
Creating a great product is obviously the first step towards achieving great marketing goals. However, in order to truly call your product or service a success, it is important to spread the word about it amongst your target audience – especially the early adopters. Remember, if your audience doesn’t know about your offering, it’s as good as not having it.
The marketplace of today is highly competitive where businesses are ready to make a real investment to get their share of the pie. Which is why you have to put in the needed extra effort to actively reach out to your target audience. The more proactive you are in your approach, the better results you will see.
Social media makes it easy for you to build your web presence. It lets you connect to an audience that is not only ready to hear from you but also wants to do business with you.
Nowadays, most of the online users have some kind of a social media presence, it’s just about finding which social network your target audience hangs out the most. And then working on producing social content that gets you to connect with them on a certain emotional level.
Increase the Number of Branded Searches
Growing your audience and building a strong brand is a huge part of any online marketing campaign, social media marketing being no different. Your social media profiles and pages help you create a relationship with your chosen set of audience. With your constant social media updates and by supplying quality information to them on a regular basis, they recognize your brand. They know who you are and what kind of content you create. And starting seeing you as a trusted source.
When done right, social media marketing helps you grow your brand awareness. When more people become aware of your product or service, you’ll find more of them clicking on your content in the search engine result pages. Since Google and other search engines give immense importance to click-through rates, this can significantly impact your rankings and increase your visibility.
Also, keep in mind that these clicks are far more valuable in the eyes of the big G because they have lower bounce rate. Why? Because these people are already aware of your brand. Which means, fewer of them are going to hit the “back” button once they visit your page. Since bounce rate does correlate to the ranking of a website, lowering it gives you an edge over other competing sites.’
By building brand awareness on social media, you also have more people specifically searching for your brand. This then goes on to boost the organic search traffic to your website and as well as your social media pages/profiles.
Learn What Your Audience Wants
While the importance of keywords in SEO remains the same, the way they’re being researched has evolved over the years. Today, finding and selecting the right keywords involves a strong understanding of “user’s intent”.
Without understanding the intention of the searcher, the chosen keywords may not give you the results you’re looking for. If you search for “landscape photography”, Google wants to know why you did so in order to serve the most relevant results. Are you interested in learning how to photograph various landscapes? Or you’re only interested in reading more about it?
There are many ways to learn about what your audience wants, such as email surveys, but you can do the same with social listening. By tracking and looking into the various types of conversations your audience is having on social media, you can gain insights into their needs and wants. This can help you create content that caters to their needs, which in turn gives Google and other search engines what they’re looking for.
Tap Into Local Search
If you’re a small or a medium sized business with a physical address, you cannot and should not ignore the power of local search. Google knows the importance of geography and its relevance to giving people a better user experience. With a large majority of the Internet users searching for local businesses on their mobile devices, local searches are bound to grow.
So, whether it’s your Google Plus or Yelp, make sure to keep every profile updated with your current address, phone number, company name, etc. Have the same information across all profiles, which should in turn match with the information on your site. Or else you may experience lower rankings and miss out on potential customers.
Best Practices for Social Media SEO
Every step you take towards improving your social media marketing efforts should be aligned with your SEO strategy. Why? Because you don’t want to lose on traffic from either sides. Here are some social media SEO best practices that you shouldn’t ignore if you want to find success.
Publish High-Quality Content
Search engine optimization is no longer what is used to be. It’s a lot more mature and approachable. If you want your social media content to rank for the right keywords, you need to focus on creating fresh, original content that gives immense value to your target audience. Forget about stuffing your social content with keywords. Instead, focus on producing content that naturally attracts links, gives people exactly what they’re looking for and climbs the search engine ladder effortlessly.
The most important step to publishing high quality content is to get into the shoes of your target audience and understand what they’re looking for. It’s not just about who you share your content with, but also about what you’re sharing. It has to be useful or resourceful in some way to your potential customers or prospects. To learn more about why you need to publish quality content, read our top 25 benefits of content marketing.
Make Social Sharing Easy
The purpose of encouraging social sharing is to ensure your content reaches more people. Your target audience already has the need for the content you’re creating. By connecting your brand to a larger segment of the social web through targeted content, you increase the reach of your message. Which also improves the brand’s visibility.
In order to make it easy for people to share your content on social media, you have to go beyond just adding social media buttons to your site. You have to work on making your content helpful, entertaining and enticing enough to have them talk about it. You have to motivate people to share your content with their following.
Optimize Your Social Profiles
While there are many factors that negatively impact your social media SEO results, one which is obvious is not optimizing your social media profiles. As a business, you want more and more people to find your brand when they search.
By optimizing your profiles with relevant content you create multiple “doorways” for people to learn about your and your business. Making sure your social profiles are consistent with your website is easiest way to rank and dominate the search engine result pages. Which equals to higher number of clicks and increased organic traffic.
Optimize Your Images for Both, SEO and Social
Images are powerful when it comes conveying a message and expressing your thought. But there’s another area where they play a key role and that is search engine optimization. That’s right – if you’ve been ignoring images in favor of text, you’re making a mistake. The fact is, images can have a strong impact on helping you drive organic traffic to your site if you manage to optimize them well.
Start off by optimizing your images for search by using the keyword in the file name, adding the right alt text and using relevant surrounding text. At the same time, you have to optimize them for social sharing by making sure they’re inspiring, are in the right format and are posted on all the social media platforms your brand is on. These things may look simple or trivial but they make a big difference in the long run.
Start and be a Part of Active Conversations
Building a relationship with your target audience is the first step to understanding their demands. Using social media, it becomes easy to create and nurture relationships by engaging in relevant conversations with your audience. But you don’t have to wait for it to happen. As a brand, you can ask questions, post useful information and reply to queries. Your aim should be to respond to any comments as soon as possible to create a positive impression. Be there for them when they need you.
When you converse with your followers, the sense of community grows, leading to a stronger bonding. These interactive conversations are a crucial part of your social media SEO efforts as they help you build authority while delivering value. If it all goes well, your audience will also be more than willing to do some “word of mouth” marketing for your brand. As more people trust you on social media, you may see the impact on your SEO due to the positive mentions that you would earn on blogs and websites. This may seem like a slow strategy, but it’s worth it in the long run.
Measure Social Media Performance
Making your SEO & social media efforts pay off requires you to know where you’re going and measuring your progress. Regardless of your marketing goals, by measuring and analyzing your actions and their results, you can get better results. The last thing you want is to put your efforts in the wrong direction. Proper tracking and analyzing lets you understand what’s working and what’s not. So that you can focus on improving the right metrics.
Whether your goal is to keep track of the number of social media shares per post or see how much social referral traffic you’re generating, it’s important to measure the metrics that according to you are helpful. Before you jump on the social media SEO bandwagon, be clear about your actions, and how you will measure them. Let go of any guesswork and move your attention towards data. And you will have the needed clarity to move forward. If you want help incorporating your social media efforts and SEO efforts, then contact our full service social media agency today to learn how our packages can help your business.