Social media marketing and SEO are two tightly interwoven partners in crime. We don’t tend to think of social media having much if not any impact on our SEO, but that is simply not true. When strategized well, there is a direct correlation in the ways that your social media can boost your SEO.
Both are organic, inbound strategies that focus on building an attractive and interesting identity that will naturally attract visitors. Since social media relies on high-quality content and a visible, strong brand presence, the efforts you spend on SEO can doubly improve your social media reach, and as most search marketers will tell you, your social media presence can greatly increase your search rankings. It’s a beautiful relationship when attention is paid to them both.
Unfortunately, when discussing how social media can influence your Google rankings, most social media strategists leave out the dirty details. Rather than discussing exactly how and why increased social media attention can improve your SEO, it’s written off as a generality, leaving social media marketers to wonder whether their strategies are actually effective.
7 Ways Social Media Can Boost Your SEO
1. Optimize Your Posts for Searches
This strategy also relies upon pre-existing content, but it opens a secondary channel for search. In addition to news articles, YouTube videos and Infographics, Google also tends to favor popular social media updates in the top sections of its SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). It’s a key, somewhat temporary position you can attain by making sure your posts are optimized for the opportunity.
Tip: You’re going to need a strong anchor for your post. That can be a video, an infographic, or even a link to a full-detailed article. Whatever it is, it’s going to serve as your foundation, and you’ll need to title it in an accurate, descriptive way. Next, when you post it, frame your foundation with text that’s optimized for a specific type of search. For example, if you’ve written a detailed article on best practices for making oatmeal cookies, you could frame it with a specific query like “Have you ever wondered how to make the perfect oatmeal cookie?” You can even throw seasonal keywords into the mix to maximize your timeliness and your chances of coming up in search results.
2. Influence Social Sharing
Social sharing contributes to a brand’s authority much in the same way that external links do. To search engines like Google, any indication of an authentic and external source (no hanky-panky. Google is onto that) validating your brand or your content is grounds for a small improvement in domain authority. So, if you can get five people to share your Facebook post, that’s great, but if you can get 700 people to share it, that’s even better. Likes, shares, favorites, replies, and retweets all count toward this increased authority.
Tip: The best way to encourage increased social sharing is to appeal to it directly. For example, you could create a contest for people sharing or engaging with your post, like entry in a drawing for a substantial prize ( or a not so substatial prize: you’d be surprised at how many will respond to a contest for a Starbucks or a Dunkin Donuts gift card). You could also do interactive surveys, which encourage people to “like” a post if they agree with you on an issue, or if they’re interested in seeing specific types of new content. The best part of this strategy is that it’s a self-perpetuating cycle; the more people that share your content, the more new followers you’ll win, and the more followers you have, the more shares you’ll get. And you learn by doing, what types of posts encourage more interactions and which don’t.
3. Increase Brand Awareness
This may seem like more of a branding advantage than a specific SEO advantage, but the SEO benefit is significant. Follow me here:
- Increasing your reputation on social media through increased engagement and high-quality content syndication, will lead to increased online brand presence.
- That increased brand presence is going to lead to more branded searches on Google, hence:
- the more branded searches your website receives, the higher it’s likely to rank for non-branded keywords.
Got that? It’s a complicated relationship, but it begins with having a strong brand presence on social media and ends with greater search visibility across the board. A strong social media presence helps to increase your brand awareness, that’s an incontestable fact. When users are familiar with your brand via social networks, they are more likely to search for your domain name. So focus on increasing your visibility in social media, and your visibility in organic search will increase as well.
Tip: Having a strong presence on Google+, as awkward as it (still) is, can have a huge impact on your rankings as Google+ posts rank in Google search results, so make sure you use keywords in your posts. Also pay attention to headlines, as they are displayed in Google search results. Use the headline of your blog post as the headline for your Google+ post.
4. Grow Your Number of Followers
The total number of followers and connections your social media profiles contain does have a significant influence on your rankings. A company with 100 Twitter followers won’t receive nearly the ranking bonus of a mega-corporation with a million Facebook likes and a million Twitter followers. However, there are some stipulations to this;
Growing your number of followers is a slow, if not sometimes frustrating process, ( gain 2, lose 4) but effective so long as you’re consistent. Present your brand uniquely and consistently, using the same voice to update your users on a daily basis. Post useful articles, helpful tips, open inquiries, and general discussion items, then follow up with your users by engaging with them in conversation directly. Conversations and direct customer engagements are the key to building and retaining a sizable, interactive following, since they encourage current followers to return and help build your authority for new, potential followers.
Tip: Google can detect the quality of your followers, meaning buying 100,000 Twitter followers on Fiverr isn’t going to do much for your overall rankings. Instead, you’ll need to build your following organically. Sorry.
5. Encourage Inbound Links
Social media is also useful because it encourages more external sites to link to your content and the more diverse external links you have, the more authority you’ll gain in Google’s eyes. Of course, the catch to this is that you have to have high-quality, authoritative content to begin with. Otherwise, you’ll have nothing to use to attract links.
In this case, social media serves simply as a broadcast channel. Your content, assuming it’s original and useful, is going to serve as bait, and your social channels are going to serve as fishing poles, putting the bait in front of the right eyes.
Tip: On Twitter and Instagram, use hashtags to gain visibility for your initial rounds of syndication, and don’t hesitate to bring your content into existing threads and discussions. Doing so will improve your social reputation as an authoritative leader, but more importantly, it will maximize your potential external link sources.
6. Social Media Sites Get High Rankings
An important, if not obvious thing to remember is that the major social media platforms- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram (which is well on its way) – are some of the highest ranked public platforms on the internet ( give #’s), so if you were to do a search for your company, often times, even if your SEO has been stellar and you have been doing all the right things, chances are, if you have a good following on these sites, they are going to show up in the SERPS before your own website, just because of the sheer numbers and power of these sites. Social media profiles tend to be among the highest-rated results for brand searches as well. For example, when I searched for Omaginarium in Google, the second and fourth results were Facebook and LinkedIn profiles; on the fifth and sixth places Google+ and YouTube appeared. Twitter doesn’t show up because I use my name, not my business. If I used more hashtags, however (#Omaginarium) in my posts, it would be more of a player. (See Tip#5)
This way, even if your social media pages may not have a direct impact on your website’s positions, they will still ensure online visibility of your brand, not only in social media channels, but in organic search as well.
Do a search on your website now to check it out. Go ahead and do one now; I’ll wait here
Tip: Make sure your websites About page and Social media profiles are optimized well for search. Folks tend to brush the About page under the rug, when in fact when it comes to SEO, this page can be one of your highest impact pages.
7. Optimize Posts for Local Search
If your company is brick and mortar, social media also provides a perfect opportunity to engage yourself in the local community, sending local-specific authority signals to major search engines. There are a few ways to do this, but the two easiest are making updates whenever your company gets involved in a local event and interacting with other local brands and establishments on social media.
Tip 1: Whenever your company attends a local festival, trade show, or other event, or shows up some place local, take pictures and make a post, inviting other local residents, participants and attendees to comment. This reinforces your participation in the community, and makes you more visible in local searches. It’s good community karma, plus I’ve also found that they’re some of the most shared posts both on Facebook and on Twitter. Also, the new(ish) Facebook Audience Optimization option can help filter to the demographic and geo you’re aiming to reach.
This is a recent example of a local clients post that I put just $10 behind. Check out the results:
Tip 2: The second takes a bit of research and outreach; perform some searches for local players, and try engaging with them on a regular basis. You can share each other’s posts, get involved in each other’s discussions, or even post guest blogs on each other’s sites, and share them on your social channels. Make sure that they align with your brand however. Google penalizes totally unrelated links and shares because they’re seen as link bait.
For the most part, as with most SEO strategies, it comes down to one basic principle: the better experience you give your users, the higher you’re going to rank in Google, whether it be on social media or on your website. The secret sauce is a good blend of the two. Understanding the root causes for social media’s effects on SEO can help you better direct and manage your campaigns, ultimately giving your users a better experience, and opening the widest possible channel for new potential customers to find your brand.
Do you need help building your social media or SEO? Talk to us today about ways we can help create the link between your social media and increasing your search visibility
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Thanks Alex. Means a lot coming from you!
Great blog post. The first way you covered is so important. Many share on social media but never think about the SEO aspect. Thanks for sharing 🙂