For the longest time, many people in the SEO community treated social media and SEO as though they were mutually exclusive. Others made the mistake of conflating the two as one and the same. The truth is: SEO and social media can and should work in tandem as two interconnected cogs in the same machine.
For social media success, brands need top notch content and a strong, compelling brand presence – smart SEO efforts can bolster your social media reach. And on the flipside, a strong social media presence works to improve your site’s visibility in search rankings.
When you stop thinking of social media as a fluffy add-on, and start using it as a tactical tool to support your SEO strategy, the benefits will flow. These five social media tips will help you get perspective and charge up your new power tool.
ONE: PROMOTE EXTERNAL INBOUND LINKS WITH KICK-ASS CONTENT
In the SEO community, we have a long held obsession with cultivating backlinks to boost search ranking. It’s a proven tactic that has outlived many passing digital fads – the more diverse external links you can garner, the greater authority Google bestows upon your brand and the better your website performs in SERPs.
Social media is an ingenious tool for encouraging external sites and followers to link back to your content. When you consistently publish original, valuable, authoritative, top quality content, fans and followers act as satellites, sharing and discussing your ideas, and generating a whole new universe of external link sources. Use hashtags to kick-start your visibility when initiating that syndication process.
TWO: BUILD A FOLLOWING
A big corporation with millions of Facebook likes, for example, will enjoy a significantly higher ranking bonus than say a brand with a measly 50 Twitter followers. This is not without limitations however. Google can discern the calibre and authenticity of your followers, and will always favour an organically cultivated following over a paid parcel of unengaged proxy followers.
To grow your following organically, develop a unique and consistent authorial voice and engage followers by regularly sharing or publishing valuable content (relevant articles, useful tips, and general conversation starters). Direct customer engagement is the key to building and maintaining a healthy following – it encourages existing followers to come back and help strengthen your authority for potential new followers. Organic followers are typically more engaged because they have a genuine interest in whatever it is that your brand represents.
THREE: OPTIMISE YOUR SOCIAL POSTS FOR SEARCH
In addition to news articles and Knowledge Graph entries, Google also favours popular social media updates in the top sections of its SERPs. It’s a significant, albeit rather temporary position that you can achieve by optimising your posts with relevant keywords and images. As trending topics jump off, you can boost your visibility by chiming in and high-jacking the conversation, so to speak with bright, optimised, eye-catching (or crawler-catching, perhaps) content. This is a clever strategy for sprucing up your existing content to get more mileage out of it.
FOUR: GOOGLE GIVES GOOGLE+ AN SEO A+
It should come as little surprise that Google would give you a SERPs pat on the back for actively using the Google+ platform. Many digital strategists focus more energy and resources on the big audience platforms, like Twitter and Facebook. If you want to leverage social for firmer SEO results, don’t leave Google+ out of the equation.
As little as one Google+ post per day is sufficient to let Google know that you are active on the platform and elevate your standing in search results. Make sure that any content you post on Google+ contains keywords and concepts that are consistent with your brand and your overall SEO goals. For example, if you post irrelevant daily statements about the weather, it dilutes your brand messaging and sends a signal to Google that you are more interested in (and therefore more of an authority on) the temperature than your core business.
FIVE: SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST A HUMBLE TWEET
Did you know that the team over at Google HQ now uses Twitter to discover and index new content? As a major repository of content and conversation, Twitter has become something of an ‘indexation shortcut’ for the search giant, shining a digital spotlight on authoritative new content. Google now pays special attention to any content that generates good traction, or ‘trends’, on Twitter.
A viral tweet can be enough to thrust your brand into the search engine spotlight. When Google indexes social content, they factor in the number of retweets, the number of link shares, and the lifespan of the sharing activity. From an SEO point of view, content indexation is crucial because the sooner your content is indexed, the sooner you can enjoy a surge in organic traffic to your website
With the all-pervasive rise of social media over the last decade, naturally the search giants like Google have paid close attention and responded by incorporating social media activity and authority in search rankings. For the brands that factor both social media and SEO tactics into their digital strategies, higher visibility in search results and increased web traffic are virtually guaranteed.