SEO – search engine optimization – has become an essential part of every digital marketer’s strategic plan.
And just when you thought you had SEO figured out, social media exploded on to the scene.
If you read marketing journals regularly, you’ve probably noticed how crucial social media is to rank high in search engines. But is it true? And if so, what does that mean?
- How many social media accounts should you have?
- How often should you post to each account?
- Is interaction important?
Can you truly create a social media SEO plan that will help drive traffic back to your website?
Glad you asked. Before we dig into how you can upgrade your digital marketing plan to include social media, let’s look at what social media SEO really is.
What is social media SEO?
Social media has no impact on SEO.
There. We said it. And that sentence might leave you scratching your head.
If social media has no impact on SEO, why bother?
There’s a good reason for that. The ultimate purpose of using social media regularly is to increase visibility. Social media SEO refers to how your activity on various social media sites boosts the organic traffic you receive through search engines.
The content you create on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook helps gain exposure, but Google doesn’t use them as a ranking signal. However, if you study the top-ranking sites on a Google search, chances are you’ll find many of them also have strong social media accounts.
They work together to bring more traffic your way, more exposure to your brand, leading to higher performance in the search engines.
If you think about how social media profiles and pages work, you’ll understand why.
Use your Facebook page as an example. Can Google crawl it and index the content you place on your page? Of course. It can follow the links, track all the ways you publish content, and share it with your followers. But if it looked at the number of followers you have, the number of likes individual pieces of content have, or even how often you post, it would be an easy way to control the ranking process in Google. It would be easy for anyone to cheat the system.
Instead, social media plays an indirect role in influencing how well you rank. And as a marketer, that’s how you build a social media SEO strategy into your overall plans.
What are the benefits of social media SEO?
Are you new to social media? Do you have accounts you’ve used for years? Or are you still wondering what to post on your newsfeeds each day? The best place to start is by understanding the relationship between your social media accounts and the opportunities they provide for your organic rankings.
Increases inbound links
Google ranks individual pages using a variety of different characteristics. It utilizes both on-page and off-page demographics in order to rank content. Building backlinks is at the heart of off-page SEO. Search engines continue to use backlinks as a way of determining how valuable a piece of content is. If you have content distributed widely on social media sites, it is a good indication that it’s high-quality content. And Google will reward you for that.
Google may also notice if your audience is highly engaged with the content you supply. If people read it, comment on it, and share it, it’s a clear indication you’re building strong credibility.
Increases your website traffic
The idea behind social media is to drive more traffic to your optimized pages, which ultimately improves both the visibility you have on social media sites as well as your engagement.
Target the right people, and they will interact with your content. They’ll visit your site, be more excited about what you share, stay longer on your site, and dive deep into the pages to learn more about what you do.
As they engage with you, they are also more likely to pass along your content to their own followers, which expands your network exponentially.
Allows content to be indexed faster
Google crawls through individual websites on a regular basis. But it can still take a while for Google to notice brand new pages you add to your site.
When you post to a social media account, it can give Google a signal there is new content on your site and help it get indexed faster.
Helps you create better information
Have you ever felt like you’re talking to no one? It can feel like that if you add content to your site with little or no comments.
But using social media, you can get specific with content, poll your followers, and ask them for input on what content they want from you.
Test out content regularly. What are people more likely to click on? Use this as your A/B testing, and it can help you swap out titles and change the structure of your content to help attract a wider audience.
Improves your audience
While you might guess at what your audience wants as you write content for your blog, as you post it on social media sites, you can get an accurate view of what your demographics have to say.
Read through your comments. Ask questions. Follow up to find out what your audience is thinking. And adjust your content accordingly. It’s a great way to segment your customers further, refine your marketing approach, and give them exactly what they want to hear.
Allows you to conduct research
There are a lot of ways to listen using social media. You can discover trends and find out what your audience is really thinking. You can discover keywords that you may never have considered before.
It’s a great way to conduct research and get a feel for what’s happening in the industry. You can use your findings to turn around and create new content on your own site.
It drives traffic while you wait for SEO
SEO is an ongoing process. It takes time for the various strategies to work. Combining it with social media can be an effective way of boosting traffic and gaining results as you build and add to your existing website.
The key to any good marketing strategy is to grow your business over time. By combining multiple techniques, you can reach out to your ideal customers, give them what they want, and benefit from growth over time.