For people just getting started with an online business, the concepts of search engine optimization (SEO) and social media can seem technical and complex, yet a little dive into available online materials on the two subjects will get you ready to make the most of the opportunities that these two offer. It is almost a rule of thumb for entrepreneurs starting out that opening social media accounts is a must.
The lesser understood concept is SEO. While SEO deals with ways of ensuring your online content are visible on search engine results pages (SERPs), social media is made up of websites where people connect with friends and family. How do the two work together and how can you take advantage of the opportunities that both of them have to offer? Consider the following:
Exposure is key
You can use social media to share content from your website so that your brand can gain visibility, not just on social networking sites, but also on SERPs. There’s now enough evidence to conclude that Google algorithms take into account some social signals when deciding how to rank a particular page.
Therefore, social media helps to better rank your website on search. It creates authority, authenticity, and trust, making it more likely for your website to rank than another website with no social media presence. Therefore, you should make sure you are consistently sharing your best content on social media if you want to record higher exposure on search engines.
Social sharing drives traffic to websites
Whenever you share a piece of content from your website on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, you give your followers a chance to read your material and react to it. On the published post on social media, you gain important reactions as well as shares and comments. A certain percentage will also visit your website to, perhaps, read more, or buy the product or service you are selling. Increased traffic to your website is believed to also be a signal in SEO.
A website that gets tons of visits would seem to be an authority in the marketplace space it occupies. What’s more, social engagement ensures potential customers have your brand on top of their mind when they are about to purchase something that your business offers. Consequently, they will find themselves looking for your brand, your product or your service whenever they visit a search engine. This ultimately helps improve the likelihood that your brand will perform better on search engine in the future.
Boost authority with your social media influence
One major Google algorithm factor is credibility and authority. Automatically, Google prefers websites with higher credibility. While it considers other factors like the websites that link to you, it also does consider the social media influence you have amassed. That is why it makes perfect sense to use social media tools like Social Growr to increase your following on social sites.
Every new follower you acquire helps you increase your brand authority and ultimately improves your rank on search engines. A brand with noteworthy social media influence will rank higher than that without. Google in particular monitors brand posts on Google+. Its social networking platform. A brand with high engagement rates on Google+ will almost always perform better on Google SERPs than a brand with no notable presence on that platform. When choosing the content to share on Google+, consider posting the content you really need to rank for on search.
Social media boosts brand awareness
Today, Facebook has over 2 billion active monthly users, Instagram has 800 million, Twitter has 328 million, and Reddit has 250 million. This shows you just how popular social media has become in the 21st century. That is why Google search engine has incorporated social signals to better align its users with the content that best serves as a solution for their search queries.
Perhaps more than anything else, social media helps brands gain visibility online in a cheap and extremely effective way. A brand that was unknown months ago can quickly rise to become a money-making enterprise through the power of social media. One viral campaign and your brand could be on its way to being featured on magazines, newspapers, TV shows, etc. As your brand grows, so does your authority and credibility. This will finally lead to better rank on search engines.
Shares are equivalent to backlinks
Imagine this: every time someone retweets your posts on Twitter or shares what you have published on Facebook, they are giving you a backlink. Anyone who has worked online for a while understands the power of backlinks. While social media backlinks might not be as powerful as backlinks from authority websites in your niche, they are still to somewhat seen as backlinks and Google uses them to establish the level of authority your website has.
Consider a scenario where a post you published on Facebook goes viral. This incredibly high number of shares will have a significant impact on your ranking on Google. What’s more, this effect does not only apply when people share something you’ve published on your page, it also counts as a backlink when someone visits your websites, find a piece of content they like, opens their social media profiles and shares a link to that content with their friends.
That is why you should include social share buttons in your website. Locate this buttons strategically to make it easy for someone exploring your website to share the interesting things they come across with their circle of influence. Additionally, remember to include click-to-tweet quotes and pin buttons for website visitors to share your images on Pinterest. Simplify sharing on social networking sites of anything shareable that you have published on your website.
Social networks as search engines
Social networking sites have come a long way. Unlike what they were and the functionalities they had when they first rose to prominence, today’s social media websites do not just connect you to your friends, they also serve as search engines. Within the sites themselves, you can search for restaurants, books to read, movie theaters to visit, and many other things. While Google still dominates search, social networks are growing steadily as search giants in their own right.
A recent announcement that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO shows that social media is growing as search platforms. The Facebook co-founder said that the social media site is already fielding over 1.5 billion searches a day. While a typical search on Facebook might be notably different from that on Google, the numbers still show a growing dependence on social media for a lot more than connecting with and talking to friends. Twitter search numbers are even higher: over 2.1 billion every day.
This trend may have informed the decision by executives at Yahoo and Yelp to partner towards showing reviews as pop-ups when someone uses Yahoo search. Today, Google now includes Knowledge Graphs that show up on the right on the first page of SERPs, especially when you search places and people. Moreover, there is a high likelihood that Google will add more to this side section in the near future. Sometimes, Google includes links to a person or brand’s social media pages on that right side section, clearly showing that it does consider social media when ranking websites.
Local SEO relies on social media
There is a growing body of evidence proving that the majority of people who use smartphones do mobile searches to find businesses within their locality. This is why Google now takes local SEO very seriously. It is not uncommon to find a world of difference between the results you find when you search for a particular keyword on Google in two different locations. Google gives preference to the results of websites and brands that are closer to you.
One major ranking factor for local SEO is reviews on social review sites like Yelp. The more a business receives reviews on such platforms, the higher it will appear on SERPs. One way to ensure this works for you is to fill your business information uniformly across the web. This consistency in the business phone number, website address, physical address and such other contact information creates a sense of trust and has a positive impact on Google results.
Social media is key to your SEO success in today’s world
A decade ago, many marketers were in the habit of stuffing keywords in their content and, like magic, the ranking of those pages would shoot to page one. Fast forward to present day and find complex search engine algorithms that cannot be tricked by the tricks that worked in 2008. Google says it uses over 200 factors to determine which site ranks higher on its search engine results pages.
While social media is one of the many, it is a significant contributor. Given the ease with which you can set up and run a business page, it goes without saying that social media should be one of the first areas of focus when seeking ways to gain visibility online, especially on search engines. Keep in mind that social media networks are websites too, meaning, just like Google crawlers explore your website, they will explore social media sites. Therefore, you should do everything in your power to position your brand to make the most of all the SEO benefits a presence on social media brings.