How To Use Social Media To Help Your Business SEO
Before you read this article, if you don’t know what SEO is or why it’s important to your business, this article is a great primer. In a nutshell, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of optimizing your online presence so that your website appears higher in search engine results. And by search engine, I mean mostly Google, but also Yahoo and Bing.
The higher you appear in search engine results, the more people see your page. The more people see your page, the likelier they are to become customers.
SEO is challenging for several reasons:
1) Different search engines use different algorithms to decide how pages rank.
2) Search Engines change their methods and algorithms all the time.
3) We don’t always know what methods and algorithms search engines are using.
Now let’s see how social media factors into all this…
How Does Social Media Affect My SEO?
There are a lot of direct and indirect ways that social media can affect SEO. I’m going to break them up into two categories: direct and long-term. Direct strategies are entirely in your control, and directly seen by search engines. Long-term strategies are actions that cause ripple effects. The effects are somewhat out of your control, but are very likely to boost your SEO in the long run.
Direct strategies are pretty simple but their benefits are limited and unreliable. Long-term strategies are more complicated and, well, long-term, but their benefits are wide-reaching and proven. I suggest using both strategies simultaneously.
Let’s start with the direct strategies that you can do right now.
Direct Actions You Can Take On Social Media For Better SEO
Add links to your pages on social media profiles and posts:
One thing search engines look for is how many websites link to your domain. Generally speaking, more links means better SEO. Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social media services tend to be “nofollow”, which means that search engines can’t see those links, so they don’t improve your ranking. However, there are some social media services that allow for “dofollow” links on social media pages. (Here is a list). Keep in mind that those links are easy to obtain and don’t count for much. There is also a lot of speculation as to the effect of “social signals” on SEO, so keep your bases covered by posting and sharing your content, and keeping your profiles linked and updated. It can’t hurt.
Make connections on Google+ and use them effectively:
Unlike with Facebook, Google can follow links in Google+ so it can use that information when ranking. However, we don’t know if it actually does. With SEO, it’s difficult to separate correlation from causation. For example, some studies have shown a correlation between Google+ links, posts, shares, and Google’s results, ranking, and indexing speed (how quickly a web page is listed). But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the former caused the latter. Either way, Google+ is feeding Google information so adding it to your social strategy is a no-brainer.
Long-Term Actions You Can Take On Social Media For Better SEO
Create awesome content on your blog and share it on social media:
This is a way more reliable and effective SEO strategy than the methods offered above, and it has so many ancillary benefits. For example, a great blog will showcase your authority within your niche, which attracts customers.
Creating great content helps your SEO in three ways:
It increases the likelihood that other content creators (bloggers, etc…) will link to your pages from theirs.
This is called “link building”. These external links tell Google that you have a quality website, which will increase your ranking. Use social media to find content creators who are likely to “backlink” to your pages. Interact with them to get noticed. Then, create great content that they’ll want to link back to.
If your followers on social media begin to regard you as an authoritative voice, they may do two things:
- When one of your pages appears in their search results, they may be more likely to click it. Higher than average clicks (for a given position) leads to a higher ranking.
- They may begin to search for “[your brand name] + [a search term]”. This can lead to a higher ranking for that specific search term.
You can collect audience engagement data.
By studying engagement to your posts on social media, you can learn which titles and descriptions are most engaging. Engaging titles and descriptions receive clicks. Higher than average clicks (for a given position) on Google lead to a higher ranking.
Encourage customers to review you on Google Reviews, Yelp, etc…
If you are a business that needs to promote locally, then ranking for local searches is important to you. For example, if you are a restaurant in Philadelphia, then you’ll want to rank well for “Philadelphia restaurant“. One way to rank well locally is by receiving reviews. Google Reviews, in particular. However, reviews on third party sites like Yelp certainly count as well. According to this study from Moz, review signals count towards 13% of “pack” local rankings (the set of three pages that appear at the top of a local Google search) and 7% of your “organic” local ranking (the rest of the list).
So how do you accumulate more reviews? Simply by asking your customers and providing links. Keep in mind that Google is great at detecting fake reviews, and they’ll even downgrade suspicious activity, so don’t try any funny stuff.
The elusive and temporal nature of Google’s ranking system is a headache for anyone trying to keep up with SEO techniques. SEO techniques for social media are even fuzzier. That said, there are some things we do know. Here are the main takeaways for using social media to help your business SEO:
- Make detailed profiles on Google+, Google My Business, and all Google related social networks. Keep them active and updated.
- Create quality content on your blog and share it on social media. Interact with others in your niche.
- If you are looking to enhance your local ranking, encourage customers to write reviews for your business.