SEO can be terribly confusing even to the most experienced web marketers out there. Search engine rankings, SERPs, backlinks, authority and all the technical terms online marketers throw in random conversations all the time, all seem like some mumbo jumbo lingo particularly to the newbies that are beginning to wrap their heads around the term.
But things get even murkier when you try to establish the connection it has with social media. And whether you believe it or NOT, social media plays a central role in SEO nowadays — and like you’re soon to find out, that’s some really good news.
All the key search engines including Google, Yahoo and Bing, when asked about social media and the effects it has on their ranking algorithms, all admitted on integrating it as one of their ranking elements. Meaning, it’s possible to propel your search engine ranking a notch higher by working on your social media marketing strategy.
Starting with Your Social Media Profile
Ever carried out an online search for business or person, only for their corresponding social media accounts to show up, even when their sites don’t?
Well, that’s what you get when you take your time to optimize your social media profile for search engines.
Your first stop should be on Google plus, whose profile gets to show up at the right hand side of the results pages presented every time someone searches for your brand or business. This is a surefire way to stand out in the SERPs from the rest of the businesses you’re in competition with.
With Google, your profile name and bio feature atop among the list of things that are highly indexed by search engines. Go ahead and edit your profiles in all the social media accounts you can open, starting with Google plus. Give search engines enough time to crawl the links and index them appropriately for a spot in the result pages whenever someone types your keyword in the search engines.
Google also looks at the number of followers you have on your social media profile. In which case, the more followers you attract, the more you’ll be considered for a prime ranking in the results pages that show up.
You have to start by making sure that you’re feeding these pages with great content, and as time goes, search engines will index them and rank them appropriately.
Social Media Shares are translated as Backlinks by Search Engines
Every time someone shares your content on Twitter or Facebook, search engines interpret it as a backlink. What we mean is that search engines don’t look at social media shares separately. They instead view every share you get as another site trying to connect to your web content in a way.
Google has even admitted to using backlinks to establish the online authority of a website. Meaning, the more shares you get, the more likely Google will be ranking you higher in their SERPs.
You’re however reminded that NOT all backlinks you get are the same. For Google and other search engines to determine where you fall in the ranking ladder, they’ll first have to take into consideration the number of shares you’re getting but most importantly, they’ll also have to look into the quality of the profiles that are sharing your posts.
Which is to say, a simple retweet of your post won’t have the same impact as a backlink from Forbes, but in the event that your post ends up going viral, then all the links you’ll be getting will be enough to significantly boost your online visibility and ranking.
Online users don’t necessarily have to share something you’ve already posted on social media. For all we know, the backlink you get could be from anyone sharing anything from your website or blog directly.
And one way to make this happen is by integrating catchy social media buttons next to your posts, pin buttons for Pinterest, and click-to-tweet-this quote button on some of the images or posts you publish on your website or blog. The point is to make your content interesting and easy enough for the online community to share it on their social media accounts.
Come to think of it, Social Media Platforms Are Search Engines in a way
Google, yahoo, and Bing are the three leading search engines in the industry. But Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or any other social media channel you can think of are used as search engines by an impressive number of online users every day.
People search social media for how-to guides, ideas, products, services and important life tips on a daily basis.
So instead of directing all your effort on Google, Bing, and Yahoo, you can dedicate a generous amount of your marketing time to using hashtags and keywords in ranking your social media posts as well. That way, you’ll be enhancing your online visibility on the three search engines and your targeted social media channels as well.
Social Media is at the Centre of it all
Search engines are no longer the same, easy-to-manipulate ranking system we all knew of at the beginning on the internet age. If anything, their algorithms have been improved for the better. They’re even more complex and smarter that they can understand the concept behind the content you publish on a deeper scale.
The first thing the algorithms take into consideration is how relevant your online posts are in relation to the queried search term. And now, they have even advanced to an extent that they also factor in the number of social shares you’re getting to determine your search rank.
Social media platforms are viewed as website by search engines. Not some isolated online platforms. Meaning, the content people post on social media is crawled and indexed pretty much the same as any other website out there.
Besides SEO, the activities you carry out on social media also help to increase brand awareness and your online visibility. So instead of gaming search engines by buying huge amounts of backlinks or sprinkling your articles with unnecessary keywords, you can use the effort to make your content more shareable.
You also have the option to use social media to engage with your online community directly in a bid to boost your SEO score and grow your brand.
Personalization on Search Engines
Google has admitted to using personalization to bring back the results users search for. That’s to say, they have integrated social signals in their ranking algorithm and can actually establish the connection you have with social media followers to determine the kind of content they’re mostly interested in.
In other words, if you have a twitter follower on Instagram by the name John, and it happens that john follows a blogger by the name Jim, then Google will be ranking Jim’s posts atop of any other relevant post in their result pages, unless otherwise.
The bulk of your visitors could be from social media. When you have a bigger influence on Facebook or twitter, then it’s safe to say that majority of the followers you attract on the social media channels will also be checking out your website. And the best part is that search engines are designed to take note of that.
Consistent traffic is one of the things search engines use to determine their order of ranking. So if you’re driving an insane amount of traffic from social media, then — with other factors held constant – you can expect search engines to rank you more favorably than your competitors with a low traffic count.
Should You Integrate Social Media into Your SEO Marketing Plan?
The answer is, of course yes.
Whether or NOT social signals affect your ranking, it’s still crucial to incorporate social media into your overall SEO marketing plan. The key reason being this goes on to ensure that your content marketing strategy is driven by the end user and NOT search engine as it’s always the case with many marketers.
In whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of shifting all your attention to the technical aspect of SEO. Keywords matter, and so are their variations, meta tags, snippets and any other ranking element that plays a crucial role in determining how appealing you’re to search engines.
But what’s even more important is the quality of the content you post. Is the content relevant to what a Google search user is interested in? Does it snugly address their needs? How useful is it and what value does it bring with it?
It’s also important that you make the content easy to engage with. Are your anchor texts properly optimized?
Oftentimes, when people start researching about SEO and some of the elements search engines take into consideration while ranking a long list of similar sites, all their attention shift towards the technical aspect of SEO that they forget that they’re actually writing for fellow humans with human needs.
By integrating social media to your overall SEO marketing strategy, what you’re doing is striking a balance between the technical aspect of SEO and the real time value it conveys.
Combining Social Media and SEO
A series of studies conducted in the recent past with regards to some of the things that play a crucial role in making a social media post go viral all seem to suggest that you use Click-worthy titles, photos, and posts that directly play to your emotions.
Click-worthy titles might hurt your SEO score, but they’re good for CRO. So instead of coming up with a really generic title for the posts you make, it’s important that you let your creativity flow by making the title more clickable.
The trick is to be more specific and convincing in the titles you come up with. Instead of coming up with a bland title like ‘how to get X done”, try to make the title more convincing by incorporating inviting adjectives into it. An epic example is a title along the lines of “5 simple hacks that make it a lot easier to get X done.”
You might be outranked with a piece of article that was specifically created with search engines in mind, but by focusing on your target users, it’s possible to get majority of the users you attract to click through the link and consider checking you out.
In brief, a human targeted title is more effective for CRO compared to a title that was meant to target search engines.
Search engine targeted content tend to be too stilt and clunky. They might be well researched and really informative, but the fact that they don’t play right to humans emotions, make them less likeable.
Try imagining yourself as one of your site’s users. What do you think will appeal to you the most? What type of content do you find interesting enough to share it around?
The answers you come up with should clue you in on the direction to take if your plan is to create a post that’s likely to go viral.
Photo do so much better on social media than plain text. First it’s because they encourage the user to scroll through the article and read the rest of it. That way, you get to reduce your bounce rate, while increasing the amount of time your visitors spend on your site.
Photos also allow you to include more keywords into your content in the form of ALT text, which goes a long way to raise the stakes of securing a favorable ranking in the SERPs.
How to Balance Social Media and SEO Marketing
Don’t hurt yourself trying to make every single one of the posts you publish on social media SEO-friendly. You can try to optimize it for search engines, but when it fails or prove to be somewhat difficult or more taxing, don’t force it.
To strike a balance between the two, it’s important that you take your time to analyze them and find out which one among them offers the most valuable traffic. One way to look at it is which one between the two generates more leads. That’s the source you should be focusing on or crafting your content for.
Of course, an effective marketing plan will require you to blend the two and shape them up towards your goals.
Also worth noting is that, while SEO help you to win over new clients, social media helps you to retain the existing ones. Social media is what helps you to maintain a friendly relationship with your current customers and keep them coming for more of your products and services.
Let’s wrap it up
As you can see, social media is one of the most valued allies of SEO, and there’s actually no way the two can be separated.
It’s simple – both SEO and social media marketing feed on each other, and even when your organization or business is big enough to separate the marketing workforce dealing with SEO and social media marketing, you still have to find a way to make them work cooperatively towards a common goal.
This post offers the much-needed guide to get it done, but just in case you’re still stuck on how to make the forward move, kindly consider contacting us today and we’ll be glad to offer you the direction you need.