When you break down the digital marketing “game,” search engine optimization (SEO) and social media are two unique players – but there’s no doubt that they’re absolutely on the same team.
SEO social media optimization is a concept that explores how your social media pages can contribute to a stronger (and steady) flow of traffic to your business’s website. Using social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, you can effectively boost your SEO and work towards the goals that enable the growth of your business.
Even among marketing experts, there’s some gray area in the discussions surrounding SEO and social media. And as the way we use social media platforms continues to change (and the platforms themselves evolve), likely, those conversations will only continue.
But for now, here’s what you need to know: with the right approach and a few useful tips, your social media marketing strategy can support your SEO – and we’re here to show you how.
Why SEO is So Important
Let’s start at the beginning.
Your SEO strategy serves a vital role in making sure that the right people find your web pages at the right time. Implemented effectively, SEO will improve your rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and increase your search visibility. But as you probably already know, it’s tough out there – and the competition is intense.
Data collected by WorldOMeter shows just how competitive it is. Just today, nearly 4.5 million blog posts have been written… and as we’re writing this, the day is barely halfway over. Thanks to the 5+ billion internet users that have logged on today, hundreds of millions of Tweets have been posted, and nearly 5 billion Google searches have been done.
Those numbers truly put it into perspective – with the incredible volume of content being published online every day and the number of people combing through it all via search, claiming a top spot in search engine results isn’t easy. However, a solid content strategy and an SEO plan can make a world of difference.
How Social Media Affects SEO
One of the most common questions we receive about social media and SEO is, “Is social media a Google ranking factor?”
Technically, the answer is no: social media doesn’t directly change your SEO ranking. However, the content and links you share across your social media platforms expand your brand exposure and digital presence. And cumulatively, all that content can influence your SEO in six ways:
- Wider content distribution
- Longer content lifespan
- Better online visibility and increased organic traffic
- Stronger brand recognition
- Improved brand reputation
- Better-supported local search engine optimization (SEO)
Social signals include any social media user action that involves links to your site. This includes comments, likes, views, reposts/shares, and more and demonstrates that your content is useful, relevant, and engaging to your target audience.
So, no, your social media content isn’t viewed as an official ranking signal by the Google or Bing algorithm. But even so, it does carry precious weight. All of the likes, shares, and comments add up (and can help generate great backlinks).
This tells Google and other search engines that your website contains the kind of content that search users want to find.
Here’s a breakdown of exactly how social media affects SEO:
- First, you create interesting and unique content that serves your audience’s interests and needs.
- The content is repeatedly shared and linked to, primarily because online users find it useful and/or engaging.
- Your social media profiles accumulate new followers and activity, spurring increased traffic on your website.
- Your brand’s audience grows, evolving into an online community.
- The consistent interactions you have via social media and authoritative SEO work to strengthen a positive brand reputation and online presence.
- Search engines, including Google, index your website higher.
- Online users conducting relevant searches organically find your website and content.
You can see how an effective social media marketing strategy (and quality content creation) can begin a domino effect that leads to better search results performance. And beyond that, it contributes to a goal that every brand should have: building a community of brand advocates, followers, and loyal customers that recognize the value you have to offer.
Making Connections Between Your Social Media and SEO
So, exactly how do you use social media to boost SEO?
In simplest terms, social media is a tool that can be used to amplify your website content.
When you craft high-quality content that earns clicks, shares, likes, and comments, that translates to more users visiting your website. In turn, that opens the door to generate more backlinks. And as you zoom out to consider how increased website traffic impacts your overall goals, it becomes easier to see why social media is so valuable for SEO.
Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the impact that social media can have on SEO. Even though its effects may be less tangible, social media should still be considered a staple of your “big picture” marketing plan.
Linking to your website content on your social media platforms will drive traffic to your site.
Let’s say you create an informative post that appeals to your target audience and share it on your Facebook page. As Facebook users like, comment, and share the post, it expands the number of people that will see the content. This translates to more people following the link back to your website, fueling activity there.
More website traffic and activity improve user behavior data (navigation patterns, site speed, time spent on the page, etc.), directly interacting with SERP rankings. And even better, more traffic can bring in quality leads to boost your conversion rate and even earn you sales.
How to make this work for you: Craft high-quality content for your website, focusing on filling a need, want, or interest in your target audience. Take every opportunity then to share this content on your social media networks.
As activity begins to flourish, maintain a positive, involved presence to encourage ongoing conversations wherever possible. Make sure that when users follow the link to your website, they are greeted by a well-designed site that they’ll want to explore.
Your social media profiles can show up in SERPs just as often as a standard website.
If you conduct an online search for a specific brand (for example, a Google search for “Nike”), here’s what you can usually expect to see in the top results – if they’ve done their social media work:
- The main website for the brand
- Social network pages for the brand (such as their Twitter and Instagram)
- Other related brand content (off the main website)
What does this mean for your business? With an active social media presence and smart strategy, you could effectively dominate the first SERP with your brand content. Whether a user clicks the first result or the fifth, they’ll be seeing your brand. In some cases, this can be a savvy way to push your competitors out of the top ten and further away from your target audience’s view.
How to make this work for you: Make sure you utilize as many social media platforms as possible, keeping your profiles up-to-date and active. Don’t just open accounts and then leave them to go stale; regular activity and updates are a must. Also, work towards consistent branding across your website and all social pages so that users have a cohesive experience no matter where they go.
You can earn backlinks via social media, which are pivotal in determining your rankings.
Backlinks have long been one of the most important ranking factors, and building a backlink portfolio is necessary for any digital marketing plan. A large number of content creators look to social media to gather information, which they then use when publishing their own new content.
When your social media pages contain interesting content, people are more likely to provide a link to it on their own websites. Whether they link it as a quick share, a reference, or even in a “best of”-style list, it creates a natural backlink. The more high-quality backlinks you can accumulate, the better.
How to make this work for you: Again, we keep coming back to the importance of producing high-quality content that meets the needs of your target audience. The more content you create – with an emphasis on quality – the more likely you’ll earn backlinks that will help your SEO.
Behavioral factors are critical for your search ranking.
Remember when we mentioned behavior data a few sections back? Because it plays such a powerful part in where your website ranks in the search results, it’s a concept that bears repeating.
If a user spends a considerable amount of time viewing the content presented on a webpage, that shows that the content satisfied their need/interest. And if they return to that page, even more so. From the perspective of Google, which aims to serve the needs of its users, that signals that your content (and your website) is useful and relevant.
So, how does this factor into your social media strategy? Well, consider this: if a user clicks a link on Facebook that will bring them to your website, they generally have a good idea of the content that awaits. They’re better prepared for the page and are likely already interested – which is why they clicked the link in the first place.
On a social media post, there will usually be some type of “preview” of what’s waiting on the other side of the link. And the audience that sees that post is typically already interested in the topic, whether they are a subscriber or came across the content via another route.
As a result, they’re perfectly primed for your website and will probably spend more time on the linked web page (and possibly click through other pages, refer back to the page, or even complete a purchase/action).
How to make this work for you: As you add new web pages to your site (such as new product pages, blog posts, and other content types), create a social media post to keep your followers informed. This will help fuel activity on that new page and help it achieve a better ranking.
A strong social media presence builds brand recognition.
One of the overarching goals of social media marketing is expanding brand awareness. As you establish a relationship with a growing number of online users, you’re able to build a community of sorts – one that is made up of people that know, trust, and recognize your brand.
Then, when these people submit search queries that deliver your content in the search engine results, they’re more likely to click on your page… after all, they already consider you a trusted authority. Google and other search platforms take click-through rates into consideration when it comes to rankings, so every single one of these clicks counts.
Also, when your social media followers click on one of your links in the SERPs, it typically equates to a lower bounce rate. You’ve already done the work of building trust and proving your value, so they’re more likely to spend time on the webpage. Bounce rate is yet another factor that correlates to ranking, so this is a major plus.
How to make this work for you: This social media SEO strategy isn’t a “one and done” task. In fact, you should expect it to be an ongoing project that requires consistent effort. The most successful social media marketing strategies are the ones that plan for regular engagement, with a goal to nurture a positive brand presence and maintain (and grow) an online community.
But even though this is a step that requires you to invest some major time and energy, the payoff is worth it.
Social media can help you tap into the power of local search.
Local SEO is incredibly important, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses with physical locations. Google understands that geographical proximity can be the key to providing users with an optimal search experience, as well as search results that satisfy their queries.
For example, if a user submits a search for “gluten-free cupcakes,” Google will include potentially relevant local search results. This means that gluten-free bakeries in the user’s geographical area can get a spot towards the top of the SERP, should they play their social media cards right.
How to make this work for you: Make sure that all of your social media pages are updated with your correct address, phone number, email, company name, and other key details. This information should be exactly the same across all of your social media profiles and should also match with details on your website.
Don’t forget to update your Google Business Profile listing as well – we have entire posts dedicated to learning how to optimize your Google Business Profile page, so check those out if you’re interested!
Social Media SEO Best Practices
When you make an effort to align your social media marketing efforts with your SEO strategies, you can achieve impressive results. With the right balance, you can keep traffic flowing from both sides.
Here are some best practices for social media SEO to keep you on the right track.
Prioritize quality over quantity.
SEO – and online users – are smarter than ever before. This means that, in order to succeed, your content needs to be well-written, interesting, original, and provide something of value to your target audience.
Gone are the days when keyword-stuffing was an effective strategy. In fact, those old tactics can end up getting you penalized with a lower ranking.
Instead, invest that energy into producing content that truly earns its place in the SERPs. Even though this might require a bit more time than cranking out keyword-heavy, zero-effort posts, the results are going to be significantly better. And in the end, you’ll find that once published, quality content makes it possible to naturally and effortlessly advance in the rankings.
Make it easy for social users to share your content.
Social sharing is how your content connects with more people beyond just your immediate pool of followers. Your target audience has already established that they have a need for your content, but you also need to continuously search for your connections to a wider network. As users share your content, your reach expands – and it requires virtually no effort on your part.
Of course, you do have to do some work for this actually to happen. You’ll need to be producing great content (we can’t say this enough), and then make sure social sharing is as easy as possible. Add social media buttons on your website, regularly post on your social platforms (with links to your website), and tailor your content to motivate people to share it.
Get (and stay) active.
Social media opens the door to nurturing excellent relationships with your target audience, often allowing connections to happen in the most organic of ways. But you don’t have to sit around and wait for those moments – you can actually start the conversation yourself.
Search for opportunities to ask questions, share useful information, answer questions, and even get involved with trending hashtags or social media challenges. Respond promptly to comments and messages, and focus on maintaining a positive and professional presence.
Don’t be afraid to put some personality into your social media activity because that can often help your brand stand out in a crowd of competitors.
Keep a close eye on performance data.
In order to achieve your goals, you first have to know what those goals actually are. This means establishing social media KPIs, which will then be used to track and analyze your progress.
Data lets you understand what’s working – and what’s not – so you can direct your efforts towards making improvements that matter.
Use metrics that are helpful to you and your goals so that you can make the best use of your time. There’s no sense in getting overwhelmed by all of the data out there (because there’s a lot), so be clear about what you want to achieve and how you’ll measure success.
Empower Your Business with SEO Social Media Marketing Services from V Digital Services
SEO and social media are just two of the many components of an effective digital marketing plan. Ideally, you should have a well-rounded strategy that evolves right alongside your growing business. But keeping pace with constantly shifting algorithms, trends, and audience expectations is no small task. That’s why partnering with an experienced digital marketing agency can be the best decision and one of the smartest investments you ever make for your business.
V Digital Services is a full-service digital marketing firm that equips our clients with highly personalized strategies for online success. We’ll assess your goals, strengths, and challenges, then map out a direct route to sustainable growth.
Because we align every strategy with key performance indicators (KPIs), you’ll be able to see exactly where and how you’re making progress. And if a strategy doesn’t perform to your expectations, our skilled team wastes no time making targeted changes to get it back on track.
While it’s true that SEO – and many other aspects of online marketing – can be fairly complex, having the right experts on your side can streamline every part of the process. The VDS team can do everything from planning and implementing a strategy to assessing data and optimizing.
Learn more about how to use social media SEO for business growth when you contact V Digital Services today!