Can social media help with search rankings?
A question that I sometimes get asked in client meetings is, ‘Can social media influence search engine rankings?’
While the official word from Google is that social media does not directly contribute to SEO rankings, there is evidence to suggest social signals created by being on the platforms have some influence.
Social media was designed for mass sharing and amplifying visibility. Likes, shares and comments also create signals that have the potential to do the following:
Improve the longevity of your posts
Distribute content to larger audiences
Improve brand reputation and recognition
Improve organic traffic and visibility
Social signals indicate to Google that your content is of higher value to your target audiences, which ultimately encourage search engines to rank you higher.
I have put together seven tactics that can shape and help influence search rankings through social media activity.
Publish quality content
Yes, I know this is a running statement with the blogs we write here at Zimple, however it is becoming increasingly more important to produce quality content and not to just push blogs and articles for the sake of it. It is always important to write for your audience first (before writing for search engines), and provide information they need to help them make the right decisions. After you have done this you can then revisit the content and apply EAT methodology to make sure you are using relevant search terms to enhance your searchability for web crawlers.
The most effective way to produce your content is to understand the needs and pain points of your target audience. Rather than your content focusing on "this is what my service/product can do", create it with the answers to your consumer's problems in mind to provide the solutions to those problems.
The final note on content is to be consistent; when you create regular and relevant content for your audiences and post onto your website and social pages, this indicates to search engines that you are an active and up to date user.
Create content that you can share
Using social media as a business from a marketing perspective, the usual objectives tend to be reaching out to more potential customers, spreading your brand message and growing your brand awareness.
Essentially the more users you can reach, the greater growth you’ll achieve and ultimately improve your overall digital lead generation.
To make your content more “shareable” we need to make sure that it has appeal and is engaging to your audience. Some simple things you can do:
Ensure the content is relevant to your audience. As in point one, don’t post content for content’s sake.
Create appealing visuals to accompany your post.
Make sure your headlines and captions are attention grabbing and compelling, but not misleading.
Don’t forget a Call-to-action (CTA). Encourage your users to like, learn more, book, buy or some other way to engage with the post or your business.
Ok, so what about SEO?
When you create shareable content, you also improve the potential quality and quantity of backlinks which influence how well your website ranks.
It might take some practice and long-term commitment to your content to really start seeing results in your shares, but the outcomes are worth being patient for.
Make sure your social media profiles are optimised and up to date
When customers are researching a product or a service online, one of their concerns is whether a business is trustworthy or even legitimate. With this in mind there is a good chance they might review your business via social media as part of their consideration process.
If you have not fully utilised your social media profile pages, let alone having them optimised, you are doing yourself a disservice. Make sure the basic elements are up to date and consistent across all platforms, such as your address, phone number and web address. In order to optimise your page, maintain a consistent image across channels and align them with your blog, website and brand image as well.
This definitely helps with customers recall of your business and also helps search engines through consistency of information.
Engage with you audience
To help build trust and establish credibility, it's important to keep engaged with your audience. Other benefits include the fact that you also develop a greater understanding of their needs and the problem they're trying to solve which will assist you in marketing to them more efficiently.
Here are some easy ways to stay engaged with your audience via social media:
Ask questions in your post that encourage a response.
Promote offers such as discounts and limited offers.
Look for questions left by users in your post comments.
Respond to comments.
Creating polls - this could be as simple as asking what they'd like to see in your next blog.
The importance of imagery is widely written and talked about across many business and social websites. However the importance of imagery for SEO is not as well addressed. In order to best get your SEO results from your social imagery consider the following:
Name the file of the image appropriately, using relevant keywords separated by dashes.
Reduce the size of the file to ensure it loads faster.
Include intriguing captions with keywords.
Use top quality photos, as they're more likely to encourage engagement.
Measure and analyse your results.
As with any marketing effort, if you are not setting yourself goals, measuring and analysing your activities you are doing yourself a disservice.
Consider the following key areas when reviewing results:
Are you able to identify key areas that are working for you on social channels?
Can you identify tactics you can improve or remove from your strategy?
Are you losing money and wasting your time?
Without defined social media marketing goals and the ability to evaluate the results, you can't decipher whether your efforts have been successful.
This data also can also enable you to make more informed decisions regarding your strategy when making changes and goals.
Focus on engagement rather than followers.
Followers should come naturally if you create engaging posts. Getting shares and likes are good social signals that benefit SEO. If you create compelling content that encourages engagement and conversation, you're more likely to receive the shares and likes you're looking for.
Comments, likes and shares are signals to Google that your content is worthwhile and valuable to the audience you're targeting, which is why engagement should be your key focus.
One way you can approach this is through intriguing captions and storytelling. Using enticing story snippets to capture the audience's attention and getting them to click and share your posts.
Overall, there's many ways you can utilise social media to the benefit of your SEO, despite the lack of direct correlation in boosting your search rank.
You can improve your social signals through a variety of factors.
Create content that's shareable and compelling.
Ensure your profiles on any social channels you have are fully optimised.
Social media itself isn't a ranking factor for SEO
Evidence suggests social signals created through social media let Google know your content is valuable to your audiences.
Publish quality content that's relevant and of value regularly.
Focus on engagement rather than your follower count - engagement builds social signals and the followers may come naturally with engagement.
Optimise any images that appear on your social channels.
Engage with your audience by replying to comments and questions.