If you want to learn more about how social media affects your SEO, then you won’t want to miss this post. Get all the info on social signals, authority, relevancy and how they all come together from one of our Search Marketing Specialists.
“If social media and SEO fit together like peanut butter and jelly (if you didn’t know, yes they do) then content is the bread that holds them together.” – Lee Odden
This guy gets it – SEO, social media and content are a match made in heaven. In the past, SEO and content were often paired up, with many SEO professionals declaring “Content is king!” Well, content is still king, but engagement is queen, and she rules the castle. Social media’s role in marketing has grown immensely, and it’s looking more and more like the heir to link building’s throne.
As search engines become more sophisticated and the marketplace more competitive, so grows the need for SEO, social media and content strategy to work together strategically.
Because that’s what search engines want to see. Since Google’s first Panda update in February 2011, Google’s algorithm has incrementally increased the importance of social signals and high quality content when determining a website’s organic search rankings. To get a better idea of how it all fits together, we’ll take a brief look at what social signals are, their effects on SEO and how you can utilize them effectively.
What are “social signals”?
A social signal is basically any action that would link a social media profile to a website. In other words, anytime someone on their social media profile likes, shares, comments, retweets or +1s content, it creates a social signal. Authentic social signals are proof that the content is worth consuming, and are clear indicators of relevancy and authority for a specific audience.
How do social signals affect search?
The goal of search engines is to provide the most trusted, authoritative and relevant results for a given query. The better they do, the more people will use their tools, and the more money they can make from advertising and data. Although authority and relevancy have always been important SEO ranking factors, the way search engines determine a site’s authority or relevancy has evolved, particularly over the last few years.
Long gone are the days of simply building inbound links to increase search engine visibility (although it’s still important when done naturally). Today, search engines place a higher focus on content quality and the reputation of the publisher when deciding which websites are authoritative and relevant.
What are authority and relevancy?
Relevancy is the content’s ability to match what people are searching for. So relevant content both accommodates the searcher’s intent and moves them along the purchase decision making process.
Authority is how much readers trust an author. In other words, those who are viewed as authoritative are a well-known source and considered experts in their industry.
How are authority and relevancy measured?
How search engines determine which websites are authoritative and relevant is largely based on the amount of social signals and social media buzz its content creates. Again, these signals must be authentic, and the search engines are very good at determining which ones are real fans and which ones are bots. (By the way, we don’t recommend you use the latter.)
Positive sentiment across the web and on social channels is also imperative to building online authority. This kind of sentiment is created through proactive customer communication, ongoing engagement, consistent publishing of sharable content and having an active (and authentic) presence on social media.
And of course, measuring authority and relevancy wouldn’t be complete without proper keyword optimization. In fact, not only will targeting the wrong keywords fail to boost your rankings, but it may actually hurt your authority and relevancy as well. For example, if a website sells low-cost, bohemian jewelry but targets the keyword “high-end jewelry”, search engines (and searchers) will quickly see the site is targeting non-relevant keyword phrases, which will damage brand trust.
In short: Authority and relevancy ranking factors place the strategic use of SEO, content marketing, social media and natural link building front and center for establishing trust online.
So how do you use social media for a stronger SEO strategy?
1. Make a list of social keywords that you can use to create content ideas and build an editorial calendar
Social keywords are the phrases and terms that people use in conversation that relate to your products, industry and customer interests. Social keywords are typically different from search keywords because people use search engines when they’re looking for an answer to a question or solution to a problem, whereas people use social media for social interaction.
Google Analytic metrics will tell you which search keywords are already driving traffic to your site, and tools such as socialmention.com will deliver a list of social keywords based off a specific query. You can also use Twitter and Facebook’s search functions and analyze conversations happening in real time.
2. Create a blog and commit to writing content
Release compelling content on a consistent schedule and share it on social media channels. Blog posts can address common questions, pique customer interests or relay some exciting industry news, and you don’t have to stop there. Your blog can also use SlideShare presentations, infographics, photos, videos, memes and more to reach your readers.
Don’t be afraid to repurpose content (i.e. turn a blog post into a SlideShare presentation or video) and experiment with user generated content. The key here is to ensure the content will be viewed as valuable and engaging so that it compels people to like, retweet, +1 or share it with their own network.
- Like SEO and social media, content marketing is a long-term strategy, so remember that success doesn’t happen overnight; consistency is crucial to building trust.
- Establish Google authorship by adding the rel-author markup to your blog. This will allow you to gain credibility as a publisher online.
3. Make your content shareable
If you don’t have them already, implement social media share buttons on pages where appropriate. Discover where your audience hangs out online, create profiles and build solid relationships with them. Also, always encourage engagement by asking for the like, retweet, share, +1, etc., by inviting ongoing, two-way conversations and by asking a lot of questions.
4. Optimize your website for search
We all know how important SEO is to your online success, so here are a couple of additional things to consider when optimizing your store:
- Make sure you’re using the most relevant keyword terms and phrases.
- Cater to searches at various points along the purchase decision process by offering both informational and transactional content.
- Be sure to include URLs, title tags, header tags (H1, H2, etc.) and on-page content
- Remember your meta descriptions. Although they’re not an official search engine ranking factor, they’re incredibly important for encouraging click-through, so use them to show-off your brand voice and your products’ value.
- When the keywords you target match up with what people are searching for, the site will increase in relevancy and build trust with both users and search engines. This trust with users, once established, will encourage people to spread the word about your business and recommend it to their friends.
5. Get creative!
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Many people find that guest blogging, online contests, engaging with like-minded individuals and activities that surprise their audience really help in building trust and increasing social mentions as well as online traffic.
What’s great about the online world is the amount of information and examples of expertise that exists. Check out what is already working for others and get inspired for your own campaigns. For example, if you sell cookies, it may be beneficial to study how the Oreo brand interacts with their social media communities. They’re well-known for their fun voice and creative approach, constantly creating buzz online. Always be open to experimenting and trying new things, be patient and don’t get discouraged when something doesn’t work.
By combining social media, SEO and content, your business can create a unique online experience that compels customers to come back time and time again.
What would you add to this list? Tell us about it in the comments!