As social media and SEO have evolved over the years, they’ve become increasingly intertwined—and it’s not hard to understand why. Social media focuses on, and encourages, engagement and real conversations between people online. SEO focuses on how people are looking for information and solutions to their problems online. In both cases, brands succeed by connecting with these desires authentically and providing real value to their audience.
The power of social media and SEO
A survey conducted by eConsultancy reported 39 percent of companies agree that “social media is very much part of search engine optimization activity.” While social media doesn’t necessarily have a direct impact on search ranking, it is an important part of SEO.
Social media puts you in front of your audience and helps to expand your online reach more quickly. It drives referral traffic and engagement, both of which can help with search ranking through natural links. Content that leverages social media as a source of link building helps improve visibility on search. For more information on link building using social media check out Top Rank Online Marketing.
On the flip side, SEO helps qualify your content based on keyword research and search volume. This optimization can provide a strong case for a particular topic to be supported by content and then shared on social media.
Whether it’s through a Tweet, a Pin on Pinterest, or a Facebook like, increased social media activity does have an effect on search results. In this article, we detail components that help build a strong social media marketing strategy using social media and SEO.
1. Use social media to find relevant keywords
Creating high-quality content is key to driving greater visibility on social networks. But how do you create high quality content? It starts with the intent of educating and/or entertaining your target audience. But it is important that your content uses relevant keyword phrases. To find a commonly searched keyword that is relevant to your audience, listen to them using social media monitoring.
When you are logged in to Hootsuite, click on the tab with the social network you want to monitor. Click the add stream tab, then select the keyword tab. A pop up will appear that lets you add up to three keyword phrases, which you can then add to your streams. You will be able to listen to your community discussing topics you’ve identified. After spending some time listening to your audience, you will get a general sense of the type of keywords commonly used.
Blog posts, guides, whitepapers, case studies, videos, and social posts all need to include the right keywords for social and SEO. SEO is not just Google. Search is everywhere on the web. Social media platforms are becoming just as big in search. YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. Like Google, it indexes content and provide search results based on your search queries.
Similarly, Facebook is a search engine that indexes user-generated content e.g. social media posts, conversations and news feeds. Because of this, you are able to search any topic and Facebook will get results based on what is on the web and the discussions around it.
Adding relevant keywords to your content increases the likelihood that your social content is visible on both search engines and on social media platforms. Make it a habit to incorporate relevant keywords as much as possible.
Focus on incorporating keyword phrases to bring in relevant traffic, and keep in mind that not all keyword phrases are created equal. KISSMetrics has a great description of the relationship between keywords and intent. It’s a fantastic read for anyone creating social content that is intended to convert.
Pro Tip: Add relevant keywords in titles, descriptions, hashtags, metadata for images, and social media posts for increased visibility.
2. Earn inbound links through social promotion
Building inbound links is important because it helps improve search visibility and increase brand awareness. Quality links from domains with high authority help signal to search engines that the content is valuable. Search Engine Land has a great guide on link building for search engines.
Social media is a great tool for promotion because it encourages inbound links to your content. However, your content needs to be unique, valuable, and authoritative so other bloggers and influencers will find it useful enough to link back to.
Jim Lodico from Social Media Examiner explains “[o]ne of the quickest ways to build social media credibility is to share outstanding blog posts, videos or other online content. When you create content that will give Twitter users or bloggers credibility just by sharing it, you’re going to generate valuable incoming links.”
Start scheduling your social media posts. Share great authoritative content and encourage other bloggers to share your content. If you want to learn more about scheduling, Mike Allton explains creating and scheduling social media posts in more depth.
Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to create anchor links within blog posts to other related high-quality content. You might get the author’s attention to either engage or comment.
3. Increase social media followers
Interaction with high-quality followers acts as a social signal to search engines. People interacting with your social media posts show interest, which increases your brand’s authority. Expanding your audience therefore allows for better ranking.
But make sure you don’t fall into the trap of paying for followers. Growing your audience organically with real engagement is more effective—quality over quantity. Quality social media followers are more likely to reference your content and comment about your brand, product and/or service. Plus, search engines are aware of fake followers and may penalize you for it.
So how do you increase the quality of your social media following?
Take time to engage your audience on social media. Reply and comment on their posts.
Follow and follow back like-minded individuals and influencers.
Post useful and relevant high-quality content for your intended audience.
Pro Tip: Comment, engage, and start conversations with non-followers to encourage them to interact with you or your brand.
4. Improve social media profiles
Whether you are starting to grow your social media presence, or are a new business trying to compete in the space, it can be difficult to rank if you do not have much authority. When it comes to expanding your social media presence, social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are high in domain authority and great for sharing content.
An example of this is the integration of Twitter on Google search results. Although, it does not help rank specific pages, it displays up-to-date Tweets on behalf of you or your brand. What you Tweet will appear on search. Always include a link if you have something to share; you increase the likelihood for engagement, comments, and brand awareness.
Make the most out of your social networks by completing all social media profiles. Do not simply enter company information. Give it the same attention you would creating high-quality content with relevant keyword phrases. Social networks that have high domain authority will index and rank higher for you or your brand on search versus your own website (for now, of course), so it is important to complete your profiles.
Take advantage of the available space in Facebook and think of it as an opportunity to brand yourself or your business. The short description, company overview, general information, mission, and product description are valuable. Stay on point and put in relevant keywords that reflect the value of your business.
You will notice that Hootsuite mentions “social relationship platform” quite a few times. Naturally if you were to search for that term, you would see Hootsuite ranks for it on search engines. In addition, if you were to type in that phrase in Facebook you will also find Hootsuite mentioned in the search results.
Respect your content and make it consistent for all social media platforms. Again, you see similar terminology on Twitter. Make use of Twitter handles and links to bring in referral traffic.
LinkedIn’s message is similar but mentions careers in its description. You need to pay attention to your audience as well. Create content that is similar across every social media platform, but respect the purpose of each social media channel.
Pro Tip: Keep content similar across each platform but make tweaks with respect to each social channel. For example, LinkedIn is a professional social network and, as a result, you see Hootsuite speaks more about their vision and careers on this platform.
5. Build relationships online and offline
Be where your audience is on social media. Start conversations, join Facebook and LinkedIn groups, participate on Twitter chats, comment on other posts, and reply to those commenting on posts you have shared. You want your brand to be real and authentic.
A perfect example is Quora. Quora is a social network where questions are asked and answered by a community of users. Many professionals and brands use Quora to engage a target audience to help answer questions.
Our very own David Godsall, editorial manager at Hootsuite took the time to answer this question. This not only positions Hootsuite and its employees as experts in the field but encourages readers to visit Hootsuite’s blog for more insights.
Why spend the time to do this? It helps build credibility and authorship. The conversation is indexed on search and is available for the rest of the community to consume.
Expand your reach and connect with influencers within your space and connect with them offline. Attend conferences, networking events and/or connect with influencers over Skype, Google Hangouts or chat over the good old telephone. By whatever means to build a relationship and discuss how you and the other party can benefit each other through projects online. By working with people offline you can often get opportunities online through the relationships you’ve built.
This basic SEO strategy has worked for a lot of professionals. Brian Dean, owner and CEO of Backlinko built his business using this tactic. His articles has been published in popular sites within the SEO space. He single-handedly increased his visibility with valuable content and increase social shares.
Pro Tip: Start building relationships online with influencers. Connect with them offline once you have built a rapport. Quora is a great community to engage thought leaders, or start conversations on Twitter.
Matt Cutts’ YouTube video explains Google does not consider social shares a factor in SEO. But we see that they both compliment each other and contribute to overall success in organic search. The two aren’t mutually exclusive; both social media and SEO benefit from each other. Social media is very much part of the web and it isn’t going away any time soon.
Start generating engagement with your social content using Hootsuite!