Far too often, I see companies operating their SEO teams and their social media teams completely separate from one another. When in reality there is a desperate need for coordination among them.
Having a well-planned content strategy is one of the most important things you can do to drive traffic via SEO and social media. Without content, your social media profiles will remain flat and, in all likelihood, so will your site traffic. When formulating your content strategy, however, it’s best to keep in mind that you have the opportunity to benefit both in terms of Google rankings and social media engagement.
This may come as a surprise to many marketers since conventional wisdom has it that social media has zero, or close to zero, impact on SEO. I find it very frustrating when people sharing this misguided impression. Of course, social signals influence SEO. If factors like site speed, time on site, links and content structure can all impact search, then why wouldn’t something that can sway all of those things count as well?
I have listed below a few ways that social media can help when you are trying to get Google to index your website, build your local listings, get eyes on your most engaging content and connect with influencers.
1. Build Branded Local Citations With Social Profiles
This is possibly the most obvious and most common fail among local businesses. Many social media sites are now asking businesses to add their locations to their pages. Facebook, Google+, Foursquare, Pinterest, Yelp, LinkedIn and others all have local business pages. Why is this important? Because if your local business does not claim its local page from these social sites, someone else will claim it instead of you.
Businesses that leave their local business pages up to the whims of social media algorithms are asking for trouble. Social media sites will pull information (address, business name, business type, phone number, etc.) from other places on the web and create a profile to the best of their ability for you. These pages are then available for people to check-in at, claim and review.
Anyone searching for that business or for a business similar to yours within the area will be shown links to these pages in their search results. The bummer? The pages created for you are often wrong. So claim all of your pages. It’s better to know that you can access and even post on them when you need to, and leaving your local search fate up to the algorithm gods is never a good idea.
2. Use Shares From Influencers as Bot Bait
Google has admitted to “working towards assessing authority of individuals” as a ranking signal. This means that they are grading people on influence and the content that those people share may be used as a ranking factor. We saw this first with Google Authorship, and now we are seeing it with tweets appearing in search results.
What’s more, Google has been increasing Twitter content’s indexing and appearance in search results. More telling is that Google has been prioritizing the indexing of tweets posted by people with certain authority rank thresholds. That’s right – not all tweets are equal.
@LiamNolan90 Totally cool; thanks for the mention!
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) May 9, 2016
So how do you influence the influencers to share, comment on or engage with your content? Create content that mentions them, ask them for guest posts or share their content. This is the age of people-based marketing, and there is no better way to get people involved than by engaging with them. Try compiling and publishing expert quote roundups on your blog, newsletters, and social presences. You can find quality content and relevant influencers by using tools like Buzzsumo or Nuvi.
3. Curate Content for Stickier Referrals
As mentioned in the previous section, influencer relationships should ideally influence your content strategy. This concept does not only go one way. You can curate content from influencers within your niche and share it. Using tools like Start A Fire even allow you to take your content from a third-party site and add a badge with your own content recommendations to the page.
Let’s be real. Curated content on social media gets much more engagement than promotional content, but marketers often hold back on sharing third-party content for fear of sending their audience to someone else’s site. You no longer have to worry about. Start A Fire will allow you to share curated content and use it to drive traffic back to your website. This is a huge advantage for marketers who are trying to increase engagement and also impact the bottom line.
Why does this matter? It’s prequalified traffic. The people who see your badge are already interested enough in the content you share that they want to see more of it. In this sense, this type of tool will not only put your mind at ease that you won’t lose your audience when you post links to third-party content, but it will also increase qualified click-throughs, thereby lowering bounce rates, which ultimately help improve your search rankings.
4. Optimize for YouTube Search
Although it’s more of a social network and a user-generated content platform than anything else, YouTube is also the second largest search engine in the world. Need another reason to take it seriously for SEO purposes? YouTube is owned by the largest search engine in the world, Google.
While solutions for proprietary video streaming do offer some compelling features, many search experts believe it is imperative that the video content on your website be powered by YouTube. Connect your account to your Google Business page, complete your video tags (appropriately), fill out the content description and add CTAs to your videos.
Too many marketers miss out on huge SEO opportunities by ignoring YouTube. Don’t be this person.
Rethinking the Wheel
Instead of discrediting social media’s ability to impact overall marketing and business strategies in the short term, we need to start looking for the ways that social activity can already improve our rankings. Instead of focusing on what we believe that social media can’t do, it’s time to focus on what it can do.
Social media can improve many factors that have an impact on search rankings. This is a fact. Do yourself and your company a favor and rethink the way you use social media, find where it may have the greatest impact for your business, and test those theories.