How to build local SEO - social media
This is the second part of a blog series on improving local SEO. If you'd like to find out how to improve SEO by using online directories, you can read Part 1 of the series.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – i.e. how to be found more online by your target audience
As a consumer, even if you've been living under a rock for a while, you'll know about social media. You probably even use a couple of channels personally and love it. However, this can lull business owners into a false sense of security. Using social media as part of your business' marketing strategy is not the same as posting your vacation photos or commenting on your friend's baby pictures.
Used strategically, social media can be a powerful tool in helping you reach your marketing goals and in this blog I want to focus on how this channel can help you improve your SEO. I wanted to write about this because I think there is still some confusion about how digital marketing activity like social media interacts with website SEO.
How can good social media help improve website SEO?
Rather than specific ideas about what to do on the various channels, this blog is intended to help you understand how good social media activity can help improve the visibility of your website - ie rank higher up the search engines' results pages. Spoiler alert, there doesn’t really seem to be a direct link - it's more about correlation than causation.
In this video from 2014 Google Webmasters said that if Google can find and index social media links, they will be taken into account for website ranking, but the overall popularity of a company's page (Likes, Followers etc) won't.
The Bing Webmaster's comment is this: "Social media plays a role in today’s effort to rank well in search results. The most obvious part it plays is via influence. If you are a social influencer, your followers tend to share your information widely, which in turn results in Bing seeing these positive signals. These positive signals can have an impact on how your site ranks organically in the long run."
This makes sense because search engines try to find useful content for searchers and if there has been lots of engagement for something on social media (lots of shares), it's probably something that people appreciate and would be valuable to rank highly on Google or Bing.
To revisit the fundamentals of SEO – you want search engines to find content on your website easily and to recognize its authority. Search engine algorithms are getting cleverer all the time and it’s harder and harder to fool them, so you might as well just do the right thing and generate really good content that is helpful and people will want to engage with.
So, how to approach social media, with SEO in mind?
Think holistically; it's less about one impacting the other, than social media and good SEO practices working together to improve your overall online presence.
Think about the potential to share specific links on social media. If you link to content from your website on social media, this is another platform for you to be visible on and will give people an opportunity to find your content and potentially share it. And links are important because it means that other people think your website content is useful and therefore Google thinks your website has authority.
Build awareness of your website as a whole. Again, sharing information about your company and your website URL on social media gives people an opportunity to become aware of your website and your brand. If your website is new, it's a good way of driving people to your website while you wait for the SEO of the site to improve organically and creep up the search engine's rankings.
Use social media as a way to get to know your audience better. If you're using a particular social media channel for your business, it should be because at least part of your target audience uses it. If that's the case, then it's a great place to start to get to know them better. You can see what kinds of content resonates with them, and consider whether you should be creating more of it for your website.
Share all new content on social media. Every time you create something new, share it on social media as standard. It will help people discover it more easily and will help you find out which content really resonates. Also, the faster the content appears on social media, and the more views the original gets, the faster the search engine will re-index the page higher up in rankings
Make sure your social profiles and website align. Make sure the wording on your social media profiles aligns across profiles and with what's on your website. Don't forget to include a link to the homepage of your website on each profile so it's there permanently and people can easily find it. If you've ever searched for a company, you might have noticed that often their social profiles come up as well as their main website so you want everything to look professional.
If you're looking for digital tools to help improve your marketing online, check out my blog listing out 5 of my favorite digital marketing tools for small businesses.