Social Media and its fit with SEO
Social media is a perfect channel for diversifying SEO strategies because it can directly impact on revenue lines – it has a low cost base (time), and can help with lead generation and customer support. Google has been pushing more of its internal resources into Google+ and integrating it with all its other products, providing clear insight into how important social is to Google. As a small business owner you can easily set up a social profile on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook or Google+ and start to build an audience with very little investment.
The advantage is that individual and small business owners have a lead over big corporate players as there is no need for legal or marketing to sign off for every posts or tweet that is sent out, you can adapt your strategy as you go. Small business can also benefit around using social as it allows the adjustment of messaging to suit the audience if initially it doesn’t work, if you test something and fail doesn’t mean thousands of lost dollars it just means a small setback.
The key to a successful social media strategy is to don’t make them all identical channel sharing the same content all about you, your brand and your products, to succeed you want to share social love across other people, products and brands.
If you are doing social mostly for SEO and Branding you can certainly share links to your website content including products pages but also include links to great customer reviews and good news items about you, company, staff and your products. My advice is if you want to improve the chances of success you don’t want to make your social channel just about you. Filling the channel with up to 80% of its content about other people, products or businesses can show your audience (and the search engines) that you’re an expert about this topic.
A big reason to be using social for SEO is to control the “brand” results that users see when they are searching for you. An example is when you search for “Pepsi” they have three of their company controlled social profiles showing on the first page of Google. The advantage is that this reduces the chances competitors or businesses with similar names can steal away branded traffic. An SEO insight is that a large amount of your search traffic will always be branded, so you want to ensure you capture as much of this traffic as possible and social channels; Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest are great ways to do this easily.
Social Trust Factors
One key insight is there is little use in buying blocks of “fake” fans or spamming other social channels to get noticed in Social Media as there is a social trust factor. Anyone can easily do directory submissions, comment spam or obtain paid links but the Google Penguin algorithm has been penalising online businesses who previously engage in these aggressive tactics as their only SEO methods. Social works well because a good social media presence can be broken down to quality and community engagement and generating trusted brand links back to your sites but can be broken down further based on importance:
- Quality of your Twitter followers
- What is the ratio of Tweets to ReTweets
- Relevance of your Twitter Followers
- Number of Twitter followers
- Number of Shares of your posts (content is quality/relevant)
- Number of Comments on your posts (content is engaging)
- Number of Likes (number of fans)
- How many people have you in their circles
- How many +1s your posts receive
- How many shares your posts receive
- How many comments your posts receive
- How many +1’s your page/website has
- Is your account a “verified name”
- Number of Followers
- Ratio of Followers to Following
- Number of Followers of individual boards
- Number of Likes of your pin
- Number of comments on your pin
- Number of Repins of your pin
The more authority your social channels have, the more impact they will have on your SEO efforts. An authentic social channel will also drive real visitors/consumers to your website and the more relevant your social audience the better quality these visitors will be, translating to revenue that you stand to make. Having a small dedicated and engaged social audience is far better than having thousands of inactive accounts run by bots as they will potentially be your customers.
Google made a large overhaul to its Google Places product last year which integrated more of their local search, business data and reviews into their Google+ social layer. The importance is that the Google+ social network now also directly impacts on your local search ranking factors. The more social interactions, photos and reviews your Google+ Local listing has the more prominence that your listing will get in Google.
Share of Social Mentions
If you are looking across all of the main social media channels, it’s easy to see how people see your content as important or interesting. It’s possible to influence a single channel such as Facebook or Twitter but it’s very hard to “fake” authentic social mentions across multiple channels. Social media will only help your SEO long term if your social channels are authentic as search engines know it’s hard to fake authenticity. There are also other factors such as frequency and consistency of social shares and engagement that is typically harder to fake so can be a good guide to judge authenticity.
What is your social karma?
The final consideration on using social media for SEO is that it’s important to examine what is the general sentiment being discussed around your brand online and in social conversations. You need to have a general understanding across social channels as to if the current tone around your brand/products is negative or positive and how you might be able to engage via the appropriate social channels to diffuse the situation. If there are existing negative conversations they might be encouraging future consumers to go elsewhere such as buy from competitors or report you to the state Office of Fair Trading.
Social Media can help SEO
If you focus on creating interesting, relevant and engaging content you will find that it helps improve your SEO campaign overall, by building authority signals but it can also help with your link building activities, but social media does takes a lot of effort so it’s a good time to start today.