Tips To Optimize Your Social Media To Boost SEO
A focus on social media and SEO in marketing strategy has become standard practice for businesses, but how to get them working together is still a much-debated topic.
If you are like most brands, you are using social media to:
- increase brand awareness
- drive traffic to your website
- drive sales of products and services
The connection between social media traffic and website traffic does exist – 40% of Twitter users report buying something after seeing it on Twitter – but the link between your social media activity and search engine rankings is more complex than you might think.
Up until a few years ago, it was widely assumed that reach, engagement, and shares from social media networks naturally boosted SEO and helped brands climb the rankings. In 2014, however, Google SEO expert Matt Cutts explained that social media activity such as “followers on Twitter and likes on Facebook” are not used as signals in the search engine’s algorithm.
While there is little to suggest that this has changed, there is evidence that social media can have a significant influence on your SEO indirectly.
Is there a link between social media and SEO?
Last year, Hootsuite ran an experiment to test the correlation between social media and SEO services, and its findings indicate that they are powerfully connected. In order to understand the extent to which social media promotion increases search ranking, Hootsuite published 30 blog articles with no social media promotion, 30 articles promoted organically on Twitter and 30 articles promoted on Twitter with a paid-for boost of $100 each. These were the results.
You can see a strong correlation between social activity and search rankings, along with findings that “paid promotion has nearly double the SEO benefit of organic promotion”.
A similar study by Matthew Woodward repeated this conclusion, seeing an article on unhealthy foods becoming #2 in Google searches after being shared thousands of times on Facebook.
This indirect link between social media and SEO can perhaps be better understood by following the simple steps of the user journey. The more engagement and shares your social media posts have, the more people see it. The more people who see it, the more likely it is to get linked from other websites. These backlinks create better rankings, which in turn leads to more social media activity, and the cycle continues.
Optimizing your social media with SEO in mind can strengthen this tie and allow them to synchronize more effectively. Here are 10 ways to go about it.
1. MATCH YOUR PROFILES WITH YOUR WEBSITE
Keeping the content of your social media profiles in line with your website is the first step to allowing social media and SEO to work together and benefit one another. Make your usernames the same as your website URL wherever possible and match the keywords in your intros and bios to your website – particularly the first word, which is the most important in Google search rankings. Maintaining this consistency will improve your brand image as well as giving your social media accounts more authority.
2. POST YOUR BRAND PRINCIPLES
It’s important to push out the values, mission, and vision of your brand on your social media channels as well as on your website. Your website and social profiles are likely to appear next to each other in search engine results, and brand principles are important content for them both to share in order to be cross-linked and give your social media more SEO authority. This can also get you higher up in rankings on Google-powered social platforms when people search for content that relates back to your brand principles. From a more general marketing perspective, showing people what your brand is passionate about will gain you loyal fans
3. GIVE PEOPLE A REASON TO CLICK
Posting links to your site on social media is a great way to drive traffic there and get Google to notice that your website is being used, but you need to give people a good reason to click through. Post intriguing titles that grab your followers’ attention, or sneak previews that leave them craving more, so they are encouraged to follow the link to your website for the full story. This will also make your content more shareable, reaching more people, gaining more followers and generating more site visitors.
4. REACH THE RIGHT PEOPLE
One of the top factors in the ranking algorithm of search engines is how much time people are spending on your website. A huge benefit of leading people there via social media is that you can be much more certain they are your target audience – an audience who finds the content appropriate, and who will spend far longer engaging with your website. Make sure you are using your social media networks to connect with the right people and build a relevant following. Join groups, leave comments and take part in discussions rather than just posting a one-way dialogue. Your social media activity will have a far greater effect on your SEO if it is directed at the right people.
5. BE A PART OF THE COMMUNITY
Being an active, valuable member of social media communities do not only allow you to build a relevant following of customers, but it is also an opportunity for relevant influencers in your industry to see your content and link it to their own fanbase. If you are engaging posts, other brands and individuals who publish regularly are likely to include you, creating high quality, authoritative backlinks to your website.
6. INCLUDE IMAGES IN YOUR POSTS
The truth is that many people will click a link because they like a photo it is attached to, without even reading the caption or post beneath. Whether it’s a high-quality product photo or an eye-catching infographic, try to include images in as many of your social media posts as possible to engage people automatically. When you are posting content from your website, make sure to match any relevant keywords in the image alt tag to keywords in your title or caption.
7. HASHTAG WISELY
Well-placed hashtags in your posts can boost your SEO in a number of ways. Firstly, hashtags provide distinct keywords for you to match with your web content keywords. Secondly, they make you discoverable by new people searching within social media platforms, who will check out your profile and click on your web links. Thirdly, Google’s partnership with Twitter has led to hashtags being included in Google search results AND included as a live feed at the top of the results. While this does not directly impact your SEO, it does give you a new way of being discovered, increase brand authority and lead to an increase in link building with other sites. Clogging up your posts with hashtags can reduce engagement and brand authenticity, but incorporating a handful of #relevant #keywords each time can drive traffic to your social channels and website.
8. BOOST POSTS FOR NEW LANDING PAGES
As we have seen in Hootsuite’s experiment, paying to boost posts on social media has a significantly positive effect on SEO. There are various reasons why this isn’t a feasible option all the time – not having $100 per post is probably the main reason for most of us. However, if your budget allows, try doing this at times of online buzz around your industry or selecting some of your stand-out content to promote. For example, making ads for newly created landing pages such as new blog articles or product lines can help flag them to Google and get them indexed more quickly.
9. USE PLATFORMS THAT ALLOW DOFOLLOW LINKS
Without delving too far into coding complexities, there are some websites which automatically tag links as NoFollow and some which don’t (leaving the links as DoFollow). NoFollow links are not acknowledged by search engines, whereas DoFollow links are. Some of the most popular social media platforms will NoFollow your links and prevent them from boosting your SEO – it seems that Facebook and Twitter follow this practice. Pinterest and Reddit, on the other hand, allow DoFollow links for you to generate SEO value. Including relevant DoFollow platforms in your social media marketing strategy will also help you reach new audiences.
10. QUALITY CONTROL YOUR ACTIVITY
If reach, engagement, and shares are key factors to giving your social media profiles relevance and authority, making sure that your content achieves those things is vital.
Post-high-quality content consistently (once a week is better than intermittently) and keep it varied to sustain the interest of your audience. Posting a mix of competitions, behind-the-scenes content, user-generated content, sneak previews, and long-content stories as well as your products and services will build your brand personality and strengthen your connection with followers and influencers.