There is no question that Google is still the world’s most popular search engine. This is why the series of algorithmic updates it has implemented had a huge impact on businesses actively practicing SEO. Google has turned SEO into a very competitive game of survival, so to speak. Many SEO campaigns that once looked promising have now become pretty much useless. The way things are right now, every single piece of content you put out is critical to your survival in the world of search.
Now, one of the solutions that may come to mind is for you to focus your SEO efforts on other players, such as Bing and Yahoo. When you consider, however, that Google still holds about 68% of search engine share in the United States, you’ll realize that’s not really such a good idea. Whatever it is you do that involves search engines, you’ll have to depend largely on Google. This is why you need to adapt to whatever changes Google chooses to make.
Why not just ditch SEO completely and focus on other marketing strategies instead? You can’t. Well, not unless you’re contented with your business simply “getting by” instead of enjoying real success. More and more consumers are now relying on the Internet for information regarding brands, products, and businesses. The purchase decisions of people are also increasingly influenced by what they see online. Unless your target market can see you and interact with you online, therefore, you are less likely to achieve your business goals.
The Role of Social Media
So, since you cannot take SEO out of your online marketing campaign and still enjoy the level of success you expect for your business, you might as well do your best to make sure your efforts pay off. Use all the tools at your disposal to strengthen your SEO strategy. And one of the best tools you can ever use for this purpose is social media.
Social media is now being used by Google and other search engines to measure the popularity not only of your website, but also of your brand in general. In fact, social media is now seen to work hand-in-hand with SEO. It affects your SEO efforts, and your SEO efforts also influence your social media presence at the same time. Though there are claims that social media has overtaken SEO as the most important online marketing strategy, it actually helps, rather than negates SEO.
Here are some of the best reasons why social media should be an integral part of your SEO campaigns:
1. SEO is largely about building links and building links is about social proofing.
Links have always been one of the factors considered by search engines when ranking websites. The more high-quality links your website has, the better its search rankings are. These days, the old link-building tactics no longer work, thanks to Google’s algorithmic updates. But this doesn’t mean you should stop building links because links are still deemed important. You just need to make sure the links you get are all legit to avoid getting penalized.
When people share your content on social media channels, they are effectively helping you build high-quality links. Google and other search engines now place more value on these types of link because social media is not that easy to manipulate. Search engines, therefore, figure that links coming from social channels are likely to be legit.
2. Social media offers the fastest way to establish and strengthen online presence.
Social media is the new online venue where people regularly converge. It is where things are happening these days, and all in real time. This is why it is very important for you to establish your presence there. You need to be active and you need to constantly interact with your audience in order to successfully create buzz around your brand and build valuable links to your website. The constant interaction is why it’s called “social” in the first place.
3. Google hates traditional link-building.
Google has realized that the old link-building tactics only succeed in creating a web that’s full of junk. For this reason, they have made it clear with their algorithmic updates that websites should stop building fake links and focus instead on offering real value to their visitors. And because social media is where consumers usually are these days, it is therefore the best place or you to start offering valuable content and encouraging people to click through to your website.
Google has made it clear that fake links are not appreciated and will be penalized with poor rankings. Flickr.com photo by ivanpw
The Impact of Social Media
Okay, so now you understand why social media is critical to the success of your SEO efforts, but what exactly is the impact of social media on SEO and what benefits does social media have to offer in terms of SEO? Read on to find out…
1. Links from social media drive real traffic to your website.
The old link-building tactics don’t really bring traffic to your website. Those links almost always just sit there, doing nothing for your business. If you’re really unfortunate, those links could even get you penalized by Google and other search engines. Links from social media, on the other hand, have a great potential for bringing in real traffic for the simple reason that they come from real people and are shared on platforms where real people regularly converge.
2. Social media allows for the “crowd sourcing” of links.
If you’re able to build a good following on major social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, you have essentially created a team of supporters who will potentially share your content to the general public. When you post new content on your official blog, for example, you could promote it on Twitter, and your followers could share your content by retweeting the link.
It is also a good idea to add social sharing buttons on your website and blog, so visitors can automatically share pages on social media. Even if these visitors never actually make a purchase, the mere fact that they shared your content to other people who could possibly become loyal customers is already a huge advantage. Think of each share as one vote of confidence in your website and your brand. That is something search engines will definitely take note of.
3. Social media gets your content indexed very quickly.
The more people share your content on social media, the more links your website earns. And because social media links are deemed more valuable by search engines, the potential for your content to quickly get indexed is also improved. It has, in fact, been observed that indexation time is cut in half for content that is repeatedly tweeted about. Factors such as the number of people who tweeted about the content, the authority of the people who tweeted the content, and the time frame in which tweets were made were seen to affect the speed of indexation.
4. Social media helps increase search query volume.
When you share your content and promote your brand on social media, you have a better chance of increasing brand awareness. When more people are aware of your brand, there’s a good chance that more people will do an online search for your brand. When this happens, Google will likely interpret it to mean that your brand is a popular one and therefore deserves better rankings. Social media therefore helps provide you with more branded search opportunities.
5. Social connections can improve search rankings.
Just as search engines deem more social shares as a sign of a website’s credibility, they also take into account the number of quality followers, friends, and connections a certain user has on social media. The more quality followers and connections you have, the more credible you are for search engines, and the higher your rankings are likely to be. Note the emphasis on the quality of connections and not just the number. This means your connections and followers have to interact with you, rather than simply “Liking” or “Following” your page.
6. Social media helps with keyword targeting.
In ranking content, search engines also take into consideration the keywords used on social media. Before creating your content, therefore, it may be a good idea to check various social media platforms to determine what keywords your target audience are using. You should then target the most relevant keywords in each piece of content you create. Note that keywords work on both the content you post and your social profiles, so it may help to use relevant keywords on your profiles as well.
7. Social media leverages local search.
If your business has a physical location, then local search is definitely very important for the success of your SEO campaign and your business in general. More and more people are now conducting local online search using mobile gadgets. As a result, location-based social sites like Yelp and Foursquare have gained popularity in recent years. Keeping your listings on these sites up-to-date is therefore essential to ensuring better rankings on search results.
Just like everyone else, you’ve probably been told that you need to know your audience in order to achieve marketing success. The truth is that you need to know your audience well enough for you to be able to create content that they’re sure to find interesting and compelling enough not just to consume in its entirety, but also to share with others. And that is why you need to integrate social media with SEO.