In the last five years, the relationship between SEO (search engine optimization) and social media has certainly shifted. With a new influx of influencers, backlinking and profile ranking, there are more opportunities than ever for social media to influence how high your website displays in online searches.
Way 1: Influencers
At their core, influencers are people who promote a product or service and have the power to affect purchase decisions. Typically, these people have a following in a particular niche or market.
The majority of influencers fit into the following categories, with the last category quickly becoming the most important:
- Industry experts and thought leaders
- Bloggers and content creators
Today, the majority of influencer marketing occurs on social media, predominantly with bloggers and micro-influencers. Industry leaders and journalists might also be considered influencers, as they are a reputable source for brand updates and product reviews. The original influencers were celebrities, and although they still have a role to play, their importance as influencers is dwindling. Consumers want to see an authentic portrayal of how a product or service will make their life better – not necessarily one that a celebrity was paid to review positively.
It is the goal of any influencer to establish a deep trust with their audience, making it simple to promote and drive sales for products they actually use and have seen results in. With that in mind, bloggers and influencers have the most authentic and active relationships with their fans. Smart brands are now validating and encouraging this fresh take on marketing.
Way 2: Links
Backlinks are connections from outside domains that point to pages on your website; essentially linking from their domain to yours. To a larger degree, your backlink profile is made up of backlinks from external sites (also known as referring domains) that contribute to the overall strength, relevance and diversity of your website. This particular method is considered more an indirect relationship between social media and SEO. Content or posts that perform well on social media will likely earn more backlinks, which helps boost search rank.
Think about it like this. Have you ever been browsing your social media feed mindlessly when an eye catching post stops you mid-scroll? It could be a striking outfit ensemble or technological product displaying unique capabilities you didn’t realize were possible. What do you do next? More than likely, you click that user’s profile, browse and ultimately, click the link in their bio to continue your search directly on their website. That relationship positively affects search rank for the company. Voilà!
Way 3: Social Media Channels Are Search Engines, Too
In this modern age, people don’t just search for products or services using Google. They also use social media to find what they’re looking for. They way this works is dependent upon each platform. If you’re active on Twitter, you can locate just about anything in real-time using a specific hashtag or following relevant accounts sharing information about the topics you’re interested in. For example, when I type in “Instagram Updates” on Twitter, a variety of posts regarding the latest Instagram updates appear.
Similarly, brands that put effort into curating attractive visual content can benefit greatly from making their content visible on Pinterest and Instagram by using hashtags and properly categorizing their products.
Here are some impressive stats that bring to light just how much people are using social media to search:
- In 2010, Twitter handled 19 billion search queries a month (that’s more than 5x the queries handled by Bing!)
- In 2016, Facebook reported around 2 billion search queries per day.
If someone wants to dig deeper into your company offerings, they’re likely to open the social media sites they’re using every day and do a quick search to see what kind of presence you have on each channel.
Way 4: Building a Loyal Audience
SEO should be thoughtfully integrated into your broader social marketing strategy, but it shouldn’t necessarily be the driving force. If you focus on creating and sharing quality content, you’ll be in good shape. Quality is, after all, the number one ranking factor in Google. If you create engaging content, it will most likely be popular on social media and people are probably going to like it and link to it — which does boost your rankings.
A key factor to building a committed audience on social media is engaging authentically with your follower base. Respond to comments with excitement and personal touches (for example, using their name or handle) and as you would with any customer that walks through the doors of your brick and mortar, address concerns with respect and thoughtfulness. Sharing user generated content is another simple, yet extremely effective way to show commitment and interest in your follower base! Just make sure to ask for permission first.
Way 5: Social Media Profiles Rank in Search Engines
While social shares may or may not affect a webpage’s position in search listings, your social profiles definitely influence the content of your search results. In fact, social media profiles are often amongst the top results in search listings for brand names. When I searched “Tarma Designs” in Google, the company’s Facebook and LinkedIn profiles appeared as the 2nd and 4th listings.
Social channels can feel more personal than webpages and they’re a great way to get a sense of a company’s personality right off the bat. When I’m researching a company I don’t know much about, I typically go straight to their Twitter or Facebook page. With that being said, if a social account shows up at the top of the search results, I’m just as likely to click on it as I would be to click on their website.
There’s no doubt that your social profiles matter in Google search rankings, especially to people who are looking for you online. Make getting to know your brand fun using engaging and personal content! Even if social media isn’t exactly a direct Google ranking factor, it is one of the best ways to promote content and be found online. Which is, ultimately, what SEO is all about. (Search Engine Journal)