Using social media is a big consideration for many small business. Whether or not you’re keen to make use of the various platforms available, doing so can have a positive impact on your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Social media provides something called social signals. These are the engagement you get on any social platform and include likes, shares, views and comments. It tells search engines such as Google and Bing that your content is interesting and relevant to users.
- Are Social Media Signals a Ranking Factor?
- How Social Media Can Help With SEO
- The Top Social Media Platforms for SEO
- Optimising Social Media for SEO
A ranking factor is what search engines use to directly determine where your content ranks in the search results. They’re an important consideration and a big focus of any SEO work.
Each search engine has its own set of ranking factors and, while Google doesn’t use social signals for this, others such as Bing do. That means that, if you gain a lot of interest in your social media posts, you’re likely to rank better in Bing’s search results.
Even though social signals aren’t a direct ranking factor for the world’s biggest search engine, don’t dismiss having a strong social media strategy. Indirectly, social can have a huge impact on your SEO in various ways. Here’s how:
1. Build Your Audience
Social media sites allow you to reach out to an audience that may be interested in your product, but that hasn’t yet discovered it. Facebook groups, subreddits and hashtags are just some of the ways that you can connect with a target audience to share your content. Creating something that’s relevant, interesting and engaging can encourage others to share it, too, which broadens your reach even further.
On certain sites, such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, you can also have your own business page, where interested people can find and follow your content and engage with you directly. By growing your following, you have an audience that’s already interested in your product and who are more likely to buy when the time is right.
2. Content Research
With billions of people using social media across the world, there’s a lot of information for you to look through. You can research questions that people are asking and use those to create content to help your audience. Sites such as Reddit and Quora are a gold mine of user questions (and answers) that you can use to inspire and influence your own content.
3. Boost Traffic
Not only can you build your audience on the platforms directly, you can encourage potential customers to click through to your site. The use of links in your bio and posts, as well as links shared by other users, all provide opportunities to bring traffic directly to your site. Traffic, and user engagement on your site, are both ranking factors that will directly affect your position on Google, which in turn can boost traffic further!
4. Social Signals
Social signals such as likes, comments and shares tell the social media platform that users like your content, and so your posts will get shared with more people. Not only does that give you more visibility, other users are more likely to click on a piece of content that their friends, colleagues and peers have shown an interest in.
5. Bigger Search Engine Presence
Social platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook can show up in search results. The better your presence on these platforms, the more likely that your brand will be seen in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). If your website, LinkedIn profile and Facebook page all show up for the same search phrase, you’ve tripled your chances of receiving a click-through compared to if only your website was visible.
6. Ranking Factors
Although social signals won’t directly help you rank on a search engine like Google, they will help your content gain more visibility on the platforms themselves. And more visibility means more opportunity for users to click through to your website. Website visits are a ranking factor in Google, so the better your posts perform on social, the more traffic you gain, the better the signals that are sent to Google.
The more your content is shared on social, the more likely it is to be picked up by others in your field. If you catch their eye, you could receive quality backlinks to your content – another search engine ranking factor.
7. Brand Exposure
The more your brand is seen, the better known it becomes. By showing up on social platforms as well as your own website, you are likely to be seen by more people in more places.
8. Build Trust and Reputation
Potential customers will often search out a company’s social platforms before their website, so make sure you have a presence in the places your audience is likely to be looking. On social sites, they can see whether you’re active (through regular posts), what others are saying about you (through reviews and user comments), and get a more personal feel for your brand.
There are hundreds of social media sites out there, many of which you won’t have heard of. You certainly don’t want to be on all of them (who has the time?), but pick one or two that suit your business, and focus on improving your presence on those select few.
Here are some of the best social media platforms to help with your SEO:
The world’s biggest social media is great for sharing content, growing and engaging with an audience, and building trust.
The top business networking social media site. If you work in the arena of B2B, then LinkedIn is ideal. It’s also the top site for lead generation and popular with marketers. Use it to build a business network and demonstrate your expertise.
Content on Twitter is fast-moving and it’s a great place for regularly sharing links to your content. Make use of hashtags to broaden your audience, and engage with other relevant content to build your reputation.
Instagram is a very visual platform that’s primarily intended to be used on mobile devices. Using relevant hashtags helps you connect with an audience that’s interested in similar topics, while making use of features such as reels and stories are a good way of grabbing the attention of a wider audience.
Reach a younger target audience and via short, engaging videos. Connect more personally with your audience and find more interested users through hashtags.
Used more like a search engine than a social media platform, Pinterest can have phenomenal results for your SEO. Using engaging images and descriptions enhanced with keywords can help users find your content. And, because most users on Pinterest aren’t looking for specific brands, you don’t have to always fight against the big players to be seen.
As it’s owned by Google, you can be sure that any SEO optimisation on YouTube will be beneficial to your overall strategy! This site, where accounts share videos covering billions of topics, is visually appealing and engaging. Videos from the platform often show up in SERPs, and are regularly embedded in other sites, giving you an even wider reach.
Reddit has sections for almost every topic imaginable, so there is plenty of opportunity for finding your niche and doing content research. Be aware, though, that Reddit users are famously anti-marketing, so ensure you’re genuine in your engagement and not pushy with trying to sell your product. Instead, use it to engage with like-minded users.
Perfect for research – users come to Quora to get answers to their questions. Find relevant subjects and either show your expertise by providing helpful answers, or use the platform for content research.
So what can you do to make your social media work for your SEO? Here are some of my top tips.
Create and Share Quality Content
Like for all SEO content creation, producing quality content is key. Whether you share content from your website to your social media platform, or create the content directly on the platform, make sure it’s something your users want to see and respond to. The more interesting it is to your audience, the more likely they are to click through to your website (where necessary), comment, like, and share.
Build Your Audience
While the size of your social media following won’t directly affect your SEO, a bigger audience means more opportunity for your content to be shared and engaged with. Make sure you’re attracting a following that’s useful to your business. Your aunt may be happy to like all of your posts, but she’s not necessarily your ideal customer!
Engage With Your Audience
On social platforms, you need to be social! There are all sorts of ways to interact with your audience, and this will vary from platform to platform. Some of the best ways of engaging are to respond to comments on your posts, join groups that fit your niche and join the conversations there, or ask questions that encourage users to respond.
Remember that social platforms are where users come to engage and receive a more personal experience. Make sure you’re providing that.
Encourage Sharing and Make it Easy
While some platforms like Facebook may actually reduce your visibility if you directly ask users to share your post, you can still give people a push to get your content seen. On your website, include social share buttons, and create content that people will want to share themselves, even without being asked. Think carefully about your headings and use appealing visuals to make your pieces more attractive.
By engaging with others in your field and sharing their content, you’ll also build relationships and they’ll be more likely to return the favour now and again.
Good Imagery and/or Video
Many social media platforms are very visual, and on these, posts that include images or video are generally more popular. Make use of this by selecting images and clips that are of a good quality, relevant to your topic, and correctly formatted.
As for any kind of SEO, the use of keywords is vital for good social SEO. Whether it’s your bio, business description, or individual posts, using relevant keywords can help users find you. Google and other search engines are also more likely to display your page if you use relevant keywords.
You will often find that the keyword strategy for your website can be applied directly to your social media sites.
Provide Plenty of Information
As well as coming to engage, users come to social platforms to find out more about a business. Make sure you give them all the information you can by providing a complete and comprehensive profile that makes use of relevant keywords.
Social sites like Facebook allow users to leave reviews, which are always important to consumers making purchase decisions. Not only will good reviews help you build trust and demonstrate social proof, Google will sometimes show snippets of these in search results.
Post regularly and post consistently across platforms. While it’s true that each platform has its own style, and your presence on LinkedIn is likely to be different to your presence on Reddit, there still needs to be a vein of consistency. Make sure your branding, overall message and business aims are clear throughout. This will not only help strengthen your brand, but will build trust with users who are seeing you on multiple platforms.
It’s also important to post regularly so that your profile doesn’t become stale. Pick a schedule that you can stick too, and you’ll see much better results than if you publish 10 posts in succession after several months of silence.
While Social Media and SEO are two very different areas of your marketing strategy, they work well in tandem and it’s worth spending time on both. Select one or two social platforms that suit your business, then work on creating and sharing quality content, engaging your audience, and discovering interesting topics in your field.