Social media networks started off as a place for people to keep connected online, to easily talk, share news, discuss events and everything else that falls in-between that.
Today, social media platforms have become a multi-billion dollar industry of their own. Almost half of the planet’s population (roughly as many people who have an internet connection) use at least one social media network that they use once a day.
With such insane popularity, social media absolutely shouldn’t be disregarded by marketers, especially when you are trying to improve your rankings in search engines, because Google and “the rest of the gang” pays a good amount of attention to your social presence and posts, just like they do to any other content.
Let’s start with the basics
Anything that you post on social media (article links, pictures, videos – everything) is essentially a part of your content, much like the written words in this article. Like any other content, your social media posts absolutely need to be of high quality and provide value to your audience. This is the first and most important thing that you need to keep in mind.
To make all your posts crystal clear for search engines, try to make use of semantic markup every time you share something on social. Semantic markup is the name for putting a HTML tag on your content (like a description for articles or alt-text for images/pictures) that tells search engines what exactly your content is about.
Use a clear, catchy description and mix in a few keywords here and there. For example if your post is about making pancakes and includes a pancake image, you can use something like “Ever wondered how to make the most delicious pancakes at home in just an hour?” and make sure you pay attention to the image’s alt-text, which should read something like “the most delicious pancake recipe”.
It’s important to understand that people don’t only use the default “all” results page of Google. They also use videos, images, news and the rest of the categories. If your post can be found easily and receives likes and shares from people (which essentially means that they find your content valuable and you have social reputation), you will get a considerable amount of love from search engines too.
Don’t forget to monitor your efforts to have a clear idea of how you are doing in your endeavors. Not every description you come up with will be a good one and you need to know whether you need to further tweak your posts.
Build a network with the help of external inbound links
Social media is an excellent way to pump up the number of external links to your content or website. The more external links you have (preferably from different domains) the more authority your website will gain in search engines.
In order to make this happen you will have to start with point N1, which is having great quality content, otherwise you won’t have a chance to attract those links.
While being active on social media, share your content in relevant discussions if you know that it will provide value to the users. This will help you in becoming an authority figure on social media (as a brand who knows what it’s talking about and has the right answers). It will also maximize your chance of gaining external links through social shares, which is your primary objective. Here is an infographic that will tell you more about social shares (point N4).
Social media profiles are a big part of search results
If you go to Google search and look up “Victoria’s Secret” you will get their website as the first result.
Do you know what you will get bellow that? Yup, their social media profiles. This can be a hint of how important your social media profiles really are.
Of course, Victoria’s Secret has an insane brand presence around the world, but it hasn’t come out of nowhere. Quality products, quality content and consistent social media engagement throughout the years – that’s all there is. You can do that as well.
Also keep in mind that social media profiles can be just as good for gathering information about a brand as Google. When a user wants to know more about a brand, they are as likely to click on the social media profile in the search results as the official website. In fact, some people might skip Google and go straight to Facebook to find out more about a brand.
Social media channels = search engines
Do you know the number one search channel in the world? Okay, yes it’s Google. You are right. Google has around 67% market share.
But do you know the second one? It’s YouTube, which is a social media channel, which is just video based.
That’s right, people use YouTube to search for stuff more than any search engine, except Google. The same can be said (though it’s considerably less) for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, G+ and others.
The point here is that ones’ social media presence and engagement has a strong correlation to your search results. The more fans, followers, likes and re-tweets your brand has on social media, the more love you will receive from search engines.
Another impressive advantage of being active on social media in terms of SEO is speeding up the process of getting your content indexed.
In case you don’t know what indexed pages are, here goes. Whenever you publish a new piece of content it doesn’t immediately appear in search engines, it has to be indexed by search engine bots first. While bots are constantly crawling your website, looking for new stuff to index, it takes time.
If your fresh piece of content is re-tweeted a high number of times on Twitter, it can cut the time needed for bots to index that specific page by as much as 50%, since Google and Twitter have made a deal about it.
A must know about Google+
What do you know about G+? I know that it’s a relatively underused channel compared to the rest of the giants, its audience doesn’t really suit most businesses as a “relevant social media channel”. All that, and it’s owned by Google.
If you do a few searches for brands and look at the results, the ones that have an active G+ account will be on the top. This is an excellent opportunity for brands to boost their search engine results. If you still don’t have a G+ account or are inactive on it, fix that right away!
G+ may not be the most popular social media network in terms of fans and engagement, but if you really want to have good search engine rankings, you should absolutely pay attention to this network. Here is a chart showing search engines response to social signals from different networks (source):
Social media usage is growing day by day, and you don’t need to be a fortune teller to know that it will become even more important as time goes on.
On a final note, it’s never too late to start. Even if you didn’t pay much attention to social media before reading this post, you can start improving today.
When you take a look at the bigger picture, it all comes down to how much value you can bring to your audience with your content. The better user experience will result in higher search engine rankings, simple as that. Having a good idea of what you need to do on social media will help you increase your customer base, further your social media reach and ultimately, drive your brand’s name to the top results of search pages.
Guest Author: Vlad Rascanu is a seasoned online marketing and SEO expert. He is the founder of 80 Proof Digital, a marketing agency with deep focus on SEO. Vlad has helped hundreds of businesses grow their online