by Brad Shorr
Social media can improve SEO in a number of ways. Before diving into it, let’s review what SEO is.
SEO is a group of activities involving both a company’s website and also other websites, that are done to improve the rankings of the company’s website pages on Google and other major search engines. The purpose of SEO is to drive as much organic (unpaid) search engine traffic to the website as as possible.
Many people wonder about how social media affects SEO. Are there things you can do on your social media accounts to help your website or blog rank better on Google? Long answer short – YES! Let’s explore how.
Some SEO activities have a direct impact on the ranking of a web page. For example :
– Adding a keyword-optimized title tag to a web page will improve its ranking.
But some SEO activities have an indirect impact. For example :
– Creating a persuasive meta description to a web page does not in itself boost ranking, but will cause more search engine users to click through on the link. The image below shows the meta description (outlined in red) that displays with our agency’s home page.
– Creating an absolutely brilliant blog post does not in itself boost ranking, but, by virtue of its excellence, may attract many high-quality back links that will.
In terms of direct SEO impact, social media is somewhat limited. However, in terms of indirect impact on SEO, social media can make enormous contributions. Let’s look at several ways you can shape your social media activity to indirectly boost your SEO.
“In terms of indirect impact on SEO, social media can make enormous contributions”
Have effective Social Media profile pages
Google ranks social media profile pages for individuals and companies. In fact, if you do a search for any company, those LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook profile pages are likely to be among the top links you see on the first page — possibly outranking the home page of the company website. For instance, I did a search for “Ford Motor Company” and here’s what came up:
Ford’s Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages rank very high.
Why does this matter?
Because many Google users review social profiles when vetting companies. These high-ranking social media profile pages attract lots of relevant organic traffic. By optimizing your social media profile pages, you can drive traffic from there to your website.
We’ve made a handy checklist which you can use to optimize your Company’s Social Media Profiles –
- Use important keywords in the company description.
- Display a prominent link to your website home page.
- Display a prominent phone number for sales inquiries.
- On Facebook and LinkedIn, include links to important product and service pages.
- Hone the content on profile pages to be concise, descriptive and persuasive — the goal is to make organic visitors so smitten with your business that they cannot resist clicking on links to your website.
- Set up a company page on Google+ if you haven’t already done so. All content on Google+ gets favorable treatment in SERPs (search engine results pages).
To illustrate some of these techniques, here is Straight North’s Google+ profile page —
“Set up a company page on Google+ if you haven’t already done so”
Invest time in Social media marketing
Social links to your website from relevant users have a strong indirect effect on SEO in two ways:
- Social shares drive traffic to the website. Presumably, social users who click through are very interested in reading the given page’s content. If so, they will increase the amount of time they spend on your page, which helps SEO.
- Social shares of website content drives the best types of links possible — natural links. When members of your social media communities spot those links, click through and love your content, they may be inspired to link to it on their websites or blogs. This natural link development is exactly what Google wants.
Here are some examples of well-executed social links on Twitter :
Here are some tips you can follow to make sure your social posts work wonders :
- Only share valuable content from your website. What is valuable content? Google’s definition is perfect: Useful, informative, credible, high quality and engaging.
- Use keywords in your content’s headline, which should also be enticing to your readers. Example : “Online Marketing Tips – How to Double Your Website Traffic”
- Don’t mechanically spew out shares of your content. Surround those links with persuasive remarks that give your followers more reasons to open the link and read.
- Include an image with your social share — images grab people’s attention.
- Reach out to influential members of your social community with great pieces of website content and ask them to link to it on their sites.
- Put social share buttons on web pages you share on social media.
- Ramp up the company blog. Social media users are far more likely to link to blog posts than typical product/service pages on the main website.
“Include an image with your social share – They grab people’s attention”
Measuring the impact of Social media on SEO
If you go to the trouble to follow these suggestions for strategic, SEO-friendly social links, you’ll naturally want to know at some point, is this doing any good? If you want to measure the results of your Social Media efforts, here are some pretty easy ways to do it.
- Google Analytics : It lets you measure referred website traffic from social media sites. In addition to this you can also go through Time-on-page statistics and bounce rates for website pages shared on social media.
- Viraltag : Viraltag directly integrates with your Google Analytics account to show you how much traffic each social profile directs to your website.
- Moz (Open Site Explorer) : Online Link checkers like Moz help you determine new links to the website that came from social media shares.
Viewing these items over time will give you a good feel for whether your social media efforts are helping your SEO. If you follow these suggestions, they very likely will!
Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, one of the leading Internet marketing companies in Chicago that offers SEO, PPC and web design services. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including Entrepreneur, Forbes and Moz.