Since 2010, social media has been having a huge impact with how people find information online. We began realising that in many cases, it’s better to ask for recommendations from friends and family through social networks like Facebook instead of going straight to search engines. After all, we know the people in our social networks, but we don’t know the authors of most of the web pages in Google’s results. It’s human nature to trust the opinions of the people we know over those of the people who don’t.
Fast forward to 2012, and SEO and social media are interlinked on an unprecedented scale. In Google, personalised results (influenced by the social activity in your network) usually show up over traditional results (one size fits all). Furthermore, Google’s algorithm is smart enough to recognise that web content that is Liked, Plussed, Shared etc is probably more relevant than content that isn’t. This is a great motivator for Google to give socially popular content precedence in its SERPs, whether or not its popularity comes from your own social network.
To get an idea of how social media can benefit your SEO campaign, take a look at the social-SEO cycle below:
Knowing this, how can you use social media to increase your website’s visibility in Google? Whereas before you may have looked only at your meta tags and backlinks, now you should also focus on the frequency of Shares, Tweets and +1s your content generates. Which makes it imperative that you do regularly publish content: Google’s algorithm is heavily skewed against websites that never or hardly ever get updated.
The payoff is that if your business gets socially active, your website’s search visibility will rise. Do a search for Zappos on Google, for example, and you’ll easily find more than shoes: Twitter, Blog and a YouTube channel are all on the first page of search results.
Blendtec is another example of a company that successfully used social media to boost its website’s organic Google ranking. The brand’s “Will it Blend” YouTube series became a viral sensation and attracted thousands of links through Facebook and Twitter, resulting in first page Google ranking for ‘blender’.
So by now you should realise that an important online marketing goal should be to boost your SEO by socialising your brand’s content as widely as possible.
So where do I start?
- Listen to your customers. Collecting and tracking social web data is essential for tapping into the conversations, influencers and marketing opportunities that surround your current website. Firstly, find out which social destinations your customers are frequenting (LinkedIn? Twitter? And what about social media sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube?). The more you test and understand how your customers interact with social networks, the more you’ll find out about popular subjects and keywords in tags, comments, anchor texts and shared topics. This keyword insight will identify real-time topics of interest to help you make informed content strategy decisions.
- Create content that matters. One of the biggest online growth areas stems from creating, optimising and promoting content. However, many businesses do not realize that it is no longer enough to simply publish the features and benefits of your product and service. You need a content marketing strategy which builds a relationship with the customer, addresses their main concerns and is formatted to integrate well with Google’s algorithm.
- Socialise. There is no substitute for participation when it comes to growing a network that can have a real effect on your ability to promote content and your brand. So make sure you spend 10-30 minutes each day commenting, friending, following, liking, updating and sharing.