There is a lot of talk about Google algorithms. They do change. And while Google likes to be rather “secretive” about what causes them to index and rank websites and blogs, their results provide pretty strong clues.
So, we have figured out that long-tail keywords are important because that is the norm for searches these days. Searchers no longer use just a word or two – they use whole phrases to get more specific results. And we have all sorts of tools to tell us what those most popular phrases are in our niches.
But what is more important than those keywords? It’s what always has been most important – content, content, content. And how does Google rank that content? By keeping tabs on how much that content is accessed by real people, and how long they remain on content pages to absorb all that is presented to them. So, the persistent adage that “content is king” is still true.
The key, of course, is to drive people to that content in any and every way possible. And here is where social media comes into play. While Google does not “mess” with social media for indexing and ranking, you need to.
Let’s unpack how you can use social media to boost SEO, even though Google ignores it. Here are seven ways to do just that.
#1 Know Your Audience
If you are creating marketing content, then you have obviously spent time getting to know your consuming audience. You have developed a persona and, hopefully, you are using big data to gather information on their values, needs, and purchasing behaviors. Only when you truly understand your target audience can you create content that will resonate with them. And you will also know such things as where they hang out online, even what days and times of those days you are most likely to catch them on their social media haunts.
#2 Grow Your Following
Social media is the place to widen the net of your community. As you post engaging content, it will be shared, and if your content is posted often and remains just as engaging, you will grow your following.
And this is what happens as a result. You place backlinks to your site, to a blog post, etc. within your social media content. Engaged followers will click to access your other content, and that content is indexed by Google. If people access your content and stick around to read/view it, Google sees that content as valuable and ranks it higher.
#3 Follow Accounts of Related Businesses
Consider the number of related businesses in the housing industry – realtors, remodelers, interior decorators, landscapers, for example. All of them have websites; many have blogs, and many also have social media accounts, in order to gain followers and leads. Find businesses related to your niche, begin following them on their social media accounts, participate in discussions, and develop a relationship with them. As that relationship grows, approach that owner about mutual opportunities to publish each other’s content and to provide backlinks to one another in that content. Publish your very best content on your “partners’” websites/blogs with backlinks to other content on your site/blog.
Google likes to see backlinks coming from reputable and related businesses. Just as keyword stuffing is now punishable, “stuffing” backlinks from unrelated businesses can be as well.
#4 Promote Brand Awareness
The ultimate goal of SEO is more business and thus greater revenue. When your content shows up on the first page of search results, you are in a position to accumulate a large number of leads.
But what if potential customers actually search for you by your brand name? Then you would show up first.
If you post often and are consistent in tone and style, your audience is always exposed to your brand. And if the content of your posts is engaging enough, not only will that audience share it with their tribes, but when they are ready to purchase a product or service you offer, they may just Google your brand name to get to your website.
It’s hard not to know the Geico Gecko, the Aflac duck or Flo from Progressive. Why? Because these three insurance companies spend a lot of time promoting their brands through their “mascots.” And did you know that these mascots have their own Facebook pages? They tell stories and jokes; they may offer an inspirational quote; they never forget a holiday; and they often use all of these to provide a bit of education about their brand (e.g., bundling all insurance needs “under one roof”}
Now you don’t necessarily have to get a mascot. But if you access this account, you will see the great variety of engaging content that the company posts. Some are inspirational; many are humorous; some relate to little-known holidays (e.g., national donut day). You will also notice that the company engages its audience in several ways. It asks questions of its followers, and they answer. When a follower makes a comment, he always gets a response.
The point is this: When people remember your brand, they will search for your brand when they are ready to make a purchase of a product or service you offer. You will show up first. And this helps your brand rank better for non-branded keywords too. In the case of Geico, someone may type in “Geico car insurance.” So, the company will rank better for the term “car insurance” too.
#5 Engage Your Audience
The more interaction you have with your audience, the more likely that audience is to “like” and “share” your content. Use your social media accounts to run surveys, contests, provide incentives for them to share your content, etc. Remember, social media is called “social” for a reason. It’s a place for people and businesses to establish connections on a much more personal level. And the more connections made, the better your brand’s reputation and the greater trust that is developed. That trust translates to discussions and shares, and those translate into linking back to your content, spending time reviewing that content and sharing that content with others. All of this contributes to SEO rankings.
#6 About That Content Itself
When you manage to get your audience to link to your content from your social media posts, you have an entirely new challenge.
When you were in college, you were writing assignments for different subjects. You may have even gotten help by way of professional thesis writing, from a writing service. Whether you produced these written works yourself or got some help, the style of writing was formal, sophisticated, and filled with lengthy complex paragraphs and sentence structures.
Crafting content for websites, blogs, and social media purposes is wholly different. It must be simple, direct, and casual. It must have a reading level at about the 7th grade. Content must be of a good variety – educational, entertaining, and inspirational. And it should include as many visuals as possible.
Consider these two things: The use of mobile devices now surpasses the use of PCs. People access their social media accounts via their phones, and they don’t want to read walls of text. They want short, simple, and visual. As well, research shows that humans process visuals about 60,000k faster than written text and that they retain that visual content better.
If your social media posts contain as many visuals as possible, your followers will keep coming back and keep sharing your content. Use that content to drive viewers to your website pages, where you will have the same great content/visuals that will keep them on those pages for a good amount of time. Google will be happy.
#7 Do the Additional Research to Gauge Popularity
Some of your posts will fall flat; some will generate a reasonable number of likes and shares, and some will be highly popular. If you do the analytics that all social media platforms provide, you will discover the types of content that most resonate with your followers. This should drive the types of content you post going forward.
While it may seem like a lot of work to do the research and to craft the social media content that will impact SEO, it is critical, if you want to make your social media presence count toward your SEO, start with these seven. Over time, you will get much better at the content you create and present; you will be able to establish cooperative relationships with Google-friendly businesses; and you will, through the right analytics, come to know the type of content that will most resonate with your target audience.
Jessica Fender is a copywriter and blogger at Academastery with a background in marketing and sales. She enjoys sharing her experience with like-minded professionals who aim to provide customers with high-quality services.