Social media and SEO
Just a decade ago, search engine optimisation was pretty straightforward. All you had to do was make sure the search engines could crawl your website, use the necessary keywords and get yourself as many links as possible. As the search engines became more and more sophisticated in terms of delivering very accurate and personal results, the basic SEO signals were no longer enough. Social media however, specialises in the signals that search engines now crave; identity and relationships. There’s a huge amount of power when it comes to identity and relationships and the best way to describe it would be to compare it with everyday life. If a complete random stranger came up to you and told you that the new hybrid BMW i8 was amazing for twenty different reasons and was waiting for you at the dealership just three streets down from where you were standing, would you want to go check it out and find out more? No, chances are you’d find it hugely suspicious and run a mile. If your friend, with whom you share a passion for sports cars with happened to say the same thing however, you’d no doubt be far more likely to walk the three streets and take a peek. That’s the real power of identity and relationships that can be demonstrated by social media.
Search engines are now currently working on ways to make their results even more personalised than ever before. They want their results to contain more content that’s directly relevant and this will either be based on location, your past behavior or from people you know or may trust more. Social media brings a huge amount of identity and relationship data to the search engines and their algorithms. Very early on in 2012, the head of Google’s core ranking team Amit Singhal spoke about identity challenges with website called Search Engine Land. He discussed how a good product could only be built if the manufacturer understood who was who and who was related to whom. This means that in order to build a good product we have to carry out a huge amount of processing but, it’s worth remembering it isn’t just about the content – it’s about identity, relationships and content. Amit Singhal also went on to explain that anything else would simply trivialise a very hard product.
How social media feeds SEO
When you understand just how important identity and relationships are to search engines and subsequently SEO, you can begin to change your marketing behavior in order to put yourself in a better position to benefit as the tide swells. Simply blasting Facebook posts that link to your website however won’t instantly give you more link authority. This is due to reputable social networks stripping the link authority from the links off to the other websites by using 302 redirects or nofollow attributes. The question therefore: where exactly does the value to organic search come from? The following three ways, that’s how:
· Indirect link building – if no one actually gets to see your content then no one can link to it. Social media can be a very powerful way to expose millions of people to your engaging content. The more that see it, the more likely it is to earn you reshares that expose even more. Increasing the number of reshares will increase the number of people seeing it and will therefore increase the number of people likely to link to it on a another blog or website that does pass link authority back to your website.
· Personalisation – social relationships also create an opportunity for your content to show up in that individual’s personal feed. For example, if George likes your “hints and tips” content you posted on Facebook, then his own friends list will also see that he likes it. Likewise if George likes your hints and tips on Google+ then the next time his friend Steve searches for hints and tips, he’ll likely see the page of yours that George previously liked. Personalisation like this benefits your ability to rank along with your visual appeal and will also boost trust based on the relationship between George and Steve. Multiply this interaction by 1,000 or 100,000 and you can start to understand the widespread impact personalisation can have on a brand in the right social networks.
· Performance data – social listening data includes sentiment data and topical data. In can also inform keyword research for search marketing. The benefit obviously swings both ways in that keyword data can also inform social media strategies too. These are all windows into your customers’ desire and needs.
Those aren’t the only benefits social media has on your SEO strategy
With these findings, some have taken their love for social media a little further than expected declaring SEO on the way out and social media standing firmly in its place. Whatever the future may hold, that’s not currently the case, nor is it ever likely to be especially with the current relationship that search engines and social media have with each other. Of course there is a certain amount of merit to this argument simply because of the huge way in which social media has impacted the way in which we learn about and share content but by no means has it taken over the way we look for a website. Social media has undoubtedly become one of the main factors that search engines now take into account when it comes to indexing content so let’s dive into to some of the other ways in which social media will continue to help with your basic search engine optimisation strategy and boost your company’s rankings within the search engines .
· Author authority – ever since Google launched Google+, search engines have become a lot more integrated. Google now allows authors to associate their content with their Google+ profile page in order to ensure their account and bio become linked to content within the search results. By adding your “author” tag to your website, linking websites that you’ve written for in your bio of your Google+ page and including your Google+ link in every article you write, your author listing will appear in the search engines. This helps to build credibility when it comes to your content appearing in search engines, which will gain you more recognition and trust with your audience. It will do this by pulling in the name, photo and number of followers the author has on their Google+ page in addition to the usual URL, tag and meta description. The benefits of an author’s ranking are growing way beyond offering a listing a place within the search results to offering far more visibility in any one search engine overall.
· Speed up the time taken to index your account – as stated above, content shared across social media is now considered just as much as content on a website by the search engines. Content on social media is considered an indication of quality information and should be ranked as such. The more links you have on your website, the quicker the search engines are able to index the content within the rankings and since social media is able to quite drastically influence the amount of links any one piece of content receives in a far shorter period of time, it can often speed up the process of a search engine indexing. If your content has been tweeted about a huge amount then it can cut up the indexing time by an estimated 50% while also reducing the amount of time it takes Google to find your content from two hours to two seconds.
· Better ranking based on friends and followers – just as a search engine will interpret more social shares of content as a sign of authority and credibility, the amount of social connections and followers or friends you have is also factor in how your content is then ranked. We’re not saying that a high number of followers an account has is all it takes. It’s about the number of quality connections and followers that will help a search engine determine whether you’re a reputable source as opposed to an account with a high number of spam followers. With this in mind it’s easy to see just why it’s so important to connect with influencers and advocates online who will be genuinely interested in your offerings in order to make sure they share your company’s content thus gaining your business even more traction within the search engines.
· Boost keywords from shared content and profile – the keywords used within your social media channels will also factor into your content rankings within the search engines via two sources: the content being posted and the profile of each social media account. Begin by ensuring all of your social media profiles are brimming with information including your relevant business contact details and other necessary information. It’s important to do all of this whilst naturally including all the necessary keywords and the name of your company. Many aren’t aware of this but the name, URL and the bio are typically the most important aspect of all of your social media profile pages in terms of search engines. You must then continue to include the necessary keywords into the content you post across your social media. It can be easy to incorporate the keywords naturally by covering similar subjects to the searches people will be making in order to find your type of product or service.
Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive. There are a number of other such advantages that social media can have in terms of your SEO strategy but it’s important to keep in mind that identity and relationships are key. While they are beneficial however, they aren’t a complete replacement for SEO. Social media and SEO should be seen as partners, rather than alternative options. The same fundamentals of SEO still apply so if the search crawlers can’t find you or if you offer no textual content then there isn’t anything that will help to amplify you in order to rank. If you’d like to find out more about search engine optimisation and social media, or if you’d like to discuss further just how social media can benefit your SEO strategy then contact an SEO expert at Wecan Media today.