Marketing and branding are constantly evolving processes and companies that want to stay on top can't afford to take even the briefest break. Things move fast in our world and the tide has made a massive shift in recent years to highlight the importance of social media and its role in branding. These days, if a company wants to enjoy any real success it must have a strong online presence. The only way to accomplish this is to integrate SEO with marketing and branding efforts especially when it comes to social media. SEO has been on the forefront of branding strategies for several years now and successful companies are taking note regarding the intimate relationship that SEO has with social media - and the benefits of bringing the two together.
Social media by the numbers
Your customers are on social media so you should be too. Here are some quick facts to consider, according to some interesting findings from research findings published by Pew Internet:
- Nearly 60 percent of Facebook and Instagram users log on every day making them the most engaged social media users.
- 46 percent of Twitter users log on every day.
- Interesting facts about Pinterest: 21 percent of internet users use it, women are four times more likely than men to use it, and while it is largely youth dominated, 23 percent of internet users over the age of 50 are logging on to the site.
- Facebook is still the social media leader with 71 percent of internet users logging on, followed by LinkedIn (22 percent), Pinterest (21 percent), Twitter (18 percent), and Instagram (17 percent).
- 45 percent of internet users who are 65 or older are using Facebook.
- Twitter and Instagram attract younger users.
- LinkedIn and Pinterest users tend to be wealthier than users on other networks. A high percentage of these users earn upwards of $75,000.
What's the big deal anyway?
Social media has gained significant speed in the branding game and successful companies are recognizing that integrating their social media efforts with SEO is the name of the game. The algorithms for the search engines are far more sophisticated than they were just ten years ago. Now simple keywords and link building are not enough to propel a listing in the search engine ranks. High quality content has taken the top place for what is deemed important and is one of the primary factors for ranking a company's listing. Google's new algorithm Hummingbird and the way it impacts content strategy is a great example of this.
Content that gets shared quickly, gets a lot of likes on Facebook, or gets a high volume of tweets will tend to have a better ranking in the search engines. While Google and other search engines are not exactly fessing up to this, the evidence clearly speaks for itself. And that makes it absolutely vital that businesses integrate their social media activity with their SEO practices in order to achieve more favorable results - it's a very big deal.
How does social media impact SEO?
Social media is a wide umbrella that can encompass a very diverse collection of interactive sites. For our purposes here we will stick with traditional social media networks such as Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram, Now consider the number of active users - literally billions are logging on and engaging with other users and businesses every day. Social media is an optimal platform for building a fan base, gaining followers, and improving customer service. I like to use this analogy when explaining the relationship between social media and SEO: SEO is the driver and social media is the car. One cannot function efficiently without the other.
Search engines like social content. For example, when someone posts on Google+ or Facebook, it can show up in the search engines for users that are connected to those who posted the content. Social media increases your SEO reach that, in turn, strengthens your brand. Your company's branded social media accounts show up in search results. This creates a positive online brand presence. It drives online and offline sales while creating a ripple effect that stretches far and for a long time.
A social media interaction can impact perceptions (positive or negative is up to you) for a long time to come - even after the initial action or event has long ended. Another way that social media impacts SEO is that it drives traffic to your company's site. One of the primary factors in the search engine's algorithm is web traffic. The benefit is easy to see because it is a tangible return on your SEO efforts.
What SEO tactics are most effective?
An April, 2014 SEO Marketing Benchmark Survey by Ascent2, respondents were asked about their most effective SEO strategies. These SEO professionals gave some surprising answers.
- 57% - High quality content creation
- 46% - Keyword management and research
- 37% - Updating website frequently
- 34% - Integrating social media with SEO
- 28% - Making frequent blog posts
- 25% - Link building
- 17% - Local SEO
- 9% - Mobile SEO
The shift in importance here, particularly for link building and high quality content shows the dramatic shift in search engine priorities. Link building is still a factor in effective SEO, but other elements are at play as well and drive the results. The best SEO strategy is one that incorporates several SEO tactics as opposed to relying on just one or two.
SEO, social media and link development
In a July, 2013 survey report published by Ascent2, only 19 percent of the respondents cited external link building as the most effective SEO tactic. 48 percent, however, felt that original content creation was the most effective SEO strategy. Link building does still have its place; it is still important. However, quality is overtaking quantity in the SEO game. It is best when incorporated with other SEO tactics.
Compelling content will get the people there; it will get them to share it on Facebook, like it, pin it, +1 it, tweet it, reblog it, and link to it. The evidence is very strong to support that social media activity does play a part in boosting your content's ranking. You need social engagement to boost the content.
Aligning your blog for SEO and social media
Blogging is still one of the best ways to establish authority and build links, especially if it is consistently producing high quality content. This type of content should have industry specific long tail keywords. However, at the same time more focus should be directed to the quality of content rather than on the keywords or the search engines. This will help you avoid keyword stuffing, which compromises the quality. Also avoid keyword stuffing when it comes to your social media content.
Another important practice for aligning your blog for SEO and social media is to create internal links from the posts to the company's website content. These links must be relevant but when done correctly they do provide an added layer of link building that is often overlooked.
12 Steps to integrating your social media and SEO
- Create and complete your social media profiles.
- Optimize your social media accounts with your targeted keywords.
- Link your social media profiles to your website and blog and vice versa.
- Make it as easy as possible for the posts and content to be shared by adding social sharing buttons.
- Use keywords, meta tags, image tags, and other strategies to create searchable content.
- Create interactive content that will elicit comments, likes, shares, tweets, and reblogs.
- Engage your social followers by asking their opinions, addressing their concerns, thanking them for their comments and answering their questions. Don't ignore your followers and fans!
- Use social bookmarking sites as a platform to expose your content to new users.
- Improve and update images and the overall graphic appearance of the content on your website, blog and social media buttons.
- Research popular keywords and hashtags, what people are tweeting, and what people are posting on Facebook to see what they are talking about, arguing about, and what concerns them. Then create posts around that information.
- Don't forget to include your targeted keywords as hashtags in your post. Use only one or two hashtags per post.
- Create content that is relevant, timely, and beneficial to the reader. High quality is good, but it is useless if the content is never read.
Aligning your content promotion for SEO and social media
It is important to align your content to be optimized and equipped for social media engagement. But a warning to the wise. Keep the URLs simple and don't change them too much. Consult an SEO first. Imagine building 1,000 high quality links, then changing your URL and you find that all 1,000 links are broken and are gone from your link profile. To prevent this from happening, consult an SEO before changing any domains or URLs.
It is much more effective to make changes to the page than it is to continually come up with new links. When the same URL is shared over and over that power builds up and increases its optimization. The best thing to do is to select the keywords that are your most important and create preferred landing pages. You should be updating your website content regularly, since 37 percent of respondents in the Ascent2 survey said that frequently updating your website is a very effective SEO practice. Stand-alone pages or new micro sites are just robbing you of vital SEO effectiveness.
Integrating your SEO with your social media has the potential to significantly boost your performance in SEO, particularly in link building and traffic. As your SEO and social media teams work, encourage them to communicate and work together to create a digital marketing campaign that is focused and unified. That is where you will see the best results.
Are you integrating your SEO and social media efforts?