It takes a lot of time and effort to build up a list of high-quality backlinks for your website in order to enhance your SEO, and more often than not, it costs more than just your time, however the benefits it provides makes the process worthwhile.
Google has long maintained that a company's social media accounts do not influence it's search rankings - Google's former head of webspam Matt Cutts released a video back in 2014 which explained that social signals, such as Facebook likes and Twitter followers, have no impact on search rankings. However, even though social signals don't directly influence search rank, there are ways to harness social media to increase backlinks to your website and improve your website's SEO. In fact 74% of companies and 82% of agencies recently said that social media is either somewhat or highly integrated into their SEO strategy.
But in order to leverage social media to increase your website's rankings, you need to have the right mindset. Simply approaching this challenge with the thought that "I'll just do this to gain more backlinks" won't get you far - instead, you should approach social with the mindset that you'll improve your social media habits with the aim of engaging with more leads to grow your revenue.
In this post, I'll outline three strategies you can use to harness social media in order to effectively enhance your SEO. However, before we discuss these methods it would be prudent to remind ourselves of the purpose of social media.
Don't forget the purpose of Social Media
Although social media is fundamentally meant to be "social", social networks have also grown to become a search engines in and of themselves.
This underlines how social media is evolving to encompass elements of search, and thus, why it's important to have a strong social presence. Not all of those queries are going to be brand or product related - in fact, you'd assume many of them are more individual user based, particularly in the case of Facebook. But still, such behaviors are habitual, and there's a strong possibility that a customer or consumer's first interaction with your company will now come via social platforms, which puts a bigger emphasis on your social media appearance.
The focus for a company on social is on producing content that adds value and is meaningful to their community. Your content's purpose is to add value to the viewer, start meaningful conversations and answer questions within that community.
Because of this, social media can also be a great way to foster links and relationships with other businesses, which can indirectly enhance your SEO.
Google may not count likes, but they certainly count page visits and clicks, which can be fuelled by social - there are SEO benefits to be derived from social, tied into the core functionality of the medium.
Here are three more ways you can use social to boost your SEO performance.
1. Find Trending Topics
With the vast amount of conversations taking place on social every day, it's a great place to detect rising trends, which you can then utilize in your content efforts.
For example, by following relevant influencers in your niche on Twitter, you can check in each day and see what links they're sharing, what topics they're discussing, then use that as an impetus for your own content.
Even better - by using a tool like Nuzzel, you can see what the followers of industry influencers are sharing, which indicates key trends as they're evolving.
For example, in Nuzzel, you might look up an industry influencer like Jay Baer - Nuzzel will then give you a listing of all the content that's generating significant attention, based on shares, amongst his Twitter audience.
This way, you don't even need to develop your own list of influencers to follow, they've already done the work in building an audience, and you can use those insights to inform your content approach.
2. Create & Nurture Relationships With Influencers
Social also enables you to find relevant influencers to connect with in order to help share your message further, creating more awareness, clicks, links - and thus, improving your SEO performance.
Searching through the relevant platforms, you can find relevant influencers based on keywords, audience size, engagement, etc.
Once you find the right influencers for you, you can get in touch and ask them to share your content - but worth noting, you shouldn't just find an influencer on social media and message them cold to ask them to share your new piece of content.
Before you ask something of them, you need to build trust and rapport with the influencer - here are a few steps you should take to do that:
- Follow the influencer on his/her social channels
- Subscribe to any newsletters that influencer has
- When new content comes out, like, share, and comment on those posts
- If you comment, make sure it adds value to the overall purpose of the piece of content
Once you've carried out these steps, you can then directly message the influencer with your new piece of content. Still don't frame it as you want them to post your piece, but rather ask them for their input, see if they could suggest any changes, and if they like it, perhaps they could post it on their channels.
If you've created a truly great piece of content, relevant to their interests, such efforts can go a long way towards boosting your reach and awareness - and helping SEO
3. Join Facebook Groups
A great way to find small pockets of people who work in the same industry as you or are interested in your industry's products are through Facebook groups.
Similar to influencers, you can't just charge straight into a Facebook group, post your new content, and then go silent. Before asking anyone to share or read your content, you should try to build trust within the group.
To create and build trust, you should add meaningful comments to other peoples' posts and provide solutions to problems in the group.
In a nutshell, you need to add value to the group. Once you've established that rapport in the group, then you can post your new piece of content and ask for feedback from the group members.
Find a highly engaged, active group, and this can be a great way to generate traffic, while also helping to boost your authority.
This approach can also apply to groups on Google+, LinkedIn, Reddit, etc. - establish connections with the right communities and it'll help drive traffic, another indirect way social can influence SEO rank.
Accumulating backlinks and improving your social media efforts is certainly not an easy task, nor is it a speedy one. You must sow the seeds early and build relationships before you start to see the reward for your work.
Expanding your social media footprint may not directly impact your SEO, but it will have an impact, and it's definitely worth investing the time in - for both direct and indirect benefit.
If you only gained a few points out of this article, let them be these: be patient with the process and your work on social media, add value to the conversation wherever you can, and be human in your interactions and not transactional.