You're probably heard some version of these statements before: social media and SEO go hand in hand. Social media can boost your SEO. A better social presence makes for better rankings.
But what's often missing is the part that comes after these statements: how?
Let's start with the basics.
What is SEO and why should you care?
SEO is the process by which your website climbs up the rankings in the search engine, and refers to anything that helps your site appear on that first Google page. There are several strategies and techniques by which one can boost search rankings, but a solid social media presence is among the most important. The more robust your social media presence, the easier it will be for your potential customers to find you.
6 social media tips for better SEO
- Shared content helps link-building
External inbound links are crucial to making search engines recognize you as a valuable online source, and one way to get people to link back to you is to make your content super shareable. Work on producing valuable content that people will want to share on their social networks. Start by sharing it on a regular schedule via your social profiles, and make sure to be a good community member by sharing other influencer content in return.
- Google + Twitter partnership
Earlier this year Google and Twitter struck a deal wherein instead of Google crawling Twitter's stream of tweets, they were given semi-exclusive access to Twitter's firehose. Since then, Google's search results are more likely to include tweets for better real-time news, especially those with hashtags that are trending or newsworthy, or those that are already highly popular on Twitter. If you don't have a Twitter account, get one immediately; Google search results have already begun privileging Twitter accounts that are established with engaged content and high follower counts. More info here.
- Hashtags are the new keywords
As mentioned above, hashtags can function like keywords, especially when it comes to the Twitter/Google deal, but also in general. Keywords work behind the scenes to boost SEO, but on social, hashtags are the way to go. Hashtags make your content findable faster, whether you're using Instagram or Facebook, and findable content is bound to rank higher in search results. If the goal of social is to be a part of the global conversation around whatever topic is relevant to your industry, hashtags are the most straightforward way to jump into that ongoing back-and-forth. Whether it's #RuinAWestern jokes or the collective mourning of #CecilTheLion, thoughtful contribution to the conversation around a hashtag will eventually help your SEO.
- Follower count matters
And in tandem with the previous two points, a solid social following matters. Not only do followers help you with sharing your content and link-building, but the number of followers matters when Google is determining your algorithmic authority. What's more, fake or purchased followers don't help you, as Google can now measure the quality of your followers. And while you won't soon be garnering the 3 million followers of, say, Coca-Cola, you don't have to squander your potential with 100 followers either. Slowly but surely, good social media practices (like useful content, customer engagement, tweetchat participation, consistent scheduling, and frequent sharing) will build your follower base.
- Social channels are the new Google
All of this goes to say that, as social media becomes a more integrated presence in our mobile-driven, always-connected lives, more and more users will go directly to social to find what they want. Users now go straight to YouTube to find a how-to video, or straight to the Instagram search function to find trending fashion photos. If you build a social presence on these platforms, you'll ensure that potential customers can find you no matter what search engine they're using.
- Local Business and Community Building
Last but certainly not least, if you're a business looking for some local action, social media can be a key traffic builder. Local businesses with major community engagement will pop up closer to the top of that search list, so make sure you're interacting with your community. How? A few methods come to mind: If you attend or host a local event, take pictures, post them to your account, and tag people. Offer discounts and incentives for local business. Make sure you thank your local customers (a simple personalized "thanks for shopping with us" goes a surprisingly long way). In addition to all this, build trust with other local businesses--share each other's content and work off referrals. A good local business is like a good neighbor: friendly, available, and willing to lend you a cup of sugar.
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