Using Social Media for SEO and Top 10 Strategies for Social Media Optimization
While no SEO professional would deny the importance of social signals when it comes to optimizing websites for search engines, there is still certain confusion about the strategies that need to be followed. Social signals, or the metrics that help in assessing web user behaviour on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr and a host of others are inextricably linked to traffic and link building. Let us understand how social media optimization is inextricably linked to search engine optimization. The second part of the article shall provide you with the top 10 strategies that you should use to optimize search engine ranking.
How Search Engines Assess Link Credibility
Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo try their best to provide users with the most relevant and credible search results based on the search keywords. Search engines just do not trust any website that may seem relevant, and they follow their own algorithms to assess the importance of a certain webpage. The more inbound links that point towards a web page, the more credible and trustworthy it seems to search engines.
Link Building and Sharing on Social Networks
Link building is increasingly dependent on social networks, as people tend to share what they link. These links that are shared on social networking sites not only drive traffic but end up becoming “references” themselves, as they are thence used on blogs, or even other news websites as sources. The importance of social media is such that, instead of robots and algorithms deciding what is credible and what is not, search engines have begun to realize that what is shared most often must be more important than what is not shared on social networks. An interesting article or a good piece of content always gets shared on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms in real time.
Social Signals and Search Engine Optimization
Google and other search engines have realized the importance of sharing of social media, and that when something goes viral on social networks, that link has to be important and credible. The data from social signals decide the importance of a website or webpage and understanding social influence and community impact is more relevant to search engines than mechanical link building and activities that may actually work against the credibility of a website. Thus, one can say that search engine optimization (SEO) and social signals are mutually inclusive, and shall remain so in the future.
The Basics of Utilizing Social Signals
- If you plan to optimize a website, the first step is to explore social media and gain ground.
- The next step is to assess social metrics and social signals to learn where your inbound links are coming from, and who is sharing and talking about you the most.
- The third step is to engage the identified audience, and try to use the social platforms to get other people interested in your website as well. Engagement involves actively participating with your target audience and building social relationships online.
- Engagement of your audience is a continuous process, and building trust is equally important.
- Once trust is built and you are actively participating on social networking sites, you can begin to see more inbound links from several places, most of which would be referred by people on social media.
Social promotion helps you to generate natural links, which are very important in search engine optimization. A large percentage of tweets contain a URL and the more number of times a YRL is retweeted, the better it seems to search engines. Similarly, on Facebook, the more number of ‘likes’ a link generates, the more important it seems to search engines. Thus, social promotion generates natural and organic links, which are very important in SEO.
Driving traffic to a blog or any published content depends on how viral a link has gone in Twitter or Facebook. Sharing links and a little part of the text ultimately leaves your followers on Facebook and LinkedIn to click on the link and visit your website or blog. The most important goal of SEO is to generate targeted traffic, and it is only possible to do so on social networking sites. Such sharing leads to a steady stream of traffic that is well targeted.
If you searched for your favourite company or product on Google, it is quite possible that along with their business website, their Facebook page, Twitter profile and LinkedIn page appear too. Curiously, these appear on the first page. Thus, social networking sites rank very high in search engines and increase a company’s online brad presence. Links shared by the company on their Facebook page or on Twitter appear in search results too, in a higher degree of preference.
Key Strategies in Integrating Social Media with SEO Efforts
Mashable writes that there are 5 key strategies in integrating social media with your SEO plans.
- Identify Audience: Like we mentioned earlier, the first step is to identify the audience and understand their quirks, behaviours, what they like and dislike and how they share content and who they share it with. There are software programs available to monitor social media, and help you to identify keywords, conversations and influencers.
- Define Objective: Once the audience is identified, it is important to define your objective. Social media can’t be about direct marketing. While sales and marketing are very important in SEO, in social media it takes a covert role. Presence on social media must be utilized for defining and achieving objectives. They may include marketing and sales, but has to be covert.
- Establishing a Gameplan: The author continues to state that a combined social media and SEO effort must focus on content building and interaction. Active promotion of objective content and sharing them on social networks is very important.
- Tactical Mix: Lee Odden defined this as doing homework to find where your desired audience spends time interacting and sharing content. You would need to invest time and build relationships in social networks where your target audience spends time the most. The idea is to recognize which social networks are popular among your target audience.
- Measuring Goals: This depends on using web analytics and social media analytics tools which allow you to monitor the effect of social web participation and search engine performance of SEO efforts.
Top 10 Social Media Tips to Improve Search Engine Ranking
While there are several ways to work with social media, here are the top 10 social media tips that can help you in your SEO and search engine ranking efforts.
- Increasing Linkability: It refers to how important the content is on your website. One of the ways is to include a blog and publish content regularly. Publishing whitepapers, editorials and aggregating content found elsewhere and organizing it in a thoughtful manner helps too. Basically, people tend to link to your posts if it is unique and informative.
- Social Media Bookmarking: Every page or article must be optimized to be shared over not just email, but all the important social bookmarking and networking sites like StumbleUpon, Reddit, Twitter, Buffer, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.
- Encouraging Mashups: Using RSS feeds, allowing people to embed your images, presentations, videos and sometimes even posts will drive traffic back to your site.
- User Resource Destination: Like we mentioned earlier, it always helps to aggregate content and provide outbound links to various authority sites. This helps people to visit your site often in search of reliable pages, where they can find references.
- Reward People: Social media is all about engaging, building relationships and regarding. This has to be done in an honest manner. If you find certain visitors share a lot of links and are saying positive things about your company, reward them with a thank you, if not something more tangible.
- Participation and Engagement: Once you have your Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts in place, it is not about setting it automatically to tweet or share links. It is about engaging your audience, answering their questions, asking them what they feel and basically engaging and participating in conversations. Comments and conversations drive a lot of traffic to websites as well.
- Honesty: There is no place where honesty is more important than on social media. People directly get to read, interact and share stuff that you share. Honest content, honest engagement and honest relationship building goes a long way in creating a brand identity that is built on trust and respect.
- Be Adventurous and Creative: Social media is all about spontaneity. Don’t be afraid to try something unconventional or surprise your audience.
- SMO Strategy: Social Media Optimization is now as important as Search Engine Optimization or perhaps even more. With this in mind, you will have to develop a consistent SMO strategy and choose your SMO strategies wisely. Making SMO one of the most important marketing and branding practices will help in not only driving traffic to your website, but creates online brand identity.
- Monitoring Activity: Finally, you must begin to monitor and analyse how your links are shared across social platforms, and who are these people who are sharing your links, engaging in conversations. It helps to identify these people and engage them with relevant content and encourage them to share your content further by creating informative and exciting articles, whitepapers and editorials.
All this invariably leads to your website becoming more reliable and authoritative in the eyes of search engines. Engaging in SMO and simultaneously taking care of SEO works well with search engine ranking and also helps in driving the much needed targeted traffic to your website.
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