Any business that has strong SEO strategies knows the value of social media profiles. This strategy can play an important role in driving rankings up and enhancing your company’s reputation (reputation management). Your social media presence promotes links and content that is shareable and of substance. Google and other search engines notice frequently shared links as a sign of a website’s credibility and popularity, which improves your website’s ranking.
Are you posting fresh social content across all relevant profiles?
Social media signals may have an indirect effect on search engine rankings, yet it plays a significant role in helping companies get their content in front of a larger audience. This in turn, engenders many SEO benefits: building backlinks, improving engagement signals, and staking out favorable ranking for relevant queries.
Additionally, a fundamental understanding of SEO and social media marketing will help your company improve performance on both channels. Target audience research on social media helps create more targeted content. SEO research helps you understand what your social audience wants to read.
We asked our respondents to give us their best tips for making search and social work together, and they delivered with tons of valuable information about:
Social SEO refers to the use of social media as an indirect tool to increase your search visibility and organic search ranking.
While social media does not directly impact SEO, the social signals (likes, shares, and comments) generated from people sharing your content on social media channels contribute to building trust and customer loyalty, driving brand awareness and exposure, all of which indirectly helps boost your online visibility and traffic.
To buttress that, two-thirds of our respondents say there is a correlation between social shares and rankings. Another 29% say there isn’t.
10 Reasons Why Social Media is Important in SEO
The impact of social media on SEO is more complicated than a simple yes/no answer can explain.
For example, Shufti Pro’s Damien Martin explains that “Bing certainly ranks pages with more shares higher than pages with fewer shares.” Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines confirm that assertion. So, at least when it comes to Bing, social shares definitely play a part in SEO.
Google, on the other hand, has specifically stated that social media isn’t a direct ranking factor.
But several studies have found that there’s a correlation between social shares and rankings. For example, this 2016 study from cognitive SEO looked at Google rankings alongside social signals (likes, shares, and comments) on four social media sites and found that the top-ranked results had more social signals:
Still, correlation does not equal causation, and the fact that high-ranking pages have lots of social shares doesn’t mean shares have an impact on rankings.
What it likely means is that social media plays a part in SEO—maybe not directly, but definitely indirectly.
As Inspired Agency’s Alex Brown explains: “Does social media directly boost SEO rankings? No, it won’t directly boost any SEO rankings.
So, what is the relationship between social media and SEO then? Social media provides opportunities in content marketing and link building efforts that will help boost your organic rankings.”
So, what are those opportunities? Our respondents explain:
The Importance of SEO for Social Media
While the majority of the responses we received explained how social media helps SEO, several respondents said that SEO helps social media as well.
So, we wanted to learn more on SEO’s relationship with social media. Here are the ways your SEO efforts can help support your social media marketing efforts:
“SEO done right is all about finding demand based on search,” says Lance Beaudry of Avalanche Creative. “When it comes to content planning and deciding what to post to social media, there’s nothing better than looking at the demand of your target audience.”
“Post about what users are searching for or things related to what they are searching for,” Beaudry says.
Filip Silobod of Honest Marketing agrees: “With SEO, you can find out what people are searching for. Then, use social to tailor your post to promote to the people searching for that information.”
Chris Hornak of Blog Hands recommends “using a tool like AnswerThePublic to uncover questions that are already being searched for on Google.”
And Roberto Severino of Adword Vigilante recommends this process: “Go through 3-4 of your largest competitors, look at some of their top pages in Ahrefs, and run a crawl in Screaming Frog so you can integrate it with Ahrefs’s API.”
“Then, take their top-performing posts and keywords and plug them into that tool, and filter by low difficulty and high search volume.”
“Once you have this done and created the content, it will be much easier to use social media to promote the content and have greater confidence in knowing this is what people have an interest in when it comes to your industry and niche.”
“There’s no second guessing when you approach social media and SEO with a logical, analytical approach like this,” Severino says.
“People use social media networks to not only to initiate communication but also to obtain information,” says Alayna Okerlund of BestCompany.com. “Basically, social media is growing as a unique search engine.”
“In order to help your content rank on major search engines like Google, you conduct keyword research and implement those keywords in your content. Doing the same thing with your social media profiles and posts may prove worthwhile,” Okerlund says.
And including keywords in your social posts can also help you grow the visibility of your social media posts and profile in Google SERPs:
“Certain social platforms are closed so Google can’t actively access the data,” says Sophie Edwards of Click Consult. “However, others—such as Twitter—are not, so you can include keywords in Tweets to help with ranking for social channels.”
However, if you’re going to use keywords in your social posts, G2’s Deirdre O’Donoghue offers some advice: “Don’t ever risk readability for better SEO. It’s imperative that your content keeps the user top-of-mind.”
“Search goes beyond Google,” says MediaSesh’s Christina Brodzky. “Anywhere there is a search box, SEO is there. Social search is no different.”
“One of the most important tips for leveraging SEO and social media together is tracking and monitoring how visitors from social media interact with your website,” says Rockay’s Bojan Azap. “Google Analytics and tracking URLs are the key integrals.”
“It’s critical that your social properties (bios, outbound links) and the links you share on social that relate to your website are coded properly and test correctly. This means that you have to ensure that your Facebook Pixels, Twitter tracking code, and LinkedIn tracking codes are installed and configured properly.”
“On sites that are not WordPress (Squarespace, Wix), this can be a real problem. LinkedIn has new tracking codes and a new ads manager, so prior to launching any campaign, you need to make sure LinkedIn is receiving the data from your website.”
“This is the only way you will be able to build a custom audience, which is crucial for success over time because with this primary audience you can build lookalike audiences and build frequency as you change up the creative.”
How to Successfully Combine SEO and Social Media For Better Results
To make social media and SEO work together, Gabriella Sannino of Level343 says it’s important to “connect the dots.”
“It’s amazing how many people don’t. They have social accounts but don’t have them on their websites. They set blog posts for sharing but don’t add their social account to the share. They have a blog but never share the blog posts on their social accounts.”
“Make use of the accounts you have, connecting them together to develop a social strategy and increase your brand awareness and reputation,” Sannino says.
So, what are some ways to better connect the dots between SEO and social media efforts? Our respondents offered these tips.
“Too often, SEO and social media activity aren’t linked up because it’s handled by different people or departments,” says Dan Thornton of TheWayoftheWeb. “As a result, the best you can hope for might be a Tweet or Facebook post when a new article is published.”
“But what should happen is that the improvements you’re making for SEO should be supported by regular social media promotions, and vice versa,” Thornton says.
Roger West’s Samantha Simon agrees: “Stop siloing social media and start merging it into your SEO strategy. In today’s digital landscape, social media, and SEO work together.”
“The best way to boost success in both social media and SEO is to share your content across all social media channels,” says Ooma’s Craig De Borba.
Several respondents agree that this is one of the easiest ways to integrate your social and SEO efforts:
“Make sure each piece of content you create includes images that can easily be repurposed on social media,” says CoSchedule’s Ben Sailer.
“This entails creating search-optimized content with social media in mind from the start, with visual assets that can stand on their own with interesting statistics, charts, quotes, or other items that can still make sense outside of their original context within the post.”
“This can help your content succeed both on social media and organic search without a ton of extra effort,” Sailer says.
Chaz Van de Motter of Elite Marketing Studios recommends “taking the blog posts that you use to create inbound leads via SEO and making a YouTube explainer video around that piece of content.”
“From there, you can not only embed the video on your blog to bolster the strength of the SEO, but you can also shorten the video and use it as viral social media content that will, in turn, call your audience to action and bring more traffic back to your blog and website.”
“This approach has helped us increase the time users spend on our site, and it aids in the consistency of our social media content strategy,” Van de Motter says.
And Miguel Piedrafita says that “repurposing existing content in a better medium for social media is a big win. For example, I use Blogcast to automatically generate audio versions of my articles, which I then share on Twitter. I’ve managed to get a lot of engagement and positive feedback with that.”
“Cross-promoting and sharing content and media across both social media and SEO is the most effective way to have both shine,” says With Clarity’s Slisha Kanakriya.
One way to cross-promote, as Trickle’s Chris Davis explains, is to “simply assure that each of your social media profiles provides users with a link leading them directly to your website.”
Another, recommended by Andrew Swindlehurst of AHM Installations, is to “embed social media posts and statuses within blog posts and articles. Not only does this link to your social media pages, but it also increases the chances that someone will click and visit them, resulting in a follow, like, or comment.”
“It’s also a good idea to ensure you have a sidebar on your blogs that makes it easy for readers to follow you on social media. By doing this you can easily gain extra followers without having to do much extra work,” Swindlehurst says.
Alexis Soer of Elite Digital agrees and says that “sharing your relevant social media posts via linking to them from your blog posts is a strategic way of taking your target audience to another one of your marketing channels without it being too blatant that this is your goal.”
“It’s important to make sure blog posts and content are easy to share,” says Chris Martin of FlexMR. “Pull out important quotes and create links that auto share these quotes to social platforms with a single click.”
“The more frequently an article is shared on social channels (and subsequently visited), the stronger signals it will be sending to search engines.”
“SEO and social media are the one-two punch of marketing, and one tip to use them both is to utilize two-way retargeting,” says Andrew Holland of Zoogly Media. “Two-way retargeting is all about making sure you use both audiences to grow the traffic to the other platform.”
“For example, say you create a viral video for Facebook. The next time you publish an article, you can boost that post to those who engaged with your video. This will give you a great chance to get more traffic to your website from a targeted audience.”
“The reverse applies, too. When you get organic traffic to your website via SEO, you can retarget those people using your Facebook Pixel with content and ads that you create natively on the Facebook platform.”
“Most business owners only focus on retargeting visitors who visit their website. They rarely create assets for the purposes of engagement with the secondary intention of building a retargeting audience.”
Success in Both SEO and Social Starts with Great Content
“Great unique content equals great performance with SEO and social media,” says Shreyash Mishra of Shrex Design.
“Social media is all about engaging with people. The more you do this, the more likely you’ll be ranked higher because people and search engines will both love you.”
“You can engage with your audience by creating and sharing great content, and then leverage that engagement to boost your follower count and search rankings.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jessica Greene writes about marketing, business, and technology for B2B SaaS companies. A former writing instructor and corporate marketer, she uses her subject-matter expertise and desire to educate others as motivation for developing actionable, in-depth, user-focused content.