SEO and social media are quickly becoming inseparable. Even though they are very different things (SEO being the process of optimizing websites for search engines and social media being all forms of online “socializing”), they go together like a horse and carriage.
Before we dive into why SEO and social media go together and how to take advantage of it, let’s look at the goals of these two very different activities:
The Goals of SEO
At the risk of over-simplifying, SEO is primarily focused around keyword research, content creation, on-page optimization, user experience, and link building. Here is a very generic process for creating a new webpage:
- Figure out the best keyword (or keyword phrase) to target on the page
- Create useful and relevant content around that keyword
- Optimize page elements such as title and URL for that keyword
- Make sure the website as a whole is user friendly and appealing (to encourage links)
- Determine authoritative, related sites to target for links
The Goals of Social Media
Thinking from the perspective of a company or brand, the goals of social media is to build relationships and brand awareness with your prospects, customers, and fans online.
It’s about going where your audience is, listening, learning, engaging, and ultimately attempting to get people to take some action. This may be subscribing to your blog, buying something from your website, or writing reviews for products they already purchased.
Historically, SEO and social media strategy have been two completely different things. Perhaps even managed by different people (who hopefully talk to each other).
SEO and Social Media Together Forever!
Based on various changes to the way search engines, especially Google, operate, it is now imperative to marry SEO and social media together in a comprehensive online strategy.
Here’s why and how:
Google uses the term “signals” to identify aspects of the Internet that they look at when determining relevance in search results. For example, the number of external links leading to your website is a signal. The anchor text on that link is another signal.
Google looks at 100s of signals to determine which results to show for a given search term.
In the last couple of years, social signals have become increasingly important to the search engines. A social signal is a signal from the social media world that indicates popularity of a particular webpage.
Social signals include Facebook “Likes,” Twitter “Tweets,” and Google “+1s.” These signals may influence your ranking in the search results for a given keyword.
It’s pretty easy to take advantage of social signals.
The first step is to install sharing buttons on your webpages (see below). There are lots of different sharing button designs available, and you can easily find something that works for your website.
Once you have made content sharable, do encourage your audience to pass the information on to their networks. Don’t be pushy, but it is OK to ask nicely. In this example from SEOmoz, it’s a simple heading “Get your social on:”
Google+ Profiles and Pages
Google shows content from Google+ in search results. This is why one important SEO and social media strategy is to be active on Google+.
The first step is to create an individual account. Make sure to fill out your profile to maximize SEO benefits. Try to get as many people as possible to circle you.
Once you have an individual account, it’s time to create a Google+ brand page. This is an opportunity to describe your business or brand using relevant keywords. You can also create original Google+ posts that may show up in search results.
Don’t Have Time for Social Media?
Join the club! Social media takes time and patience.
But here is my counter: Do you have time to create newspaper ads? Do you have time to make sales calls?
Engaging in social media is just as important (if not more important!). Just like exercise, it’s a matter of priority and scheduling the time to do it.
Be strategic about the social media platforms you use. Go where your prospects and customers are. If you sell heavy machinery, Pinterest may not be for you… But if you sell attractive products, then it probably makes sense to start pinning.
And when you start climbing in the search results, you will realize that it was worth your time – and you’ll want to do more!
Over to You
What are your thoughts on this? Have you seen any positive results from integrating SEO and social media? Do you think SEO and social media can be successful without the other?