Social media and SEO.
Are they two peas in a pod? Are they a mutually-beneficial relationship?
The short answer is yes.
But most people don’t think SEO and social media go hand in hand.
And most marketers aren’t focused on social media for SEO, either.
The reason? Most marketers don’t know how social media can be integrated with search engine optimization.
But the facts still hold true.
Social media can boost your SEO in more ways than just simple content promotion.
Instead of only posting your content on social media to boost shares and traffic, there are many ways to build an organic presence.
And only sharing your content on social is likely just one of a few things you are doing to kill your SEO.
If you aren’t keeping up with your social media and SEO integrations, you could be risking tons of organic branding and content traffic.
And you need that traffic if you want to achieve scalable growth.
But thankfully, there are a few ways to make sure your social media and SEO strategy are integrated.
These tips will make sure that you’re getting the most out of social media every time you use it.
Before we jump into four ways that your social media strategy is hurting your SEO (and how to fix it), we need to understand why (and how) social media can impact SEO.
So let’s take a look.
How social media impacts SEO
Most people will say that social media isn’t a direct cause of good rankings.
And they’d be absolutely correct.
So why am I preaching social media for SEO?
Just because there’s no direct causation doesn’t mean we should ignore correlation.
And according to SearchMetrics’ latest 2016 report, the correlation between social signals and rankings on Google is very high.
It found that the number of social signals on a given landing page has remained constant.
And that means that the top-ranked websites in Google’s search engine rankings have tons of social signals.
And social signals are the name of the game when it comes to developing a great social media and SEO strategy.
If you get more shares, you’re likely also gettings tons of backlinks, a major factor in search engine rankings:
With that said, social media should be something you’re focused on every single day.
Here are four ways your social media strategy is hurting your SEO, and what you can do to fix it.
1. You’re not getting links
Many times, social media gets the short end of the stick.
It often doesn’t get the attribution credit for conversions because it’s one of the first touch points.
Or, it’s not attributed to things like backlinks because it’s simply the first point where a popular blogger saw your post.
But that’s simply not the case.
Social media is one of the best ways to get backlinks and is a method that I’ve used countless times to drive social shares and get my content in front of high-profile sites.
For example, check out how Orbit Media ties social media back to getting links and impacting your search engine rankings:
Social sharing and SEO is less about the amount of shares and more about the impact of those shares.
Meaning that you could get 1,000 shares on social media, but if 999 of those are from low-profile sites, it doesn’t really make an impact.
The goal of social media to get backlinks is getting your content in front of those hard-to-reach people.
The people who run blogs that generate millions of visitors.
Or the people who have sites with domain authorities over 70.
And to do that, you need to understand how social media gets links:
The act of sharing a piece of content on Twitter isn’t going to increase your rankings.
The goal should be to get your content in front of other content creators on social media to influence links, mentions, and rankings.
These are people like:
- Thought leaders
- Industry experts
- Top industry sites
This all sounds wonderful, but how exactly do we accomplish it? How do we get our content in front of those experts that could link to us?
It’s pretty simple, really.
Mention them in your post.
Mentioning outreach targets in your content is one of the best ways to drive shares and subsequent links on social media.
Let me start by showing you this example from Aaron Orendorff:
Notice how he puts together a stellar guide and gathers insights from top influencers and sites in the marketing space?
On top of that, he mentions them on social by connecting them back to the content.
And since people like me were featured in the content, you can bet that I’ve linked to the piece on my blog.
And doing this is easy.
To create a great piece of content while also mentioning industry experts, make sure your content is long-form.
And when you mention people, follow this best practice:
And, you don’t even have to directly interview people to source them in your own long-form content.
Simply do a Google search for industry experts and source quotes from their blog content.
For example, if you’re writing an article about SEO tips from industry leaders, you could search “Neil Patel SEO tips” and click on the first post:
Simply scroll down the blog post and scan for lines that would make perfect quotes.
Like this one:
Then, simply use this quote to inform a point in your next article.
And be sure to mention the influencer when you share this content on social media.
If your content is well-crafted and actionable, you can expect a link from at least a few of the influencers you mentioned!
2. You’re not optimizing your profiles
Another huge mistake in social media that will impact your SEO is failing to brand and optimize your profiles.
And this can have pretty big consequences.
For example, look at what happens when I search for my own name, “Neil Patel,” in Google:
Notice how I dominate the search engine results page (SERP) with more than just one link to my website?
But what if I didn’t take the time to optimize my profiles and fill them with relevant, related content to my website?
Then I’d risk having much different results.
I’d lose out on the top SERP, and my links would no longer flood the page.
Meaning that I’d probably be getting fewer clicks to my site and social, and less organic traffic.
It’s similar to why people bid on branded PPC terms on Google AdWords:
They want to crowd the SERP so that all branded search queries get them a click.
And it’s actually super easy to do this.
First, head to your social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and set the same image as your profile picture:
Next, in your bio area, include relevant content.
For example, make sure to use keywords that are relevant to your business:
This will help Google decipher what exactly your business is, and how it relates to various search terms.
Next, always link to your website:
This is a great way to show up in Google’s results with your own website.
Although this step might sound obvious, I’ve seen tons of social profiles that aren’t optimized for their website or SEO.
And putting a social profile on the web that doesn’t show up for your branded searches is a big SEO mistake. And kind of a waste of time.
It makes people think that their search was wrong, or that a different link is what they need to click instead of your site.
Simply fix this by tweaking your social profiles to remain consistent with your website.
3. You’re not optimizing content for social shares
Simply writing a new blog post, publishing it on your site, and then spamming it across social media won’t get you shares.
And it won’t get you links, either.
Let me give you a quick example:
Let’s say you search for “content marketing guide” in Google and you click on the first link:
You browse for a few minutes, reading the content and clicking other links on the page too.
Then you click around the site for a few minutes before heading back to the original Google search.
But then you click on the next link, and within 30 seconds you click back.
What does Google do with this information?
They deem the page you clicked and browsed for five minutes to be great, and the one you bounced from almost immediately to be bad.
Here’s how it works:
SEOs and SEMs refer to this as a “long click.”
They focus on terms like bounce rate and time on site as a huge factor into how well your content is optimized for users.
Just think about it. Google’s entire goal is to deliver the answers to searchers’ problems as fast as possible:
So if you think that having an average time on page of 20 seconds is going to be fine, you might want to think otherwise.
Time on site and bounce rate are good indications of whether or not your content solved a searcher’s problems.
If they clicked away immediately to the next post, you likely didn’t solve the problem, and Google knows that.
And it’s no secret that bounce rate correlates with top-ranking content:
So how does this relate to social media? Simply replace social results with Tweets or Facebook posts.
If someone is clicking on your Tweet and they don’t like or retweet it, you can rightfully assume it wasn’t top-quality content.
And top-quality content is what drives links, shares, and traffic.
Social media engagement metrics correlate with quality and quality = better rankings.
Just check out this awesome Tweet from HubSpot:
Notice how they drive engagement with a compelling GIF, emojis, and hashtags?
But more than that, the content quality is top-notch:
They use videos to boost views and engagement. They use list-style posts to drive more traffic.
On top of that, they give actionable steps!
Actionable tips are my favorite ways to drive content lengths up and increase time on site.
And according to Backlinko, that has a direct correlation with rankings:
So, if you want more social shares to get more links, you need to focus on creating great content, too.
Increase the length, use diverse elements like video or audio, and create content that people want to share on social media.
This will drive up your social shares and give Google a great indication that your content is ‘share-worthy.’
Giving off the proper social indications and social signals is critical.
4. You’re focusing too much on followers
High numbers of social media followers are often seen as the end-all, be-all for marketers in every industry.
More followers = more popularity = growth.
The problem is that isn’t always the case.
According to Google, Facebook posts and Twitter posts are both treated like a normal web page for search, but the follower count isn’t scannable for a ranking factor.
And, unfortunately, I used to make this social media strategy mistake, and it took me away from spending time on important social media tactics that would improve my SEO.
Just look at my Facebook followers:
I have more than 900,000 people who like and follow my page.
I’ve spent thousands upon thousands of dollars curating my Facebook audience and following, only to be duped by the decline in organic Facebook traffic and the lack of SEO improvement.
But unfortunately for me, that doesn’t mean I will rank higher or that Google will see me as an authority.
Google actually doesn’t scan things like Facebook and Twitter fans. Why? Because they can’t.
So instead of focusing your time and efforts on follower growth, you should be focused on getting your content in front of the right people.
Don’t waste your time on followers when you could be using a social tool to conduct outreach instead.
Instead of focusing my efforts on futile metrics like followers, I now put my time into tools that help me speed up the process of social media with just a few minutes a day.
I focus this time on SEO-benefiting tactics like outreach.
I love to use tools like EpicBeat that allow me to see what content is generating social shares and links.
With this tool, I can easily identify which topics are generating tons of shares on social media.
I can see who shares the content, too.
This allows me to conduct outreach and get links and shares from relevant industry experts.
And getting more shares on your content is a great signal that it’s helpful and informative.
Always remember: if your content is getting shares, your content is clearly impactful.
And if it’s not, you need to rework it to get the social shares you want and better correlating rankings.
So, instead of focusing on follower growth, focus more on factors that will impact your SEO.
Make sure to use social media tools to cut down on time, like using Buffer to schedule posts:
You can even use Buffer as a way to conduct targeted outreach by mentioning influencers in your posts, or linking back to their profiles:
If you’re spending too much time on follower growth and less time on creating great content and defining a social outreach plan, you are likely hurting your SEO.
Social media and search engine optimization work together.
They are two systems that need to be integrated for success.
But most people don’t think SEO and social media can benefit each other.
And marketers have more important tasks to accomplish, right?
Integrating social media and SEO can be difficult too. It’s tough to know where to start.
But the facts remain the same:
Social media has the power to boost your SEO beyond just simple content-promotion tactics.
Instead of simply sharing a new blog post to your followers, there are tons of ways that social media can better your SEO.
Often the problem is that most social media strategies lack a focus on good SEO as an outcome.
Meaning that SEO isn’t the most important when conducting a social media strategy.
And it should be because if you aren’t doing these four things, your SEO could be suffering big time.
Start by tuning up your social media strategy to focus on links rather than simply promotion.
Promotion is great, but if it doesn’t acquire links, your promotion is worthless.
Next, although often overlooked, make sure to optimize your profiles. It’s critical that your social profiles communicate the same information as your company site.
Be sure to optimize content for social shares, too. If your content isn’t getting natural shares, Google will know that it’s not worth ranking high.
Lastly, stop worrying about your follower count. Follower counts aren’t a ranking factor.
Shares on your content are a social signal on the other hand, and they are valuable for generating links. So focus your time on better outreach.
What methods do you use to improve your search engine optimization with social media?
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