Exploring the Relationship Between SEO and Social Media
If you’re a business owner taking your ﬁrst tentative steps into the world of digital marketing, you’re probably already keenly aware of the sheer volume of information out there on this complex topic.
There used to be a time when things were refreshingly simple:
Digital marketing revolved around SEO, or “Search Engine Optimization”. Back then, this was as easy as stufﬁng your webpage to the brim with relevant keywords, and watching with delight as your business effortlessly climbed to page one of Google.
Those days are now a distant memory. The landscape of modern SEO is terribly confusing to navigate: Along with confusing terms like “authority”, “long tail” and “anchor text”, there’s also the constant worry that Google will issue an update to their algorithm and blow all of your hard work out of the water.
It’s all so confusing. Trying to stay ahead of Google feels like taking part in an ancient arcane ritual.
As if navigating the complexities of SEO weren’t enough, today’s business owner also needs to understand how social media ﬁts into search engine optimization as well.
It’s enough to make you want to throw in the towel.
But fear not: In this article, we’re going to look at ﬁve ways that SEO can work together with social media to bring more visitors to your site, and how to begin implementing some of those techniques right away.
Let’s Start by Examining the Commonalities Between Social Media and Search Engines
SEO and social media represent gateways to the internet: Typically, when a person decides they’re going to visit your website, it’s because they’ve found you through a Google search, or your business has shown up in their social media feed.
Now, these two methods are very different, granted. A Google search is typically something a person does “actively” and with a certain amount of intent, whereas on social media, a user typically lets information “come to them” and simply clicks on items of interest.
Nevertheless, 3.5 billion people open a Google search each day, and the same amount are also active on social media. That means that even with a large amount of crossover between the two, these two methods of entry are the number one “internet gateways” for a huge bulk of the world’s population.
People use social media to answer questions too: Everyone knows that people use search engines to answer questions, and ranking for terms like “what’s the best laptop” can be incredibly lucrative (and competitive). Yet in actual fact, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are used for exactly the same purpose, albeit in a more oblique fashion.
Put simply, social media satisﬁes curiosity. Users scroll through timelines subconsciously ﬁnding the answers to questions like:
- “What are my friends doing now?”
- “What clothes are they wearing?”
- “Where are they eating?”
- “What’s going on downtown tonight?”
If you can ﬁgure out how to subtly answer those questions, you’ve effectively achieved the same results as SEO!
Social Media is Where Brands Communicate
If a customer heads online to ﬁnd out about a brand or product, they either Google them and hit up the website directly, or they take a look at the company’s Facebook or Twitter feed.
What does that mean for the small business owner?
Well, even if you’re ranking fantastically for some really lucrative keywords, you’re leaving a huge amount of money on the table if you neglect your social media feed. When a potential customer can’t ﬁnd you on Twitter or Facebook, or they see low engagement and a stale and out-of-date proﬁle, they instantly lose faith in your brand.
OK, so with that out of the way, let’s dig in and see how SEO and social media work in tandem:
How SEO and Social Work Together
1.) Social Media Allows for Content Promotion:
We’ve already spoken brieﬂy about how Google’s algorithms have changed a great deal over the years. For the most part, the search giant is getting very, very good at identifying “thin” and useless content that’s stuffed with the same keyword multiple times. These days, if you want a site to rank well, you’re going to need lots of long-form content that visitors love to read (or engage with).
That means modern SEO is a long term, high investment strategy that requires a decent outlay on good quality content.
So where does social media dovetail with this strategy?
By getting the absolute best ROI possible.
If you’ve shelled out for expensive video production or copywriting, it would be wise to utilize it on as many platforms as possible. That means sharing all that great content across all of your social media feeds for optimum views (and trafﬁc).
Sure, the folks who head to your site from social media won’t have the same impact as those authentic links from high-quality sites, but they will massively improve your site’s metrics by (hopefully!) lowering bounce rates (the people who click on a single page then leave) and improving overall time-on-page metrics.
Besides, they might just buy something right there and then!
So remember: If you’ve commissioned killer content, don’t simply use it for inbound links, share it with your fans on Twitter and Facebook.
2.) Social Media Leads to More Engagement
Ten years ago, when social media was in its infancy, most internet users would participate in the comments sections of blogs to share ideas and (more importantly) links to other great content.
These days, all dialogue online has shifted to social media feeds, where there’s increased engagement and increased sharing.
That means, if you want to get eyes on your content organically without resorting to Google searches, you’d better be sharing useful content on Twitter and Facebook to build your reputation and get your fans talking about your products and services.
According to the popular marketing blog at Moz:
“to determine success, an algorithm (ed: on social media) looks at whether users engaged. If more people engage, that’s a clear sign that their algorithm is showing this right content; if not, their systems will audition other content instead to ﬁnd something that generates that interest.”
3.) Successful Social Media Virality Can Lead to Links
Link building, despite what naysayers might tell you, is still the gold standard of SEO. Google will always favor sites that have a diverse proﬁle of incoming links from respected websites. It’s the core mechanism of how the search giant works. It might be a sophisticated beast, but it still relies on the humble link.
So where does that leave social media marketing?
If you implement some of the advice in the previous two tips, then you’ll have a large portfolio of interesting content ﬁlling your social media timelines. The users that interact with that content will (with a bit of luck!) spread your content like wildﬁre. That means those huge, high authority social sites will have tens (or even hundreds) of links to your website or product pages.
When you add in the fact that other large blogs or authority sites could pick up those social media links and use them in their own articles, you have a recipe for SEO success without needing to resort to difﬁcult and often expensive tactics like guest posting.
4.) Increased Brand Awareness Improves Your SEO Rankings
The fourth way that social media contributes to SEO is through increasing brand awareness.
If your social media presence is on-point, and you’re sharing lots of interesting and engaging content that gets shared or re-Tweeted regularly, then your brand name slowly becomes more memorable and mainstream. This might seem like a lengthy and difﬁcult process, but for local or niche businesses, it can be incredibly easy to create engaging content that builds high community awareness.
With increased brand awareness, SEO becomes much easier: You’ll be able to ignore generic long-tail search queries like “Best Restaurant New Mexico”, and instead focus on low competition terms featuring your own brand, like “Sam’s BBQ Albuquerque”
Over time, this technique will create a feedback loop that will permanently alter search results for the better.
5.) Twitter’s Partnership with Google
Finally, and perhaps most signiﬁcantly is that Google has a longstanding partnership with Twitter itself.
Nobody really knows how this will alter search rankings going forward, but there’s already one interesting way to circumvent traditional SEO techniques using this unique relationship:
As we’ve already seen, the promotion and distribution of high quality content on Twitter can make you a “big deal” in the eyes of the social giant’s search algorithm. When Google sees relevant (high proﬁle) Tweets from a user proﬁle matching a Google search query, some of that content is placed right at the top of the page, above all the organic results.
For hard to rank sites or small businesses with low budgets, that relationship could yield huge amounts of trafﬁc with careful planning and content distribution.
So there we have it: It’s no longer enough to spam the search engines with low quality content. Modern SEO is all about creating high-end, shareable media and distributing it across all channels with a well thought out marketing strategy.