Social media is not a ranking factor in Google’s ever-changing algorithm. Fortunately, that doesn’t really matter.
If you’re doing it right, social media has a huge impact on SEO. That’s because social media strategies help you build links, increase site traffic and improve your content. Links, site traffic and content quality have been, and continue to be, among Google’s top ranking factors.
Still, not all social media strategies are created equal when it comes to their impact on SEO. In this article, I’ll review three strategies that you can count on to drive your brand higher in the search results.
Get your content in front of influencers
Search engines don’t really care how many likes, shares or comments your last post received. Nor are they impressed with the number of followers you have. They do, however, care about the quantity and quality of the links your pages get. And social media is an exceptionally good channel to go fishing for high-quality links.
It’s pretty simple. For your content to earn a link from an authoritative source like a journalist, industry expert or other influencer, that source has to see it first. And no channel makes it easier to reach influencers than social media.
Of course, just getting your content in front of an influencer doesn’t do a whole lot.
But remember how search engines don’t care about how popular your content is on social media? Well, influencers do care, especially if you’re speaking to a similar audience as they are.
So when the influencer sees your content and sees that it’s gained traction, they’re more likely to link to it as a reference when they create new content for themselves.
Build brand awareness
You probably already know (or could’ve guessed) that the number of people who visit your website impacts your site’s prominence in search engine result pages (SERPs). But did you know that not all traffic channels count the same?
A study by SEMRush found that websites with more direct visits, particularly on highly searched keywords, tended to appear significantly higher in the SERPs.
To review, a direct visit is when someone types the URL of your website directly into their browser.
For you to get this type of visit, people have to be familiar with your brand. That’s why even if Google doesn’t count how many shares your last post had, more shares means more visibility.
And the more visible you are, the more you can expect to receive an increasing number of direct visits (and any other kind of visit). In short, brand awareness campaigns on social media are just as important as any direct SEO effort.
I’m not alone on this. Although not solely focused on social media, SEMRush also concluded, “Building brand awareness is as important as putting efforts into SEO.”
Answer your audience’s questions
The quality of your content has always been (and will continue to be) the most significant long-term factor for SEO. After all, search engines want to answer people’s questions. So the more you help them do that, the more favorably they will look upon your site.
But providing answers is difficult when you don’t know the questions. Fortunately, social media is a great place to find out what questions your audience wants answered. It’s also a great place to find out what topics your audience wants to hear about.
A social monitoring strategy can be as simple as just paying attention to how your content performs. Record shares, likes, comments, etc. You can do this automatically with sites like BuzzSumo or just take notes in a spreadsheet.
This will help you get a handle on what topics resonate most with your audience, which will help you answer their questions more effectively.
If you have time, check out how your competitors’ content is performing. Again, BuzzSumo helps with this through its content analysis features, but it’s not free. You can also use tools like Social Searcher (which is free) to find out what people are talking about on social media.
However you do it, by building a social monitoring strategy into your plan, you help yourself create better content. And the better your content is, the better you’ll perform in the SERPs.
Social media impacts SEO because it helps you build relationships through links, expand your reach through promotion and improve your content through analysis. The best part is, none of these strategies are mutually exclusive to one another.
In other words, when you’re building relationships, you’re expanding your reach. And when you’re expanding your reach, you’re sowing seeds for new relationships. Finally, as you analyze, iterate and improve upon your content, you become an authoritative source who people go to for answers on social media and search engines.
Chris Meyer is the founder of CM Business Writing in San Francisco. Connect with him on LinkedIn.