Does social media affect your SEO? That’s a hard question to answer. And honestly, no one really knows.
Though Google has specifically stated that social media isn’t a direct ranking factor, there are actually multiple studies that show that it does have some sort of impact on search rank. In 2018, Hootsuite tested this, comparing the search rank of articles with and without social promotion. Content with top social shares received an average boost of 22%. Further research from Congitive SEO backs this up.
Bottom line, there is a strong correlation between rank and social activity. But because the effects are indirect, it’s hard to measure. Having an understanding of how and why social media affects rank can help you optimize your strategy accordingly.
5 Ways to Use Social Media to Boost Your SEO
In this post, we’ll take a look at how you can use social media to boost your SEO, and why these actionable social media tips actually have an effect on your search rank.
1. Share Relevant Content on Social Media
It can be easy to go into autopilot when managing a social media account. But the key to an effective social strategy, and using social media to boost SEO, is sharing the right type of content. Relevant, helpful information has the power to indirectly influence how your website pages rank.
- Generates Traffic - The most obvious reason is it generates traffic. The more people you have visiting and engaging with your site’s content, the more likely search engines will give your pages a boost. It’s an indirect effect, but as we’ve seen in the studies above, it’s still there.
- Increases Backlinks - The more often you post the right content on social media, the more likely it is to be picked up by other high authority sites. Backlinks are one of the most effective ways to boost SEO.
So what type of content do we mean by relevant? Every industry is different, but there are definitely some trends we can learn from. Take a look at this graph from Sprout Social, showing the actions that make people unfollow a brand on social media. Ranking at the top two spots? Posting too many promotions or irrelevant information.
Relevant and helpful content makes a difference. Here’s an example from one of our clients. Resonance, a global consulting company, is sharing a unique offer packed full of useful information for their personas. Because of it, their post is driving engagement, and in return traffic to their site.
Don’t just post to social media to check off a box. Think hard about what it is your target persona wants to know, learn or read. Informative and relevant information to your industry is why your audience is following you on social media to begin with. Stay away from company-focused and overly spammy posts.
2. Make Sharing Content Easy
If content is easy to share, more users will share it. It sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? But this is an afterthought for so many businesses and a key strategy that’s missing from many social strategies.
Remember, the more people you reach with your social media content, the more brand awareness you generate, the more people will begin to search for your site, and the more you’ll begin to indirectly affect search rank.
So how do you make your content easier to share? Make sure you’re including social share buttons and compelling call-to-actions on your website, email marketing messages, sales collateral, and any other type of content. HubSpot has a list of 8 Best Free Social Sharing Button Widgets to use in 2021.
And don’t forget about the importance of making your content compelling enough to share. When your social posts are loaded with fresh insights, engaging information, and unique research relevant to your industry, more people are likely to share your content. And in return, you’ll receive a possible boost to your SEO.
3. Keep Social Media Pages Up-to-date
Have you ever noticed that social media profiles actually appear in Google search results? Especially when searching for branded keywords. Not to mention, these days, social media actually serves as a search engine in and of itself.
When researching a company and its services, many people will search for their social pages. Social pages are more personal than web pages, and they can provide more genuine insight into who a company is and its personality. At the same time, if you don’t keep your social pages up to date and relevant, it’s a red flag to users.
When was the last time you searched for your social profile? Are there any spammy, duplicate pages that come up on any of the social platforms? It’s important to make sure that it’s super easy for users to identify your official company page on whatever social platform you’re using.
This may mean having to delete any duplicate accounts or merging accounts from multiple departments. By keeping all your pages up-to-date and brand-focused, you’ll create a more engaging, fun, and personal experience for your followers, plus anyone who finds your company page via Google. A more positive experience leads to more engagement, which is a positive ranking signal to search engines.
4. Partner with Influencers in Your Industry
Partnering with influencers can help build brand awareness on social media, drive more traffic to your website, and thus indirectly help with search rank. It’s also a way to build up your backlink profile.
So where do you find influencers? And how do you know if they’re right for your industry? Here are some tips to help:
- Use hashtags - When you post on social media always use relevant hashtags. This is one way that influencers can find you. You can also search hashtags relevant to your company, product, or market. Pay attention to the top posts trending for those specific hashtags, and consider reaching out to the users behind the post.
- Search your followers - You might already have influencers following your brand without even knowing it. Do a search of your current followers and make a note of any users that have a large following. Those that already know and love your brand are often the best type of influencers.
- Ask for Reviews or Testimonials - Ask your most loyal customers to post a review or testimonial of their social pages. This is an excellent way to generate authenticity around your brand while tapping into the benefits of user-generated content.
5. Use Optimized and Top Quality Images
When we talk about SEO, we always get wrapped up with keywords and written content. But images are oftentimes equally as important. It’s the same way with social media. If you fail to properly optimize your images for social media and SEO, you’ll miss out on ranking opportunities, and decrease the engagement with your social posts.
How do you optimize an image for SEO? Here’s a quick checklist:
- Optimize your file name, even when posting on social media. Use relevant keywords, and separate them by dashes. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring the image name and leaving it as its default.
- Select the right image format. Consider choosing WebP files, which have shown they can result in an 85.87 percent decrease in image size compared to JPG and PNG alternatives. Speed matters for SEO factors, and social media engagement.
- Use compelling captions with keywords.
- Make sure you're using alt text and title text when you can, and always make sure to include keywords in these descriptions.
When posting on social media, always choose top-quality images that are engaging and enticing.
Boost SEO with a Smart Social Media Strategy
Though social media might not be a direct influencer of SEO, it’s clear it has some type of impact. Having a smart social media strategy, and taking steps to optimize your posts can certainly improve brand awareness, engagement metrics, and consequently page rank in search engines.
Because the impact is so indirect, it’s important to test what you’re doing, and use this knowledge to provide insight into what works and what doesn't. Use these insights to develop a smart social media strategy that enhances your overall brand awareness and online presence, and then measure its effects on your search rank. You’ll begin to discover new ways to use social media and SEO optimization together to drive more traffic and convert more leads.