Social Media & SEO
IS SOCIAL MEDIA IMPORTANT FOR SEO?
Social media has become integral to the way we use the Internet. Important content is not only linked, it is shared, liked, tweeted and pinned. How people use the Internet has drastically changed, and this hasn't gone unnoticed at the Googleplex. Many of the independent studies on Google's ranking algorithm show a large correlation with high-ranking pages having strong social media activity.
While the official stance from Google is that they do not directly use social signals in their algorithm, the SEO community pretty much agrees it is certainly a factor in achieving rankings. Disagreements aside, I can tell from my own experience, sites with large social followings consistently get higher rankings in a shorter time frame.
Not only can you use social media to build social activity to increase your overall SEO strength, you can use social media to regularly create back-links that are free and easy to build. It also increases referral traffic back to your site and engages previous customers. As a rule, social media should be a part of every SEO project, or even every marketing project.
GOOGLE & SEO
Google has been consistently rewarding businesses using their own social network with higher rankings. To be specific, Google+ is reported as one of strongest ranking factors for the past several years, so much so, if you look at the SEO ranking factor surveys, Google+ is consistently at the top of the list!
A lot of businesses still aren't using Google+, so this is an opportunity to get an advantage over competitors. At a minimum, you should set up a business page and add some posts to your profile. Next up, encourage followers by adding a Google+ follow button on your website, and link to your Google+ page in your email footer. Social media management is beyond the scope of this book, but simply getting started and building a base level of activity on Google+ will put yourself ahead of other businesses — it is the social media site most often overlooked by many brands, and you can use this to your advantage. Get started with the below links:
FACEBOOK & SEO
Facebook is the world's most popular social network. What's popular on Facebook is essentially a snapshot of public opinion, and Google have noted this by making Facebook activity a very strong factor in their algorithm. You should consider using Facebook for every SEO project. If you only have the time or budget to use one social network in your SEO strategy, use Facebook.
To improve your site's Facebook social activity, share content from your own site on your Facebook page on a regular basis.
Each time you do this, you receive more exposure from your fan base, and you also build up social activity around the content on your site. Be careful to mix this up with relevant, engaging non-commercial content for your user base, so you don't turn them off and maintain high levels of engagement. Examples include infographics, inspirational quotes, inspirational photos, and so on.
Build up your audience by including a Facebook follow button on your site, your email signatures, and your thank you or success pages.
If you want to speed up building your audience, you can use Facebook advertising to build a relevant audience of local customers. This is a good strategy if your competitors in the rankings have a larger following and you are looking to beat them. You can also use Facebook advertising to increase exposure for your posts, or even run advertising campaigns for a promotional offer. Facebook advertising stands out as a great way to build up an audience, social activity and referral sales for projects with a budget.
TWITTER & SEO
Twitter is filled with discussion on the world's latest news and events. In many cases, groundbreaking news stories are released on Twitter before the world's major news outlets. The death of Osama Bin Laden is the perfect example — it was leaked on Twitter by a former chief of staff to the US Defense Secretary and within minutes it was all over the news.
Google have recognized this and use Twitter activity in their algorithm. While it may not be as strong as other social networks, you can use Twitter to build up your overall SEO strength. Twitter is a great social network to weave into your SE0 strategy as you can schedule a lot of your tweets in advance without coming across as too spammy, and manage your account with only a small commitment of time and effort.
Schedule tweets to your pages such as Hootsuite and start building up your tweet counts on your pages. Mix this up with relevant and informative tweets about your industry. You should aim for a maximum of 12 tweets per day. 12 Tweets per day is roughly the limit you can post without annoying your followers. If you're lazy like me, you can schedule all of your tweets about 3-months in advance.
If you want to encourage site visitors to tweet your content for you, include a "tweet this page" link on every page or blog post on your web site.
Tweetdeck -Free http://www.tweetdeck.com
Free and easy Twitter management software. You can install Tweetdeck on your computer and manage your whole Twitter account from inside the program. Popular features include managing multiple accounts, scheduling tweets, and arranging feeds so you only see updates from Twitterers you're interested in.
Hootsuite -Free to start. $10 monthly for power users. http://www.hootsuite.com
More advanced than Tweetdeck, you can use Hootsuite to schedule tweets, analyze social media traffic, manage multiple accounts, create social media reports to monitor your success, and much more. Recommended for power users or automating multiple accounts.
OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKS
Let's face it, we'd all love to play around on social networks all day, but we don't have the spare time to be always looking for great ideas and sharing them endlessly on social media accounts.
If you have limited resources, focus on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
If you are looking for an extra edge, doing SE° for a large brand, or maybe you have an army of helpers waiting for your command, you can gain significant boosts by expanding your social activity to several social media sites. Setup an account on the below networks, posting on the networks most relevant to your business:
LinkedIn is the Facebook for professionals. LinkedIn is a fantastic networking tool if you are in the business-to-business industry and looking to build up your personal brand or the brand of your site. If you want to increase your effectiveness on Linkedin, join groups and participate in discussions, post relevant updates about your industry and post content in the news feed.
Pinterest has become one of the fastest-growing social networks in a very short time frame. Pinterest's fast-growing user base is primarily made up of women. The site has effectively turned into a giant shopping list of wish-list items. If your target audience is women, you should be on Pinterest.
Initially a mobile app to help users make their photos look pretty, Instagram has skyrocketed from a fledgling mobile app to competing with major social networks in just a few years. Instagram limits the amount of links you can post, which essentially means the links from your profile on Instagram are much more powerful. If you work in a fashion or image-heavy industry, Instagram is a must-have social network to incorporate into your SEO and overall digital strategy.
SOCIAL MEDIA ANALYTICS.
If you invest time and effort building up your social media profiles, you will want to track your results so you can separate the parts of your strategy that are successful and not so successful.
Social media analytics is different compared to other web analytics, because social analytics are geared to measuring the conversation and interaction of your fan base with your brand. Using the software listed below, you can monitor results and get valuable insights on how to improve your social media efforts:
Sprout Social - Free for 30-days. $59 per month for regular use.
http://sproutsocial.com/ features Sprout Social is a great web analytics and social media management package that allows you to track the performance of your social media profiles over time. It has a free trial, suited to advanced level use and offers powerful analytic reports for major social networks.
Hootsuite - Free plan available. Paid plans start at $10 per month. https://hootsuite.com/products/social-media-analytics
Hootsuite is quoted many times in this book and for good reason — Hootsuite is a robust social media management software allowing for control over many social networks, as well as powerful web analytics insights. Its paid plan,- are also quite affordable for pro-users.