Social media has evolved quite rapidly in the years it has been around. From BBS (Bulletin Board) to Friendster, Diaspora, Myspace and onto Facebook. But when we think of social media today, we arguably only have 3 or 4 large networks in mind: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Nowadays, those four platforms have become essential to every marketer’s strategy and are used to effectively get your brand in front of your target audience; but do they directly impact your SEO and search ranking? No, they currently do not.
However, that doesn’t mean that social media marketing and SEO do not affect each other in a variety of different ways. They are both inbound strategies that aim to attract your audience or customers to your brand. They are also both organic ways to attract your audience with unique quality content.
Perhaps the best way to describe the relationship between SEO and social media is to say that they are co-dependent. Effective social media campaigns will help improve your site ranking, and good SEO will inevitably boost your social clout. This is what we refer to as social SEO: the use of social media to boost your search engine rankings.
This post will demystify the relationship between social media and SEO; and show you how you can make social SEO work for your WordPress site.
How Important is Social SEO?
You can certainly rank your website well without focusing much on social SEO. You can’t, however, rank your website by focusing solely on social SEO. But that shouldn’t make you dismiss the whole idea too soon.
An active and strong social media presence makes it easier and faster to rank your site as search engines attribute authority based on tweets, shares, likes and Google +1s. Your social media presence also puts your content in front of a larger audience, some of whom will link your content on their own sites, creating valuable organic backlinks which contribute to your PageRank.
According to a recent study, Social Media Marketing even surpassed the impact of regular SEO in 2016, considering that market is already rather saturated. Time to hop on the bandwagon! Source: smartinsights.com/managing-digital-marketing/marketing-innovation/marketing-trends-2016/
That is not to say that social SEO will eventually replace regular SEO, but we cannot ignore the fact that social signals are slowly becoming an integral part of search engine algorithms. Even though they have nothing on backlinks – and probably won’t, at least not in the near future – social links are still quite important. But how much effect or weight do they have on your rankings, particularly your ranking for target keywords?
Well, search engines have not yet made that information public. We just have to work with the definitive information that social signals do (indirectly) impact your site rankings and will continue to do so.
When Should I Focus on Social SEO?
If you are in an industry where your competitors are heavily focusing on both SEO and social SEO, and you want to rank well for your industry keywords, you have no other option but to do the same. Backlinks coupled with social signals will boost your rankings much more than backlinks alone, so you will lag behind your competition if you are only focused on building the latter. And if they aren’t focused on social SEO, you should jump on the opportunity to get one step ahead of your competitors.
Although social media does not directly impact your site rankings on Google, social networks are dominating the internet and will arguably dictate the future of the internet. You should invest properly in social media as it could soon directly impact your site’s rankings on search engines.
How to Effectively Implement Social SEO
How can you increase your site rankings with good social SEO? Here are a few summarized tips:
Create a business page on the “main” social networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
Be active on those channels and engage your followers and subscribers
Create shareable, engaging and unique content
Make it as easy as possible for people to share your content
Share your content, and that of other influencers in your field on your social channels
The more active you are on social media, the more awareness you are bringing to your brand, the more your social following grows, and the higher the chance that your content is being shared across a broader network. It’s a snowball effect: the more followers you have, the more engagement you’ll get and the easier it will become to grow your community.
A bigger community means that more people are viewing your content and the higher the chance that the content will be shared. This increases the number of backlinks to your site which will impact your search rankings for the better.
Also, the more engagement you have on your social channels, the higher the chance that people will look for your brand on Google or other search engines via branded searches – which help your site rank for non-branded keywords that are relevant to your brand.
You do have to consider that the above scenarios are based on the assumption that you are producing quality and unique content. If you are creating bad content, you won’t get anywhere. Users will not interact with your brand if you’re not offering them value or good entertainment. If you want your content shared and widely distributed, you need to put in the time to create quality and valuable content your audience will enjoy.
In summary, the following social signals will increase your search engine rankings for the keywords you’re targeting:
Your social network followers
The likes, shares, retweets, Google +1s your website gets
Mentions by other authority or influencers in your field
Positive reviews on your business’ Google+ page
Using All in One SEO Pack for Social Meta
Our All in One SEO Pack plugin comes with a Social Meta module to help you get going with social marketing. This feature allows you to add Open Graph meta tags to enrich your posts by creating a rich snippet. Let’s briefly go over how Open Graph meta tags work and how they specifically help you with social SEO.
Basically, every web page on any site can be shared on social media channels. However, the way that shared page is displayed on social media may be very different. Websites that aren’t optimized with Open Graph meta tags won’t be as easily interpreted by Facebook, Twitter and the like and will, most of the time, show up as a blank link with a small description underneath.
Would you be more inclined to click on a blank link or on a rich snippet such as this?
However, adding Open Graph meta tags to a page on your site enriches the snippet and enables Facebook and other social media networks to display your content in the way you want to present it when it is shared. This is where All in One SEO Pack comes into action. For a full overview of all Open Graph and social meta features, please visit our documentation section.
There is no concrete evidence that Open Graph meta tags are important for search engines, but they do enable you to create presentable good looking posts on social media (instead of a bland-looking post). This significantly increases your organic traffic from social media to your WordPress site. Studies have shown that traffic increases 100%-200% if a post looks great vs. a blank link that doesn’t really mean much to social media users.
Wrapping It Up
Overall, a solid social media strategy, in conjunction with good SEO practices, will increase organic traffic to your site. Solely focusing on SEO may not cut it any longer if you want to be a step ahead of your competition. Revising your strategy to incorporate social SEO will inevitably boost your organic traffic and could very well increase your search engine rankings in the near future.
Do you currently have a social SEO strategy that’s working for you? Have you been using the social SEO module of our All in One SEO Pack plugin? Let us know in the comments below!