Why SEO needs Social Media

There is more and more evidence that SEO needs social media, since the explosion of social media over the past few years it has become a “business staple” for businesses big and small to have a social presence, customers almost expect businesses to have social profiles. Providing an additional means of customer service and an easy way for brands to create stronger relationships with their customers, collect powerful data and more importantly reach their customers much more quickly for next to nothing.

Whether you like it or not, social media is something that you need to be using, and if you’re not your competitors will just take your place, and your customers. So for this reason millions of business owners have set up home on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more.

For the creative genius, or perhaps very lucky social media can turn an “unknown” into a superstar overnight, with the right message and perhaps a bit of right timing. For the rest of us social media can still play a very valuable role in our marketing and customer service strategy.

The way Google decides who ranks where in its search results is a complicated procedure, no one really knows exactly what this includes and generally a lot of what SEO professionals do know is through trial and error.

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What we do know is that social media has changed and is continuing to change the way that we communicate, engage with and share content. It is also changing our view towards commercial brands and how we interact with them. According to eBay over the next two years the value of social media for business will grow to more than double, from £1.5bn to £3.3bn. Fashion retailer ASOS saw their following on social site Facebook grow by 32% through their “social shopping” application, previewing their summer sale on the social site first. eBay believe the real value is in social recommendation and influence from consumers, friends and family in buying products.

There is no doubt that from household names to local coffee shops social media is changing the way we shop and changing the way we are influenced by advertising/branding. Because of this there is little reason Google wouldn’t consider this in deciding on brands that are popular and brands that are trusted, improving the relevancy and quality of their search results. Over the past couple of years this is something that has continued to become more and more prevalent with Google’s recent updates “Panda”, “Penguin” and “Hummingbird”, these being the names given to the organisations algorithm updates (the way Google decides who ranks where in the search results). More and more SEO professionals are recommending a strong social strategy as part of a brands SEO. Now like all SEO these days it’s not simply about “the biggest wins”, it’s about quality and providing value to the user. Believe it or not, Google’s got pretty darn clever over the past years, now starting to factor in who brands engage with, how often and who mentions a brand. For example imagine the difference between Mashable mentioning your brand on Twitter against 50 “ordinary” users with little influence. Google is going to look at such interactions and give a lot more trust towards your brand, even better still the more relevant the brand the better. Sell gardening products? Get a mention from the top gardening magazines, engage with users interested in gardening.

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Now we all know that social media is something that most, if not all business owners need to be capitalising on, the added fact that this can contribute to your search engine ranking is a bonus in itself. Sadly though it’s not quite as simple as just using social media, of course it needs to be used in the correct manner that helps Google to better understand your brand and website, and used in a way that gives Google reason to rank you higher.

How can you use social media effectively to improve your SEO?

  • Use Pinterest – Pinterest is a great way of increasing your SEO, there are plenty of places to include keywords on the site, in your Pinterest boards and descriptions,
  • Use Google+ – Facebook and Twitter may still be the peoples favourite with Google lagging just behind, so it make sense for Google to reward webmasters who use their social platform, which is exactly what Google have done, giving prime placement to content shared by your friends and followers in your search results.
  • Include your business name in your social media updates, Google picks up on mentions of your brand, if you’re sharing valuable and engaging content Google will reward you for mentions.  In the past Google specifically looked at and rewarded website links however is now putting much more weight to simple brand mentions.

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Remember that Social media alone cannot be relied upon to boost your site up the search results however it is certainly a great place to start and build your strategy from. People want to see interesting, relevant content to share with their friends, that requires a blog or website to write that content on, giving Google something to index into its search index and increasing your chance of ranking for specific keywords. Then the added value of people sharing your content on social media sites gives you all then more value to your content.