For a long time we've known that search engine optimization is a critical factor to get your business noticed online and ranking well in searches. Throughout all the changes to algorithms, one thing that's clear is the need to use social media to boost your SEO.
Remember when all those “link farms” popped up as a way of boosting links to websites to gain “votes” on search engine rankings? Google put a stop to those last year with an algorithm change, but they still want websites with more votes and links back to the site to rank better.
This is where social media comes in. If your website is being shared across social media, this is a way of getting those links back and, as Google understands, it is much more difficult to “game” social media channels. Therefore, the better your site is doing in terms of link shares on social media, the better you should rank on search engine results.
So, what key strategies should you have in place to ensure better social media SEO? Here are my top five:
1. Optimize all social media profiles
This might seem obvious, but many large companies still have incomplete bios and descriptions on their social media channels. Consider these three components:
Keywords: What keyword phrases does your company want to be known for? Make sure these are included in all of your social media profiles (without stuffing).
Links: Most social media profiles allow links to your website or other key sites—make sure these are complete. Google Plus has a section in the profile setup which allows for unlimited links. You could even link to relevant blog posts or product pages in your description. If your business is not yet on Google Plus I would suggest you set that up now; after all, it is directly linked to Google!
Physical address: Is your business "bricks and mortar"? Make sure your physical address is included on your social profiles so that you come up when locals search for something related to your products or services. You should also make sure you are set up on Google Local Listings.
2. Create high quality content
Creating quality content is no longer enough on its own to earn SEO rankings—you need to create great content and make sure it is shared across social media platforms. The emphasis from Google is on quality over quantity, so you are not likely to do well with the old ways of hiring someone on the cheap to produce massive amounts of relatively low-quality content!
A key component to high-quality content is to write for your followers, not for a search engine. If you write in the same way in which you would speak to your audience in person and address the topics that they want to hear about, you should see this pay off by way of website traffic and social shares.
3. Make sure social sharing is easy
So you've got an amazing piece of content up—great. Now how are readers of that content going to share it? Make sure you have well-placed, obvious social share buttons on your website to boost the chances that people will share. No one wants to hunt around for the share button.
4. Optimize your social media posts
When you post on any social media platform, use some of the keyword phrases that your business has identified it wants to be known for. You could also occasionally use your business’s name in your posts as this helps Google associate the keywords with the business.
5. Measure your results
To manage social media SEO, measure and know what’s working so that you can produce more of what your audience is looking for. I measure my social media success based on shares and retweets. Anyone can click "like" in a millisecond, but sharing content to their own streams is taking it a step further and validating the fact that you have created something worth spreading.
In an online world where everyone gets the “content is king” principle, you need to do more than just produce good content to stand out on search engines. Social media SEO is an opportunity for all businesses to not only spread links back to your websites, but to build a raving fan base while you’re at it. Review your social media profiles today and see what tweaking them can do for your business results.
[Image via Can Stock Photo]