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If you’re like most business owners I work with, you’ve got a lot of questions about the benefits of social media.
I’ve gone into detail before about how social media has a positive impact on your business, but I want to zoom in on one of those benefits that can really ratchet up your leads and sales: SEO.
In the simplest terms, the relationship between social media and SEO is like an alley-oop in basketball, where social lobs the ball and SEO dunks it.
Even though social media signals don’t have a direct impact on search rankings, they affect your search engine optimization efforts in primarily four ways:
- Increased online visibility and traffic to your website
- Increased authority and brand recognition
- Broader content distribution and longer content lifespan
- Improved local SEO
However, the original question, “Do social signals have an effect on website rankings?” should really be changed to, “How much of an effect are they having?” We know they make a difference. We know social signals matter. Keep reading to see exactly how social relates to SEO.
What Is a Social Signal?
Social signals are reviews, likes, shares, votes, pins, or links on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media sites. They indicate a brand is being talked about and are similar to mini-reviews.
Social Media Increases Online Visibility and Supports SEO Efforts to Drive Traffic to Your Website
My grandfather loved two things: fishing and advertising. The key to success in both, he said, was to invest in the right bait and a huge net.
The bigger your net, the more fish you catch—and the same is true for marketing.
For example, let’s say you have a conversion rate of 5 percent. If 200 people visit your site, that’s 10 leads. Bump it up to 500 visits, and suddenly you’ve got 25 leads. Of course, it isn’t literally that simple, but you get the picture.
The whole goal of marketing your business is to increase leads and sales. The more people that see your stuff, the more opportunities you have to convert them.
Take a gander at the screenshots below.
As you can see, Google does crawl and display Facebook accounts, Twitter accounts, and LinkedIn pages for individuals.
The second search listing for a branded keyword is a link to Facebook reviews. Take a look at this second search, for “national geographic”:
Both National Geographic’s YouTube account and Twitter posts appear right there on the first page.
Since we mentioned YouTube, take a look at this search result for plumbers and HVAC contractors. It’s right there, the second organic listing.
Point is, social media results DO show up in the SERPs, which is boosting your online visibility. This then lends itself to brand recognition.
Social Media Increases SEO Authority and Brand Recognition
Ah, yes, brand recognition.
Brand recognition is not the same as Facebook likes or Twitter followers. Those “popularity” metrics do not matter for SEO.
Matt Cutts of Google said so himself:
Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it, then we can return that in our search results. But as far as doing special specific work to sort of say “you have this many followers on Twitter or this many likes on Facebook”, to the best of my knowledge we don’t currently have any signals like that in our web search ranking algorithms.
What do we mean by brand recognition?
Brand recognition is the ability for your target audience and the general public to recognize your company based on signifiers like logos, slogans and colors. Your social media profiles on Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Pinterest, and Instagram are the best mediums to build it.
Another benefit of social SEO? More authority, specifically through links and reviews.
Links: When someone discovers something on social media, there’s a chance they’ll share the link. Not only can this increase the number of inbound links to your site—improving your credibility—but it can also show how popular your content is as well. This can improve your rankings and you may also notice social media profiles showing up near the top of branded searches as well.
Reviews: Reviews are a huge factor in local SEO marketing. Simply put, Google (and other search engines like Yahoo and Bing) likes reviews. In fact, reviews account for 13 percent of ranking factors for local searches, and seven percent for general searches (Moz).
Take a look at the search engine results for a local service below :
See all those reviews? That’s not a coincidence. And guess what? Google pulls reviews from other social sites like Facebook:
Social Media Extends the Reach and Life of Your Website’s Content
76% of Facebook users visited the site daily during 2016, with over 1.6 billion daily visitors.
That’s a lot of people, and each and every one of them is consuming and sharing content.
Once you’ve published a blog, its lifetime depends on search engines. Unless people are scrolling back ten pages through your blog—which I highly doubt—the chances of them finding it on their own is slim to none, and even then you’re competing with similar articles in search engines.
Social media bypasses this. You control distribution, and you can increase the lifetime of your content by re-posting it. Take Twitter, for example. Blue Corona has a steady stream of traffic straight from Twitter, and people are discovering and sharing content they wouldn’t have otherwise seen. Another benefit of sharing on social media is that you can target your content towards specific audiences, which is like pre-qualifying them for your service.
Having a Social Media Strategy Boosts Local SEO
The fourth—and most technical—way social supports SEO strategy is through local SEO. For local service companies, like contractors, your biggest concern is with local SEO. We’ve covered reviews, which is one of the most important aspects of local SEO.
Another way social media affects local SEO?
Business listings and NAP (name-address-phone number) citations. As we’ve said before about NAP, consistency in how your business is listed accross the web is essential for local SEO. This extends to social media. Your profiles need to be optimized for local SEO, including a keyword-rich description, a clear indication of your services, your hours, and a phone number and address consistent with the one on your Google My Business profile.
Developing a Social Media Strategy for SEO
Building out a social media strategy can certainly affect SEO and improve your search engine rankings, helping you gain authority as a company—but it must be executed properly to be successful.
Of course, you’ll want to get involved on the basic sites, and Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn being a top priority. But don’t just build a profile and let it sit there—use this opportunity to connect with your clients! To get started, I recommend you:
- Optimize your social media profiles using keywords in your “about” section and linking back to the core services on your website
- Make sure you have accurate and consistent contact information on all social media websites
- Respond to any negative reviews or complaints your clients make on these sites
- Answer any questions your clients may have
- Build albums with photos that appeal to your prospective clients
I get that social strategy isn’t that intuitive, and it’s actually a lot more complex than most business owners think. Don’t make the mistake of treating your social accounts like personal accounts or charge it to the youngest person in the office. We’ve had to rescue many new clients from these exact mistakes.
We’ve established the importance of social media in SEO, so what are you going to do about it? Give us a call or contact us on the web, and we’ll chat about how to take your social SEO strategy from flat to Mt. Everest with our social media marketing services.
About The Author: Betsy is the social media lead and a digital marketing expert with Blue Corona. When she’s not managing Blue Corona's digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring, hiking with her dog, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
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