If your business doesn't have a big social media presence, chances are you've been advised to get one. And while there has been a certain amount of hype around “going social”, there is also a very concrete reality behind the hype.
Simply put, SEO and social media work hand-in-hand; if you're not going social, you're missing out on rankings. More importantly, you're missing out on the dollars those rankings will bring. (And if you're ranking well without social, you're setting yourself up for a let-down in the next 6-12 months!).
Let's explore the whys and hows of social media and SEO.
1. “Social Signals” Mean Something to Google
“Social Signals” are anything that people can do on social networks, that show that people find your content engaging. Here are examples of social signals from the three most popular social sites today:
- Likes and shares of your content on Facebook.
- Comments on your content or links via Facebook.
- “Retweets” (reposting/sharing) on Twitter.
- Use of hash tags on Facebook, Twitter, and other networks.
- “+1” on Google Plus
- Other sharing, voting/liking, and commenting functions on other social media sites (Reddit, LinkedIn, as well as sites like Meetup.com.).
These signals let Google know that users trust your content and consider it relevant. Ultimately, Google's complex algorithm (as well as those of Bing and other search engines) exits to determine which pages are trustworthy and relevant, and rank them accordingly.
Social signals give Google a huge amount of the information it wants, which is one reason of many to share your best content on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.
2. Social Media Presence Gives You More “Traditional” Backlink Power
Social media presence beefs up your search engine optimization in another way as well: that of the all-important backlink!
Naturally, you gain a new backlink every time you post your content from your own social media account. But you also gain the opportunity to gain even more backlinks. These links are still the biggest single factors that Google, Bing, and other search engines use to rank your sites.
You'll get more backlinks (in addition to “social signal juice”) when other users of the network repost, retweet, or otherwise share your content. But that's only the beginning.
This kind of attention also gets you linked to from other content, for example, people who saw you on the social media site, want an example of something, and they point to your content. Or perhaps a small news site (or large news site!) or one of many niche content news/curation sites picks it up.
In other words, social media can help your content go viral. It doesn't have to go majorly viral (i.e. all over the Internet) to benefit. It can go “minorly viral,” getting attention from your niche or market in a big enough way that your backlinking profile is broadened and strengthened because of your social media exposure.
Even if you don't use social media much in your personal life, it has simply become too strong a force to ignore for your business. The upside of this is that, once you get the hang of it, social media can do more for your SEO in less time than many “traditional” SEO methods. That's why it's important to integrate it as soon as possible, if you haven't already!