The Importance of Social Media in Today’s SEO

yorkshire-columnIn today’s search engine optimization, social media giants like Facebook play a large part in the overall visibility of your business on the web.

While Google’s SEO team hasn’t admitted to this outright, there are a number of search engine optimization bloggers that agree: it appears that Google considers your business’s activity and engagement on Facebook when deciding where to rank your website.

Now, in all honesty, Google is never 100% upfront about what their system looks for when deciding the fate of every business out there — they make sure to include plenty of mystery in their generic hints. After all, if everyone knew how the system worked, it would defeat their purpose. They’re trying to find the best and most informative sites to feature in the organic rankings, not the ones who know the rules of how their game is played.

But — coincidence or not — there have been a number of instances of businesses with more activity on Facebook and other social platforms who find themselves with increased visibility in Google’s rankings.

In a broad view, it makes sense. Google’s bots are constantly crawling the web for relevant and useful content, and they weigh what they find for each company/website and determine how well that company should be rewarded in the rankings based off of their findings.

If a business is highly active on social media while sharing real value with their customers and prospects, that may help them rank higher in Google searches.

Additionally, there is also the factor of driving more and more interested traffic to your website from social media, which can also make you popular with Google. For instance, if you are getting more engaged traffic coming in from your actions across social media platforms, Google may reward you for having better performance in these areas:

  • The amount of time a user spends on each page
  • How long the average length of a visit to your site is
  • Bounce rate (percentage of visitors who leave your site immediately, without spending any amount of time on your website)

In summary, a good social media strategy can benefit you in two ways. It can increase your business by enabling people to find you through social media channels and it can strengthen your position with Google and boost you in search results.

But even when they’re aware of the value, many business owners still don’t know how to properly utilize their social media followings.

Is Social Media Really a One-Way Street?

One of the most common misconceptions we see among small business owners is that social media is a “one-way street,” so to speak. They view it as a platform from which to declare the merits of their products or services, and that’s about it.

The truth is, social media is just that — a social platform. Users don’t go on Facebook expecting to search for their next purchase or to locate which company to buy from. They go on to be social, to be entertained, informed and amused and to interact with their friends.

As a business, you can tap into the success of these social platforms by providing the interaction and entertainment these users are looking for. Savvy marketers will be able to brainstorm ideas of how to incorporate aspects of your products or services into posts that delight and elicit responses from viewers.

How to Separate Yourself From the Competition

yorkshireDo a little bit of research on your biggest competitor(s). Go check out their Facebook Pages and scroll through some of their posts. Are they just advertising their services or a special? Perhaps an occasional goodwill message like “Happy Holidays?”

Now go take a peek at the Facebook page of a brand that gets a ton of interaction on their posts like Groupon

Granted, you probably don’t have 17 million likes on your Page, so expecting that much interaction is unreal, but look at the type of questions they ask in their posts.

How about looking at a lesser-known brand, like Yorkshire Tea? In the examples below, you’ll see how they respond to posts in a friendly, personal way. It humanizes the brand and, we expect, increases loyalty.

How can you start posting like these brands, and gaining the interaction and loyal following they have?

 

Making Social Media Work For Your Business

Here are a few rules of thumb when it comes to increasing engagement (shares, comments, reactions) to your posts:

  1. Post a picture that will catch the eye of someone scrolling through their newsfeed. Whether it looks beautiful, tasty, or just plain weird, post
  2. something that will get someone to stop and glance at it for a moment.
  3. Rather than promoting your services, ask your fans a question.

Here’s how Groupon does it:

groupon