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Can Social Media Help Improve Your Search Engine Rankings?

August 2, 2016

We all pretty much know that social media is a big deal but not everyone understands the effect it can have on your search engine rankings.

Understandably so since the whole issue isn’t exactly straight-forward. Contrary to what many people believe, Google doesn’t actually take social media directly into account in its ranking algorithm. However, it does look at certain social signals when it’s deciding where to rank your website.

Here are some handy tips to help you use social media to improve your search engine rankings

Boosting your followers

While having thousands of Facebook ‘friends’ may well earn you some extra SEO brownie points, there are some things to take into account.

Firstly, Google is smart enough to distinguish between legitimate followers (audiences that are interested in your brand) and spam followers (likes purchased through overseas ‘click factories’). Therefore, purchasing thousands of followers or having hundreds of fake social media accounts following you simply won’t help your SEO standing and may, actually hurt it. Social media platforms have been cracking down on fake profiles recently so you may even find yourself falling foul of our friends over at Facebook. You have been warned.

So, whilst having heaps of followers can boost your SEO, it really is a case of quality first and quantity second.  It’s also important to remember that quantity isn’t something that happens overnight. Growing your follower base is a gradual and sometimes painstakingly slow process but businesses that post quality content, interact with their followers and offer advice and guidance will eventually get there.  Once your followers begin to increase, your content will reach a wider audience and Google will start to recognise the popularity of your social media profiles is a good indicator of the quality of your brand overall.

Benefit from inbound links

You may think of social media and search engines as being completely separate but social media could be described as a search engine, kind of. The majority of consumers use social media to search for their favourite brands and individuals and, when they find content they like, they’re likely to share it with their friends on other online and social media platforms.

As a brand, if you can create content that can be found through the search bars of social media platforms, then you’ll start to benefit plenty of external links to that content, which is looked on favourably by Google when evaluating websites. While external inbound links are important, it’s important to remember that, again, it’s the content that’s key here more than the social media account.  Using hashtags to promote content and interacting and engaging with comments and feedback the content receives, businesses can make sure that their social media content really reaps the rewards of those all-important inbound links.

Be bold, ask for shares

Social media is meant for sharing and one of the best ways to improve your search engine ranking is to make the sharing of your social content social as easy as possible. It’s worth bearing in mind though that it’s not enough to simply put your content out there and keep your fingers crossed that people will be kind enough to share it. Be bold and ask for shares directly.  You could even offer some kind of reward or incentive for followers who share a post. Some brands  post social surveys which people “like” a post if they agree with an issue. As people engage with incentives like this, the content appears on more and more news feeds and your brand will earn more followers in return.  These kind of moves have a big influence on social signals and will give your SEO a good boost.

Keep it local

If you’re a small, local business looking for more customers, then social media is a powerful tool. Optimising your social media profiles, posts, and pages for local SEO means you can more easily establish yourself as part of a local community. You can do this by linking all of your in-house marketing and promotional material to your social media profiles, then inviting your customers to leave a review or a comment, and running promotions on your social media pages.

In order to really benefit from local SEO, make sure that you always add in the geographical areas that you work.  This will help you enhance your local search skills and become more visible in local search engine results.

So, all that considered, social media does actually affect SEO. Although it certainly isn’t the only thing that Google looks at when deciding how to rank your site, it is important.  The key to remember is that while underhand social media tactics such as buying followers and likes will see you on the road to nowhere, businesses that post good quality, relevant and interesting content that gets shared around the internet will almost certainly enjoy a boost to their SEO efforts.

If all that sounds a step too far and you don’t have the expertise or the time to dedicate to social media marketing, we can help!  We have an expert social media marketing team that launch and manage social accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram on behalf of our clients. For more details, please don’t hesitate to contact us today on 01202 684400.

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