Social media basics for SEO gains

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What’s that I hear you cry? Another Google algorithm update? Nooooo!

It seems like you just can’t take your eye off the SEO ball for a second these days. There’s always something new coming into the mix that changes the rules. But what is clear is that businesses are placing increasing emphasis on social media.

Recent research by the social marketing software company Awareness revealed that 66% of US marketers are investing in increasing their cross-platform social media presence, with 56% increasing the frequency of content they publish.

So why is this?

It turns out that increased customer engagement and lead generation are leading business objectives for a major proportion of marketers (78% and 51% respectively of those surveyed), and they are using social media to achieve those goals.

Marketers are investing more and more in social media – integrating it with other marketing strategies and incorporating it as a permanent fixture of how they do business.
Phillip Taylor via Compfight

Does social media impact SEO?

That’s all well and good, but does social media actually have any real impact on SEO?

It sure does.

A few years back major search engines started using social signals as a factor when ranking websites, and since then Google has taken this to new heights with increased emphasis on and refinement to social signal based algorithms and the arrival of the likes of Google+, Search Plus Your World and everybody’s favorite, Panda.

What are social signals? Basically, any positive or negative reaction that a business receives on any social media platform that indicate the quality of a user experience.

Google uses these signals (such as how users share and rate online content) to determine the quality, authority, and performance level of a website – the more fans, ‘likes’ and positive feedback you have on Facebook for example, the more likely your site is to rank highly.

So a social media presence is a significant contributing factor to search engine rankings. If you have a minimal social media presence, don’t have many followers, rarely update your content and have negative comments, it’s going to hurt your case. But a strong, positive social media presence it could just give you that little bit extra you need to boost yourself ahead of the competition on Google.

In short, the intersection of social media and SEO is more important than ever. And it ain’t going away. Period.

So how can you optimize your social signal? Here are 7 tips to get started.

Get there

You’ve got no chance if you’re not even in the game. Give people a venue to interact with your enterprise – if you’re not on the big social networks, you should be. Make sure you have a presence on Facebook and Twitter and a profile on Google+ at the very least.

Offer great stuff

Write high-quality, engaging content. Write with personality, inject some controversy – do anything you can to get people’s attention and get them talking and sharing. People won’t bother to give you the interaction and feedback you’re looking for if you’re boring.


You’re only going to make people aware of you if you stop being the invisible man. If people see a real person making comments, re-tweeting, giving ‘likes’ and generally acting more like a human being than a faceless corporate robot, they’ll love you for it. Make some friends, and they’ll give you positive coverage through shares, likes and comments which will crank you up another notch on Google.

Add value

Make a difference in people’s day. Share tips and resources, give them links to great articles or videos that will make a difference to their day. Sharing valuable content that doesn’t come from directly from you shows you aren’t just shamelessly self-promoting and will earn you much kudos. Kudos = more shares and positive interaction = bigger social signal.

Be active

A social media profile or a website that barely trickles along with only occasional updates will not do you any favors – in fact, it could even damage your rankings. It’s certainly not dynamic and engaging, and it’s extremely unlikely to attract attention no matter how good that occasional content may be. Interact on a daily basis instead and always remain front of mind.

Don’t overstretch

There are new social media networks and trends popping up all the time, but think carefully before you jump on. It is far better to have a strong, positive presence on a few core social media platforms than a scattershot one on all of them. Do your research and analyze the results from each network you use to determine which of them is worth your time, energy and resources.

Make sharing simple

When people want to shout about you on their social networks, make it easy. Remove any barriers that would keep your potential fans from sharing your content. Install social share buttons that stand out on your website on every page for all your networks. Help people find your content and improve your visitor engagement. Make it easy for people to share and they will.

Sticking to these core principles as the foundation of your social media strategies will help keep you focused and on track – and help you not just in SEO but also the overall visibility of your business. And that’s invaluable.

James T Noble makes small businesses bigger. He’s worked with some of the world’s largest brands and companies to market their products and services online – including Disney, Microsoft, 20th Century Fox, Virgin, Coca Cola, MTV and many others.