It is well-known that Google and Facebook are competitors when it comes to marketing. However, they are more relevant to each other than you may think. There is a misconception that social media and SEO are entirely separate disciplines. At best, it was always seen as a gray area. I want to clear this up.
Last year, Google introduced a new concept to SEO called EAT. Yes, another marketing acronym, and it stands for Expertise, Authority and Trust. If you are using your social media platforms correctly, and focusing on these three things, social media should already be pretty helpful for the points I make below.
My opinion is search engines like Google and Bing, and social networks like Facebook and Twitter, are not just similar but they need each other to succeed. The COVID-19 pandemic does more to solidify my opinion than ever, and here are some reasons why.
More Social Shares Indirectly Leads to Links
For those who do not know, quality links to a website increase that website’s ability to rank higher. Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even forums like Reddit and Quora are only slightly, if at all considered great links by search engines thanks to a built-in “nofollow” rule in the code.
This code is a signal to search engines that the juice from the link is probably not worth using while evaluating the website it leads to.
While this does not prove my point, this logic should carry more weight:
- The number of times a page is shared on social networks indicates the value visitors see in the content.
- Pages that offer more value to the visitor naturally receive more links from relevant websites.
This transverse logic shows the indirect relationship between social engagement and search engine-optimized links. So what is the take away here? Create content on your website that people will want to share.
Social Media Topics Imply What People Want To Know (And Search)
Back in the day, when major social media platforms were moderately new, likes and follows were typically encouraged through the call-to-action ‘Join The Conversation’. And that is all you really need to know to understand what to expect. After 16 years of conversations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo Answers, Reddit and so many more, these platforms have become gigantic databases of information content comparable to search engines.
I would go so far to argue that if you want to improve your SEO and you are not looking to social media for topics to rank for, you may be falling behind. This is a process called social monitoring. SEOs and social media marketers will both engage and read posts relevant to their target audience to deliberate trending topics for their website. Google has a tool called Google Trends, which analyzes topics that are being searched about. All tools can break these trends down by audience and geography as well.
Keyword research tools serve a similar function, exclusive to search engines. By definition, they show the search terms being used the most frequently and the websites that rank for them. Although the purpose is a bit different, they provide very similar data, and can translate back into social media as well, to drive word choice and the like.
An Audience On Social Media Presence Drives Constant Traffic
Journalists and bloggers have proven the benefit of social media to driving website traffic. More readers get their news from social media than other means. This is influenced by my previous two points, but your audience does a lot for helping SEO experts do their jobs.
If you understand your social media audience, there is a good chance you understand the audience visiting your website. They are likely very similar. This is useful for tailoring content and matching the search intent of the user.
Here is a highly simplified example. A brand with very high engagement on LinkedIn, but almost none on Instagram is a very clear cut indication that the audience is professionals. This means that good content on the brand’s website should be written professionally, an can probably be more informational and less “fun”. The visitor is probably on the website because they are looking for value for their business.
This can be further assessed through data tools like Google Analytics. A tool every website owner should get in the habit of using, by the way. By examining behavior metrics like average time on page ad bounce rate. Although neither of these are ranking factors, they can certainly hint at potential technical SEO issues like page loading time.
Make Sure You Are Using Social Media Strategically
Now that we’ve established why social media and SEO are connected, here is a brief guide on how to actually make social media work for you. The most important thing to do is to plan, plan, and plan some more.
Your blog articles, social media posts, podcasts, and YouTube videos should all be coordinated together in a content calendar. All marketers should use these to get the most out of everything they do from blog posts topics to their promotion. For social media, the content calendar allows you to plan your posts so they are seen by the most people.
But timing is only part of it. The words you use to promote content on social media needs every bit of focus as the content it links to. Make sure that the post is designed to inspire a click. Make it as impossible to resist by teasing them with a tiny bit of information ,that makes them want more. And make sure the teaser can demonstrate it’s value with a quick glance.
Also, pick and choose carefully where you are posting. Are there specific groups or people that would benefit the most from this content? Make sure you plan on that placement in your strategy as well.
Ratings, Reviews and Local SEO
I believe the overlap between SEO and social media is most obvious when it comes to local audiences. In fact, Google and Bing both dip their toes into the “social” side of SEO with their business listing tools Google My Business and Bing Places for Business.
Through these tools, a business owner can manage a large amount of their business including marketing and reputation management. The most key component of this are the ratings and review systems.
Ratings and reviews are essential to ranking in Google Maps and in rich snippets in search engine results. Visually the ratings stand out more and are more likely to drive a click-thru rate and can often make the difference in a searcher’s decision to click or not click through a listing. These ratings also attribute additional trust content to the brand and in many ways, escalates the trust of the business website.
The other major overlap is the ability to post from these platforms. You can build an audience and distribute content the same way you can on social media. In fact, it is highly encouraged to do so to build your website’s local ranking.
Social Media has a stronger impact on SEO than people think, and there is a lot of overlap when it comes to research, audience and building expertise, authority, and trust through links. I encourage you to think about that and contribute your own thoughts as well.