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The Debate About Social Media’s Impact on SEO

The folks at Google have not made it easy to understand whether social media affects SEO. In 2010, the company said that social signals – likes, shares, views, pins, etc. – did play a role in determining the rankings that show up on people’s search engine results pages (SERPs). But a few years later, they reported that social signals were not used in Google’s algorithm to determine rankings.

Google doesn’t share real information about its algorithm, so we’ll never know exactly how it’s constructed. However, there’s evidence to prove that social media can influence SEO, even if it’s only indirectly.

Recent studies have shown there’s a correlation between social engagements and rank, and that social promotion helped boost rank on an average of 22%. We also understand that links are a contributing factor to how well a site rank. If shares and likes are influencing people to click on your website, that certainly helps to improve your ranking. Also, if you’ve spent any time searching on Google, you’ll have seen that social media sites often appear in the results pages.

Social media does impact SEO, and there are ways to use it to improve your site rankings.

Publish High-Quality Content

Before we can talk about how to use your social media profiles, we need to emphasize that your website content must be well-researched and “speak” to your ideal customer. Quality website content will not only help in the traditional way that Google determines site rankings, but when you publish your quality blog posts on your social media accounts, there’s another opportunity for readers to like, share, or even click on your website in response to the post.

Choose your best-performing blog posts to share on social media, and tweak them, if necessary, to provide updated and relevant information that will benefit your readers. You’ll want your content to create engagement and motivate readers to share it, which will ultimately impact your SEO.

Give Readers a Good Reason to Share

You hope your high-quality content will encourage sharing, but what are some specific technical techniques to make that happen?

Before readers dig into the text of your post, they’ll first notice the visual you use and the headline that supports it. The photo or visual you use should immediately register with the reader and communicate what your post is about (visuals can include infographics or videos as well as still photos). Don’t forget to include captions if they help to clarify the meaning of your image. As for the headline, it should be compelling and provide an answer to a reader’s question or a way to solve a problem.

Optimize Images

Images are vital, not only for capturing attention on social media but for conveying the message or emotion you want to get across with your post. You should carefully select the visuals you choose to use on your social media posts and format them according to the guidelines for each platform.

The image sizes on Facebook are different from what works best on Pinterest or LinkedIn. Also, keep in mind that there are size requirements for various types of images. A page header is sized differently than the image that accompanies your post, for example. Before you post any visual to your page, be aware of the size guidelines, or you could risk making your page look sloppy and unprofessional.

Even though the technical requirements are different for each platform, keep your brand imagery consistent for every social media account. Consistency will help you build your brand’s presence and allow your readers or viewers to understand what your brand represents.

Engage and Build Relationships

Businesses benefit from participating on social media when they can show readers, they understand them, provide the answers to their problems, and give an overall sense that they care about them. In other words, businesses need to build relationships with their readers. Relationships lead to trust, loyalty, and – in terms of social media – the motivation to share your content with other people on the platform.

Your posts can be engaging on their own, or you can take an extra step to interact with your readers proactively:

  • Ask readers for their input on your posts or let them offer suggestions about an issue related to your brand or your industry.
  • Dedicate a post to answer questions, and make sure you respond in a timely fashion.
  • Create a poll to find out what they’re interested in or what they’d like to read about in the future.
  • Learn how to tell stories that relate to your brand or industry – or even the role in plays in the larger marketplace or our environment. A compelling story will help the reader to connect with your brand on an emotional level.

Use Social Media to Bond with Your Customers When You Can’t Do it in Person

It may take some time before you can physically interact with your customers again, but there are still other ways to engage and connect. Bridge the gap between now and your next trade show by “showing up” for your customers on social media.

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