What are Social Signals?
In the world of SEO, social signals are something to tell the SEs (Search Engines) how a particular website or piece of content is getting interactions from social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
These engagements could be in terms of comments, likes, dislikes, shares, pins, votes, views, etc.
Google views the interactions as feedback and recommendations, which in turn will “signal” to it that the content is popular or if it should warrant a good ranking position in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page).
History of Backlinking
One of the top strategies to rank for keywords was through link-building and oftentimes, site owners or SEO agencies will run outreach campaigns for it: (reaching out to site owners to get a link from them.) In the early days of organic search, the amount of links connected to a piece of content will signal to the SE (Search Engine) how popular it was.
At the same time, the phrase that is being linked from (anchor text) will give the SEs topical relevancy of the content.
However, ranking signals using the number of backlinks is commonly open to abuse or spam. For many years, people have been trying to game the system by various methods to acquire backlinks: guest postings, link exchange, paid backlinks, etc.
These days, the SEs have become extremely intelligent and they are much more impatient with backlinking that are against their TOS (Terms of Service).
Google, being the 800-pound gorilla of SEs has begun to penalize “engineered and unnatural” backlinks, on top of other “incentivized” linking methods. All these are against Google’s terms and can get the offending sites banned.
For more details, do read up on this post.
What Google is saying is that all backlinks must be natural and organic. This means, if your content is awesome, people will “naturally and organically” share or/and link to it. Period.
And how do you get your content to be shared and liked? Well, you need to market it either by paid methods or social media sharing.
And this brings us back to the subject of social signals!
Today, one of best best ways to acquire backlinks and get traffic to your site without fear of any adverse effects months or years to come is through the social media channels.
Basically, just create great content and get lots of social signals to Google for it.
Even though the social signals that Google receive has only a small weightage among the more than 200 keyword ranking factors, the main idea now is to get organic backlinks to content.
And you already know that backlinks is one of the TOP ranking factors, only if they are “organic and natural”!
SEO and Social Media Marketing
SEO and social media have an undeniably close relationship: SEO is focused on increasing your visibility, when social media ensures your brand gets attention from the right audience.
Their roles may sound different, but they both help in increasing organic searches for your site.
This explains why a successful social media campaign should have an SEO plan in mind.
Here are three reasons why you should concentrate on social media growth;
1. Social Media Helps Your Content Get Indexed Faster
Publishing valuable content regularly can help your articles get indexed faster. However, this has to be content that is relevant to your website. Not every post will get Google’s attention.
Ensure it is something that people are actively searching for. For example, if you search for, Rihanna; you realize that what comes first is her social media properties. This is because they are related to the search intent.
The best part is that if your post goes viral, the result may reflect in your SEO rankings too. The many social reactions help Google find your content easily and since people are sharing and interacting with it, Google will pay more attention too.
2. Builds Your Site’s Authority
Search engines give a lot of attention to a website’s authority. They consider pages with a high traffic and engagement to have more authority. The latter gives you a chance to rank over sites with a low domain rating.
A site’s authority grows gradually. However, you have to ensure that you only publish content that benefits your audience. This will earn you more votes, engagements and backlinks, which improves your domain rating.
In the past years, link-building was very different. It mainly focused on keywords and number of backlinks of a site. In 2020, you can’t afford to ignore social media. This is because social media is currently the largest content distribution platform.
Working on growing your social media followers will see that your content has multiple places to be shared, which boosts your authority. It also shows Google that you are creating content relevant to your niche.
3. Social Media Targets Real People
This is probably the major reason why you should focus on social media. It involves real people, and it is so easy for you to get individuals who are interested in your goods and services.
The main goal of search engines has always been to cater to people’s needs. This explains why the blackhat methods of building links and ranking never work in the long run- they forget to consider real people and are executed just to game the SE’s algorithms.
If you keep focusing on keyword optimization solely, you are likely to be beaten by an individual who takes his time to create a helpful piece of content.
Grow your social media presence, interact with real people, and base your content on their real needs, like solving their problem.
Social Media and SEO: How Social Media Improves Your Ranking
1. Acquiring More Links
The quality and quantity of your backlinks have a lot to do with your ranking. The good news is, according to Dan Zarrella of Hubspot, social media shares have a close relationship with the number of backlinks you get.
When your post goes viral, a lot of people are watching; clients, bloggers, influencers, etc. Most people will, therefore, want to share your content.
Content is no longer shared for the sake of posting; it is a form of leverage. You, therefore, have to write content that will not only attract a big multitude but the right people too.
2. Creating an Audience for Your Brand
A great product or service will keep you in the market, but that is only if people are aware of it. There are a million substitutes for what you are offering.
This doesn’t mean you don’t stand a chance; it only means that you have to invest in getting your share of the pie.
Luckily, you can easily get your target audience through social media, and probably create a community with them. It may be through a FB group or any platform you prefer.
Note that different groups prefer different social media platforms. For instance, if you are dealing with Generation Z, you are likely to find them on Instagram; if you are dealing with serious business people, they hang out on Twitter , LinkedIn, etc.
You, therefore, have to do your homework well before you invest your time and money in any campaign.
3. Increasing Your Brand Awareness
People love familiarity. They love to work with brands they already trust. If you offer great products and services, and you are constantly answering questions on social media to your customers, they begin to trust you.
As time goes by, you win their trust, and they start to search for you organically. They are also likely to click on your blog if you pop on their searches during their research.
The best part is that the bounce rate (which is a deal-breaker) is lower when readers are familiar with your brand.
Search engines consider low bounce rates, a sign that content is meeting the needs of readers.
4. Understand Your Client’s Needs
Keywords help in understanding what your audience is searching for. However, over the years, it is becoming harder to determine the searchers’ needs just by using data.
For you to meet the needs of your audience, you have to understand “your searchers’ intent fully.” If you are writing about “fashion” are you talking to someone who enjoys reading about fashion, or someone who wants to start a fashion career?
Building a strong social media presence will help solve such mysteries for you. You can directly ask your followers what knowledge they are searching for or follow their conversations.
By so doing, you provide exactly what your clients need, and since the intention of Google is answering the people – you get to be highly ranked if many people are spending time getting help on your site.
5. Improving Local Sales
If you have a mortal shop, remember to include the location and contacts of your business on all your social media platforms.
Google is concerned with helping local people get what they are looking for locally. Many people are likely to research on any goods they need before looking for them.
If you ignore this, you may miss out on a lot of opportunities and suffer poor ranking too.
How to Grow Your Social Media Presence for SEO Purposes
Now that you understand how social media affects your ranking, all your posts should be well optimized for SEO purposes.
Here are a few ideas on how to go about it;
1. Take Your Time to Create Good Content
Gone is the era when stuffing content with target keywords was the way to the search engine’s heart. In 2020, if you want more shares in social media, you have to provide meaningful content. Focus on solving more of your audience’s problems.
The way to do this is by putting yourself in their shoes and think about what they really need.
Remember, it is not only about who shares anymore but what is shared too.
Your goal is to ensure that your content is viewed by as many people as possible. To achieve this, spend enough time on your content to ensure it is interesting enough to be shared by many.
Well, many people think by simply adding social media sharing buttons on their sites, they have made the work easier for their readers.
It’s a good step.
However, it is not enough. You have to make your content fascinating and enticing.
In social media, no one wants to share something that only gets two views. They want something that draws attention to their profile.
2. Optimize Your Social Profile
There are multiple factors why your online presence may not be influencing your ranking, and one sure way is not optimizing your social media profile.
As a business, your aim should be helping people find your brand everywhere they search. Ensuring that your profile has related content as that on your website is a sure way to improve the ranking and improve your authority.
This results in higher click-rate and increased organic traffic.
3. Optimize All Your Images
Images make your work more colorful and attract more readers. However, optimizing your images can do more than making your work attractive. It can help increase your traffic.
See that you add the right alt text for your images using the appropriate keywords. Also, make the images inspiring to encourage sharing.
This is especially very powerful with platforms like Pinterest.
This may appear as a very small thing to observe and act on, but when done right, it may make a huge difference in your traffic.
4. Engage with Your Audience
As I mentioned earlier, this is a platform to help you understand what your audience needs are. Make an effort to ask questions on what you would do to make your product or services more useful for them.
Also, as your brand grows, you will have many followers. You may not have the time to answer all social media queries. However, you cannot afford to ignore your audience, or you lose what you spend so much time creating.
You can use a social media manager’s (SMM) services to ensure your audience is well catered for all the time.
If you take this path, have a sit down with your SMM and ensure they understand the needs of your clients and the kind of relationship you are trying to nurture.
5. Know When to Stop and Re-strategize
Once you have heard of the benefits of social media on seo, you may be tempted to try all the ways you find on the internet. It’s just human to want to do it all and get quick results.
However, this may lead to disappointments and a quick conclusion that it just doesn’t work. To prevent this from happening, work with one platform at a time.
Evaluate your best platform and learn all the ways that are there to tap your market on your platform. Remember to state your goals clearly.
After three months, revisit your goals and measure how much you have accomplished. If you haven’t made any progress, it may be time to seek help or move on to the next thing.
Social signals are a game-changer. Ensure you add them to your 2020 plan to improve your search engine results.
If you have been investing in social media marketing with no success, it is time to change your strategy.
Just to refresh your memory;
- Post regularly
- Create valuable content for your audience
- Engage with your audience
- Optimize your images & social profile
- Measure your results to know what’s working for you
And to remind you why you are going through all that trouble: Authority in social media platforms translates to positive search engine results.
Others are doing it; you can do it too!