In this part of the training we are going to be covering how social media traffic can boost your website ranking
There are claims that search engines are out and social media is in when it comes to searching for information online. However, this is not the case now, but there might be merit to such claims. Social media has truly changed the way people find and share content, although it has not totally removed the significance of Google, Bing and Yahoo for searchers.
But one thing that is certain is that social media has become an important factor that search engines consider when indexing content. It affects your website ranking in various ways.
Social shares are considered link building
For years, businesses have used both legitimate and illegitimate ways to get links to their website and improve their rankings. However, things have changed.
Now, links are obtained by creating original content and sharing it online, especially across social media. Links from your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, and other social networks to your content will show the search engines that your website is credible with useful content and that it should be ranked for the keyword phrases that you used.
Consider how a link that is retweeted a number of times compared to a link that did not receive a single tweet will be more visible in Google and other search engines since it is assumed to have more valuable content for being shared several times on social media.
Produce great content on social media to attract audiences and search engines alike. But the most important thing is still to engage your followers and establish real relationships with them to gain their trust and hopefully, their social shares.
Social media content speeds up indexation process
Again, content shared across social media is taken into consideration by search engines as indication of quality information that should be ranked accordingly. The more links a page on your website has, the quicker the search engines index this content in the rankings. Since social media can help influence the amount of links a piece of web content receives in a shorter period of time, it can often speed up the process of indexation of the content in search engines.
Content that has been extensively tweeted about can cut indexation time by 50%, while reducing the time it takes Googlebot to find your content from 2 hours to 2 seconds. The speed at which your content is indexed is affected by many factors such as how many people tweeted the content, the influence of the people who tweeted the content, and the time frame in which this content was shared.
Content that is gaining social traction will be indexed more quickly in search engines. Social influence to article indexing shouldn’t be ignored.
Social media marketing increases brand awareness
It seems a bit “retro” to be talking about brand awareness through social media, but many businesses – especially service oriented – still struggle to gain brand traction on these channels.
When you talk to people on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network, you seem more “real” to them. Your image is now more than just a corporation that is disconnected from your customers. Instead, you talk to them while tackling real issues related to your products and services. It is like having an actual relationship with them, which will likely give you customer loyalty and long-term business.
So here’s a helping hand – 10 tips for increasing your brand awareness using social media:
Find Your Market
It’s too easy to assume that your target market use one particular social platform or another. Thankfully, each social site is a search engine in and of itself, which makes it easy to find conversations about your industry, products and services. Use search to find the conversations and prove people’s propensity to discuss your chosen topics on a given platform, before you start reaching out.
Make it Manageable
If you’ve researched the conversations well enough, you’ll likely find that there’s no need to be maintaining a profile on every social media site available. I’m going to make the assumption that you’ve enough to do in your business, not to be spending hours on end composing status updates, sourcing images, and generally being interesting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, AND many others. Making your efforts sustainable and consistent is more important than trying to be everywhere at once. Choose a few outposts, and focus on the quality of your connections thereon.
Getting your content noticed in the noisy world of social media requires eye-catching subject matter. That means photos and video. Grabbing the attention of your target audience is made all the more easier when you attach images to your updates, regardless of the platform. Just scan your own news feed on Facebook to see which posts make you stop and take notice. Odds are that more often than not, it’s an image or video thumbnail that caught the eye.
Recognise the fact that people on Facebook aren’t all on Twitter, and vice versa. As such, PLEASE try to avoid the all-too-common mistake of auto-posting all your Tweets to your Facebook timeline. Twitter may force you to restrict the length of your message to 140 characters, but Facebook doesn’t. Similarly, hashtags really haven’t made a successful transition, despite Facebook’s best efforts. Similarly, there’s no place for stock images and text overlay on your Instagram feed. Consider the audience as being unique to any one platform, and provide content that suits the audience and the platform, for better engagement and better results.
There are enough businesses on social media in broadcast mode. Try posting nothing but outbound messages for a while, and see what level of engagement you get. What followers you do attract will soon be turned off by the omni-directional nature of your messages. Instead, strike up conversations with others, mention them, and turn the spotlight elsewhere once in a while. You’ll get far better engagement, more followers, and greater click throughs, when required.
Get the Right Mix of Engagement and Action
To that end, getting the mix of engagement and action is critical. Engagement posts can be just for the hell of it – a funny or topical post, just to provoke thought, or to get a positive reaction. Every now and then, however, our business head must take over, and a call-to-action shared. A link to an article on our own blog would be a prime example – something to get prospects off our social profiles and onto our website. There’s no magic formula or ratio. Try mixing it up in different ways, and seeing what reaction you get from your unique audience.
Across networks, there’s always some form of topic or news story doing the rounds. The trending topics we now see on Twitter and Facebook are an opportunity to link your own content to a subject that has heightened interest. This is known (in the trade) as “Newsjacking”. For a great example, check out the story of the Australian insurance firm that decided to insure US President Barack Obama against death by crocodile, during a state visit, which gained the firm thousands of media mentions on the day the news broke. You don’t need a visiting dignitary to attach your own story to something “of the moment”, but do ensure that it’s done seamlessly, and in good taste!
Connect with Influencers
Building your own following from scratch can be a very time-consuming and laborious task. Luckily, the tops social sites have been around long enough for a great many people to have built up an audience of your target buyers, already. The trick is to connect with those non-competing “influencers” in a way that benefits you both, and forge joint venture partnerships that at their simplest mean an exchange of content, and at their most complicated involve commercial deals or affiliate fees. Regardless, find those who speak to your target audience, and start engaging today.
It’s a bit too much to expect that others will like and share your content, if you’re not doing the same. Better than expecting engagement, consider sharing and liking the content of others, free from the expectation of anything in return. If you promote a culture of engagement, then others will surely find their way to doing the same for you.
Growing awareness of your brand can only really be proven if you’re measuring what matters. Many platforms will provide engagement statistics – Facebook Page Insights will show the likes and shares your content enjoys, for example. In addition, though, consider using tracking links in your posts, using a URL shortener such as bit.ly which will then show you the number of click-throughs on those links. Take a look at your web analytics, too, to see which platforms and other sites provide the most referral traffic. Using these insights, you can learn what works and what doesn’t, and respond with appropriate action to continually optimise your approach.
Valuable content on social media is shareable
If people find useful or informative content on social media, they would share it with friends and followers to spread the information or make their profile more interesting. But regardless of the reason why they share it, the most important thing is that they are helping spread the word about your business. The wider the reach of the information, the better it will be for your website rankings.
Many business struggle to make their content stick. Content only does it’s job when the right people see the right posts and shares, and many marketers still struggle with this more than the content creation itself.
The trend toward using the web to grow your business continues. Email keeps growing exponentially, with trillions sent every year, Facebook went from university students only in 2004 to more than a billion users eight years later. Pinterest became one of the fastest-growing social networks ever, and billions of videos are streamed on YouTube each day.
But the most alarming stat that is the number of blogs created only to be abandoned in favor of Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, or the newest shiny toy.
This is a very bad idea!
It’s not easy to have consistently fresh content that people want to read and share and shout from the rooftops. That’s why a content development process is essential.
Subscribe to SmartBrief
The SmartBrief newsletters aggregate content every day (at least 10 articles) around one topic, such as entrepreneurship, leadership, or social media, that is applicable to something you care about.
Subscribe to Google Alerts
Google Alerts is a service that generates search engine results, based on criteria provided by you, and delivers the results to your e-mail account. This free service is useful for many reasons, such as monitoring the web for specific information about your company, your online content’s popularity or your competition. You can also use it to keep up to date with new advancements, celebrity gossip or current trends.
An alternative to Google Alerts, Talkwalker Alerts can provide a bit more depth, relevant results, and are free. This will give you plenty of really good story ideas just from scanning those every day.
BuzzSumo also provides a powerful content alerts feature to keep you on top of new and trending content. You can set up alerts for keywords, authors and domains, including competitor sites.
Read the comments
If you have an active community on your blog or on one of the social networks, read the comments! You will get story ideas just from what people say—things you hadn’t yet considered or different perspectives. If no one is commenting on the content you create, read the comments on other blogs within the industry. Read Twitter streams. Read the comments on Facebook updates. Read the comments in Google+.
Pay attention to current events
There is almost always something happening in the news that you can comment on for your industry.1 You can think about how Livestrong is pulling away from its founder and what that means for other nonprofit organizations. Or it could be how Yahoo! is requiring employees to work in an office and what that means for human resources or culture or leadership. When you begin to read, watch, or listen to current events, you’ll find ways to relate it back to your expertise. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes.
Go through your sent mail
This is a tip from Andy Crestodina, the co-founder of web development firm, Orbit Media. He suggests you go through your sent mail to see what types of things you’ve sent to customers, prospects, and vendors that could be used for content. Most of us write emails to explain a sales process, a feature or benefit, or our thinking. Use those emails to publish non-proprietary information online.
Now let’s say you’ve done all that and you’re still coming up empty. Or you’re sitting with your team, figuring out what your content is going to look like for the next 30 days. Below are 20 things you can include that people will not only read but share.
The Trends Manifesto
You’ll find this happening in the blogosphere every year. It begins in October and runs through January. It’ll either be the trends you are expecting to hit your industry in the next year or the three words people will use to drive their success. The trends manifesto provides you with an opportunity to shine as a leader in your industry. The three words, on the other hand, give people a sneak peak into you as a person and as a leader.
The Pop Culture Tie-in
Lots of really successful content creators take something that is happening with the Kardashians, or Dancing with the Stars, or the latest reality show and provide lessons related to their field.
We often disagree with other voices on the web, but we don’t feel “safe” to voice our differing opinions. That’s why you often hear things such as, “echo chamber” and “yes men” when bloggers are discussed. Paul Sutton, a communications professional in the United Kingdom, creates the opportunity for debate a couple of times each year. He takes one side of an issue and another blogger takes the other. They debate it and create a poll to let readers decide who wins. Giving people an opportunity to see two sides of something works incredibly well.
While people love good train wrecks, we also want to know how companies in our industry are doing things well. Interview organizations in your industry and highlight the good things they’re doing through your content.
It’s no surprise the bad case studies are shared over and over and over again. When Chick-fil-A had their train wreck of an issue because their CEO came out against the gay and lesbian community, the best content was about why politics and religion in business are a bad idea and not about how the author felt personally about the company’s leadership or the issues being dissected.
If you can figure out how to write about an industry train wreck without attacking a person, it’s going to be pretty popular. Ragan does a nice job of this quite often by using terms such as “most hated” in a headline. It grabs attention and makes people want to read and share.
People love lists. We have so much information coming at us these days, and lists make it easier to scan and read quickly. If you integrate lists into your content, you’ll find it’s easily some of the most shared on your site.
Give stuff away! It might be a book a friend has written, a collection of free eBooks available from other bloggers, or your own eBook. Doing this helps you begin to qualify prospects.
The organization called Run, Walk, Ride puts together a list of the charities that raise the most money every year. They highlight the ones you’d expect, but also show how well some of the up-and-comers are doing. One year, they added an easily shared infographic for bloggers and journalists. It’s a win because they’re highlighting their peers (and competitors) and driving significant top-of-the-funnel traffic to their site.
Something of the Year
Just like People produces its “sexiest man alive” issue, you can do the same for your niche. It may be an app of the month or a productivity tool.
If a book is a must-read in your industry, doing something as simple as summing up the key points or doing a review can easily give you 500–700 words.
A rant can get people riled up about something and give them something to rally behind.
Interviews work well because you’re giving people access to someone they wouldn’t otherwise meet. It may be the big keynote speaker at your industry’s annual conference, or someone you respect or admire for the movement they’re making. This works with audio, video, and written text.
Question of the Week
Let people ask you a question they don’t know the answer to, can’t find on the web, or are simply too lazy to do the research on their own.
When the Internet and social media didn’t exist, we had to rely solely on our education and experience. Now you can make comparisons as to how business today and 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Show your audience the similarities, or differences, and suggest strategies to capitalize on them.
Tell a story to make a point in a post. It may be a difficult but incredibly interesting post to write. The Paris Review does a great job with this when they interview authors. It only comes out quarterly so it’s worth your time investment to subscribe and read. Their writers will teach you how to tell a parable in a business setting.
The Latest Trends
While the latest trends may feel overdone, your audience is unique. They may not have seen what’s happening in your industry and count on you to tell them.
The Sales Questions
Sit down with your sales team (or just yourself if you’re the rainmaker) and ask what kinds of questions come up in meetings with prospects. That may include pricing, delivery, referrals, and point of differentiation. Create content around these things because if something is coming up in sales meetings people are searching for it too. Be found for those questions.
Roundup of Voices
There are some bloggers who do this very well. They’ll ask the same question of five industry experts and create content around their answers. For Valentine’s Day one year, Hubspot asked experts why businesses should create marketing that people love and want to share. They created a short ebook that included the quotes and fun images and let people download it for free.
The Smarty Pants
Ike Pigott, a spokesman for Alabama Power, wrote, “Eleven Words Guaranteed to Generate Killer Search Engine Traffic and Clicks.” When you go to the page, all you find are those 11 words. His point? People are dying for the big secret on how to game the system. It’s a get-rich-quick scheme, and it works for Ike in this instance because the other content he offers is extremely intelligent and very valuable. You can’t get away with this a lot, but adding in some humor to prove a point can work occasionally.
Above list is an edited and curated excerpt from Chapter 3 of Spin Sucks, by Gini Dietrich.
Keywords from your social media profile and content boost your keyword ranking
They keywords found on your social media account and the content posted in it will have an impact on your content ranking in search engines. Usually, search engines look at your URL, name, and bio. That’s why you need to fill your profile with relevant information while naturally inserting the name of your company and your keywords.
Step #1: Find the right keywords for your social media accounts
Using keywords on social media sites is very similar to using keywords on company websites. For those who are unfamiliar, this practice is called search engine optimization (SEO), and this process involves selecting a keyword and optimizing the website for that keyword. A keyword simply means a word or short phrase that people use to search for something.
Before deciding which keywords are important for you, it’s important to realize that the keywords you decide to use will be different for different social media accounts. It is not a “one keyword fits all” operation. There are a few things you can do to find the right keywords for each of your social media sites:
Lay Terms: Think about a common word that someone would use to describe your company. If someone couldn’t think of your company name, what would they type in the search bar of a social media site? To-do List Software? Picture app?
Desired Association: You may want to consider choosing a keyword that you want to be associated with. If you want to show up when the words “daily deal app” are typed into the search bar, make that one of your keywords.
Competition Check: Competition isn’t a big issue when it comes to nabbing the number one spot of a social media search query, but it’s still something to consider. Once you think you have a good keyword, type it into the search bar and see what comes up. If there are a lot of very relevant companies, you may want to try a more specific keyword.
SEO Keyword Research: If you have already performed SEO keyword research, it would be wise to revisit your findings and use some of those same keywords.
Prepare for Different Social Media Sites: For example, if you’re an electronics company, think of keywords related to popular product models that will be useful on your Facebook page. For your LinkedIn account you may want to consider keywords to attract talent like “engineers”, “developers”, “jobs”, and “positions”.
Step #2: Use the keyword in photo captions
The goal is to use keywords on your social media site whenever possible. One of the first things you can do is use these keywords to describe your company photos.
Most companies generally have several photos on their social accounts, but few actually put thought into the captions. It may take some creativity, but the more you can incorporate your keywords the better.
Below is one example that works well if you’re hoping to pop up when the keyword “Hawaiian specialty pizza” is typed into the Facebook search bar. After all, if this is what you’re targeting this month, people are bound to type in the keyword!
Step #3: Use your keyword when linking and tagging webpages
Social media keywords generally work best with sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, but this ideas works just as well when it comes to Twitter. If you are ever going to update a status on your account, try and use your keywords as much as possible. Although this may be difficult when linking back to another webpage, it’s entirely possible to add it into a status description or use as a hash tag
Although Twitter is fast moving and it can be tough to always appear at the top of a Twitter feed, people often turn to Twitter for great articles and/or companies that can offer advice on certain topics. Therefore, it’s always something to keep in mind.
Step #4: Include the keyword in your headline
All of the major social networks have a place for a small blurb about the person or company. For example, the company Higher Visibility may want people to find their company when they type the word “internet marketing agency” into the search box. By placing it in the headline, they’re optimizing their page for that keyword.
Headlines are on-page drivers for SEO, so you can bet that search engines will be indexing important headline content often. In addition, Google+, Facebook and Twitter are all trusted domains, so they tend to rank higher in search engine results than the company website sometimes.
This is almost always true when it comes to an individual, but it’s something for companies to also consider. Ranking on major search engines like Google is important, so it’s always a good idea to give your social media accounts the extra push by using your target keywords.
Step #5: Include your keyword in your summary and “about” section
Although this doesn’t quite work with Twitter, it works well to use your keyword in the summary section of LinkedIn and the “about” section on Facebook and Google+. This is a great time to really lay on the keyword usage thick. You don’t want your summary sections to sound strange or unnatural, but if you have an opportunity to use your keyword, go for it.
What This Means for Your Business
Getting to the top of a search page on a social network is considerably easier than trying to get to the top of a Google search page. People search for things on social networks all the time, but the idea of optimizing an account to reach the top of the search results is relatively new. There isn’t a lot of competition, but there can be a lot of gain for companies using social media keywords. In other words:
Transfer Your SEO Skills Into these “New” Social Media Search Boxes
Get Ahead of the Curve Before Your Competition
Watch Your Followers and Friends Increase
One Final Note:
As the social graph continues to opens up over time, the general consensus is that search engines will be using this social data to improve their search results. Optimizing your social media accounts now is a great way to keep ahead of the competition.
These are only some of the ways social media affect your website rankings. But the bottom line will always be that it has become an even bigger factor for search engines to consider while determining website rankings.