While quality content and inbound links have been determining factors in SEO for years, social media has struggled to be officially adopted as a key element in SEO campaigns. Though social media has been a factor in the ranking algorithm for quite a while as well and undoubtedly, provides the same social signals that search engines use to make rankings more relevant. Clearly, social media has earned its spot as an official pillar of SEO in 2016.
In 2015, we saw a push towards the power and impact of social media on our audience. This push has significantly increased since 2011 – 2012 when we saw a noteworthy rise in social sharing and its effect on SEO. It’s now being argued that social media has changed the SEO landscape forever. Most small businesses at least have a facebook page nowadays, even if they don’t have a website. Most companies, however, have in addition to a website at least one social media platform, whether that is Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or another platform.
According to Stoney G. deGeyter, author at Search Engine Journal and CEO at Pole Position Marketing, “If social media doesn’t directly increase rankings, it certainly increases ranking opportunities.”
So the question, “Does social media help with SEO?” is fairly irrelevant nowadays. Instead, your marketing team should ask themselves, “How should we use social media in our SEO campaign?” and game plan a social media strategy.
The three pillars to building a strong, successful SEO campaign in 2016, regardless of your industry, are content strategy, inbound links, and social media strategy. Since SEO is a game of baby steps (it’s the whole lot of small things you do that build your SEO), we’ve broken the three pillars down into baby steps you can tackle.
Pillar #1: Content Strategy:
Step 1: Establish An SEO-Friendly Website:
When it comes to content strategy, your focus isn’t primarily future content, but current content as well. On-site blog content is a fundamental aspect of SEO and content marketing. So ensuring you are using an SEO-friendly content management system like WordPress and abiding by other technical SEO elements, you can improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines. For the ultimate guide to technical on-site SEO elements, check out this on-site SEO guide by VUDU Marketing.
Step 2: Use Keyword Research:
The question here is “What words and phrases is your target market searching for in search engines?” This helps you discover what your audience wants and what gaps you have in your website’s overall content. Use that research to create content to fill the void and become the go-to answer for the unanswered questions. Google’s Keyword Tool is a great place to start with your keyword research, but if you’d prefer a free alternative, here’s a few to explore: MajesticSEO, SpyFu, KeywordSpy, SEMRush, or Ubersuggest.
Step 3: Create Quality Content:
The key to remember here is that content should always provide a benefit or value to the reader. It’s also beneficial to be natural and sincere. Your keyword research helps you identify relevant content, but you also need to ensure your company blog is regularly updated as well. Among other things, this allows you to rank for more keywords relevant to your niche as well as generate inbound links, which is pillar #2. An active blog with well-written, insightful content cultivates a reputation that will attract more inbound links, social media buzz, positive branding, traffic, leads, and ultimately, sales. Jayson DeMers, the founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, wrote a great article that went in depth on “How to Find Trending Blog Topics Your Audience Will Actually Care About.” Here is a breakdown of how to find the content that will provide a benefit or value:
- Subscribe to relevant subreddits in your niche.
- Segment your Facebook newsfeed into interest lists.
- Keep your eye on the Trending Topics on social media.
- Use Quora to find popular questions.
- Keep an eye on your RSS feeds to find industry-wide trends.
Great content typically has the following elements:
- Information that’s valuable, interesting, or insightful.
- Subheaders to segment the article, making it easier to read.
- Text formatting, such as bold, italics, bullet points, etc..
- Proper spelling and grammar.
- Images that grab the reader’s attention.
Pillar #2: Inbound Links
Step 1: Repurpose Existing Content:
This includes promoting the content already available on your website via social media platforms to attract inbound links from other writers, bloggers, authors, and users, as well as via other media types like converting a blog to a video or a blog to an infographic to repost.
Step 2: Promote Interaction With Your Brand:
A great way to lead to inbound linking is through engaging activities like contests and trivia. This will give your audience a chance to interact with your brand which can lead to brand loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals. Offer prizes that they’ll want to brag about on social media like technology or company swag and/or a badge they can display for their friends or audience. Badges are fun for products and services too, if they apply. Rosetta Stone® offers badges for completing different language sections, which I’ve personally shared on Facebook, helping Rosetta Stone® promote their product. Other examples include a dental office offering badges for preventative care like teeth cleanings or a badge for zero cavities, or a real-estate agency offering a badge for the purchase of a new house.
Step 3: Guest Blog For Authority Publishers:
Arguably the best tactic and most recommended by marketing strategists on inbound linking is guest blogging. Since inbound links carry the heaviest weight of all the SEO ranking factors, it’s worth your effort to focus on getting inbound links from authoritative authors. By pursuing authority publishers in your industry and writing for their websites, you establish your brand as a credible authority within your niche while creating inbound links from more credible and trusted websites. Check out Jayson DeMers’ step-by-step guide to guest blogging to get started.
Pillar #3: Social Media Strategy
Step 1: Get Active:
Social media provides an amazing ability to promote one’s content. It’s a great way to leverage material to attract inbound links and increase the likelihood your content can be found and shared. Use hashtags to gain visibility, update your social page frequently, post often (daily), and engage in conversations with fans and followers.
Step 2: Grow Your Tribe:
Growing your number of followers is a slow process, but effective with influencing your rankings. There are a few key elements to growing your tribe through social media, like conversations and direct customer engagements which encourage current followers to return and help build your authority for potential followers, but here are a few quick tips you can follow to grow your numbers.
- Use the same voice to update your followers on a daily basis.
- Present your brand uniquely and consistently.
- Provide timely and well-written, insightful content.
Step 3: Increase Social Sharing:
The more people that share your content, the more shares, likes, favorites, replies, and retweets you’ll get, which all count towards SEO. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle that just keeps giving. A few great ways to increase social sharing include making it easy to share content on multiple channels, incentivizing sharing, and explicitly asking for the share. Razorsocial has a great article on “How to Improve Social Sharing by 97%.” Here are a couple specific ideas you can explore to encourage sharing:
- Provide links within your content to “click to tweet” a quote or phrase. (There’s a great example of this at the end of this blog).
- Offer an entry into a drawing for sharing the post.
- Ask your audience to “like” a post in response to an interesting survey question or if they agree with an issue.
There are tons of additional strategies out there to build SEO, but if you’re new to building SEO campaigns, you can start by using these highly recommended tactics to structure an SEO campaign in 2016 that provides real results.
As always, share the wealth by sharing this blog.
Click to Tweet: “There is no wealth like knowledge and no poverty like ignorance.” — Buddha