Your online marketing efforts can no longer exist in an SEO silo. You need to blend your social media strategy with your SEO efforts to build a rock solid online presence, improve brand awareness, enhance brand value and nurture high value customer relationships. There was a time when an SEO strategy centered on only one primary activity – Link Building. The number of links pointing towards your website determined your website rank. While link building still remains the bedrock of your SEO campaign, the way you go about attracting links has changed. While earlier, you ‘built’ links, you now ‘earn’ links. You earn links by working hard towards building relationships. You need to be more engaged in your marketplace if you want to build these relationships and survive in a world where your brand’s SEO strategy is not only measured by the nature of your core SEO activities, but also by considering its social media footprint.
The interaction your brand has with its target audience, influencers, and brand advocates combined with Penguin and Panda proof SEO will determine your brand’s online influence.
Here are a few critical reasons why you need to merge social with your SEO strategy:
1. It Helps you Attract High Value Links
What are high value links? These are quality links from high authority sites. Now, why would a reputed site that has a truckload of visitors, want to link with your site? After all, it has a reputation to protect and wants to link with the best. So, how will it know you’re worth linking to? It’s the buzz about your brand on social media and the nature of interaction you have with the site owner (the one that you want links from) that will allow the site owner to form an opinion about your brand. Think of your social media activity, as a way of improving your credibility. It’s important to remember that every time somebody talks about your brand on social media, your credibility and visibility increase, so you need to pump up your brand with effective social media strategies. The more your credibility, the better your social proof, meaning reputed sites will be willing to link back to you.
2. It helps your brand go viral
In spite of your best efforts, even the most innovative and consistent high quality SEO efforts won’t drive word-of-mouth about your brand. Yes, it will improve visibility on search engines, but what about exponential visibility? How about giving your brand visibility an extra push that only comes from word-of-mouth advertising! Social media helps make this possible, with your Facebook and/or Twitter followers acting as ‘viral catalysts’.
The social nature of social media means everybody wants something to talk about and is looking for newer ways and means to interact. Any new post that’s up on your blog, and whose link you have shared on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, is seen as interaction trigger. Your fans can share your content with their fans allowing your content to reach a wider audience. And your content is an extension of your brand identity, meaning it’s your brand that’s reaching out to new people. Some of these people will want to know more about it and if they’re impressed, they’ll ask more people to check it out. That’s some solid word-of-mouth about your brand, brought about by the simple process of social sharing.
3. Social Signals Impact Search Engine Rankings
Forget building relationships through social media or the ‘word-of-mouth’ advantage that social media brings to the table; one of the most important reasons why social should be integrated with your SEO efforts, is because social signals impact search engine rankings. The number of people tweeting your URL, the authority of these people, the number of times your URL has been liked or shared on Facebook and the +1s earned by your URL have a bearing on your rankings.
But Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, has said Twitter and Facebook signals are not a part of Google search engine algorithm.
So why should you focus on getting more Tweets, Likes and +1s? You need to do this because it will allow you to create more engaging, useful content. Its only pages that have really great content that can attract more Tweets, Likes and +1s! Google will take this as a signal that your pages are really good and offer target users something valuable. This is what will help your pages rank better.
If a page gets an X amount of Likes, than the number of these ‘Likes’ is not a causative reason for your improved page rank, think of it more along the lines of correlating Likes and the value addition your page brings to the table. It is this ‘value addition’ that will help rank your page.
4. Social Links Are Better Placed to Bring Visitors to your Site
If your friend Rory shares a link to a site on your Facebook wall, won’t you pay more attention to it, because it’s posted by a person you know? You will be more tempted to click on that link and visit the site as compared to your coming across this link that’s a result of SEO link building. More importantly, because of the trust factor associated with the former, there’s a better chance that the visitor coming to your site will become your customer. In this case, social enhances your SEO and makes it more results driven.
Link building is an SEO activity but don’t be under the impression that building links will alone get visitors to your site. For that to happen, some social push is necessary.
5. It Helps you Google Proof your Brand
Horror stories of websites being penalized because their link building strategies weren’t in accordance with Google’s search engine algorithmic updates are quite common. Plenty of brands continue to wrestle with the reality of such nightmares but social media offers a way out. By focusing more on actively engaging your target audience, interacting and building relationships, you are improving your brand’s visibility naturally; this is what Google wants you to do. It penalizes you if it thinks the efforts made to rank your site don’t look natural, meaning it doesn’t come across as something humans would do.
The bottom line is you need to combine social media with your SEO in order to ‘humanize’ your SEO efforts and make them more dynamic. Replace building links by creating social relationships that can transcend social media and fuel your SEO efforts. Social SEO is the future and you can’t imagine not empowering your SEO campaign with the power of social media.