There has been an extended debate on whether or not social media signals directly influence search engine optimization (SEO). With experts engaging in a tug-of-war on this matter over the years, many digital marketers agree that while the relationship between the two isn’t direct, it’s there.
In other words, there is such a thing as social SEO.
Social SEO combines social media and SEO strategies to improve your search rankings. Though shares and likes do not directly impact the visibility of your domain in SERPs, social content and profiles appear in the search results.
Social SEO is becoming a potential frontier in digital marketing. This article delves deeper into the benefits of social SEO and why you should incorporate social SEO into your marketing plan.
Social SEO is vital because the internet plays such an important role in the customer journey. Your consumers perform searches and gather information before buying. The better your ranking in SERPs, the higher your chances of getting noticed.
A study by Ascend2 has shown that the higher the social engagement a profile has, the higher it ranks in SERPs. That can, ultimately, translate into more clicks for you and more sales.
These were the same results we got in an experiment at Surfer some time ago. We created four websites, filled each of them with the same content, and promoted two of the four websites by linking to them in social media posts. After some time, these two pages outranked the other two that were never promoted on social media through links. See how there’s a relationship between SEO and social media there?
But that’s not to say that social signals are a direct ranking factor. They are not. As I’ve briefly touched on in the intro, digital marketers agree that social media signals only indirectly influence SEO.
Viral content on social media can get the attention of bloggers and journalists who might cover the story and link back to your content. Links from authority sites can boost your search results. That’s something SEO professionals agree on.
Here’s a nice case in point. Missguided, a UK fashion brand, ran a fun campaign around the idea that they created matching outfits for dogs and owners. The campaign picked up a lot of traction on social media and in the press. That attention generated 80 links from different sites, including some authority heavyweights.
As a result of this campaign, the site went from 30 to 1 for the term “dog jumpers”.
Social media helps amplify your content and create brand awareness. Increased awareness generates brand searches and backlinks that can boost your search rankings.
Social SEO may not be as powerful as backlinks, user experience, and other SEO best practices. However, it can still help your business in various ways. Here are the benefits of social SEO:
Branded searches are search queries that include a brand name or a branded product. For example, instead of simply searching “sneakers,” the user may search for “ Nike sneakers” or “Jordan 6 rings.”
Branded searches are beneficial for various reasons. For one, these search queries drive a higher CTR because users are looking for your website in particular. Also, branded searches reflect user intent. It makes sense to show Nike shoes in the search results to anyone looking for sneakers.
You can see Nike turns up as a related search when I looked up trainers.
You want to create that impactful brand association. A great brand reputation will make it easier to rank for non-branded search terms.
So, where does social SEO come in?
One of the most effective ways to boost branded searches is by generating brand associations. Think about it; users must first know about your brand and its product offerings to make branded searches.
Social media offers one of the best platforms for building brand awareness. Through paid ads, influencers, and even organic campaigns, you can use social media to familiarize your target audience with your product or service offerings. You can also use existing customers to spread the word about your brand through social media contests and giveaways.
Here’s another one of the important benefits of social SEO: It can help drive traffic to your website. How? See how this works:
Suppose you write great SaaS content for your website, you can promote this content on social media. If that content goes viral, more authoritative websites that write about you link to your original content on your website. We’ve already seen that Google considers the total referring domains as a ranking factor. The result? Well, your SEO improves.
You might ask, but does this happen in real life? Yes, it does. Let me give you a real-life example (just a disclaimer, this isn’t a B2B example, but all companies, whatever their nature, can learn a thing or two from this company’s experience).
A travel blogger, Adventurous Kate, uploaded a blog post describing her ordeal after getting shipwrecked in Indonesia. The content got significant attention on social media. Many websites went ahead and wrote stories about her ordeal. Instead of just mentioning her, they linked to her blog post published on her site.
The end result? That improved the authority of her site, which is an underlying ranking factor.
Strong site authority combined with a clever content strategy will help you get content ranking faster. Try using pillar pages on your website, then link these to your supporting pages that provide a more in-depth explanation of specific aspects of those core topics. That creates content depth.
Atlassian is a nice example of a company that’s taken this in-depth approach to content. Its Git folder, where they cover Git tutorials, gets around 822,000 visitors a month. A nice example of an authority site with a smart content strategy.
With social SEO, you can increase your visibility in SERPs. Social content may appear on the search engine results page. This is what happens when I search Calendly on Google.
Calendly’s Twitter and LinkedIn profiles rank on Google’s SERP. These rank second and third, respectively, and appear below Calendly’s official website.
As a B2B company, you should take advantage of this.
Make sure you optimize your social profiles by updating your company logo as your profile picture. Write a comprehensive description or bio describing your services. Get your account verified to enhance trust among your followers. Also, link to your company’s website to get more lead traffic to your site.
Make sure your social media content is also high-quality. You don’t want people finding grammatical issues in your social media posts shown in SERPs. Use the appropriate language and tone of voice so your social media posts will be understood. If you know how to use the passive voice and active voice and when to use these, then you can write compelling content in general.
One of the other benefits of social media is this: It can help build your brand authority. When a brand has brand authority, it just means customers trust that brand. Brand authority is essential for SEO because when people trust you, the chances of people searching for you on Google and even linking to you are higher.
To improve brand authority, use social media to engage your audience. Be quick to respond to questions, comments, and private messages. Customers love companies that respond to their queries because they feel like the companies care about their customers. That builds customer trust.
Share content that will engage your audience. The content you share should align with your product or service offerings and the interests of your customers.
You can post many types of content. You can share ebooks, white papers, invite people to webinars, and more. By doing this, you won’t just enhance your brand promotion. You can acquire new followers on Instagram, Twitter and other social platforms as well.
Sparktoro is a nice example of a company that took this approach. Rand Fishkin, cofounder and CEO of Sparktoro, promoted a study that revealed 50.33% of searches don’t result in a click on social media:
With the study, the brand managed to boost its brand authority.
Look how many links they got from the study. The study was also cited in content published on sites like Forbes, the New York Times, Fortune, and more.
Social media helps you reach a wider audience and make your brand known. With social media, ultimately, you can help improve branded searches, increase your visibility in SERPs, and drive traffic to your site. You can also improve people’s trust in your brand. That can help boost your SEO, as we’ve discussed in this article.
In other words, B2B businesses should no longer ignore social SEO. Although there is no direct link between social signals and SEO, social media can help boost your SEO indirectly in many ways.
As a B2B business, you should leverage social SEO by posting authoritative content on social media and using it as an extension of your customer service. Take advantage of the fact that social media accounts can appear in SERPs by optimizing your social media accounts and including your link to your website there.
With the help of social SEO, you can take your brand to greater heights if you follow these tips.
Nico Prins is the founder of Crunch Marketing, a SaaS Link Building Agency. The company works with enterprise SaaS clients, helping them scale lead generation globally across EMEA, APAC, and other regions.