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If you were to ask Google, they’d probably tell you that social media will have no impact on your optimisation for ranking on their search engine. There’s been a lot of discussion in the SEO universe about how social signals might assist a website rise in search rankings. However, the best idea that has been presented that confirms social media as an SEO tool is that it can help push some traffic to your website. Yet while social media is excellent for getting a message out, it’s not great for generating website traffic.

That said, more eyes on your social property means more eyes on the website link in your profile. And that leads to a chance that a few more people will see any other links you share and click on them.

But those numbers aren’t exactly compelling.

So how exactly can social media improve your Google ranking?

Making fans of visitors

Without you having to do anything hefty, social media can help more people find your content and spread the content, and your brand, around the world. I think we all get that.

Yet that doesn’t seem to have a direct connection with your Google ranking. Except when you talk about deepening your relationship with your social media followers and turning them into fans.

Fans don’t just consume content; they go looking for more content. They will click on links. They will look for your other online properties. But more than that, they will look for more of your stuff on Google. And when they find it, they’ll dwell on it. And that is how your followers on social media can become deeply involved and engaged fans. And those kinds of fans help your Google ranking.

When people spend more time on your online material outside social media, your SEO rankings will improve. Using social media to strengthen and build your brand is the most effective strategy for growing a fanbase. And now we know that it’s a great way to bump your findability.

But to turn them into fans, you have to do a few things first.

Make High-Quality Content

Taking a Canva template and filling it with words doesn’t count as high-quality content.

High-quality content is:

  1. Highly relevant to your audience — it speaks to them directly
  2. Highly engaging to your audience — it keeps their attention
  3. Highly shareable — it makes them want to tell others

When this content is shared beyond just your Facebook page, it starts to be indexed by Google. Put your content on a website, a blog or in an article on Medium or LinkedIn, and it becomes indexable on Google. The key here is to get your material out of social media and into places that Google can see. Facebook posts don’t index. But LinkedIn articles do.

Good content that is relevant, engaging and shareable gets attention. Lousy content doesn’t. Taking good or poor content to the broader web significantly impacts just how findable you are.

This means that a good understanding of what your target audience wants and needs allows you to create relatable and beneficial content for them. Consider the customer’s challenges and present your solution. Then keep doing that. Google loves the kind of consistency that comes with a rinse-and-repeat approach to creating good content.

Many of the same things that are good for social media are good for SEO

Both social media and your website are mostly there to market your products and services. And while they may also express your values, mission and vision, they’re really there to sell more stuff.

Given that both your website and your social media properties are made to sell, then it makes sense to give them all the sales juice that you can muster. And it just so happens that all that sales juice is excellent for SEO.

That sales juice comes in the form of content on a website and social media that is more appealing and intriguing to people who will share it if they find it interesting. They may buy from you. The people they share it with may buy from you. The happy customers will then share their experiences with more people. It all adds up to more sales and enquiries.

Making your content shareable means:

  • Creating a headline that hooks them in to see more
  • Making your content compelling enough to keep them reading
  • Including great images, videos and infographics that illustrate your offer better than words can

When you create shareable content, you gain more backlinks to your site. Especially when that shared content is a link to your website. And backlinks are the fuel that powers SEO in a competitive environment.

Creating the best possible environment for following

When someone wants to acquire or obtain a service or a product, they conduct extensive research to ensure that the brand is genuine and trustworthy. Your prospects will almost certainly look you up on the internet or look at your social media profiles before speaking with you. Still, it doesn’t mean they won’t.

You may lose a customer if your brand’s social media pages aren’t adequately optimised. You may improve your profiles by keeping your reputation consistent across all media and mentioning it on your page. This helps consumers interested in your business recognise your brand. Google appreciates this as well.

Take the time to get to know your audience.

Social media has made it easier to connect with an audience by creating a personal relationship with them. A brand’s attempts to communicate with its customers will deepen and grow its relationship with them in the long run. At least that is the theory.

The reality for small businesses is that we rush to secure the sale. And we try to do it without going through any Know-Like-Trust process that helps a customer feel safe and confident to buy from us. Especially when we’re offering products and services that cost well over $100.

It’s maybe more appropriate to provide links in your social media posts and profiles that lead a curious potential customer to an introductory page. That page may contain information about you, your values, and the kinds of people you work with. This is far more valuable to a customer early in the buying process than what sits typically on our home pages.

That’s because our product pages are generally designed and written to do one thing. Sell that product right now. Our home pages aren’t much better. We tend the write them all about ourselves. That means little to no consideration of who you’re solving a problem for. Or even what that problem is.

That leads to a bounce rate problem. People who click a link land on your page and bounce straight back out again because of one of three reasons:

  1. They can’t see any reference to a problem they can relate to
  2. They felt misled entirely by what you indicated in the social post
  3. They’re just not ready for the kind of sales pitch you’re making

High bounce rates are not great for SEO. It shows a lack of people getting what they expected when they landed at your website. The relationship here, then, is where your social post needs to set up a reasonable expectation. Then you need to deliver on that expectation once the customer lands at the destination on your website.

Unfulfilled expectations are like papercuts. An individual cut won’t hurt much. But dozens each day will stop you in your tracks.

Responding to those who have made comments

Your post comments are an underrated way to drive more traffic from social media to your website. That is because comments show a more profound interest in your products or services. A deeper interest equates to more intent to purchase.

A reply to a piece of feedback on your post is a chance to insert a link to more information, a landing page or a product page. What you choose depends on the comment that was left. If they’re asking for more product details, lead them to a page about the product. If they’re asking for your returns policy, take them there. Likewise, suppose they are after more information about where you source your materials or ingredients. In that case, a prepared landing page on that topic will help with that.

There are a few advantages to leaving your links to your comments:

  1. It takes the pressure off having to provide “one link to cover it all” in the post
  2. Each link is helpful for each person, leading to a lower bounce rate
  3. Each link matches the intent of the customer and their stage of the customer journey

More traffic to pages that people find valuable leads to customers’ better use of your site. Matching expectations is what Google loves when it comes to your website.

Good brands produce good images.

A human brain needs fewer than 13 milliseconds to interpret an image. That’s quick. In fact, it’s faster than if they had to read a whole sentence and then analyse the text. Images are efficient, so the web is full of them, and entire apps have been designed around them.

Images included in social media posts should be uncluttered and representative of what you’re talking about in the text. At least 60% of your message can be tied up in the image. The rest can be laid out in the text. And while the image you’re using in your social posts won’t be indexed by Google, there is still a link to SEO here.

An image that contains your brand as a logo, a product placement or at least the name of your business as part of it will make it easier for someone to search for you. It doesn’t have to be a giant block of text. Just enough for someone to know, at a glance, that this image is about your business. Then they know who to search for when they have more than a passing interest in you.

There are ways you can optimise images on a website for SEO:

  • Photos and graphics that fit on the screen without requiring scaling.
  • Making the image smaller to make it load faster.
  • Use a file name that matches what’s in the picture.
  • Adding ALT text to assist the vision-impaired or for helping the image to be findable in Google Images.
  • A short, descriptive caption links the image to the point you’re making.
  • And, of course, ensuring that the picture is clear, attractive and relevant.

But when all is said and done, matching the image on your web page with the image used on your social media post is vital. This is because it prevents that dreaded bounce from occurring. And once again, it comes down to expectations. If someone sees an image, clicks the link, and that same image isn’t on the landing page that they go to, they can quickly decide that they’re on the wrong page. They bounce. Even if the information is delivered as promised, it doesn’t look like a match because the image isn’t a match.

Read your Analytics, use your Insights.

It still surprises me how many marketers of all sizes just don’t understand their website stats or social media numbers. They look only a sales results without ever wondering what caused them.

This will get harder in a new era of tracking being phased out. Still, even AI-based analytics and insights can show patterns and predictions. This is where you’ll see the link between what you’re doing on social media and how it impacts your Google ranking.

Let’s say you posted something with a link to your website on social media. It got lots of views and a good number of engagements. Some of those engagements will be link clicks through to your website. Now go to your website Analytics and see what traffic was going to your website that day from social media, and you’ll know if it’s working or not. If no one is clicking through, your post isn’t hitting the right target or drawing in the right people. But if you are getting clicks but no leads, bookings and purchases, your customer is simply not ready to buy.

Having the right priorities in mind

You have a lot to think about when producing social media content. I’m sorry if I’ve just thrown in yet another consideration. It’s a pretty big one too.

The primary consideration for turning social posts into an SEO generation engine is the idea that you think ahead to what your posts are supposed to do.

We don’t produce social media posts for no reason at all. Each one has to have some kind of outcome in mind. Are you trying to raise awareness of your brand? Are you introducing a new product? Are you wanting to drive more sales? Are you looking for more bookings? Let’s add to these more common outcomes; do you want to improve your Google search ranking.

Not every post has to be looking at SEO as an outcome. In fact, I strongly recommend that this isn’t what you do. But some of what you’re putting on social media should be. Adding a different outcome or another desired goal of social media posts won’t throw you at the top of Google within a few days. It will take months of consistently generating the right traffic from your social media properties to move the needle. But it will move the needle. And along with a real SEO strategy for your website, backlinks, reputation and paid traffic, you’ll be well on your way to better results from both social media and search.

Dante St James is the founder of Clickstarter, a Facebook Blueprint Certified Lead Trainer, a Community Trainer with Facebook Australia, a digital advisor with Business Station, an accredited ASBAS Digital Solutions advisor and presenter, and the editor at The Small Marketer. You can watch free 1-hour webinars and grow your digital skills at Dante’s YouTube Channel.