You might not be seeing the sales volume that you would like from your social media profiles, but don’t throw in the towel yet: Your social media presence and “social signals” play a major role in your search engine rankings and have a major impact on your SEO efforts.
Social signals, in the SEO world, are essentially “recommendations” of your content by other users. Every time your content is liked, shared, tweeted, pinned or tumbled, it serves as a sort of endorsement of you and your work. The more recommendations you receive — and the more influential the people doing the recommending — the more positive the impact on your search ratings. Some experts, like Neil Patel on Quicksprout, note that earning more Google +1s has a greater impact than earning likes on other sites, pointing out that one post that received 100 +1s saw a nearly 15 percent increase in its ranking.
Regardless of which site is the most effective at improving rank, it’s important to realize that social media plays an important role in your SEO efforts, and deserves your time and attention.
Understanding the Impact of Social Media
The social media marketplace is constantly evolving, but Social Media Examiner released a report earlier this year that sheds a bit of light on the industry and real impact of social media marketing.
The 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report surveyed more than 3,000 marketers on their use of social media. Among the many fascinating findings is the revelation that 97 percent of marketers use social media to promote their businesses, a 3-percent increase over 2012. What didn’t change were the reported benefits of using social media, with increased exposure and traffic being the most reported benefits.
In addition, the 2013 report confirmed that social media continues to have SEO benefits for businesses, with almost 60 percent of respondents reporting that they saw improved search rankings because of their social media activities. Respondents noted that the rankings improved with time and experience: Those who spend at least six hours a week on social media, and have been doing so for two years or longer, saw the greatest return on their investment in terms of search engine rankings, traffic and conversions. In fact, 78 percent of those respondents who spend only six hours a week on social media saw an increase in traffic, some of which can be attributed to improved search engine results.
Not All Likes Are Created Equal
Anyone who has been involved with internet marketing for longer than five minutes has heard the expression “content is king.” But is it possible that the king could lose his crown? According to Duane Forrester, senior product manager with Bing’s Webmaster Program, it’s possible. He predicted that at some point in the not too distant future, social media could become more important than content.
For the meantime, though, content is still king, and it’s important for marketers to combine their content and social media strategies for the greatest possible SEO benefits — and that comes down to authority. As we mentioned above, authority is as important in a social-media context as it is in pure-and-simple SEO. Just as you want backlinks to your website to come from authoritative websites, social signals from high-authority individuals provide a greater boost than multiple signals from multiple unknown individuals.
A major part of building authority comes from the Google Authorship program. Eric Enge of Stone Temple spoke with Sagar Kamdar, group product manager for Google Search, to explore the role of Google+, and authorship in particular. According to Kamdar, the authorship program is a way to connect authors and readers, helping readers easily find the authors that they want to read and that they trust.
Google’s emphasis on authorship and its role in SERPs only highlights the need to connect your Google+ page directly to your website and to individual pieces of content. Doing so increases your coverage in SERPs, and as more users +1 your content, your authority grows as does your ranking.
Don’t overlook Twitter, either. Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land revealed that both Google and Bing weight search results to take account of tweets and retweets of articles and blog posts. However, he cautions, as with all other social networks, the authority of the person retweeting the content counts. A single retweet from a social influencer holds more weight than 100 retweets from unknown individuals.
Don’t Neglect Measurement
According to the Social Media Examiner report, one of the most pressing issues for many marketers (87 percent) is how to measure the return on social media investment. This has been an area of concern for several years, and most marketers have yet to determine the best way of measuring the results of their efforts.
There have been great strides in this area in recent years, with sites like Facebook and Pinterest developing tools and analytics to help users measure their social media results, but there are still gains to be made. Set goals and key performance indicators that are relevant to your business, and use the tools available to you to effectively measure your results. If you aren’t measuring, you could be wasting your time and only getting frustrated,
Finally, be patient. Most businesses that report seeing results from their social media efforts note that they invested at least three years in active, consistent marketing before they saw real results. Take your time and get it right, and you’ll see a significant difference in your marketing results.
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