How does social media affect SEO?
Social media is an excellent and cost-efficient way for creative businesses to share their news, establish their brand and showcase their services online. Using social media for business has exploded in popularity over the past few years, with 91% of brands having at least two networks.
In fact, for an independent creative business, social media is probably the most important part of digital marketing – after having a brilliantly-designed website by us, of course. For the most part, this is because social media accounts are free to set up and run, requiring only your time, but also because of the large impact they can have on creating new business and engaging existing customers.
We have already mentioned how inbound links from reputable websites to your website can help you increase search engine results for various key terms. Good activity such as sharing, linking and connecting on social networks could potentially earn you better visibility on Google.
However, Google and other search engines keep their exact algorithms a closely guarded secret to try to stop companies from gaming their systems. Social signals were always presumed to be a part of the ranking system. However, just this year, Google’s Matt Cutts claimed that social signals are not part of the algorithm – probably partly because there are just too many individual social media posts for even Google to crawl.
At Grizzly Bear Design, our SEO work and digital marketing is not just simply concerned with trying to game the algorithms. We teach our clients to focus on creating a very highly quality online profile across social media and blogs to create a trustworthy brand and compelling business to follow.
However, if you remember that the largest, most popular social media networks are all high authority websites, creating a good profile, with your website link included, does give you a good authority inbound link. This is useful even if individual posts aren’t necessarily crawled by search engines.
It helps to think of a search engine similar to how you would think about a potential customer – they want to see that you are a trustworthy and reputable business.
Setting up and maintaining social media networks for your brands also ensures a good online reputation for your brand. If a potential customer types your company name into Google, they will not only see your website, but also your Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram account, Google+ page and Pinterest page.
This instantly gives them a huge amount of information to look through and get to know your business and brand much quicker than if just your website homepage came up in the search.
So by creating active social media profiles, both your prospective new customers and search engines can verify that your business is active, updating its online presence and is open for business!
Take a look at our guide to get your social media set up and how you can use it to help your SEO and digital marketing.
- Which social media accounts should I set up?
Here at Grizzly Bear Design, we always recommend the most popular social media networks are set up and maintained. These are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. All of these websites are very high authority in terms of search, so an inbound link from a profile page is a strong signal to Google that your business is real, up-to-date and trustworthy.
We recommend you put some time aside to correctly fill out all of the profiles across each social media network, ensuring your website address is in there, as well as all the other fields. It’s also important to make sure your logo and a cover image is uploaded. You may need to spend some time re-sizing images to get them to look good – but it is worth it.
Remember to use your main keywords in your profile description for full SEO potential.
Eg. Manchester photographer covering portraits and weddings across Lancashire, Cheshire and the whole of the North West.
- Building up followers
Naturally, the more followers you have across social media, the quicker you will build up an engaged audience who are potential customers. Don’t worry if you don’t have thousands and thousands of followers, like the big brands do. Don’t forget, they have entire staff departments who look after and grow their social following.
As a small business it’s better to have a small but highly engaged number of followers, rather than a huge number of irrelevant people. For this reason, we would never encourage our clients to buy social media followers. It may look good to launch your business with, but they are not real people, so it really is completely useless to you as a business!
Generally, the more active you are on social media, the quicker you will build up your followers. Make sure you comment on other people’s posts, re-tweet their posts and share other businesses information to gain recognition and awareness of your profiles.
Most social media platforms are highly image led, which is ideal for a photographer who naturally has tons of high quality images to share. Networks like Instagram and Pinterest are, of course, completely image-led.
But even the networks like Facebook and Twitter, which have plenty of space for text, should feature an image for each and every post. This both grabs the reader’s attention in among thousands of other posts, but also illustrates your point too.
Don’t forget that on social media, it’s a good idea to re-size jpgs to 72dpi and to around 1000 pixels wide in most cases. You could be there all day if you try to upload high res images to your social media networks!
- Time and profile management
It does take a long time to ‘do’ social media and it can be very easy to forget about keeping it updated if it doesn’t come naturally to you. We do recommend putting aside a couple of hours throughout week to keep your social profiles active.
This could be a little as 20 minutes a day while you boil the kettle, or in the evening while you watch television.
Set all of your profiles up on your mobile phone, so when you’re waiting for a train or a late business appointment, you can quickly write a Facebook post, or re-tweet some articles on Twitter.
You can also download a social media management tool onto your mobile phone (and use the desktop version too), such as Hootsuite, Buffer or Sprout Social. There are many more, so do shop around and find one you’re comfortable with. This enables you to have all your networks in one place, and also keep an eye on the stats if that’s of interest to you.
While it’s important to treat each network individually to avoid content replication, it can be useful to cross-post on certain occasions. For example, Instagram gives you a very simple way to share your post on Facebook, Twitter and other networks.
Ensure you add share buttons onto all of your blog posts, to help readers quickly share the link on their own social networks. If your website has been designed by Grizzly Bear Design, this will have been done already!
It’s also a good idea to ensure all of your social networks are visible using icons on the homepage of your website. We recommend keeping them at the top of the website, so users don’t have to scroll right down to the bottom of the page to find them (unless you have a very short homepage!).
Additionally, having active social media accounts is a massive bonus because you can use them to share out your blog posts every time you publish a new one. This is an essential part of digital marketing to reach your audience and potential customers.
Search engines tend to promote the most popular online content because they assume that people find what they are looking for with that particular web page. Widely shared content tends to rise to the top of search rankings. This is why it’s highly important to use your social media to share out all of your blog posts and ensure they reach as large an audience as possible – because it all helps your search rankings.
By creating an engaged audience on social, you want to get as many people to share, like, and re-tweet as much as possible – and actually read your content as course.
Hashtags can be fairly confusing to a newbie to social media. Hashtags were used by early Twitter users to categorise a subject, and ensure a topic is searchable. They are now used right across different social media networks, such as Instagram, Pinerest, Facebook and Google+.
Hashtags can be different subject categories, news issues, or sometimes jokes which trend across social media.
Using hashtags on your posts enables them to be found by new users searching those hashtags. For example, if you use hashtag #photography or #wedding photography, anyone interested in that subject can find your posts easily.
Of course, the more people that can find your profiles, posts and shared content, the more your accounts will grow – and again, this will impact on your SEO.
That wraps up our second part of the three-month blog aimed at helping you understand SEO and how social media can help. Watch out for the final instalment next month which will be about having your website looking perfect in the eyes of Google!