Hackernoon logoHow Businesses Are Adapting to Social SERPs Alongside Traditional SERPs by@peter-jobes

How Businesses Are Adapting to Social SERPs Alongside Traditional SERPs

Social SEO refers to the idea that social media links and interaction play a key role in a website’s search rankings. Social SEO is all about making content stand out, this refers to applying your optimization tactics in the wide world of social media. The good news is that you’re likely already using Social SEO already - you won’t have to go back to the drawing board and learn something new from scratch. How you do things, and why you do them really matters really matters.
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Peter Jobes

Peter Jobes is a tech & blockchain writer. Featured in VentureBeat.

What does Social SEO mean? And how can it help your business? Although it may sound complicated, Social SEO can make for a user-friendly and straightforward way of helping your business. 

Fundamentally, Social SEO refers to the idea that social media links and interaction play a key role in a website’s search rankings. As SEO is all about making content stand out, this refers to applying your optimization tactics in the wide world of social media. 

What is Social SEO?

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be an expert when it comes to SEO, let’s assume for the purpose of this post that you understand the basic elements of keyword research and the importance of optimizing your content to rank on search engines for those keywords.

Let’s also assume that you’re familiar with the basics of social media and how to drive traffic from your social media pages to your website or landing page.

When it comes to Social SEO however, you may be feeling a little less sure of things. It’s no doubt a term you’ve heard around digital marketing circles, but what exactly is it and how should you be using it?

The good news is that you’re likely already using it - it’s just that nobody ever really assigned it a term before.

The other piece of good news is that you won’t have to go back to the drawing board and learn something new from scratch - this isn’t a new type of SEO, it’s basically a sub-section that already exists.

For example, if you have a Facebook page for your business or post content on any social media platform regularly that contains links back to your site, or that people are sharing to their own pages, then you’re already utilizing Social SEO.

However, as with all aspects of your digital marketing strategy, specifically content, how you do things, and why you do them really matters.

So, in this guide, I want to break down Social SEO for you in a clear way and give you actionable strategies you can implement by using social media and SEO to boost your search rankings organically and identify weak spots on your website.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Why Social SEO Matters

Websites are hugely important for a business to have and likely always will be. They’re the place where new prospects come to check out your services, subscribe to your newsletter, and take other actions that ultimately lead them towards becoming a customer.

You also have control over your website in the sense that it’s an asset for your business that you own - unlike social media pages that can be shut down without warning when the platform decides you’ve done something it doesn’t like.

However, this doesn’t mean that social media and Social SEO isn’t a hugely important part of your business, and in fact, how you rank on the search engines.

It really comes down to making the two work together as they’re meant to.

Having a website should always be a priority for your business, but if you think about your own behaviors when looking for stuff online, you don’t always go straight to Google. You might look a brand up on Instagram or Facebook to see what they sell, or even just to see what their engagement levels are like.

Often when you type a name into Google, the first results are for their social media accounts, so as you can see, Social SEO plays a huge and important role in SEO overall.

How To Create Your Social SEO Strategy

As mentioned above, since social media and SEO are so intertwined, it can sometimes be difficult to see where one ends and the other begins in terms of developing a Social SEO strategy for your business.

So, if you’re wondering where to start, then here are some tips to help you when deciding which things to include in your strategy and what to focus on:

Start with the end in mind: Just like when building a new strategy for anything, you should always be clear on what you want to achieve and why this is important to you. Knowing this from the start will help you decide which tactics you need to be focused on and help you eliminate anything that doesn’t move you forward.

Choose which metrics to measure: When you want to know where your sales or even your subscribers are coming from, it’s a lot easier to decide which metrics you’ll rely on for this information. With search rankings, it’s a little trickier. If you’ve spent any amount of time trying to figure out which social media metrics are affecting your SEO rankings, then you know that the jury is well and truly out on the issue of whether social media directly impacts SEO rankings or not. 

The issue has been discussed by top marketers and SEO experts like Neil Patel for over 10 years now, and although Google themselves remain adamant that the answer is no, many first-hand studies looking specifically at click-through rates (CTR) and shares have told a different story. Of course, your ability to get good results with these will always depend on how valuable and relevant your content is to the target audience.

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(Image: Databox)

According to a recent Databox survey, as much as 66% of respondents believed that there was in fact a correlation between the number of social shares a page receives and its overall search ranking. 

Optimize your social media profiles: When planning your content and thinking about SEO, you spend time optimizing your content and making sure you’ve chosen the right keywords, so the same thing applies to social media. 

For example, if you’re using Pinterest for your business, although it’s technically not a social media platform in the same sense as Facebook or Twitter, it’s used and treated as one, and is one of the best platforms for creating high value links back to your site and driving traffic

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(Image: Hubspot)

When using relevant keywords in the description of each Pin and the board, you’ll boost your authority on Pinterest as you gain more followers, which in turn will help you rank higher on Google when people come searching these particular keywords or phrases - just like would happen on your website or blog.

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This approach can also be used to great effect on more traditional social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram through the use of hashtags. As we can see from the example above from Caffe Nero, hashtags can be used to great effect to engage the right audience as they browse. 

Choose your content: A key component of your social SEO strategy is going to be the content you create. In terms of the actual format, this is something that you’ve likely been doing for a while, so there’s no need to change up the format unless it’s something you want to do - for example, if you’ve only been doing written posts until now, but would like to add video into the mix. That’s totally fine as long as you enjoy it and it fits in with your overall digital marketing strategy.

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Multimedia content can be especially effective when it comes to social SEO, for many reasons. Firstly, they can be great for leveraging greater levels of engagement, due to making posts on social networks more eye catching and being more favourable in the eyes of users, as the chart below shows: 

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(Image: Martech Zone)

Secondly, videos can help companies to appear more prominently in SERPs. Because video content is rarer than text, there can often be fewer competitors ranking for the same search terms. 

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However, the main things you need to take into consideration when it comes to your content is, how relevant it is to your audience, how valuable it is, and how likely it is to be shared and stay relevant over time so that you can rank higher on both traditional SERPs as well as the social SERPs.

Measuring success: As we mentioned above, there’s a lot of conflicting information when it comes to whether social media plays a direct role your SEO rankings, but overall, it’s been found that when you optimize your content correctly and using the right keywords, as well as how often your content is shared, then it does make a big difference in results. 

Of course, you can’t just rely on this being the case, so you need to be able to see the numbers for yourself, and the best way of doing this is to use analytics platforms like Google Analytics or Finteza that can show you exactly which platforms your best traffic is coming from, and then once you’re able to look at the results of everything you post on that site, for example, Facebook, then you can see which posts are performing the best and contributing to your high traffic volumes and search ranking results.

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The Relationship Between Social and Traditional SEO:

When many people hear the term Social SEO, they tend to think of it as a complete separate entity from traditional SEO, but this isn’t the case at all - the two have been working in tandem for years now and it’s important to view them this way. You can certainly have one without the other, but let’s be honest, this is only going to work if you either have no website and only use social media or the other way around, and that’s not a likely scenario for most marketers today.

If you have individual teams who work on social media and SEO, then it’s hugely important that you start bringing them together to collaborate, as one aspect directly influences the other and what’s needed to make social SEO work is full integration with traditional SEO so that there’s consistency across the board. When you do this is when you’ll really start to notice results in terms of how the two work together and on your search ranking.

The Future of Social SEO

Neither social media or SEO are new, in fact, in terms of marketing, they’re both relatively old, but at the same time, social media is still in its infancy and SEO is growing in ways that we don’t really see yet, so the future of these two is exciting, but it’s not overly clear how it’s going to look.

One thing is for sure, neither is going anywhere anytime soon, and this is important for you, because even if you’re a bit late to the party, now is the perfect time to jump in and start adapting your business for Social SEO.

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