Most small businesses are used to the idea of using keywords in their content for search engine optimisation (SEO). But every year, the algorithm used by search engines becomes more finely-tuned. Content may still be king, but social media is also fast becoming an important factor in the weighting of search results.
Just over a year ago, Google and Bing confirmed something experts had suspected for a while: they include social media shares in their calculations. Not only that, they also weight the result according to the authority of the user who shares the link (for example, how many followers they have, and how many people follow them).
Figures from SEOmoz, a leading authority on SEO, suggest that links which are repeatedly shared and re-shared on Facebook are ranked highly by search engines. Why? Facebook shares are inherently hard to fake. Users tend to link directly to sites for a genuine reason, and their followers trust them to share things that are worth looking at. Businesses are now spending more time engaging with users on social media to encourage this sharing process.
Cultivating a presence on Facebook or Twitter isn’t easy, of course. Many large companies will employ at least one person to maintain their social media presence. Some employ entire teams. Even if you’re a one-person operation, there are a few things you can do to begin with.
- Give your customers a reason to follow you. A blank Facebook page is not very inviting.
- Ensure you are sharing content effectively. Rather than posting content automatically, try to add an interesting comment to each post on Facebook or Twitter.
- Become an authority on your topic. A popular social media page will help to define you as an expert, adding weight to your SEO score.
- Communicate in a friendly, positive and professional tone. Don’t get dragged into disputes on a public forum.
- Consider outsourcing or delegating. Diverting some of your Pay Per Click spend towards social media management is a tactic worth considering.
But what about all that content you invested in? It’s still a huge part of the puzzle. Social linking loops back to the idea of optimised content; your blog posts and other updates need to be engaging enough to prompt repeated, yet organic, shares.