In this episode of Actionable Marketing In Minutes we talk with Larry Lembcke about the importance of social engagement for SEO.
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In 2013 Econsultancy, a company that publishes independent business digital marketing research, issued an interesting report stating that social media is either somewhat- or highly-integrated into the SEO efforts for 74% of the surveyed companies.
At about the same time, Matt Cutts, of Google’s SEO search quality team, released a video where he stated that social signals do not affect search rankings.
In case you’re wondering what social signals are, briefly: they are the likes, shares, votes, pins or views people place on social media sites that indexed in the search engines. They are an indication that your brand is being talked about by consumers. They improve your ranking on search engine result pages because, in essence, you’re getting highly-valuable recommendations.
Over the past few years we’ve watched Google’s search algorithm change from centering on text, backlinks and keywords, moving to valuable site content, and now, including a focus on social signals.
To further complicate things, the video I just referenced was a third video posted by Mr. Cutts. In 2010, he put out 2 videos which contradicted each other – the first stating that social signals do not impact SEO ranking, and the second stating they do.
It is interesting to note that many SEO experts, including the highly regarded Neil Patel of QuickSprout, believe social is the new SEO. And our perspective, based on our own research, experience and observation, is that social signals are now an integral part of an effective SEO program.
We agree with Mr. Patel when he suggested that even if these signals aren’t delivering the SEO impact they eventually will, social is still a “valuable channel for promotion, content, distribution, virality, and sharing.” And, we believe it is still an essential element of organic search rankings even if it currently is not specified by Google as one the algorithm ranking factors.
So… don’t neglect social!
On this topic, we want to spend a few minutes with Larry Lembcke – our own resident SEO expert – to discuss his take on this subject.
Hi, Larry. Thanks for joining us. We know we’ll learn a lot from you. You live and breathe SEO, right?
Hi, Lisa. Well, I have spent many years learning and practicing in the SEO arena – that’s for sure!
Larry’s being modest. Actually, he’s Google certified, A+, and DCSE certified as well.
Larry, why should we care about social for SEO?
Search engines have been indexing social content for some time, and social signals are also likely a ranking factor.
Face it, social media shows no sign of diminishing in presence or importance in the foreseeable future. Couple that with the fact that search engines are constantly looking for new and more-reliable signals of authority and value. Just because today Google says social signals don’t impact search rank doesn’t mean tomorrow’s algorithm won’t include it.
In the meantime, my advice is to continue to build your authority in social channels that are relevant to your brand and always consider social when developing your SEO strategy.
I agree, Larry. All social media content – when tagged appropriately – flows through search.
Yes, it does. And, you nailed it when you said, “when tagged appropriately.” If it is, it will, without a doubt, be tracked in search engines. This enables brands to connect with online topics.
Which social platforms should we use?
As many as you can keep up with and as I mentioned, are relevant to your brand. Social profiles give you another avenue for a powerful citation, oftentimes with your URL/address/phone number/email, etc.
If your social content consistently drives people to your site, SERPs will view your content as valued and this will eventually cause your rankings to increase.
If a business just has a Facebook profile and a few posts, is that enough?
No. It isn’t good enough to just put up a page and then post a few links to your site asking people to look at your products or services. But, you’ll notice that seems to be the norm.
Businesses really need to engage with users and the community, while providing helpful commentary that they will find valuable.
You want to keep the ever-popular 80/20 standard in mind when developing and maintaining your social channels. 80% of your content should interest your audience and engage them in conversation. Only 20% should be brand, product or service promotion.
We know that today – especially with millennials – what others have to say about a product or service carries a lot of weight. That’s why engagement and conversation is so important.
Well, Larry, we appreciate you and all you contributed to today’s conversation. Please stop in to talk again.
Not all social media activity is treated equally by search engines. There seems to be more value placed on likes, shares, tags or bookmarks come from others within your industry or your local geography.
So, though social interaction is important, who is doing the interaction with your content is more important. And, how they are interacting is significant. According to Searchmetrics, 8 out of 10 of the highest search engine rankings are related to how users react to your social media content.
A few actions you can take to tip the scales in your favor include: 1. produce relevant and valuable social content that will be shared, liked, pinned or re-tweeted; 2. stay on topic; and 3. interact with your industry peers. Friend them, like them, share their content – basically engage and interact with them.
Today’s takeaway is that even though Google does not formally acknowledge social signals in their current ranking algorithms, we believe they will – and soon. In the meantime, you will benefit greatly by keeping on top of your social media activities – and with gusto. Write relevant, valuable content and engage with your peers and prospects.
We hope you’ve found this information helpful. Please connect with us on Twitter @DirectiveGroup or on LinkedIn and be sure to share it with in your networks using hashtag #actionablemarketing. Join us next time for more actionable marketing in minutes.