Social and SEO Work Better Together

Content Takeover Mobile & Local SearchSocial has a significant influence on SEO, despite industry gurus suggesting otherwise.

Last year, Matt Cutts said in a YouTube video that Google didn’t count social media metrics such as likes or shares when ranking search results. But fast-forward 12 months and the landscape has changed, with social influencing all areas of search engine optimization, be it on the Web, mobile, or local. While Google doesn’t factor likes and retweets into its algorithm, it does use social to gauge what’s popular.

Two key drivers that have impacted this change are “convergence” and “empowerment,” according to Jason Dailey, head of search at MediaVest. Convergence refers to the different channels coming together, whether it’s local, SEO, paid search, social, or video, whereas empowerment is all about consumers. 

“There are a lot of areas that are converging and these are becoming gray territories in terms of where one ends and the next begins,” says Dailey. “Consumers are also becoming more empowered than ever to control the media that they receive and interact with brands. That’s really [where] social plays a key role.” 

From a technical perspective, Dailey continues, a search engine cares about four things: quality (the actually experience a user has, the content, and the appearance), trust (whether a site is authoritative and useful), popularity (whether a site is the one that people want to go to), and canniness (whether the content is fresh, current and relevant).

“Google says that social is not a signal in terms of search engine results. [But] what we do know is that really good content that people like to share has all of these four things,” notes Dailey.

“If you focus on making good content, it will attract lots of engagement. That is what will get more and more people to click and soon enough, it will become more relevant to the search engine.”

Antonio Casanova, director of SEO at Starcom, agrees that creating quality content on social is important, as it can help boost a business’s local SEO performance. He adds that local search ranking closely relates to the number and quality of citations and mentions that a local business has. Those citations and mentions could happen on social media platforms, blogs, or different sites.

And that’s not all. Local social profiles such as Google+ Local, Yelp, and Foursquare also add to a business’ local ranking if they contain a number of quality reviews.  

“It’s important to have an active social media and customer relationship management (CRM) strategy that can help drive the mentions of your business, reviews of your profile, and links to the local profile. That can definitely help you improve your local search results,” notes Casanova. 

In order to leverage social media for SEO purposes, Casanova recommends that marketers use a “two-way street communication” approach. “One way” is by using keyword insights that detect what people are searching for and how they are searching for stuff on Google.

“You can use that to inform your social and content strategy. You may find a topic that is popular, and you may have a social strategy that is based on the content developing around that topic,” Casanova explains. “You can also do this the other way around. You can use social listening to mine the insights, to see what people are talking about on a social network, and use that to inform your keyword SEO content and CRM strategy.”

For mobile SEO specifically, having an active and optimized social media presence that includes Google+ and Twitter can help a business with visibility in search results, he continues. “That’s because more often than not, social networks are making their way into Google search results. Now that Google and Twitter have reached their recent deal that allows tweets to show up in search results, I think we’re going to see it a whole lot more,” Casanova notes.

MediaVest’s Dailey adds a concluding piece of advice for mobile SEO: a business should make sure that it has updated name, address, and phone number information. “The worst experience a consumer could have is to find your site, call the number, and find it not active,” he says. “Or they get a wrong time. They go to a store, thinking it’s open, but find it actually closed. So managing that name, address, and phone number information both on the site [and] through a directory is very important.”

Image via Shutterstock.

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