Digital marketing channels are incredibly powerful tools to raise awareness of and interest in your brand. But these channels don't operate at their maximum potential in silos. Each marketing channel has the potential to influence one another, and when executed well, can mean the sum of coordinating your digital marketing efforts is greater than that of its individual parts.
True cross-channel collaboration can greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing dollars. In this article, we will discuss how your social media marketing influences your search engine optimization efforts.
Social Impact on SEO
Social Shares & Correlation to Rankings
Google, specifically, has denied using social signals as an influencing factor in their algorithm to determine rankings, however many studies have shown close correlation. Even if social signals don't directly influence rankings now, many in the search industry believe they will play a key role in the future.
According to the 2015 SearchMetrics ranking signals correlation study, social signals like Facebook likes and shares, Twitter tweets, and Google Plus+1s correlate closely with higher organic search rankings. (Below is a table from their 2014 study.)
However, correlation does not necessarily mean causation. Do the high social sharing counts and high rankings correlate solely because the content is awesome and performing well in both independently, or does the number of social shares actually influence the piece of content's rankings in organic search?
In this example, this particular page happens to be on a high-authority domain, and also earned tons of backlinks and social shares from being an incredible piece of content. With a cloud of powerful signals like that, it's difficult to say definitively whether social influenced that success, is a result of that success, or if they're entirely independent.
Faster Crawling of New Content
When you publish an all-new piece of content to your site, you may wish to help search engines crawl and index your content faster. The sooner it starts showing up in organic search results, the sooner you start raking in the traffic. Social sharing - particularly tweets on Twitter and posts shared to Google+ - is suspected to influence how quickly search engines pick up new content.
The correlation between social signals and rankings could be a criteria in the search engine algorithms, or perhaps great content simply gets engaged with, shared, linked to and ranked highly more often. With a collaborative cross-channel SEO and Social strategy, more people are going to see the brand's content across multiple channels, and as a result, search engine rankings tend to improve.
Social signals may also improve SEO's reach simply by giving users an outlet to share the content further. When content gets shared, more people are likely to see it, and it is more likely that someone will pick up the content to link to it from their own websites. Links from authoritative, relevant, credible third party websites are still a strong ranking factor in Google and other search engines.
Increased Brand Awareness
Even if we cannot prove that social signals directly impact SEO, it is undeniable that social media marketing plays a role in increasing brand awareness, which drives searchers to type the brand directly into the search engine, or can influence direct traffic (people who navigate directly to your site by either typing the URL into their address bar or clicking a bookmark).
SEO Impact on Social
Social Profile Optimization
Many people think of SEO as purely a Google play, but truthfully, search engine optimization can help brands become more visible almost anywhere people search for information online. Don't forget that YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest can essentially function as social search engines! SEO can help take advantage of the bios, descriptions, categories, and other data points on each social media profile to make the brand more findable in those social networks and in search.
Understand what people search for can help drive content marketing efforts, which benefit both SEO and social concurrently by guiding the creation of content that gives users exactly what they want. It narrows the focus of marketing efforts so you can make the best use of your time and resources, rather than purely guessing what people may like and crossing your fingers.
SEO experts can help uncover keywords and topics related to the brand and campaign goals, which can in turn be incorporated into crafting posts for different social media profiles. A targeted list of relevant keywords can help drive a social campaign by ensuring better visibility of the campaign within social networks. With SEO insights helping define what the audience is searching for, Social has clever insights into how to engage in conversation with brand followers.
Collaborative Cross-Channel Effort
While the influence of social and SEO signals on one another may be subject to debate, the potential benefits of cross-channel collaboration to make the most of digital marketing campaigns is tough to argue with. When you align your digital marketing forces toward the same goals, results can improve dramatically compared to working independently in silos.
From topical and keyword research, to understanding searcher intent and social motivation, to developing a cohesive strategy and coordinating campaigns, to making content valuable and crawlable, to measuring success - social and organic search are meant to be close partners in digital marketing success.
Understanding User Desire
When developing a content marketing strategy, leverage the strengths of both the search and social teams from the beginning. Together, they have incredibly valuable insights into the target audience's search and social behavior that can help drive the strategy, identify content gaps, and ensure that content is both found and interacted with.
SEO and Social should be collaborating to measure campaign performance against pre-defined goals or conversions. We know that web users follow many paths with many touch points to accomplish their tasks online, and that crediting conversions to the source of the last click is an inaccurate and incomplete picture. Campaign measurement should not measure the performance of the channels alone, but also aim to see how those channels interact with one another to drive business results.
And with that, we leave you with a gratuitous video embed of the Captain Planet theme song, circa 1990.