6 Ways to Leverage Social Media for SEO

Social media is the new frontier of search engine optimization. People interact with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social platforms in far different ways than they do with search engines, yet in many ways the results are the same.

Social vs. SearchSocial media is the new frontier of search engine optimization. People interact with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social platforms in far different ways than they do with search engines, yet in many ways the results are the same — links are shared, content is filtered and the most trusted websites often get the most play. And although Google won’t come right out and say it, many SEO experts agree that social media signals are affecting today’s search engine rankings.

How can you harness the power of social media to bolster your SEO strategy? Here, we’ll review the top six ways to leverage social media to improve your website’s search rankings.

1. Develop Social Content

Building an expansive network of inbound links has long been the bedrock of SEO. The more people link to your site, the more trusted it is in the eyes of Google and other search engines. And social media is unprecedented in its ability to build links in a hurry.

Always think of ways to go beyond articles when developing content for your social media channels. Think in terms of instructional videos, off-the-wall infographics and humorous (but helpful) GIFs. You can even create e-books that people can download for free. Be smart about updating social media channels — you’re more likely to get views and clicks in the early or late afternoon — and rest assured that your overall SEO will benefit from this content long after its social media shelf life expires.

2. Optimize Meta Tags

Meta tags help establish how webpages are unique, which is why they’ve always played important roles in SEO. But have you realized how social media platforms put meta tags to work? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms display meta titles and descriptions when websites are posted or shared. In some cases, your website’s meta tags might be your first interaction with new potential customers.

For that reason, it’s more important than ever to give meta titles and descriptions the attention they deserve. Meta titles should be 65 characters or less, and meta descriptions should be up to 150 characters in length — more than enough room to concisely explain the purpose of a webpage. Professionally written meta tags can easily be the difference in whether people perceive your website as click worthy.

3. Get Into Google+

Google’s foray into social media didn’t go exactly as planned. But even if you don’t know anyone who uses Google+ for social reasons, don’t underestimate the platform’s importance for businesses of all sizes. Creating a Google+ page for your business is one of the simplest ways to capitalize on social media in a way that benefits your SEO.

Why does Google+ matter? First, the information, images and other elements on your Google+ profile can directly improve your rankings in several relevant searches. Second, your contact and location information — when synced with free profiles on Yelp, Angie’s List and other directory websites — can heighten your visibility for people searching for a local, nearby business. A Google+ profile also makes for a high-quality link to your website, and trustworthy links are always helpful.

4. Start a Blog

Leverage the conversational nature of social media by starting a blog on your business Website. Update your blog regularly with unique, compelling content, and then share that content across your social media channels. Do a good job, and your followers will reward you with likes, shares and links.

How to Find and Edit Meta Tags: Titles, Descriptions and Headers

Although SEO continues to evolve and change at a seemingly lightning pace, the fundamentals like HTML titles, meta descriptions and headers remain just as important as they always were.

HTMLAlthough SEO continues to evolve and change at a seemingly lightning pace, the fundamentals like HTML titles, meta descriptions and headers remain just as important as they always were. All three are buried deep within the HTML code for your website.

If you, like many business owners, are not fluent in HTML, you might have no idea how to find and edit these meta tags. Here is what you need to know for each one.

Title Tag
Each Web page’s title is displayed in the browser, but not actually on the page itself. To see the title of a particular page, bring the page up in your browser and read the name of the tab it is in. However, tabs often cut off titles. To view the entire title, or to edit it, open up the HTML code for your Web page, which is much easier than it sounds.

With the page open in a browser on a Windows computer, simply right click with your mouse anywhere on the body of the page. Select the option that reads “View Source” or “View Page Source.” A new page will open with all of the HTML and other code for the page in question. If you are not familiar with HTML, it might look like gibberish.

Near the top of that page of code, look for the bracketed word “title,” like this: <title> and </title>. All of the text between the opening and closing title brackets is your Web page’s title. Make sure it is less than 55 characters and attention-grabbing, and the keyword phrase you want to rank for is present.

Meta Description
A Web page’s meta description is like an ad, or preview, of the page’s content. It does not directly influence Google rankings, but it helps to generate more clicks when viewers read it in search results. However, the meta description does not appear anywhere on the web page. To access it, again you’ll need to “View Source” or “View Page Source” following the instructions above.

On that page of code, look for a line that begins with <meta name=”description” content=”…”. There might be some other words in the code as well. Regardless, look for the text in quotation marks following the content=. That text is your Web page’s description. Read it over carefully, keeping in mind that the purpose is to convince searchers to click on your website rather than someone else’s.

Headers
Headers are the Web version of newspaper headlines. As a general rule, each Web page should have one <h1> tag that serves as the main headline for the entire page. Progressively smaller headlines (<h2> and below) can be used to highlight individual sections of the page and main ideas within each section.

Your headers will display on your Web page as slightly larger, bolded text lines that look like headlines. To view it in your source code, use the same instructions above. Look for lines of code that begin with <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc..

Now that you know how to find these key elements on your page, it’s time to edit them. Editing can be a bit more complicated depending on how your website was created. Unless you’re familiar with HTML code and you’re comfortable making edits, I recommend leaving this to a professional webmaster. It’s actually quite easy to screw up your entire website if you’re not careful when you edit your pages.

Although they seem relatively minor, these three elements can make a real difference in your search engine rankings and the number of clicks you receive from SEO. Regardless of whether you do your own editing or employ a professional, make sure your titles, meta descriptions and headers are set up properly, or else you’ll struggle to get your website ranked high.

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How Social Media Impacts SEO

SEO is evolving at what feels like “ludicrous” speed. When I was getting started in 2006, on-page keyword density, a cursory understanding of HTML meta tags and links from article directories were about all you needed to know to get a page to rank high in Google.

SEO is evolving at what feels like “ludicrous” speed. When I was getting started in 2006, on-page keyword density, a cursory understanding of HTML meta tags and links from article directories were about all you needed to know to get a page to rank high in Google.

Then Google tweaked their algorithm and higher-quality link-building was the golden ticket to a #1 ranking. Fast forward to today and the old-school tactics of just a few years ago no longer work. That’s because SEO has evolved and grown to the point where engagement is the new measurement of success.

Old-School SEO Is Dead
In my experience talking with business owners every day, there is a huge misconception that SEO is simply about HTML meta tags and backlinks. That’s what I call old-school SEO and it’s been dead for a while now.

As mentioned above, SEO is now about engagement. To be successful in ranking high in Google, plus driving traffic and ultimately leads and sales from SEO, you need to focus on engaging your target prospects online. That means creating compelling content your prospects would want to read and share with their friends and colleagues.

And, of course, where do people share content online? You guessed it: social media! That brings us to the first way social media impacts SEO…

  1. Content Distribution
    To clarify, I am not saying that on-page SEO factors like HTML tags or off-page factors like backlinks are no longer important. They are—and always have been—the foundation of a solid SEO strategy.

    What has changed is the shift from old-school link-building tactics to more natural content distribution. Sharing content on social media accomplishes two important goals for SEO:

    • Your content can spread virally, which drives more traffic and more engagement with your website. This can also lead to more brand searches in Google, further reinforcing your authority.
    • Your content can get in front of other bloggers and news sources who in turn are more likely to link to your webpages. As mentioned already, backlinks are still critical for SEO so this leads to higher rankings.
  2. Control Your Brand in Google
    When you search for a company in Google, what do you see? Most likely, you’ll find the company’s website, Google+ profile page, LinkedIn page, Facebook page, Twitter page and any other social media profiles.

    Clearly, Google gives preference to company social media pages in their search results. This is good news because it’s not hard to set up your social media pages and nearly instantly dominate the results for brand searches.

    Why is this important? Well, before a prospect contacts you, they most likely going to do their homework online. That means searching for your brand in Google and reviewing the websites they find. By creating and maintaining active social media profiles, you put yourself in control of your brand in Google.

  3. SEO Expands Beyond Google
    Google is the top search engine, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore Bing. Bing has said they do take social media signals like the number of Twitter followers into account when ranking webpages. That means social media activity directly impacts your rankings on Bing.

    Plus, let’s not forget about searches on the social media sites themselves. That’s right, social media sites are search engines as well! Every day people are searching on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others to find content and search for businesses. If you ignore social media, then you obviously miss out on the opportunity to get your business in front of those relevant searches.

Do you want more SEO tips? I created a simple checklist that walks you through specific actions you can take to improve your rankings and traffic. Click here to get my SEO Checklist.