Social Media In SEO: How Does It Work?
It can be one of the hardest things to get your head around.
- What is SEO exactly?
- How can I get on the Search Engine Ladder?
- More importantly, how do I rocket up to that illustrious Page 1 Ranking?
- And how does social media tie into all this, or does it at all?
Well, that’s a hell of a lot of questions, but I’m going to attempt to explain it in the most simple way possible. I’ll also show, that although Social Media is a great tool for a Digital Marketing Strategy, it is certainly not a replacement for one.
Let’s start from the beginning
Most people these days use search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to find answers and information on the web. By typing things like ‘flower shops’, ‘cinema times’ or ‘latest entertainment gossip’ into the Search Bar, the Search Engine delivers web results it thinks are most relevant to the user’s query.
Now as you can see from the graph provided by Statcounter , Google account for almost 95% of all search enquiries in Ireland, so I’m going to focus on Google for the remainder of this blog.
Search Engines, like Google, have two primary functions:
- They index the World Wide web
- They provide answers that are relevant to your question
Now the ‘World Wide Web’ is exactly that. Millions of little dots or documents (i.e. websites) all interconnected to make up a vast web of information.
Google uses Googlebots called spiders to literally crawl (see the web analogy?) through this vast web and index each document into different categories of information.
Once a user enters a search term, Google uses these indexed documents to find the most relevant search term to that user.
SEO, meaning Search Engine Optimization, is the practice used by websites to assist the Google Spiders in indexing their site to as many relevant searches as possible, thus increasing the website visibility and accessibility.
If you’re found under a lot of different search terms, inevitably you’ll receive more web traffic.
Still with me?
So how does SEO work?
Essentially, the question to ask is how can I make my site more relevant?
Well, Google uses almost 200 algorithms to determine every unique search result – most of which they keep under lock and key, so people can’t game or cheat the system.
However, it can boil down to three simple factors.
This is how you get on the Google Search ladder to begin with. A user types in ‘flower shops in Ireland’. Google checks into it’s huge index and pulls out all the relevant sites for that user’s search.
If you’re a flower shop in Ireland, you need to ensure those keywords ‘flower, shop, Ireland’ are in your website so Google spiders can index and catalogue it correctly and bring you to the attention of the user.
However, do NOT cover your homepage with those keywords. They should be strategically placed in these key areas:
- Page Title
- Headings (Ranging from H1 to H6)
- Domain Name
- URL link
- First Paragraph Description Text
Any more than that and you run the risk of keyword stuffing, which is a big no-no and Google will murder your rankings for trying it.
Of course, you should use tools like Google Keyword Tool to find the demand of certain keywords and the :allintitle method to find supply.
Extensive research should be made to find that sweet spot – where demand for certain keywords and phrases are high, yet the use of those keywords by other websites are low.
This is the best way to place yourself competitively on Google’s vast index – such as ‘discount flowers in Dublin’ instead of ‘flower shops Ireland’.
But relevancy can’t simply rely on keywords alone. For example, if I Google the term ‘hot dog’- I’m not looking for a puppy chilling out on a beach…
And this leads me to me second point.
Simply put, this means traffic to your site. How many people are clicking through and reading your content, blogs or product catalogues?
When Google can see frequent direct traffic to your site, it concludes that you must be an important site to rank higher in it’s results for the keywords typed in by the user.
If I go back to my original example ‘hot dogs’, I can guarantee you that more people will click on the delicious Wiener snack than Fluffy over on the right and thus, it’s logically considered a more relevant site on Search Engines.
The more visits your site gets, the more Google considers you a high-quality (popular) site and the more relevant your site becomes.
So to recap:
- Keyword content gets you on the Google ladder
- Popularity ensures you climb it.
And this is where social media marketing comes in. What better way to breed website popularity than to have a high social following on any of your Facebook, Twitter or Google+ networks.
The more links to your site you put up on social networks and the bigger the social media following, the more people will click through – thus increasing the relevancy.
Of course, that is taking the huge assumption that people who follow your social networks will click through on your site…
Which is why engagement is the real gold for social media marketing, NOT how many fans a company page has.
There’s a real skill involved in tailoring your social posts so that they will be clicked, which you can helpfully read here.
And the final factor I’ll discuss is ‘Page Rank’. Devised by Google founder, Larry Page, this essentially boils down to links. Lots and lots of links to your site.
Consider the internet as a spiders web again – the more strings on that web directed to your ‘dot’ (your website), the more Google’s spiders consider your site relevant (in addition to keywords and popularity).
Now there may be some people reading this calling ‘BULLPLOP!’ and they’d be right. Because when this algorithm was first put in place, the rise of a technique called the ‘black hat method’ spread like wildfire.
To game the system, SEO specialists began linking to each other in the hope of getting linked in return (a basic scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours scenario) and even though a huge amount of links to a site had been built up, the relevancy of such content wasn’t exactly great for the user.
So Google have since changed this algorithm and only high-quality links to your site will be useful for SEO.
What’s a high-quality site? A popular site!
I’ll use the simplistic example from above – if I sell hot dogs locally, I’d much prefer if Armour hot dogs linked to my site than poor ‘ol Fluffy.
But why would they want to link to my site? Why would people want to click to read my site?
And this is why SEO is so effective. It comes down to content, good content. Content that people will want to read, share and link to. And this is why running a Blog is the most effective tool for inbound marketing.
More blogs = more content = more keywords = a further reach online.
Write good content and (to squeeze in a Field of Dreams reference)
They will come
The web traffic comes and most importantly, that high Google ranking. The Cream of the Crop absolutely do rise to the top!
I hope this post has helped in some small way. As you can see, for SEO purposes – the Blog is still king, whereas Social Media (although still useful) is not the dominant force at all.
Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll show you a step-by-step guide in how to conduct SEO for your SOCIAL networks. Yep, it’s not just websites or blogs that need to be optimized 😉
Thanks for reading and if you liked it, show the love with the like and share buttons and feel free to leave a comment below. If you liked reading this blog, please feel free to read some of our others, such as our Top 3 Tips to Be a Social Media Expert, what WE believe is the Best Social Media campaign of 2013 or how Social Media has completely revolutionized the TV Industry Part 1 and Part 2