In recent years, the importance of following an integrated approach to digital marketing has become ever-apparent with many brands looking to solidify their visibility online. Whilst search and social media were once considered separate entities, in today’s digital climate it is essential that both elements are equally deliberated when formulating a strategy for either one of these disciplines. In particular, when creating tactics for search engine optimisation (SEO), activity on social media must be considered.
As well as looking at a number of on-site elements when determining a site’s ranking position, search engines also consider qualitative off-site components, including engagement and links created across social networks. Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, are being used by millions of users around the globe each day, with many interacting with and sharing posts from brand and company profiles. While this is great for a brand’s social following and overall online presence, it is also having a positive effect on the company’s search rankings. The leading search engines have all gone public to say that their algorithms take social signals into consideration, even though the links from within social sites are mostly ‘nofollow’, a tag that once meant search engines ignored the link and its destination.
Social signals, created when a person interacts with a brand page’s content, tells search engines that the content is deemed popular. If a link to a website is included within the content that then gets +1d, retweeted or commented on, for example, this can act as a recommendation for the page and even the site as a whole.
Another important aspect is the correlation between on-site content and social sharing. Google’s guidelines were recently updated to state: “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share”. This indicates that on-site sharing is a metric being watched closely by Google and there is a relationship between shares and ranking positions. Sharing buttons, therefore, must be incorporated into webpages and on-site content needs to be as strong and useful to the visitor as possible in order to encourage sharing.
No longer can an SEO team work independently in order to obtain results. It must work closely with the brand’s social media team or agency and even closer with the on-site content and technical departments. As social media grows up, its value is moving beyond soft engagement metrics and towards more holistic digital visibility and conversion.