Social Media & SEO

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As part of my job, I often conduct website evaluations for individuals who attend our Learn at Northwoods workshops. During these evaluations, I examine various aspects of the targeted website, including the site’s information architecture, on-page SEO, and general usability features.

At the end of the evaluation, during the Q&A session, I often get asked some version of the question “How does social media relate to SEO?”

The reality is, though, there is no clear-cut answer, or, at least, no clear answer right now. Like most things in the digital marketing space, the relationship between SEO and social media is ever-changing.

Last January, for example, Google announced that signals from popular social networks (like Facebook and Twitter) do not impact search results.

More recently however, information about a new deal between Google and Twitter leaked, which will now place tweets on SERPs (search engine result pages) in real-time. While the final details about this arrangement have not been announced, it’s very likely that Tweets will start impacting search results in a very real way.

Even without the new Twitter arrangement, though, there are some very simple, but real, ways that your social media efforts can positively impact your SEO.

  • Quality Inbound Links: The number of quality inbound links to your site is an important ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. Creating content that gets shared by others both socially and through links on other content (like blog posts) can positively boost your SEO as well as your overall brand recognition.
  • Local Ties: One of the most valuable aspects of social media promotion (especially if you use paid, promoted posts) is your ability to target your content to a specific geographical region, either by paying for targeted posts or by contributing to a location-specific conversation using region-specific hashtags or by interacting with local events or leaders. Local targeting is likely to become increasingly important during the next few years as smartphones, with built in GPS tracking, continue to rise in popularity.
  • It’s not all about Google: Yes, Google is the considered THE authority in search. However, after years of a near monopoly, competitors are starting to take back some ground from the giant. For example, according to recent data, Google accounted for less than 75% of U.S. search traffic for the the first time ever last month.  Bing, which is now the second most-popular search engine, DOES use social media signals as part of its ranking algorithm. As a result, building up a robust social presence can positively impact your search results for visitors who don’t use Google.

While the relationship between social media and SEO remains murky, the fact remains that they are two intertwined tactics that should remain important parts of your marketing playbook.

Competitive Analysis Tips and Tricks

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Well.. I hate to admit it, but I fell behind my goal of publishing one blog entry a month. In July, I started a new job as a Digital Account Coordinator at Northwoods Web Solutions, continued to work part time at my previous job and wrapped up wedding planning, leaving me with limited free time and my blog on the (unattended) back-burner.

However, in the spirit of the new year and resolutions, I’m going to start blogging again. With my new role and experiences, these posts will move toward topics and experiences related to digital marketing.

As part of my (fairly new) current position, I have conducted a variety of detailed digital analyses for a handful of our clients. As part of the analysis, I consider everything from SEO and website traffic to backlinking opportunities and social media landscapes.

While I think there is value in hiring an expert to conduct a competitive digital analysis (an outside perspective is invaluable!), there are also some steps you can take to conduct an analysis on your own.

Below are some tools, ticks and tips to get started:

  • Get familiar with GA: Setting up a Google Analytics account, and studying data about the visitors to your site, is the most important part of conducting a digital review.
  • Evaluate your competitors’ website traffic using Similar Web: This free tool provides an estimate of website traffic as well as how it arrived at the site (ie through search, referrals, social, etc.). I’ve compared the data provided by Similar Web to the data provided by Google Analytics and while it’s not exactly the same, it does provide an estimate that can be used as a baseline.
  • Check up on your SEO using WooRank: Conducting a quick SEO check up will identify trouble spots that may be negatively impacting your search traffic and (usually) bring to light some actionable items that can be tackled right away.
  • Keep tabs on social buzz using BuzzSumo: Using a simple keyword search, BuzzSumo identifies popular (industry specific) content shared on social media sites. BuzzSumo also provides insight on how the content traveled through the social space by reporting the number of shares on specific social networks.
  • Identify influencers using Topsy: Topsy, a free tool from Moz, allows you to identify influencers in your space by searching Twitter biographies for specific keywords. Reviewing what they share is a great way to determine what type of content gains traction within your space.

While the tools and tips outlined above won’t provide you with the same type of detailed competitive analysis I’ve been conducting lately, it’s a great way to get a bird’s-eye view of the digital landscape within your space.

Finally, if you want more information and you’re in the greater Milwaukee or Chicago area, check out my company’s free workshops covering many of the topics outlined above.