Tips to Use Social Signals for SEO

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These years saw a huge rise in social sharing and its effects on search. Google, in particular, began to incorporate a huge number of social signals into its search results.

However, for many marketers, it’s not always clear how social media impacts search engine optimization. In this article, we will share several tips to help you understand how social media SEO works.

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How do social signals improve rankings?

While any answer to this question is highly debatable, I believe that social signals have both a direct and indirect impact on organic search rankings.

In 2013, Moz surveyed over 120 leading search marketers who provided expert opinions on over 80 ranking factors. Page Level Social Metrics shows like this:

page level social metrics

These features relate to third-party metrics from social media sources such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the ranking page. Social signals were some of our highest correlated factors, with Google+ edging out Facebook and Twitter.

So here we can see direct impact comes from:

  • Number of people that add “+1” in Google+
  • Number of people that “have you in their circles” in Google+
  • Number of people that like your brand on Facebook
  • Number of Facebook shares
  • Number of Twitter followers
  • Number of tweets mentioning your brand name or including a link to your website

Although not so straightforward, those indirect impact comes from:

  • Increased inbound links and citations due to improved online visibility/brand awareness
  • Increased positive reviews (in Google Local , Yelp, etc.) due to happier customers
  • Decreased bounce rate, higher time on site, and more repeat visitors to your website

How to improve your website’s social signals?

To improve SEO ranking, there are two core elements to social media: onsite and offsite. If you want to properly establish and grow a social media campaign, both elements must be present and refined.

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Onsite elements include:

  • Share buttons (like, recommend, tweet, bookmark, etc.)
  • Connect buttons (Like a Facebook page, Follow on Twitter, Follow on LinkedIn, etc.)
  • A blog

Offsite elements include:

  • Facebook page
  • Twitter account
  • LinkedIn company page
  • Pinterest/ Instagram account
  • Youtube account
  • Guest blog posting
  • Other social media platforms

How to measure and report social SEO metrics?

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Now we know the importance of social signals to SEO, but how can we measure the impact our social efforts?

There are so many potential performance indicators to measure, you’ve got to choose the right metrics for your goals. Here are four metrics for you to consider how to measure your social SEO.

  • Organic traffic

Social activity can increase organic search traffic to your site. To measure this, you’ll first define your most shareable content. Then look specifically at this content to find out if your efforts to promote it socially are also paying off in organic search.

  • Number of owned or positive results

Social SEO is particularly useful for online reputation management. To measure this one,  you should firstly decide on your keywords to watch. This list will generally be more focused on branded keywords than an overall keyword strategy. A web search for these terms should return owned results, such as your website, your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc., along with positive and neutral results.

  • Shares per post

The clearest indicator that you’re doing the social part of social SEO right is how engaged people are with your content. This data will give you insight into where your target demographic is, who they are and what they want.

  • Social referrals

A final way to see the impact of your social SEO strategy is to look at social referral traffic. A tweet by an influential user will bring more traffic to your website, and search engines are learning to give more weight to those kinds of social signals. So your overall social referral traffic will be indicative of your social SEO success.

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