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 — 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.

You can also blog straight from your Google+ profile. Why do this, when sharing a page from your Website on Facebook would have an immediately larger audience? Well, if you’re into email marketing — and you should be — then Google+ will embed your latest blog content on emails you send to any Gmail users. Write blog entries that are relevant to new sales and promotions to boost the power of your email campaigns.

Don’t make the mistake though of blogging only about products and sales. People often use search engines to shop for goods and services, but many use social media to connect and communicate. Think of ways you can do the same with your customers. How does your business benefit your community? How does your business improve people’s lives? What advice can you give to make people’s lives easier?

5. Involve Your Local Media … and Share

Positive media coverage can work wonders for your social media and SEO campaigns. Most media outlets nowadays post their stories online, and these stories can be linked on your social media profiles. News reports aren’t just credible, but they’re also well written and/or professionally produced. This is a fantastic recipe for more shares, better signals and improved rankings.

Of course, you need to find ways to get the media involved. Journalists are always on the prowl for localized approaches to timely or seasonal issues. How can you position yourself as an expert to help people be prepared? Answer this question, and you’ll likely have a story idea worth pitching.

6. Focus Your Efforts

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest — there are so many social media channels that could possibly help your SEO.  The question is…Where to begin?

My answer is to start out small. Focus on the one or two channels that make the most sense for your business and build from there. Using social media to improve your SEO is an ongoing task, and leveraging just a single social media channel requires a constant effort.

Summary

Social media marketing is completely different than search engine optimization, but the two are increasingly working hand-in-hand. Content that’s likely to be good for SEO also tends to be highly valuable on social media channels, and successful social media campaigns have shown to strengthen SEO. This is a trend that is likely to continue given the rising prominence of social media. If you’re looking for ways to improve your SEO strategy, now is a great time to see what more you can do with your social media channels.

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