Is Social Media Important for SEO?
How to Improve Web Presence for Small Business – Free (part 3)
Today we build on Part 2 of our series on how to improve web presence for small business by exploring social media. Many small businesses have a solid web site. It is engaging and informative. Yet the business does not receive all the site traffic it should.
You may have heard that using social media is valuable to your web site performance and business success. Hopefully, your web designer has encouraged you to use it. But it’s “social” media, right? It seems like a lot of wasted time to use that for business. So, “is social media important for SEO?”
If you’re here, I bet you already know the answer. Why would anyone write an entire article just to say “no”? The answer is “Yes!” Social media is a vital part of your SEO efforts. Let’s look at, not only why, but also how to use social media in your online marketing to improve SEO for your small business.
What is social media?
The very first thing we have to explore is the definition of social media. Many think of it as something you use to share funny gifs with your friends or post about that killer workout you (supposedly) did at 6 am. But it is so much more.
Social media is a living network of connection between you and all who read what you post. It is nearly everything, except your web site, that works to let your customers find you and get to know you. Think of it as a way to hold an ongoing discussion with every visitor, all at the same time, telling them what you want them to know.
What Kind of Social Media Do I Use?
There are many options here. The most obvious ones are Facebook and Twitter. If you immediately think, “but that’s just for keeping in touch with people”, you’re right. But go back and read the section above. This isn’t Facebook for your pals. This is social media targeted specifically to your customers.
Among the many choices for your social media use are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, Google+, and more. Just do a search for “types of social media sites” and you’ll fine many (many!) options. Investigate each a little to see which ones work best for your business.
Each has a specific method for how they engage your client. For example, while Pinterest and Instagram focus heavily on images, and YouTube is strictly video, Twitter is more useful for sudden advertising and marketing promotions. Meanwhile, LinkedIn exists as a full network of business professionals that allows you to connect to business colleagues.
To some degree each type of social media platform can be used interchangeably. In fact, they are often linked together on the back side of things to make it easier to post. Best of all, all of this is FREE!
How Do I Set Up My Social Media Accounts?
The preferred method of setting up your social media is to use the same account name for each of them. If your business is “Jack’s Burger Bistro”, and you’ve followed our URL recommendations from our previous article, preferably each of your social media would be named similarly.
You are bound to run into a few snags though. You may find some social media platforms have account name length limits. You may find some places where it just doesn’t seem right. Maybe the account name has already been used. That’s okay, do your best.
For example, our website URL is crimsonwebdesign. This is also the account name for our Facebook page. But it was too long for our Twitter page when we created it so we went with “CrimsonWebDev” instead. It still works. Otherwise, just follow the instructions on each platform to set up the account you desire.
Helpful Tip! – Don’t forget to place a link to your web site under each social media profile as well as placing your logo prominently on the page.
What Do I Post?
You can decide how best to use the various platforms by simply visiting each and getting a feel for what they offer. One easy way to get a feel for this is to visit the social media of top dogs in your industry. Have a small restaurant? Visit Wendy’s social media. Have a medical billing or software service in your area? Visit Kareo’s social media.
When reading their posts, focus on the message they intend to deliver to customers. If you have been following our previous articles, you should already know where you are focusing your own messages. Then begin looking for, or writing, content that will deliver these messages in the best way possible.
How Do I Write Good Content
If a topic is important to you as a business owner it is probably important to your current and future clients as well. Post what matters for your business’s goal. The best way to do this is to focus on what the client needs that you can deliver.
If you are an addiction recovery clinic, post about ways to help families understand how best to help the recovering addict. Post five important steps to deal with a sudden temptation. If it matters to clients, it matters to you.
Some items will be short. A twitter post is made to be that way. Maybe you want people to know you are having a sale on Friday. Other times it may be an entire article, like this one, full of content to absorb. You get to decide.
One of the most powerful forms of social media can be a blog. Merriam-Webster provides a definition for “blog” here. Essentially, it is an article you write that contains content you want your readers to know. It is not short like a tweet (ie, post on Twitter) but almost like a magazine article. Because of its length and structure, it takes a little more work to write one. But it is very valuable if used well as part of your web site. It becomes an ongoing resource for your clients that compels them to visit your web site over and over.
This creates site activity, which Google assumes is because you’re providing relevant content to your visitors. And Google would be right!
How Do I Organize a Blog Article?
There’s no purely right answer to this but there are some tips. When I write a blog article, like this one, I make a list of sections I want to cover. These become my headers (what you’re seeing here in bold crimson font). Google likes things organized so you want to have a main header (“H1” in coding terms) along with sub-headers (“H2”-“H5”) that help Google understand the outline for the article. This will help Google index everything so people can find it.
Google will also appreciate this neat organization and it will help your SEO optimization. As for the paragraphs, write clearly with nicely contained sentence structure. Writing not your strong suit? That’s okay, you can write the article then simply paste it into Edit Minion. It will review the structure for you. And, hey, it’s Free too!
How Do I Use Links In My Article?
Don’t forget to place a few relevant and useful links in your article too, such as the Edit Minion link or a link to a previous article. Having internal links (eg, a previous article) and external links (eg, to Edit Minion) helps create that branching network that Google likes to see. Don’t overdo it though. Having every possible reference be a link will be overkill, both for Google and your reader. Use them judiciously, but use them.
Is Maintaining Social Media a Lot of Work?
The answer is, sure. But there are ways to make it easier. A lot of your social media can be linked in the background. That way, when you post to Facebook, your Twitter post is automatically created for you. Even if it doesn’t auto-post you can quickly copy/paste content once it is written.
Let’s look at the blog suggestion. You’re reading the Crimson Web Design blog right now. But this blog article is also getting posted out to our social media. Did you end up on our web site here by following a link from Facebook or Twitter? See, it’s working!
How Often Should I Post to My Social Media?
Post as often as you like, or can. The greater your activity, the more Google will favor your business in internet search results. Always remember though, Google expects relevant content. So while posting some pics from the office holiday party is awesome, avoid flooding your social media with content unrelated to your business.
A few casual posts here and there can show everyone you are wonderful people that transcend mere dollars and cents. That’s awesome- really. But don’t post forty times with video links of dogs on skis (unless you own a business teaching dogs to ski!).
Do I Have to Do All This Myself?
Nope. You should follow other businesses and organizations that deliver content relevant to your own. Let’s say you own the aforementioned medical billing service. Your clients will be physicians of some sort. Would they be interested in your social media if you also reposted from the social media for the AMA (American Medical Association) or CMMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services)? Of course! Follow important, powerful, and relevant organizations to quickly gather articles you can link to on your own site.
On top of all this, you also have the option of hiring content writers for your social media. There are many blog and social media writers out there who can assist you. But these aren’t going to be free and “free” is the focus of this series on increasing SEO optimization for small business.
How Much Does This All Really Matter?
Let’s put it this way: If social media didn’t matter that much for a business, would billion dollar companies hire entire teams just to develop and maintain it? Would Taco Bell bother with a Twitter account even though they are well known and can expect customers at all hours of the day for an inexpensive meal? Well, Taco Bell does have a Twitter account. Facebook too. Also, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest. Bottom line: Yes! It matters!
Google favors web sites that have relevant content, high activity, and favorable reviews. That’s what they are all about. Having a web site is critical and the right first step. Whether you designed it yourself or used the services of a web designer like Crimson Web Design, you need the web site as a central hub of everything your business delivers.
We talked about maintaining high activity on the web. A web site, by itself, runs the risk of being static. It is difficult to update a web site often because of the coding requirements. Besides, you already have the layout and content you like for it so there’s little need to change it.
But you don’t want the web site to just sit day after day. You want recurring, and new, visitors coming your way. Google cares about this.
How Do I Get More Traffic to My Web Site?
One of the easiest ways to get more traffic to your web site is to put a blog on it. Give it its own page with a link on the main menu. The blog can be updated often with new relevant content that will pull visitors to your site.
The next step is to establish your social media presence on the various platforms of choice. Then, when you write a blog article, place a new post with the link to it on your social media platforms. Not only does this deliver new content but it creates a small network of links between your web site and each of your social media platforms. Now you are suddenly reaching out to everyone who follows each of your platforms, all at the same time! If they repost or review anything you post, this is even better.
Google loves that kind of activity and cross-connection! As your social media visitors follow a link (say, from Facebook back to your blog) they are letting Google know that this is good content other people should see. They are also now on your web site, ready to receive all the beauty and wonder that it holds for your visitors. There is compelling content there to get them to contact you for their business needs. And, really, isn’t that the whole point?
Once you have created your social media sites, you will want to do everything possible to make sure Google knows how they are all supposed to work together. Your web designer will have ways to code your social media platform links in the background so they are part of your web site. Those same links will also be prominently featured on the web site itself.
There will be, for example, a Twitter link on your web site visitors can follow. Likewise, your Twitter (and other social media platforms) will all have a link back to your main web site. Again, Google likes these reciprocal links.
You will also make use of Google’s available tools for building your entire online network. This will include using such things as Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. We will talk about this in our next article.
We live in an era where nearly everyone is connected to the internet at all times. We are given dozens or hundreds of nudges every day to view some sort of content that has been pushed out to us. In the incredibly competitive world of small business, you want that content to be yours.
By having a diverse and powerful social media presence you can easily reach out to everyone all at once. If that content is well-written, engaging, relevant, and technically sound, you will get visitors. You will get noticed. You will get business.
Maintaining a strong social media presence is one of the best ways to optimize SEO for your small business – for Free.