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Whether or not social media has a direct impact on rankings has been an ongoing controversial debate. Apart from taking Google’s announcement at face value – accepting the lack of a causal connection between the two – recent studies bring useful insights that make us rethink our marketing strategies:

After all, it makes sense: good content will both perform well on social media and get ranked higher in Google’s SERP, even in the absence of a cause-effect connection. But how can you use these correlations to strengthen your SEO performance? Matt Reevey, SEO expert at UENI, outlines 5 ways you can cultivate the relation between SEO and social media to boost your site’s visibility in Google and work towards higher rankings.

  1. Use social media to improve site engagement

Social media is all about engagement, and the higher the engagement a webpage has, the lower its bounce rate gets. We all know that bounce rates are a bad signal for Google but what type of content generates more action beyond social media?

Interactivity is at the heart of content engagement. If you want more than a simple like from your readers, you must make them feel that their opinions truly matter. Build quizzes, test their personality, let them know that their input counts. Use hashtags to help them connect with like-minded people and discover more content they value. Offer them a platform to nurture their competitive spirit and satisfy their need to be part of a community. Finally, offer them an incentive in the form of a discount, free shipping, memberships, etc.

  1. Use social media to increase brand awareness

Even if social media is not a direct ranking factor, it still is a great way of driving website traffic, promoting your business and increasing your online reputation. By sharing content that generates more user engagement, you’ll also be able to increase your customers’ awareness of your brand. 

Run thorough research to find the topics that best resonate with your audience and reveal the keywords they are using in their search. Write quality articles addressing their interests and answering their queries. This will not only help you build authority in your industry, but also nurture your audience’s connection with the brand. In turn, you benefit from increased awareness, positively correlated to improved rankings on both branded and non-branded keywords.

  1. Get the shares that matter for your link-building strategy

It happens that high-ranking pages have lots of shares. Naturally, good content will get picked up more, and referenced more. But it matters who does it. The more high-authority backlinks a website gets, the greater impact it will have on rankings.

It also matters what kind of activity a social media post generates – does it bring likes, shares, inbound links? Any business can benefit from high-quality links to boost their page authority, which in turn contributes to higher rankings. Use social media monitoring tools to discover authors and influencers that are promoting similar content. Engage with them and reach out to get your content featured on their profiles to boost your visibility and expand your audience.

  1. Post content at the right frequency  

The social media posting frequency is another controversy specialists have long debated. There is no special formula when it comes to the number of times or the right time for posting on social media, and different platforms have different dynamics. What’s most important is how your target audience’s expectations, behaviour, and standards.

The key to success comes from planning ahead: do your homework – when, where, and how often do your competitors post new content on their social accounts?; A/B testing – try different approaches and use social media management tools (Sendible, Facebook Page Insights, etc) to assess the performance of your posts; set up a proactive strategy, keep it consistent, and follow it religiously; focus on quality versus quantity and be mindful of the Brand Pulse principle – once you’ve set up a standard, do your best to keep it up.

  1. Build a strong social media profile

First impressions matter, so make sure you cover your basics to create a strong brand presence: curate your bio to meet your tone of voice and writing style, make sure your visual identity is covered (logo, photo-shooting imagery, advertising photos, events posters, infographics, etc) – every element that represents your brand is important, especially on social media where users engage better with visual content. 

Be mindful of what you are sharing: keep it relevant, coherent with your brand values, and conversation worthy. Aim for evergreen content and pin the most relevant posts on top of the page.