The role of social media marketing in SEO isn’t that obvious. Some people feel skeptical about social signals affecting Google’s rankings in any way. Some separate social media marketing and SEO as fields with different goals and methods. Yet these people constitute a minority among SEO experts, as it has recently turned out.
In the largest industry survey on how SEO professionals do link building in 2017, the results showed that most specialists use social media for link building. Namely:
- 88 percent of SEOs include links in social media profiles.
- 81 percent share their social media content.
- 53 percent have experimented with viral campaigns (social media contests, etc).
Here’s a chart that shows the efficiency level by category:
That is how we know link building with social media is a widely used tactic and an effective one, but overseen by many specialists of the field. If you’re one of them, keep reading. This article will give you an overview of tested methods that are worth trying out.
Include Links in Your Social Profiles
Social media is often thought as pointless for SEO for one simple reason: links from social media platforms are unfollowed. Even Google Plus, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn – platforms that either used to be exceptions to this rule, or thought by some to be – have at one or other points of their existence gone down the same road.
Today, Reddit is the only exception. However, marketing on Reddit is barely possible. Your product has to be extremely relevant to some subcommunity for your promotion and link building to work.
Yet you can’t afford to just ignore social media link building because it’s nofollow. What about social signals? What about traffic that comes from links in the news feeds? Matthew Woodward in his tutorial points out the importance of social backlinks for SEO and provides us with some tips on how to go about it.
For example, on Facebook, make sure to add:
- Your website link in the website field under Contact and Basic Info on your About tab;
- Your website URL anytime you post something on your wall, including images and videos;
- A link to your website to your group’s pinned post.
Similarly to what you’ve done on Facebook, go through your other social media pages and include links to cover photos, bios, images, descriptions, and so on. Even if you won’t keep up working with these social media pages, there’s no harm in having a rich description with links – only potential traffic!
Get People to See and Read Your Content
One of the main struggles of SEO and content marketing is getting people to see content. It’s no surprise that given the plethora of content online, it’s hard to find the audience that your articles will be relevant to. So here are some essential tactics for content promotion.
1. Make Your Text Readable
It should go without saying, but many people still write badly. Your content should be engaging, mistake-free, and concise if you want it to be seen. Even if it exists for SEO purposes only.
2. Research Competitors
By looking at your competitors’ link profiles you’ll find loads of opportunities for content promotion. Many heads are better than one! Remember to look at any niche-related industries, not just your direct competitors.
3. Aim for Evergreen Content
Easier said than done, but evergreen content should be your ultimate goal. Also, focus on content that can be rediscovered regularly. For example, an article about Halloween has a good chance of attracting new traffic every October.
4. Consider Translating Your Existing Content
If your audience is international, you’ll get more exposure and so much more links if you simply translate the content you already have.
5. Submit to Niche News Sites and Content Communities
Not every industry has a niche news site or content community, but most do. For example, in digital marketing, there’s GrowthHackers.com, Inbound.org, and BizSugar.com. Triberr.com features blog posts about almost anything. Look for similar websites in your industry, and submit your content for more exposure.
6. Submit to Communities on Social Networks
Communities on social networks are no less important. Depending on the niche, they can be active and therefore valuable to you. There are Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, and Google+ Communities, but you can also attempt marketing in the relevant Reddit or Tumblr communities.
Don’t forget about niche or local social platforms as well! There are some of them dedicated specifically to books or music, some are popular in specific countries only.
On all of these communities, you’ll have to engage with the readers by commenting and answering their questions. This is a good thing as readers may end up borrowing your content and linking back to you.
Create Viral Content
Going viral is the quickest and hardest way to earn links. When social media campaigns or even social media crisis cases go viral, the links appear on popular resources and news websites with no further effort from you.
While getting into a social media crisis to end up on The Guardian is risky, creating viral content is the dream many marketers have. But not many even attempt to do that.
While some videos go viral purely by chance or due to their outstanding content, many are created by marketers that know the key to viral marketing. Let’s try to reverse-engineer the process by looking at companies whose campaign go viral quite regularly.
1. Aim Your Social Media Marketing at Teens & Young Adults
Let’s look at the brand stars of social media: the American fast food chain Taco Bell and the British mobile network O2. While loads of grown-ups eat fast-food and all of them use mobile network (and are more likely to actually use O2 since it’s a rather expensive one), social media marketing of both brands seems to be aimed at teens and young adults. It’s all about jokes, banter, emojis, and sometimes swear words. To be natural at it, brands hire millennials – people who grew up with social media and all its viral culture around them.
Why do brands aim at this part of their potential buyers when creating their social media strategy?
Perhaps, they realize that this is precisely the audience that makes something go viral.
As a result, simple conversations between these brands and clients, or these brands and other brands go viral simply because they are funny.
2. React to Whatever Is Going on in Social Media in Real-Time
As the former Digital Marketing and Social Media lead at Taco Bell, Nicholas Tran said:
“The main difference in strategy now vs. before is that what we are doing today in social media is real-time, and we listen and engage all the time.”
Things on social media happen all the time. Life never pauses. People keep reading and commenting and sharing.
A rare campaign will go viral without a social media manager adding fuel to the fire. The key is keeping up a conversation that seems to attract more attention than usual and engaging with any mentions of the campaign.
Another tactic is reacting to whatever is already trending on social media. To bring this idea to life, marketers should be on the lookout for what’s trending and jump on the trend at the right moment.
For example, when #10ThingsIGetAlot was trending on Twitter, Taco Bell tweeted “Do you sell bells?”. Their response was cute and funny, and got loads of attention.
Keep in mind that brands should always check what the trend is actually about, and consider the risks that any sensitive trends can bring about. While jumping on some social media trends is purely unethical, some cases can be risky but worth it.
For example, DiGiorno Pizza jumping, apparently (and hopefully) by accident, on the trending hashtag #WhyIStayed campaign that aimed at bringing light to domestic violence cases, definitely belongs to the first category.
On the other hand, Oreo with its rainbow cookie pushed all the right buttons, going viral and creating loads of discussion, traffic, and links.
3. Be Creative
That is undoubtedly another area when it’s easier said than done. However, you can’t hope to go viral by simply creating the kind of content that everyone is creating, even if it’s better, deeper or more colorful.
You have to stand out to go viral.
One tactic for that is looking at your competitors and doing something absolutely opposite.
For example, when Taco Bell had to promote their new mobile ordering app they rightly decided that no one would notice it if they’ll make loads of noise on social media, like everyone else does. So instead they deleted all their social media pages leaving only one clear message:
The success on the campaign went viral, earning loads of links and traffic, and the app became the most downloadable one in the App Store’s “food and drink” category.
Link building with social media is real and effective. While there’s almost no excuse for not applying some tactics (read: including links in your social profiles), some will take loads of effort (read: viral content). As with everything, the latter also has a better chance for improving your rankings.
In any case, have a go at trying most tactics and strategies described here, and see what works best for you.
- Related reading: SEJ’s Illustrated Guide to Link Building
In-post Image # 1: Created by Aleh Barysevich, September 2017
Screenshots taken by Aleh Barysevich, September 2017