If you want to rank higher in search engines, you need links—period.
In case you aren’t familiar, links serve as a kind of digital “vote of confidence.” If a site links to your site, Google considers that to vouch for your authority on a given subject. If you earn lots of links from lots of offsite sources, you’ll increase your authority, which will therefore increase your likelihood of ranking for queries that are relevant to your site.
In short, more links and better links = higher rankings. (As long as you’re link building correctly).
But is it possible to build links using social media? Social media is an incredibly popular channel, both for individual consumers and for marketers, because it allows you to reach millions of people. Could it be useful as part of your SEO strategy?
And if so, how can you use social media for link building?
Let’s start by answering a commonly asked question: does social media affect SEO?
SEO usually requires a website to spend time making itself more visible, more authoritative, and more popular. So it makes sense that a brand heavily supported by a social media audience would rise in rankings.
Of course, the reality is more complicated than that.
To start, understand that your social media profiles will have their own status as a webpage; you can attempt to increase the rankings of your social media profiles, just as you could increase the rankings of your main website. And if you have lots of followers and lots of inbound links, those profiles can rank quite highly in search engines.
That said, we’re more focused on increasing the rankings of your main site. Merely having social media profiles established can help lend more authority to your website and make your brand seem more “legitimate” in Google’s eyes. We’ll touch on this more in the next section.
However, getting lots of followers, shares, comments, and likes will not directly increase your rankings in search engines. Just having 160,000 followers and getting 15,000 shares on your last post will not necessarily increase your main website’s likelihood of ranking for relevant searches.
The operative word here is “directly.” Social media may not “directly” increase your rankings, but it can certainly indirectly increase your rankings. Here’s how.
Having a piece of your content shared will not count as a ranking factor to increase that content’s rankings in search engines. However, that share will introduce your content to a wider audience, increasing traffic to that page, increasing time spent on that page, and most importantly, increasing the likelihood of other people building links to that page.
And as we already covered, more links will increase your authority significantly.
To sum it up, social media can play a small role in directly increasing your rankings, but it’s best used to indirectly increase your rankings. It can do this if you use it as a channel for link building campaigns.
So what are the best ways to use social media for link building & SEO?
We’ll explore each of these ideas below.
Fortunately, this step is easy.
Create as many social media profiles for your business as you can—one for each platform, even if you don’t intend on using that platform regularly. Fill in your profile completely, naming your business, explaining its purpose, and including a link back to your homepage.
This step is crucial and will immediately make your business seem more authoritative. This will also make your homepage available to followers who decide they want to link to you.
The core piece of your strategy will be using social media to share content.
The idea goes like this. You create an amazing piece of content that people will naturally want to link. You share it to an audience of fans. Those fans share it even further. Eventually, the content reaches thousands, or even millions of people, and some percentage of those readers will link to it. Those links accumulate and increase your rankings.
Here’s how to effectively achieve this:
Step one is creating compelling content.
This content needs to be impressive enough to share and informative enough to earn a link.
Here are some quick tips to make that happen:
So what steps can you take to make your content even more shareable?
There are some great guides on content virality out there, but here are some of the most important steps you can take:
Ideally, you’ll be sharing a new piece of content every day. This will maximize your exposure and your opportunities to get new shares and links.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that you can share the same piece of content multiple times. If you choose to do this, make sure to wait several days before sharing it again, and wait even longer for the next time you share it. For example, you could share a new piece of content January 1, share it again January 8, then share it once every 3-4 weeks on rotation. To make an even bigger impact and avoid annoying your followers, change up the headline every time you share it.
Over time, you can filter out the posts that don’t seem to be making much of an impact, and double down on the posts that seem to generate attention every time you share them.
That said, there’s an important caveat here: don’t share too frequently on social media. Twitter is a more forgiving platform that allows you to post many times per day, but on a platform like Facebook, 1-2 posts per day is plenty.
The bigger your audience, the further your content is going to reach.
Here are some easy ways you can increase the size of your audience to ultimately build more links:
Finally, consider tapping into the power of influencers for link building. The basic idea here is to find people in your niche who have massive followings and use their influence and audience to get more attention for your content.
Obviously, you’ll need to be tactful here. These are some of the most important tips to follow:
The educated SEO expert might argue:
But 99% of links from social media accounts are re=’nofollow’. The links from social media have less of an impact on SEO!
In addition, Google has recently confirmed that while nofollow links may not pass any equity or “juice” from one page to another, they do act as a “hint” to algorithms:
So, if the ancillary benefits of referral traffic, awareness and branding aren’t enough for you, then please do not fail to be working the social channels for links as a hint or a means of expanding your profile. Failing to do so would be against SEO best practices.
Social media marketing isn’t going to boot your SEO strategy directly, but it can be a valuable way to earn profile links, share content, and build relationships with influencers. If it’s integrated with the rest of your SEO strategy, it can help you rank higher—and certainly help you attract more traffic.
If you’re interested in checking your own backlinks now, take a look at our free SEO backlinks checker tool here!
Are you interested in getting more out of your existing SEO strategy? Or are you waiting for a good time to start? Now is the perfect time to start working with an SEO agency. Contact us today for a free consultation, and find out why!