Social media and SEO. Clearly linking the two for SERP is murky but there’s no doubt that when paired together, small business owners can benefit from the most affordable web promotion tools available — themselves! So just how does engaging in social media help your SEO?

Determine your business goal

There are many reasons for participating in social media but, first, determine the business objective you want to accomplish. There are many detailed goals (such as R&D or User Generated Content) but most SMBs can break social media participation into two simple groups:

  1. Getting customers — increasing brand awareness and site traffic through keywords, content, and links
  2. Keeping customers — building stronger relationships through customer service and problem-solving or reputation management
In either of these, you can incorporate our 10 SEO tactics for social media and follow best-practice ideas for finding qualified leads and generating sales.

Getting customers

Social media is a complex network that travels across cultures, interests, races, socio-economic groups, and businesses. Everyone is somehow related to each other. First, go where your customers are (Facebook, Pinterest, Linked In etc) and then connect with individuals (B2C) or companies (B2B) that share a common tie. Your traditional database of 1000 contacts just grew 10-fold!

Many businesses now use social media as an inbound marketing tactic which ties in directly with SEO. Create a social media post with a link back to your great (original) content that will attract visitors to click through to your site. Try a special offer or other marketing giveaway. Once a visitor is there, your clear call-to-action improves opportunities for conversion. Always measure the success of your efforts and conversion rates with tools such as Google analytics.

Keeping customers

Customer retention is the cornerstone of all business practices. You’ve worked hard to find them, don’t let them slip away. Listening on social media can alert you to problems or opportunities in the marketplace. The folks at Kiss Metrics released an Infographic on the best social media monitoring tools.

Stick with it, always respond to comments whether they are good or bad. There is nothing worse than customer feedback or questions that go unanswered. Don’t be disheartened if it takes awhile to build mass — SEO or social media are NOT quick, one-time tactics.

Sharing on Google+ vs sharing ‘everywhere else’

This topic deserves an entire post of it’s own but sharing (and socializing) on the big search giant, Google, matters. Google+ launched earlier this year and has socialized search. They are always refining the algorithm and now prominently favor personalized results. This means what you share, especially with those in your circles, now has preference in the Google algorithm. Work on building up your circles and engaging if you want to improve your SERP.

Because Facebook and Twitter aren’t search engines, a strong following in these areas don’t directly impact search results although they are great for engaging with customers, broadening your reach, and driving traffic back to your site.

The ‘nofollow’ attribute

It’s important to note that most social media channels have the ‘nofollow’ attribute. This means that code tells the search crawlers NOT to follow the link from the comments on the page. This means that the links here have little or no impact on SEO.

If nothing else, participating in social media keeps you winning with do it yourself SEO — likely one of your competitors is already blogging and creating a circle of followers and fans. Who knows what the search engine algorithms will use in the future but you can bet social media will only gain prominence so you need to be there with keyword-rich posts and fresh content.

Do you have any tips for using social media to improve your SEO?