Although most search engines, such as Google and Bing, have at times refuted claims that posts in social media channels, for example on Facebook and Twitter, and the popularity such posts attract, are factors which directly influence the ranking of search engine results, most industry experts agree that a proper, well-designed social media strategy is an important factor for any company's SEO efforts and positively contributes to increasing visibility and improving search result rankings.
This is especially relevant for online companies operating in the Cyprus market, where the oxymoron is observed of relatively low e-literacy amongst the entire population and meagre use of online purchases, coupled with a very high degree of penetration of social media usage, notably with over 80% of Cypriots having Facebook accounts. Therefore, it becomes an undeniable need for companies to find ways to integrate social media into their overall SEO campaigns, since it is apparent that a proper social media strategy – both paid and organic – does tangibly lead to better SEO results overall.
The first way to include social media into your company’s long-term SEO plan stems from the way social media marketing relates to and compliments your brand building efforts. When considering this point, it is enlightening to bear in mind that especially when it comes to buying services as well as products with high prices, such as luxury goods, consumers have the tendency of doing their research well before committing to a purchase and very often this research is done online. Moreover, they often start off researching around a specific need directly from one of the social media/networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc.
Converting a prospective client into an actual consumer is usually spurred by two factors, i.e. whether the interested person likes and trusts the particular brand or service provider. Thus, the brands with a solid social media marketing campaign are more likely to stand out and attract more attention, acquiring more trust and likeness in the eyes of prospective buyers. Consequently, the overall SEO efforts of any particular brand or service provider are greatly aided by targeted moves on the social media channels and networks.
Designing and carefully maintaining a distinct identity for your offering, using targeted language when promoting your messages, creating original, brand-related content which encourages interaction and results in consumer commitment and using contests and other means to create a group of loyal followers and brand advocates, who will work as multipliers, are some of the methods at your disposal when looking for synergies between your social media strategy and overall SEO campaign.
The gravity of your brand’s presence in social media and the image projected in the way prospective customers find you and ultimately decide to buy from you, becomes more apparent when considering that once a good relationship and engagement is established between a client and a brand on social media, then the client is more prone to visit an actual company website several times and also more likely to refer other people to the company’s pages and social profiles.
Increased awareness and visibility of a brand or online business through social media networks, inevitably leads to more searches specifically for that brand or business directly from search engines. This increased demand is taken into account by search engines, who then in turn improve the ranking result. Within this context it is clear how properly building your brand in social media ties in with your long-term SEO efforts and strategies.
Another factor to consider when assessing the usefulness of social media in improving SEO rankings is the fact that profiles in social media networks do show up in organic search results. This occurs often because people often look up another person’s name that they know is associated with a specific product or service instead of the brand itself. The person might be anyone from a company CEO to a mere salesperson. Therefore it is also important to remember to have personal profiles that are valid and updated because it is likely that an interested client might click on that first and the image projected there will greatly impact their first impression of your offering. If they are not convinced from what they see they might go back in that social network, for example on LinkedIn and click on the profile of another competitive service provider who will then benefit and nail the sale instead of you.
What is also important to implement is having a coherent strategy for all social networks where your brand maintains a presence, but also ensuring that the content uploaded is specifically oriented and appropriate for each separate social medium.
Building a good reputation in the social media sphere, fostering a responsive, interactive relationship with followers, replying to comments and making social media users feel that their feedback and opinion is valued and it matters, will in turn bring you new followers, it will inevitably generate more traffic and more clicks and will thus markedly improve your rankings and benefit your overall SEO strategy.
Last but not least, remember that social networks have integrated search engines as well and many times these are used as a first resort. Therefore, ensure that you review your profiles across the social media spectrum frequently, that you optimize the content in a manner that better targets prospective customers and boosts the visibility of your social profile and your products or services, leading more and more traffic to your actual website.
Finally, having managed to generate increased traffic, make sure that your website and/or e-commerce store is built following the current on-site SEO methods, so that each visit will result in either a sale or at least in another repeat visit, engaging prospective customers and fostering long term relations of loyalty and trust.
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