For organizations everywhere, the days of disconnection or even indifference between your social media and SEO strategy are long gone. The truth is that the connection – both directly and indirectly – impacts everything from search rankings to brand perception to engagement and ultimately, revenue. Social media is more important now than ever before, though it’s not just about brand perception or in-market exposure. The connections between social and search engine optimization run deeper than you may at first think.

The Connections

Nowadays, one of the easiest ways for a customer to decide on a purchase is to either do their due-diligence through exploratory questions, probing terms or relevant phrases to find the exact information they seek on a search engine, or to check a company’s social media accounts instead. Both social and search offer easy access to a company’s product information, images, videos and product reviews, which massively influence a buyer’s choices, preferences and loyalties. A study conducted by ‘Igniyte’ stated that, “93% of people say online reviews impact their buying decisions,” whilst “90% of people take the time to read online reviews before visiting a business.”

‘Scribd’ published a study which says that, “consumers are equally likely today to use a combination of search and social media in their path to purchase as opposed to just search. 48% of those who convert utilize both search and social media versus 51% that use search alone.” According to a Hubspot report, 71% of consumers are more likely to make purchases based on social media referrals. Further to this study, Forbes has shown that 78% of consumers’ purchases are impacted by companies’ social media posts. All indications show that this dynamic purchasing journey is only ever going to get more…dynamic! Yet marketers must also ensure that their more traditional SEO strategy is on point. Being on Page 1 of searches related to your products and services is the Holy Grail, and for good reason. HubSpot’s recent research shows that “75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results,” which alone speaks for itself when it comes to finding the right SEO strategy for your business and particular USPs. Then, once customers do land on your site, your social media accounts, blog pages and other real-time channels, they will more often than not form part of their user journey. This is your golden opportunity to cement brand perception, increase conversions, and drive loyalty.

Both are major internet entry points

There are 3.5 billion searches per day on Google alone. There are also over 3.8 billion people interacting with social media on a daily basis. Either search or social is often the first point of entry when people jump online. So, with almost half of the world’s population active on each of these channels, it is absolutely business-critical to optimize both to see the true business benefits that a strong social and search strategy can have. If marketers want to rival competitors for the top spot at the table whilst getting a strong ROI on marketing efforts, maximizing your visibility at each of those internet entry points is a sure-fire way to do it.

Both can be used to ask questions and seek answers

As we all know, search engines are the primary touchpoint for answering your questions. Whether it be finding the name of that song you heard on the radio, or flicking through tasty recipes to cook at home this summer, we’re all guilty of pulling our phones out of our pockets and heading straight for Google. That’s not to mention the search for professional services, tech, education, online communities, and so on. With Google now processing over 40,000 search queries per second (Internetlivestats, 2019), the world has turned to the search engine for all and everything that you need to know, or find, in life.

It’s also important to note that Google is now optimized to provide quick-fire solutions that can be a very handy addition to day-to-day living. When Google introduced ‘featured snippets’ back in 2014, search engine results pages were changed forever. Featured snippets allow users to gain insight to questions they have asked, without having to click-through to websites and scroll in search for the answer. If Google shows a featured snippet on behalf of your website content, that indicates that your content is useful and informative, further enhancing the possibility of users investing and trusting your brand.

Though search engines are not the only ones throwing up answers to users’ questions. Social media (or ‘social search engines’) is increasingly becoming a go-to, too. Although it may not be the same linear process of Q&A that search engines offer, social media platforms show results for just about any keyword or phrase that is typed into their built-in search bar. For example, if you’re looking for buddha inspired tattoo’s, you could either type those keywords into a search engine like Google or Bing to find answers, or alternatively, you could head over to social media accounts like Instagram or Pinterest, where a vast amount of results will be waiting.

A Combined Marketing Effort

Social media has the power to impact search rankings both directly and indirectly, and it’s key that marketers of today have a clear understanding of various factors that come into play. Gone are the days where both areas of marketing are treated as completely separate, but instead, there is significant research and evidence indicating that smart marketers are continuing to think outside of the box. To push you in the right direction, below highlights our top considerations for all marketers when planning successful – and connected – SEO and social media strategies:

Social media profiles rank in search engines

When searching for a company or brand online the search results below will, of course, consist of the content, sites and handles that best answer the question you’ve posed. Take any national or international fashion retailer, for example, more often than not, the brand’s main social media channel will sit directly under the official website itself on Page 1 search engine results.

It’s not just the relevancy of content either. Content that receives a high level of engagement will rank on search for the topics they cover. According to Moz, “to determine success, an algorithm looks at whether users engaged. If more people engage that’s a clear sign that their algorithm is showing this right content; if not, their systems will audition other content instead to find something that generates that interest.”

Search and social requires keyword research

Keywords are the focal point of a ‘best-answer content strategy’. The use of keywords is not exclusive to search and search only – they can also be applied to social media marketing. When businesses have a clear understanding of the phrases/queries that their audience is searching for, they are able to better align their content to suit. This is true on social as well. When businesses use the right hashtags (keywords) frequently in posts, consistently gaining strong engagement and exposure, their brand will be more likely to show up at the top of the feeds of people who are interested.

Marketers who are able to apply ‘keyword’ research to both search and social will in turn increase exposure and drive newly interested individuals to your content. It’s all about finding out what people are interested in and finding a way to deliver it.

Social Media can drive website page views and engagement

Social media is undoubtedly one of the easiest ways to push your search engine optimized content. If a user is interested in your social media account(s), the products/services you offer and/or the content/message that’s being displayed, it is a natural step for that user to migrate to your website and continue their buyer journey with you. Hootsuite, the global social media platform, states that “92% of all Instagram users say they’ve followed a brand, clicked on their website, or made a purchase after seeing a product/service on Instagram.” LinkedIn also states that over 46% of all social media traffic to company websites comes from LinkedIn. These numbers are significant.

Social media is a great way to improve a company’s bounce rate and time on site engagement, but just as importantly, these engagement metrics will communicate value to search engines for future results and rankings.

It’s Time to ‘Master Both Parties’

Social and search are two areas of marketing that contribute to the way your brand is perceived, how people find you, and how likely they are to engage and trust and build loyalty with your unique offerings. Both have an effect on not only search rankings, but also perceived company culture, product lines, history, and customer relationships. They should be treated as individual marketing disciplines to some extent, of course, but smart marketers will tell you that the connection between the two is here to stay and embracing them as one strategically will only ever benefit your business. Be continually conscious of the many ways in which search engines work, and the many ways in which they work together.

Lewis Miller

Marketing Specialist, Retina

As marketing strategist and social media expert for award-winning digital communications company Retina, Lewis is a central part of the content and creative team. Lewis is adept at mapping out the best strategic route for a business to connect with their customers, especially through the business-critical world of social media. His ability to see the story and find opportunities for clients to speak with their target audience and tell their brand story has seen him work on and lead hugely successful campaigns for organizations such as Thermo Fisher Scientific, Jumio, and IBM.

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