5 Ways You Need to Use Social Media to Boost Your SEO

Let’s face it: Social media is the sexy new marketing buzzword. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are literally taking off, and more and more companies are scrambling to get a piece of the action.

But how does SEO fit into all of this? Social media and viral marketing are effective – no doubt about it. But has SEO been left for dead with social’s rise?

Absolutely not. In fact, social media is much more connected to SEO than you might think. After all, search engines simply seek to follow the behaviors and trends of real people – something that I outlined in my article, The Secret to Long-Term SEO Success – Ditch the Engines, Follow Your Customers.

As search progresses, we’ll begin to see more and more social factors being incorporated into the ranking algorithms. And even now, there are many benefits social media offers SEO campaigns.

Let’s look into some of them:

1. Direct traffic and indirect links for SEO
Popular stories and articles on the largest social media sites can bring a huge amount of traffic – which is great for branding and gaining exposure. The biggest SEO benefit with this is the large increase in indirect links. The social media sites themselves don’t provide much link value, but many publishers and webmasters look to social media sites for references, which results in valuable editorial links that help improve rankings.

Here’s a comprehensive list of 101 social media sites divided by category and primary value.

2. Direct link sources help with indexing
Furthermore, some social media sites are beneficial due to the direct SEO links they provide. While many of these links include the nofollow tag, some do not or take it off if an article receives a set number of votes. Regardless, social media sites are frequently crawled by search engines, so any links on them help the search bots find and index new pages quickly.

3. Social media pages with high ranking potential
Another SEO benefit of social media is that many of social sites have high domain authority and ranking potential. Thus, many of the pages on these sites – including profiles – are likely to rank for targeted keywords, which creates multiple search listings for a brand. This is ideal for reputation management campaigns.

4. Integration into the search results
With universal search, Google and Bing are working to incorporate useful content other than plain links into their search results. For example, map listings with business reviews, videos, and images are commonly found in the SERPs for many keywords. Furthermore, both Google and Bing have recently partnered with Twitter and/or Facebook to incorporate social status updates into results. Look for that to be implemented soon. By utilizing and syndicating to social sites, companies can get ahead and achieve more exposure in the search results.

5. Social factors in search engine algorithms
As it stands now, the biggest search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) mainly use various forms of advanced link and keyword analysis to determine the rankings. But who’s to say they won’t incorporate social data into their algorithms in the near future? For example, Google has already rolled out social features like SearchWiki, SideWiki, and Social Search – all of which gather data on how real people interact with their favorite websites. Also, Google’s new version of its search engine (code name Caffeine) is set to launch soon and will feature a tighter integration with social.

Being active with social media now means getting ahead with SEO for tomorrow. SEO isn’t just about keyword research, optimizing page content, and building links anymore. You need to get social to achieve success. Online marketing initiatives are converging (especially search and social), and the more areas you can cover, the better results you’ll see in each. Remember, search marketing isn’t an a la carte menu, it’s a seven-course meal.