There’s one thing you should know about me: I am a social media addict. Can’t stay away from it. I’ve seen the huge impact it can have on increasing click-throughs to a site and how it can bring engaged returning customers to your brand.

Working in the DMM team, our campaigns are a mixture of marketing and SEO. The goals can range from achieving coverage in high quality magazines and sites to earning natural links for our clients. So where does social media come into this?

Here are 5 reasons why I think you should try integrating social media into your SEO campaign:

Viral content potential

Viral content is the goal of every digital marketer, but those working on solely SEO campaigns may not have this aim in mind. If your goal is to better rankings, you might end up working with a limited view, sticking to improving onsite actions and checking over link profiles rather than looking at what else is out there to help you achieve goal completions for your client.

I’m here to tell you that you absolutely should be looking further afield.

A topic shared by influencers, and even everyday people, multiple times becomes a trending topic. A trending topic has the potential to go viral. A piece that goes viral will…

Earn natural links

Writers, whether bloggers, journalists or freelancers, are constantly keeping one eye on the world for new and exciting topics to write about. Where is the number one place you can find consistently up-to-date and trending topics? Social media.

Having your campaign shared across social media gives it context in the wider world by increasing the number of eyes that see it and the potential number of mouths (or keyboards) to talk about it. Boosting brand awareness in this way will ensure that your client appears as trustworthy, knowledgeable and influential in their industry.

You ideally want to find authentic influencers in your industry and partner with them. Provide them with content to share that is worthwhile and valuable for them and their readers. If a writer is looking for content and sees your brand being consistently shared by those around them who they trust to bring valuable content, they are more likely to choose to feature it.

Engage with customers

The key to cracking social media, and thus gaining worthwhile customers, is not to be too sales-y. This is where social media marketers often fall. And it’s why content marketing campaigns can be helpful.

If you expand what would have once upon a time been a simple SEO audit into a larger scale content based campaign, you’ve got your content for social media. Invest your time into creating resources which are valuable to the types of customers you want to reach or which appeal to the persona they want to be online, and they will come.

Social media is also vastly useful to managing your online reputation. In the same way that you can build your online resources with social media, you can also build a loyal customer base. You have a ready-made platform for interacting with your customers. This can help to gain you traction, getting your brand in front of even more eyes and increasing the potential for campaigns shared across these platforms to be picked up more widely.

Get more referral traffic

Who doesn’t like a bit (or a lot!) of referral traffic? At the end of the day, while an SEO campaign has a goal of increasing rankings in search engines, this itself has a further aim: goal completions. Getting the right people onto your site to purchase a product, enquire about your service or sign up to a newsletter, as examples, is the aim of the game.

Driving qualified referral traffic to your site is yet another by-product of using social media well. If you’ve built a brand that’s trustworthy and shared across social platforms, you’ll get the right kind of people clicking through to your site too. People who are likely to make a purchase or sign their lives away on a dotted line if they trust your brand.

Social posts in Google searches

Finally, and a somewhat controversial topic, social posts appear in Google searches. And quite frequently.

We’ve been told time and again that Google does not use signals from social media as a direct ranking factor in search. Because social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are volatile by nature, it makes it more difficult for Google to crawl these and to understand the influence a user, link or page has. They are constantly in a state of flux that Google cannot easily work with.

However it’s undeniable that social media has a massive impact on the way we use the internet. Millennials and Generation Y, the largest internet using age groups, are far more likely to read, interact with and share a news story via social media than by directly accessing an article on a news site or by using search to find it.

Google, therefore, know that they need to include social media in their listings. While the number of shares and followers your client has do not directly affect the position of their site in Google’s results, the content of the listings tells a different story. You will find social profiles appearing in Google’s results. And you’ll even find social shares there too.

Ever searched for keywords in Google Images only to get a return of hundreds of images linking back to Pinterest? It’s something I personally think Google needs to work on as those images aren’t always of use when you click through to them and find yourself on another “search engine”: Pinterest. But nevertheless, it shows one thing: the content that Google is finding most useful and most valuable in a lot of instances is that which exists on social media. You’ll frequently find a Pinterest result outranking its original source.

Consider the fact that Google also lists profile information at the very top of the search results page from its very own social platform, Google+, for brands and people. Your social profile matters to Google.

And don’t forget: social media as a search engine

We’d be naïve to think that Google is the only search engine out there. And I’m not talking about Bing and Yahoo. Social media giants like Instagram and Pinterest have become their own vast search engines.

Pinterest is the destination for the image obsessed, and it now bills itself as a “visual bookmarking tool that helps you discover and save creative ideas”. The discovery part is key. Then they add on the option to take it one step further, as no traditional search engine does, to save and keep track of your favourites, giving it a one-up on those like Google.

Granted, Pinterest does only appeal to a specific subset of users – those with an interest in fashion, food, home interiors, travel and most image based industries.

While Google has around 3.5 billion daily searches, Twitter’s 2.1 billion search queries per day can hardly be called insubstantial. Neither can Pinterest’s 2 billion searches. Throw in the additional abilities you have to engage with your consumers on social media, and you’ve got a tool that’s indispensable. Social media as a search engine allows access to a vast range of user collected knowledge, imagery and influence. If your brand isn’t appearing in these, you’re missing a trick.

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