How to Boost Your Search Rank with Better Social Signals
You’re constantly on the lookout for ways to improve your search rankings. You’ve tried everything from keyword optimization to link building. While these may be enough to amplify your rankings significantly, you can further boost your rankings by improving your social signals.
2017 Social Marketing Planning Guide
This post is a thorough guide to social signals: what they are, how they affect search rankings, and how you can improve them.
What are Social Signals and How do they Affect Rankings?
Social signals refer to the Likes, shares, views, and pins on your social media accounts. These signals are a way for search engines to determine whether or not your brand is getting noticed and being talked about. Search engines then take these social signals into account when ranking a website for search.
There has been a great deal of debate about just how much social signals affect search ranking. However, the recent Moz Search Engine Ranking Factors survey found that page-level social metrics are one of the top ranking factors used by Google.
It’s possible that there is no direct link between social signals and search ranking. But there are correlations between the two that suggest that your performance on social media can affect your ranking.
Let’s take a look at the possible ways in which social signals can impact search ranking:
- Driving traffic – The more traffic your website gets, the better your chances of boosting your search ranking. And when your content gets shared on social media, there’s a huge chance you’ll get more traffic from those shares. Google takes into account the traffic stemming from social signals when ranking your website.
- Building links – If you’re familiar with SEO, you already know that quality links play a huge role in your search engine ranking. In addition to links coming from authority blogs and publications, links coming from trusted social media platforms could boost your ranking as well.
- Boosting Domain Authority – Domain Authority is a major ranking factor. And according to Backlinko, social signals may improve the overall authority of a website. So boosting your social signals will increase your Domain Authority, which will then impact your overall search engine ranking.
These correlations confirm that improving your social signals can at least indirectly boost your ranking.
How to Improve your Social Signals for Better Search Ranking
Now that you’ve gained insight into social signals and their connection to search ranking, take a look at these useful tips.
1. Optimize Your Profiles Using Relevant Keywords
Improving the visibility of your social profiles is one of the first steps to improving your social signals. You need to connect with a relevant audience that will actively engage with your posts. But first, you need those relevant users to find you. Help them do so by using relevant keywords to optimize your social media profiles.
Below, take a look at the top results for the keyword “digital marketer” when you conduct a search on Twitter. Both of these profiles have been optimized with the keyword in the account bio or profile name.
To improve your social signals, find the main keywords relevant to your business and include them in your bios, headlines, and summaries on the various social networks. Then, when someone conducts a search on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform using those keywords, they will have a better chance of finding your account.
2. Optimize Your Posts and Captions with Keywords
In addition to improving the discoverability of your social media accounts, your social media content should also be easy to find. Select relevant keywords and use them carefully in your posts, descriptions, and captions. You can even use these keywords as hashtags on Twitter or Instagram to further help a relevant audience discover your posts.
Below, check out what comes up as the top two posts when you search for “social media marketing” on Twitter. Jason Gordon has used the exact keyword in both the title/description of the post and as a hashtag. Maria Jonsen, on the other hand, broke up the keyword into “social media” and “marketing,” and used them as hashtags.
Using the right keywords can boost the visibility of your social media posts. And increased visibility will help you to attract a relevant and highly engaged audience. More interactions and social shares from that audience can eventually help improve your search ranking.
3. Add a Call-to-Action to Your Posts
You can also improve your social signals by getting more people to click on the content you share on social media. The idea is to get them to click through and visit your site, and then engage with your content. Some people will click your links on their own, but with most people, you’ll need to give them a little nudge to get them to click.
That doesn’t mean you should write a long-winded paragraph detailing all the reasons why people should check out your content. Just describe the content with one short sentence, and then ask them to DO something, like “check out the link,” or “click here.” The call-to-action (CTA) can also be a request that they “follow,” “like,” “share,” or “retweet” your content.
Below, check out a great example from Simply Measured’s Facebook page. It starts with a question relevant to the content, followed by a call-to-action which invites readers to “go here,” (by clicking on the link). The CTA is then followed by the benefit of taking that action, which is getting “social media planning tips and tricks.”
4. Avoid Being Too Wordy
It may take more than a good call-to-action to significantly boost the click-through rate of your social media content. You may also need to cut down your word count. Your headlines, captions, and descriptions should be short if you want more people to click, according to an in-depth study conducted by AdEspresso, which analyzed 37,259 ads on Facebook.
The study found that the best performing headlines contain just five words, and ad posts perform best when they’re 14 words or less. They found that link descriptions can be a little longer, but should not be more than 18 words in order to perform optimally.
The overall performance of ad posts depends on a variety of other factors; however, this study proved that you should avoid being too wordy when it comes to ads on social. And although the study only analyzed ad posts, the same holds true for other social media posts. The sponsored post from SEO Optimizers below is an excellent example of a clear and concise post.
The headline is just two words: Professional SEO. The description is 17 words, and the caption is just 15 words. The post clearly communicates the message, including a call-to-action and the benefits of clicking, and it does so with very few words.
5. Use the Right Words to Drive More Clicks
The words you use on social media can have an impact on your performance as well. The AdEspresso study found that certain words tend to perform better than others. Even if you’re sharing the exact same information, changing the way you say it can have a huge impact on whether or not that information gets accepted and shared.
The study found that people respond better to the words “you,” “free,” “instantly,” “because,” and “new” on social media posts. To improve your social signals, try to use these words when writing captions, headlines, and descriptions for your posts. You don’t have to use them all at once, or in every single post, but make sure you try to replace the alternatives with one of these words whenever possible.
Simply Measured uses a lot of “you” and “your” in their social media posts. These words address and engage the audience, which improves the posts’ chances of getting more clicks and shares.
— Simply Measured (@simplymeasured) November 16, 2016
6. Use More Images
If you’re serious about improving your social signals, you need to include more images in your social media content. Research shows that on both Twitter and Facebook, including images with your text posts can drive higher engagement and boost your click-through rate.
Neil Patel found that out for himself when he started adding images to his tweets. When he shared a new Quick Sprout blog post on Twitter, Neil used to just include the post’s headline and link. But when he started including images in the tweets, he experienced a 108% increase in traffic from Twitter.
A study by HubSpot found that image posts on Facebook receive higher engagement than non-image posts. The study found that posts with images received 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs, as well as 53% more likes than non-image posts. Adding relevant images to your posts can help you attract more followers, too. It’s also a great way to give people a glimpse of what’s in store for them if they click through to check out the rest of the post, which can dramatically boost your click-through rate.
— Shane Barker (@shane_barker) November 7, 2016
7. Wait for the Right Time
Timing is everything, especially when it comes to posting on social media. Your followers and fans aren’t online 24/7. Your target audience likely has a specific time of day when they’re most active. And you also have to consider the various time zones where your audience lives.
You need to plan ahead and come up with a posting schedule, aiming for the hours when your target audience is online and most active. Simply Measured tools can help you find the best posting times for your various social media accounts. These tools can also help you determine the best days for posting so you can schedule your posts accordingly.
8. Give People a Reason to Click
Even if you follow all of the previous tips, some people will still scroll past your content because they don’t think it’s useful to them. Give them a good reason to click on your link and engage with your content. Instead of trying to sell to them, help them.
For example, you can talk about a pain point or a problem they may have, and then give them a solution. This can be as simple as the post below, from The Souled Store. They mention the pain point – missing the Friends TV show – and then invite people to check out their collection of official Friends tees to address that issue. As you can see below, they kept the caption clear and concise, while talking about a problem and offering a solution.
Another great example comes from Simply Measured’s Facebook page. The caption is short, but it gets straight to the point. First, it highlights a problem their followers may be facing: running out of [content] ideas. Then it solves that issue by offering them seven ways to improve their content strategy.
9. Don’t Forget to Test
When you start using the tips highlighted in this post, it’s important to remember that what works well for others may not necessarily have the desired effect for you. If you continue doing something that’s not effective, your efforts to improve your social signals may be wasted. That’s why it’s crucial to identify what is and isn’t working for you.
This is where testing comes in. To make sure your efforts are paying off, run thorough tests and track the results. Identify anything that’s not working, and make adjustments if needed, or stop doing it altogether. Testing will also help you identify what’s most effective, so you can continue doing it and devote more resources to it if necessary.
You now have a clear idea how to improve your social signals to help boost your search rankings. You know you need to engage your social media audience and get them to click on your links, which will drive traffic to your website. You realize the importance of keyword optimization for your social media profiles and content. You also understand the importance of using images to accompany your text posts.
In addition to this, you need to keep your captions and descriptions short and straight to the point, with relevant CTAs. If possible, also offer solutions for the problems or pain points of your followers to give them a reason to click. Remember to optimize your posting schedule so your posts reach your target audience when they’re most active.
Which of these ideas are you planning to try first? Are you already using one of these strategies on social media? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you need a comprehensive plan to amplify your social media efforts, feel free to get in touch with me.
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Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant. He specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.