How Social Media Impacts Your Search Rankings
Having good search rankings is just as important is getting a line of customers into your business. If you aren’t familiar with how social media can impact your search rankings, read on.
What Search Engines Are Looking For
First, you have to understand what search engines are looking for, so you can see how social media is affecting search results. For instance, the authority of your tweets, how many +1s your URL receives, how many Facebook Likes and shares your URL gets and how many tweets and retweets your URL obtains.
Each and every time someone in social media mentions your local business, it helps to boost your search rankings. How large your following is also has and how much engagement your social posts receive also play a role in this. Here’s an example:
Luigi’s Italian Restaurant in New York City got a tweet from a local newspaper about its delicious dishes. That tweet was then favorited 400 times and retweeted 50 times. Both the newspaper’s and Luigi’s Twitter handle get activity for this. Then because Luigi’s had their URL linked to their account on Twitter, their Web site was able to get a higher ranking on search engines.
How this Can Help Local Businesses
Engagement on social media networks can help boost your rankings even for keywords that are otherwise difficult to rank highly for (those that general). However, it works best with those that have low competition. So if the keyword that is getting social media buzz is “Italian food”, you could end up ranking high for that keyword. Local businesses can take advantage of this because it helps them to boost their business’s search ranks for those general, yet necessary keywords.
Whenever you share content, make sure that you include low competition keywords like “Authentic Italian food in New York”, so when it gets social buzz, it can boost your rankings in search engines. The more content you share from your Web site on social media, the better your site will rank, which means more traffic being generated for your Web site.
How to Optimize Your SEO
Before you begin your SEO social media campaign, you should check out how you’re doing thus far. You can check this by going to LocalVox, which is a free tool. Make sure you know which keywords are the top ones you should be ranking for. You can use LocalCast, which is an SEO tool to help you track your ranking and find keywords you can use to optimize your Web site and social media posts.
A Deeper Understanding of Your Social Signals and their Impact
So you know that the more action you get on social media, the better your search ranks become. Now, let’s look into how exactly this works for the different social media networks:
- Google+: This is still in its early stages compared to the likes of Twitter and Facebook, but it has been having a great impact on social content. The way it works is, the more +1s you get, the better. You should aim to get +1s for your brand profile, Web site and social media posts. When your brand page gets a lot of +1s, it gives you more authority, which helps to raise the ranks of your future content. Your authority is also determined by how many followers you have and how much your content is being shared. Your social media strategy should have a method for generating more and more +1s over time. It’s important to focus on being in a network of people who have great profiles, because who you know can help establish your voice.
- Facebook: There are over 900 million people using Facebook, making it the ideal platform to use for boosting your search rankings. There are studies that show that Facebook actually has more influence over your search rankings than Twitter or Google+ (something to keep in mind). So the more shares and likes your posts receive, the better your rankings will do. The amount of comments you receive also helps — in fact, when you get a lot of likes, shares and comments, it boosts your rankings significantly.
- Twitter: With about 500 million users, Twitter posts boost rankings when tweets have authority, versus amount. The factors that can help you with your search rankings include the authority of your followers, mentions and retweets; how many followers, mentions and retweets you have; and the speed and intensity of your tweets and retweets over time.
There are other social media sites you can use, like Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Reddit, FourSquare and Digg. These are the factors that play a role in getting ranked higher using these sites:
- Pinterest: How many pins, re-pins and comments you receive, and the growth rate of those pins and re-pins.
- FourSquare: How many check-ins and the spread rate of those check-ins.
- Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon: How many upvotes and comments you receive.
Link Building Using Social Media
Link building isn’t a new concept and is just as valuable today as it was 10 years ago. However, it has been made much easier to achieve thanks to social media networks. In the past, people would try link building using black hat tactics, like leaving spammy comments on forums and blogs. Today, you can implement link building into your social media strategy. For instance, you can include links to valuable content from your blog in the social media posts you submit.
Boost Your Rankings on Google by Using Social Media
There are many benefits that local businesses can receive from social media accounts. They are able to become an authority, gain a bigger following, network with influencers and boost incoming traffic using link building and organic search results. Social media has a grand effect on the way we do business today and if you leverage it the right way, you can steadily grow the customer base for your local business.
Leveraging Twitter for Your Local Business
Social media is one of the best ways to promote your local business. The likes of Twitter has been the backbone of many service and product providers, but only those who have used their account strategically. Simply opening a Twitter account and tweeting isn’t going to get you the results you’re looking for. So let’s see how leveraging your Twitter account can boost your local business conversion.
Use the Search-A-Lot Feature on Twitter
This feature can be quite advantageous for you if you use it properly. The advanced search on Twitter will allow you to refine your keywords to be location-specific. In the field that says “Near this place”, you can insert your city name, along with the keywords you believe your prospects are searching for. You’ll likely have to try out different keyword variations before you find the perfect ones. Once you have found keywords that dozens are people are tweeting about, you can save it.
Social Media is All About Networking
Of course, you want to focus your time networking with local influencers, rather than with just any ol’ person. You want to get to know other businesses that are being seen and heard by people in your city. One way to find out who these influencers are is to use Tweet Grader’s Top Twitter Cities list. Click on your city and you’ll generate a list of the most active accounts in your town. Don’t worry so much about finding those who are in your target market — it’s all about getting known on Twitter locally.
Knowing Your Competition is Key
You can’t beat your competitors if you don’t know who they are. If you truly want to top your competitors, you have to know their prices, strategies and customers. One way to get these details is to keep track of competition by using Twitter. You’ll see what they’re up to,so you can counter their actions in a timely manner.
Let Your Customers Know You’re on Twitter
A lot of local businesses fail to let their customers know that they’re on Twitter. You can let them know by placing it on your receipts, posting up signs in your business and put it on your Web site and business cards. As word spreads, your customers will follow you, and their friends and family may follow you as well.
Write Content that is Fresh, Not Self-Promoting
A lot of local businesses use Twitter to advertise their articles and blog posts. Even if you are just simply posting tweets, as a general rule of thumb, you should keep to a 70:30 ratio. This means 70 percent of your tweets should be to engage people and the other 30 percent can be promotional. No one wants to be advertised to all of the time, so keep that in mind when developing your social media strategy.
Choose a Memorable Username
The username you choose for your Twitter account should be compelling, not too long and unique. Everything about Twitter is short and sweet, so keep that in mind. With a shorter username, people will be able to share your content without going over the max character limit set by Twitter. Also, you should keep your usernames consistent across all social media networks, so that people can easily find and identify you. Also, in your profile, include a business description and a link to your Web site. The photo you choose should be a professional one, or a business logo.
Tweet with Personality and a Strategy
Jumping into Twitter without a sound marketing strategy will have you jumping through hoops to get attention. All you really have to do is engage with other users by jumping into conversations and tweeting things that people would be interested in sharing or commenting on. Your tweets should be authentic and have personality, so that it feels like a person, rather than a brand.
Another formula you can use, other than the 70/30 rule is to do 1/3 tweets, 1/3 replies or retweets and1/3 self-promotion or links. To learn when the best times are to tweet, you can use Followerwonk to see your followers’ most active times.
Follow Others and They’ll Return the Favor
A great way to get more followers for your Twitter account is to follow others. You can use the advanced search feature to find people you know, as well as individuals in certain fields. You don’t only have to follow influencers — after all, your customers are the ones you want to get attention from, so look for people in your area who are tweeting about your type of services and start to follow them and they just might return the favor.
Monitor Your Account with a Twitter Management App
When your account really starts to become active, you may need some help keeping an eye on things and ensuring that your consistency remains intact. With Twitter management apps, this is made easier. For instance, you can use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, which allow you to segment your followers into categories like prospects, customers, VIPs and influencers. Then you can have notifications setup for when people tweet certain keywords. If you don’t have time to jump on Twitter throughout the day or every day, you can schedule your tweets in advance as well.
Learn the Language of Twitter
You want to fit in with your followers, so try and learn the syntax and tone of the folks you are engaging with. Listen to their tweets to get an idea of the type of language they use and if they are big on Internet slang. This will allow you to connect better with them when you post tweets. Understanding what hashtags and how RT (retweet) is used is also important.
Grow Your Local Business with Twitter
When you use Twitter the right way, it can help you to grow your local business gradually. Of course, this alone won’t do the trick, but it should be included in your overall marketing strategy. There are other social media accounts you can work into this method, giving you broader reach and higher chances of gaining loyal followers.
Google’s Mobilegeddon Is Upon Us – And Here’s What You’re Going To Do About It
When was the last time you used Google to look something up, yesterday? Today? Five minutes ago?
Google is the powerhouse in the online search world, and it works hard to keep its search engine the best at what it does. Most of this work goes on behind the scenes, as programmers hammer away at their keyboards to give Google users the best search experience possible. Every year or two, however, Google announces an all-at-once major overhaul to how it will decide where a site ranks in its search results.
In just a few days – on April 21st, to be exact – one of these big updates is coming your way, and Google has been very clear that the focus will be on the mobile experience. Specifically, Google says that how “mobile friendly” a site is will now factor into where that site will rank when relevant keywords are searched. In a statement released back in February foreshadowing the update, Google wrote, “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal… This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”
“Why the big change? What does it mean for me?”
Google knows that more people than ever use their phones to look things up now. Estimates show that between 30-70% of all relevant searches from your target market are now conducted on a mobile device. This number is even higher when dealing in products that service an immediate need and are relatively inexpensive, like food and household necessities. Google’s update, then, is their way of making sure users are able to easily navigate results, no matter how they’re searching.
The impact of the updated, named “Mobile-geddon,” will vary from business to business, but it is likely to affect everyone at some point; even if you’re in an industry with low mobile traffic now, the trends from year-to-year are clear, and mobile searches will become important to your business sooner rather than later.
In simple terms: If your website isn’t setup to be mobile-friendly, your search engine rankings, and therefore your traffic from potential customers, will be negatively affected.
“How Can I Make Sure My Site Is Mobile Friendly?”
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test: Google knows that such a shakeup of their search results has the potential to mess with the wellbeing of business owners, so they haven’t left you completely out in the cold. They’ve created a mobile-friendly test here: www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ where you can get a ‘mobile report card’ on your own website simply by typing in its address.
You’ll also get to see a preview of how your site looks on a mobile screen.
If your site looks good to Google, you’ll get congratulated. If not, they’ll provide you with some suggestions to bring things up to par.
Take the “Footsteps Test”: Put yourself into your customers’ shoes and walk through your mobile experience as they would. Google has proven that they’re good at ranking sites based on user experience, and they reward websites who make this experience better.
Visit your company’s website on your own phone and try to conduct the various tasks your customers carry out. Are buttons big enough? Is text readable without zooming in to an extreme degree?
Rather than use their mobile sites as a fully functional tool, unfortunately, many businesses opt to approach mobile as a small, dumbed down version of their actual site – this can be extremely frustrating for your users! Make sure you can do the same things on your mobile site that you can do on the desktop version. All along the way, ask yourself: “If I were a customer right now, would I be satisfied, or frustrated? Would I use this company again based on what I was able to accomplish purely on mobile, or would I look elsewhere?”
Separation: If you don’t have the technical know-how yourself, ask your web designer about setting up your website to be responsive. So that images, text, and other elements change their size and behavior based upon the width of a screen and/or the device someone is visiting your site on.
In other cases, you can host a completely different version of your site that is presented when a mobile device visits your URL (these are usually hosted as subdomains and look like “m.website.com” or something similar). With this setup, mobile users will see a completely different version of your site formatted just for them!
Give Them The Choice: Regardless of how your mobile site is setup, the diversity of phone types means that someone out there is probably going to visit your site and have it behave differently than you intended. When this happens, there is nothing more frustrating than being trapped in the mobile version of a site that doesn’t work. Give users the option of switching to the desktop version of a site even if they are on a mobile device; this is often times presented via a “switch” type button or link near the bottom of the website that says something like “View Desktop Version.” Sure, you want users to experience your (now wonderfully optimized!) mobile site, but when that doesn’t work out they’ll certainly appreciate the ability to still accomplish what they came for.
Content Considerations: Lastly, having solid website content will likely continue to be a major ranking factor in Google’s eyes, so try and be clever about how your content is displayed on mobile. For example, it’s not farfetched that you might achieve better mobile rankings in time by doing things like…
- Adjusting font sizes so that they are easier to read or better fill a phone screen.
- Placing certain content that may be more relevant to mobile users higher up on your page. An example of this might be a takeout restaurant moving its menu further down the page in favor of at-a-glance information mobile users might be scanning for like hours of operation, phone number, minimum order amount for delivery, etc.
In any event, it’s a safe bet that thinking of your customers first, now as an army of mobile users, will always be seen as favorable in Google’s eyes. It’s likely that this update is just the beginning, and future changes will reward ongoing and responsive changes to better accommodate the mobile lenses through which users experience your website.
YouTube Cheat Sheet for Local Business
More and more local businesses are using YouTube as a way to advertise their products and services, and are having great success in doing so.
If you’re ready to expand your brand visibility on YouTube, we’ve come up with a cheat sheet to help you avoid common mistakes, and get more exposure faster!
You Need Top Rankings in Google
Google, the #1 search engine, now owns YouTube, which is why now you see videos popping up in its organic search results. By properly tagging your videos and using keywords that help it to get found is important. Since there aren’t a lot of videos showing up in Google when you search for services, like “discrimination lawyer New York City” or “pizza delivery Miami”, this means that there is a major opportunity for your business videos to get exposure in organic search results.
Make sure to optimize your videos with those targeted keywords. Avoid manipulating your search results with fake channel subscribers, thumbs up votes and comments. You want to generate these naturally by producing video content that is high quality and authentic. Create a YouTube channel and publish them there or on a channel that aggregates that has legitimate subscribers.
Here are a couple of ways you can get better Google rankings for your YouTube channels:
- Make sure your titles have local targeted keyword phrases. For instance, if you are a carpet cleaner in New York City, then you need to make sure that’s somewhere in your video title. Your title should also have other words that are relevant to the video as well.
- Check to ensure your local targeted keywords are included in your video descriptions. Your descriptions on YouTube are allowed to be between 500-600 words. As a rule of thumb, you should place the keyword phrase in the beginning, and use different variations of the phrase throughout the rest. Long tail keywords are great for this purpose.
- Upload a transcript of your videos, which can help to reinforce your videos, since your videos are likely about your products or services. Google looks at this, so it will also help your rankings.
- Use playlists to optimize your YouTube channel.
If you look on YouTube, you’ll find most business channels with one single video. Most people don’t have many ideas for additional videos, so instead playlists can be used to leverage your channel. You can do this by optimizing your playlists with targeted keyword phrases. Make sure that the videos you include in those playlists are relevant to those keywords.
- Make sure your video file has keywords. Don’t make the mistake that other local business owners make, who don’t include keyword phrases in their. .mp4 and .mov video files. For example, your file name should look something like this: carpet-cleaner-New-York-City.mp4. Obviously, this will help to further reinforce your Google rankings.
- Use custom thumbnails for your YouTube channel. If you’re allowed to upload thumbnail images, choose something that will identify your brand, rather than something generic. The standard size for thumbnail images is 1280 x 720. You could use an image of your logo. This helps to draw attention from visitors and helps with Google search results.
- Share all of your YouTube videos on all of your social media accounts. You should also embed your video as much as possible. One way to do this is to embed the video on your landing page located on your blog or Web site.
Use Citations to Leverage Your Video SEO
Another way to improve your SEO rankings for local business videos is to using citations. The volume and authority of your local business citations are huge factors in how well you rank in search engines. But what exactly is a citation? It’s your business name, address and phone number that’ published throughout the Internet.
However, the more high quality your citations the better. These are listings that match the citation you use on your Google local business page exactly. The more citations you have that match your business page on Google, the better it will be for your local search results.
The authority of these citations, on the other hand, is based on the Web sites they’re placed on. This too holds weight on how well your rankings will be in Google. This is where YouTube comes into play. For instance, your YouTube homepage is a PR9 and the site gets billions of views monthly, which makes it have a high authority. So each time you create a new video for your YouTube channel, make sure to include your business name, phone number, address and Web site URL, to the video descriptions. This will give your citations the authority it needs to boost your SEO.
Create and Optimize Your YouTube Videos
Because YouTube is owned by Google, you can put to use this resource to help increase your rankings in local search. YouTube videos have proven to be a valuable way to promote your brand, thanks to the high amount of searches it gets, which is around 3 billion searches monthly. Out of these 3 billion searches, it’s likely that there’s a small percentage in there who is looking for your business, service or product locally.
Leveraging your YouTube videos is one of the best ways to influence your search on YouTube and increasing your chances of being found on Google. Combining together the use of metro targeted keywords, descriptions, thumbnails, playlists and citations, you should be able to push forward in your SEO campaign with great results in return.
Just make sure that your videos are useful to the viewer (not just a blatant self-promotion) and that you analyze the traffic they’re receiving. Give these tips a try and see if you can dominate local search results for your business industry!