Social media, a term coined to describe various internet-based networking platforms, is not a product of the millennium. In fact, it has technically been around since the 1970s.

However, when we think about the most popular social channels we all love today, their history is a little more recent—LinkedIn launched in 2003 with Facebook following in 2004.

With the exception of LinkedIn, most of our favorite social media platforms launched as social sites to connect friends and family. But in just a few short years, social media has managed to infiltrate nearly every business industry.

There is no denying that social media is a powerful marketing tool. But how does it affect SEO?

Some would argue that since it isn’t a direct ranking factor, social media has no place in a conversation about SEO. We beg to differ.

A solid SEO strategy takes all areas of a company’s marketing plan into consideration. The truth is, no one area of marketing can operate as an island. That means that each segment impacts the others—and social media and SEO are no exception.

Build Brand Awareness

Ever heard of the rule of seven? According to this marketing adage, it takes a least seven impressions to move a person to convert—which is why brand awareness is so important.

Social media provides the perfect vehicle for building brand awareness. It combines advertising with word of mouth marketing and direct communication.

According to Facebook, an individual who doesn’t like your page could see up to two of your ads per day. That number doubles for individuals who follow your page.

This continuous exposure to your brand increases the chances of conversion. Even if a person doesn’t engage with a brand’s content, the seed has been planted. Now the question is: how does this impact SEO?

As consumers get more exposure to a brand, they will begin to notice it in places they hadn’t before—including search results. Normally, consumers tend to gravitate to the familiar.

For example, if coffee lovers do a search for something such as “best coffee”, they are likely to choose Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, or McDonalds—not the mom and pop brand they’ve never heard of.

However, let’s say mom and pop coffee starts running ads on Facebook and Instagram. Now as those same consumers are scrolling through their timelines, mom and pop coffee is slowly becoming more familiar to them.

Next time they are searching for “best coffee to buy”, they just might decide to explore what mom and pop coffee has to offer.

Develop Targeted Content

Imagine having a conversation with someone who isn’t actually tuned in to what you have to say and is instead constantly answering questions that were never asked. That’s how many brands approach social media and content development.

Social listening is a practice that forces you to take a step back and really connect with your audience. By understanding what is most important to consumers in your target market, you can provide better solutions to their concerns.

This is a great way to build meaningful content that your visitors are more like to not only consume but also share. And as we all know, content is king when it comes to SEO.

Leveraging social listening allows you to develop content that hyper focuses on the type of information your audience is looking for.

And since you are actively paying attention to what your audience needs, you are more likely to find gaps in content. Filling these gaps can help you rank for keywords and topics that your competitors are ignoring.

Extend Content Reach

Developing awesome content has little value if no one ever reads it or knows it exists. Your content needs to reach your audience.

Unfortunately, as most in the SEO world know, conventional methods of building backlinks can be a bit of a slow burn.

Social media can provide another avenue to support these efforts. While links directly from social platforms do not directly influence rankings, the viralability of social media content could.

Through reposting and other forms of sharing, your content has the potential to reach thousands, even millions, of people. Some of whom may choose to cite you as a reference, share your infographic, or quote you in a blog on their websites.

Social media is here to stay and it is an increasingly large component of many company’s marketing strategies. Maybe it’s time to reconsider the relationship between social media and your SEO strategy.

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