One question I get a lot when I talk to business owners about social media is “Will Facebook get me on the first page of Google?” My answer is always the same: yes and no. Let me explain why.
First of all, I want to make clear that SEO/SEM (search engine optimization/search engine marketing) is a whole industry of its own, and it’d be simplistic of me to say that by having social media pages, you’ll rank higher in searches.
SEO is complex, and it involves a lot of algorithms, keywords and other variables – and most of them will be applied to your website – not to your social networks.
However, there are things you can do with your social media pages that will help you in search rankings. Here is what you need to know:
Facebook: Google (and all other search engines) has indexed Facebook pages in its searches for a while now. It’s easy to see a Facebook page show up in the top results if a company doesn’t have a website or if its Facebook page is very popular. When someone is doing a search, Google’s algorithms will pick up a Facebook page’s name, category, vanity URL and keywords in your About section (see image below). So if you want your Facebook page to show up in organic (non-paid) searches, make sure all the fields I mentioned are filled out correctly. Also make sure your page is very active. Likes, comments and shares will positively impact the search results, even though the posts themselves don’t count (posts don’t show up in searches).
Google+: Having an active Google + page will help your business show up in searches (especially local searches and if the person searching is signed in on Google). The amount of reviews and +1s your page has will also affect the results. If you are not familiar with the platform or don’t know how to use it, at least make sure your Google+ Local (old Google Places) page is claimed – that will put your business on the map and also help people find you.
Check-ins: when someone checks-in at your place using Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp or another app, they are not only telling their friends where they are, they are also sending a signal to Google’s algorithms confirming your physical location. That is an important sign for search engines, and it helps you show up in local organic searches. So make sure all your pages are claimed and motivate your customers to check-in. A great way to do that is by putting up a poster and creating check-in offers to reward your customers – that won’t only stimulate check-ins, but also boost loyalty. You can see how to claim your page and set up a Foursquare special here. Foursquare provides window clings (stickers) for free – you can request one here (you’ll need to claim your page first).
Geotagged media: Most smart phones and tablets have a geotag feature that automatically marks photos and videos with the location they are taken at. If those photos and videos are uploaded into Instagram, Flickr or YouTube, they will send search engines another indicator of your physical location and help with search results.
Reviews: They are not only helping customers decide where/what to buy, but they also influence search results. The amount of reviews and their rankings (the number of stars) will impact which business shows ups first. Search engines like helping users find good businesses, so they won’t list companies with a lot of bad reviews. To work around that, make sure you ask your customers to leave you reviews and reply to all reviews left for you.
SEO will help you reach prospects, and social media will help you to connect with your existing customers. However, it’s how your customers are treated that will help your business grow. If you have a good business, people will find you.