Why Social Media?
Customers often start decision-making in places where companies may not be represented, such as forums, social communities and blogs. According to a Synchrony Financial recent shopper study nearly 80% of consumers research online before buying a product. The survey also found that nearly 60% of the people are asking their friends, family, and colleagues for advice before taking a decision and 40% checked online reviews before making a purchase.
Survey results confirm that first impressions of the brand and the company are occurring on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engine result pages. If customers don’t find a particular business in the search engines, social media might be another touch point that they might encounter on their decision journey.
There is no longer a universal marketing channel to reach every audience, so to stay competitive, local businesses need to integrate offline and online marketing tactics. Google says people don’t use social signals directly for ranking, but well-managed social media handles have a great impact on business visibility as a way to drive visitors and traffic to a company website.
Matt Cutts explained that Google treats social media posts like any other web pages for search. Matt made it clear that there is a correlation between the increase in ranking and increase in social media shares so we can conclude that business traffic from social media will contribute considerably to site ranking in SERPs (search engine result pages) .
One of the prominent trends we’re observing in SEO for 2016 is that more social media content is being indexed on search engines. Successful local businesses must stay on top of trends, so it’s no surprise that local owners need to embrace this SEO trend and utilize social media in marketing and SEO strategies.
How to leverage social media with local SEO
1. Choose the right social media for your business
New social media platforms pop up everyday, but it’s not necessary to create an online profile for each social media. Many local businesses fail to maintain an effective social media presence because it’s very time-consuming, so it’s important to participate on platforms that will generate the most relevant and qualified traffic.
Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram work well for beauty salons because before and after photos, pictures of new styling products, or upcoming deals can be shared with followers.
Healthcare providers make better use of YouTube, blogs and health discussion forums. These channels work better for sharing medical information, raising awareness about a disease, showing expertise, building trust, and engaging with patients.
2. Define A Social Media Strategy
Research to determine where your competitors engage with social media. Track where your customers are active. Send an email survey or ask your customers in person. To find your potential fans check social audience stats provided by authoritative sources such as Brandwatch.
Characteristics of social channels
- Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr are image-based networks.
- YouTube, Vimeo and Vine work well for video content.
- LinkedIn is a business-focused platform.
- Facebook is a personal network.
- Live-streaming and news sharing are the main characteristics of Twitter.
- Foursquare is a location-based network.
3. Create an optimized Social Media page
Once you have chosen the right social media platform for your business, set up a page, optimized with select keywords, to let your clients know where to find you.
Social media stickers, window clings, and decals that say “Like Us on Facebook”, “Follow Us on Twitter”, “Find Us On Foursquare” are a great way to quickly increase your social following and reach a highly targeted audience, particularly when you add your social media handle to promotional emails.
4. Use keywords in your social profiles
List the most relevant keywords to your business and include them in your social media profile name, descriptions, page categories, or subcategories.
For example, if you have a Facebook page, note that local businesses appear in Facebook search under Places. Thus, use your keywords in the subcategory.
5. Keep NAP consistent
After creating your social media accounts, include your business name, address and phone number (NAP). Ensure it is consistent with the contact information on your website and your business listings across local directories. Using different variations of your NAP can confuse not only your customers but also search engines.
6. Encourage user-generated content
Ask your customers to take a picture, record a video or write a review while using your service or products and tag the posts with your business name when they share them to social channels. Then pull the tagged user-generated content and utilize it for your site.
User comments and reviews can be a source of long-tail search queries including color variations, sizes, models, or specific uses. Although, long-tail keywords drive less traffic to your site then generic terms, the traffic will be more focused and visitors more interested in your products and services. Moreover, long-tail and geo-targeted keywords offer local businesses better chances for getting first page rankings.
To save time and resource use widgets such as an Instagram plugin for WordPress to add content on your site to show tagged photos in the sidebar of your website. Encourage clients to generate content by running promotions and contests.
For example, set up a contest for your fans to leave a review on your Facebook page or submit photos with your products to Instagram or Twitter by using a specific hashtag for a chance to win a prize. The viral effect will drive new exposure to your local business. These marketing methods can help boost brand awareness, increase user-engagement on your social media profiles and improve website traffic.
7. Use hashtags in your marketing strategy
People often use social media as search engines. Facebook reports 2 billion searches per day and Twitter serves approximately 1.6 billion queries per day.
Local businesses should think of hashtags as keywords. It’s important to use a handful of,specific and generic, hashtags for your business to improve visibility. Broad and trending hashtags can help increase online brand visibility and specific hashtags might feature your name and location. You can also use product and brand hashtags in posts if your local store sells particular products.
Create unique hashtags that incorporate popular and high-traffic keywords with keywords that represent the goal of your campaign, and use them in flyers, leaflets, and other promotional materials to encourage people to bring customer conversations online.
8. Promote local events on social media
Make announcements on social media about upcoming local events and advertise them on your social profiles. Post regularly on Facebook groups or Twitter, using specific hashtags, to generate event interest with local groups.
Facebook offers affordable advertising and precise audience targeting. Create a page for the event on Facebook, associate the event with your Facebook Page, then promote it.
9. Geotag photos on social media
Facebook and Instagram allows geotagging images with geographic coordinates or name of your business location which, when used alongside relevant hashtags, greatly improves reach with the local audience.
10. Get backlinks from local bloggers and influencers
According to Moz’s 2015 top local search ranking factors survey, one of the most important factor are link signals such as linking domain authority and quantity. Whether you are launching a new product|service, or organizing a local event, reach out to bloggers, influential local web forum user and high-profile social media followers.
By regularly providing them with interesting content, they are encouraged to share links to your website. The domain authority of your site will improve depending on the credibility and influence of sites that provide backlinks to your site. Moreover, it is worthy to build and maintain good relationships with your partners and other local site owners in your industry for future recommendations and links to your site.
For example, if you own a local vegan restaurant and there is a healthy community event, join forces. Frequently, organizers create Facebook events to let people know where and when offline events would take place. Team up with the event’s host and ask them to link to your website or Facebook page. Both you and the host will engage with audiences that could not be reached by traditional marketing techniques.
11. Boost website traffic with social media links
Include links to your website on the “About” section of the social properties you own. When a user is not even logged into the social network, they will still see your website link. Also add links in your status, pictures, videos, and posts.
Twitter and Pinterest are excellent sources of backlinks that will increase your website traffic. Whether a user links to your website in a tweet, a retweet, or pin, an inbound link is created. Although search engines don’t put the same weight to these backlinks as inbound links from blogs or other websites, they are still important for your local ranking strategy.
If the business gets traffic from social media, it will contribute to improving the site ranking in SERPs (search engine result pages) considerably.
Search engines continually make updates and changes to ranking and search quality algorithms to provide relevant and unique content to user searches, however using the tips above will help local businesses leverage social media for better local search rankings, boosting social media engagement and win new customers.
If you haven’t used social media, be sure to create a social media profile on the most relevant social platform regarding your business or niche today!
If you already have a profile on your favorite platform – audit your current social media presence, and if the social networks you are using serve your business goals, start using them actively and wisely. Well-managed social media profiles and the execution of regular social media campaigns will bring qualitative traffic to the website.