Local SEO: How Important Is Social Media in 2016

Written by: Jason Bayless | August 13, 2016
Once upon a time, website owners could limit their local SEO efforts to using the right words on the page and maybe doing some guest blog posts for backlinks. However, web searches have changed in part due to search engines like Google and Yahoo wanting to deliver better search results, but also to stop spammy sites from using black-hat techniques like keyword stuffing and personal blog networks (PBNs).

Nowadays, search engines look for social signals to help rank content. After all, if people are sharing content on the social networks, it’s probably useful or so the thought goes. Some important trends have started to emerge due to these changes.

Google and Twitter

According to the Hootsuite website, Twitter acts as a filter of sorts for sites like Google. As content is added to the web, search engines catalogue it. Twitter not only garners a lot of chatter on the web, but it also produces trends. Search engines look to see how many retweets content gets, how many shares, what keywords were involved, etc. This cuts down on the amount of time it takes for a website’s information to get indexed and thus pushes its rank on the search engines up higher at a faster pace.

And On a Related Note…

Of course, Twitter isn’t the only social media site. Google has one of its own, Google+. Because it’s Google’s own site, chances are pretty good your links will get seen. Hootsuite advises website owners to take 10 minutes or so a day to post on their Google accounts for terms they hope to rank for.

Social Media and Credibility

Social reach also gives search engines a heads up about who has influence on social media. The larger the following a person or company has, the higher that company’s website is likely to rank, especially if it’s considered an expert source on a topic.

Additionally, as the Social Media Examiner points out, sites like Twitter and Facebook have more credibility from the get-go. This improves the rank of the post that is featured and gives your site some valuable backlinks, without being spammy.

Content, Content, Content

All of this is not to say that search engines ignore keywords. After all, if they are correctly used, they show the search engines what kind of content a particular website produces. This is where great content comes in. If you’re producing great content (and using the right keyword phrases and good SEO), it’s probably going to get shared on social media.

However, not all content is created equal, according to Social Triggers. More specifically, design can affect the popularity of your website, which in turn affects how much people will share your posts. Avoid issues like navigation problems, boring web design, and cluttered layouts to really boost the popularity of your content even further.

Finally, don’t forget to create local SEO backlinks. Google has Google Business and for some local businesses, a presence on sites like Yelp is a must. Make sure that your social media plans include these sites as well.

Conclusion

A number of factors help determine how successful your local SEO efforts will be. In recent years, social media mentions and shares have started to matter more to search engines like Yahoo and Google. If you want your website to gain visibility in the local market, make sure that you follow local sites and create interesting posts that appeal to the local audience. This gives your content a leg-up over other sites that are trying to rank for local terms.