smb-tech-trendsHow do online users find your small business website? Many are arriving at your site via social networks versus traditional search engines, according to Ben Weitzenkorn in “Social Media May Soon Drive More Traffic to Your Website Than Search Engines,” Weitzenkorn cites a recent study from Forrester Research that points to the increasing use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, especially among younger audiences, to discover websites.

Still as social interaction moves up the inbound marketing food chain, don’t dismiss the value of your small business getting found in search engines. The same Forrester report indicated that although the numbers are declining, 54 percent of American Internet users continue to rely on traditional search engines to find information. If anything you want to leverage social media to improve your web rankings.

Increasingly search engines are using ‘social signals’ to influence the content ranking. News outlet Bit Rebels says that social media and influence help your content to be indexed faster by search engines because search engine algorithms want to present the most up-to-date and relevant results.  By making your content available on many social channels, it makes search engines aware of it faster.

Bit Rebels also says social sharing is the other factor that influences search engines, pointing out that Google is increasingly tracking the number of social media ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ and Twitter re-tweets to determine the influence and popularity of content. This means that the more people like and share your website content or blog, the higher it will rank in search

Leverage social media to boost search rankings

Here are some ways to boost your rankings in search through the use of social media:

Like ButtonCreate great social media content: Quality social media content is about providing valuable information, answering a question, giving advice or telling a great story. The more quality content you post, the greater the likelihood followers will share it as well as link back to your site. Spend time planning your content strategy; also check social media sites of other companies in your industry or ones similar to yours to see what is generating the most engagement from followers.

Increase backlinks: While you want to vary your social media posts with captivating visuals, industry quotes and stats or even message that inspire; your followers want information and news about your small business products and services – that’s why they follow you. Use backlinks – incoming or inbound links – to pages on your site. Not only will they drive more visitors to your site, search engines weigh the quantity, quality and relevance of backlinks in determining search results.

Incorporate keywords into posts: Identify the keywords that align with your small business offering and incorporate them into your social media posts.  This way your followers associate your small business with certain industry terms and topics, which also can encourage sharing.  Aim to include one keyword per post and use the keyword as anchor text for a hyperlink to a web page that ties in with the word. Search engines use anchor text of inbound links to determine the subject matter of a page.  If a lot of sites link to a page on a particular subject, the page will rank higher in search.

You may already be following some of these guidelines. The key is that when you think about search rankings, think social.