In today’s tech-driven landscape, search engine marketing (SEM) and social media play a big role—and can deliver significant results—when it comes to a company’s online visibility. Searching online, whether it's for a product, service, or general information, is a regular part of our daily activities, both as businesspeople and as consumers. While using and optimizing for keywords across your content channels can lead to enhanced web traffic, it's not the end of the conversation.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is essentially a paid advertising strategy that helps position your company or your products prominently in front of prospective customers. And, while SEM is important, especially for small businesses, social media plays an integral role that can impact organic search results, which is equally important. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and—depending on your niche industry—even Instagram and Pinterest, can complement your paid efforts and deliver big results. Here’s an overview of how social media impacts search and some tips on how to maximize the effectiveness of both.
The Power of SEM
Companies with excellent SEM programs are better represented in search results, and that’s why it is crucial to take steps to bolster your presence via paid search advertising. Ads can be structured as pay per click (PPC) content—or even pay per call content, if the ads are optimized for mobile viewing (and they should be).
Why is it such a big deal? Won't customers find your content organically? Maybe they will and maybe they won't. For many businesses, that's not a risk worth taking, especially when a solid SEM foundation can help stack the deck in your favor. The power of SEM is especially telling when you consider this statistic: 93 percent of online experiences start with one search engine or another. With numbers like that, it pays to embrace SEM.
The Value of Social Media
Social media gives users a way to connect with each other, as well as businesses and brands that they love. Social media is one large online water-cooler conversation, so it only makes sense that your business should participate. Having a well-structured, thoughtful, and engaging presence on social media makes companies accessible and humanizes brands. Equally as important, a well-optimized social media presence can fuel search engine results, which can provide a competitive advantage for small businesses.
Search is Getting Social, Social is Getting Searched
Social networks are becoming more and more integrated with search engines. What does that mean for you, as a small business owner? In the past, keyword searches would primarily return company websites or resource links. Now, keyword searches are returning a lot more than that—in fact, the content you post (and share) from some of your social media platforms is now search engine material. Here are some examples of that:
- In 2014, Facebook reported its users made more than one billion search queries per month—per MONTH—and the social media powerhouse has been expanding its organic social search to include business pages, events, and groups. Many customers also write Facebook reviews, which can have an impact on your business. Bing and Google Search Plus have also taken steps to incorporate social media posts and profiles into search engine results. Using hashtags effectively on your Facebook business page is a smart way to ensure your business shows up in Facebook search results.
- In February of this year, Google began pulling the Twitter API in search engine results, which means that tweets get indexed. This means that having a legitimate, well-optimized presence on Twitter, even for a small business, can have an impact on what appears in search results. To leverage that, make sure your profile information is up-to-date, complete with a bio, geographic location, and relevant, hashtagged keywords.
- LinkedIn has long been favored by Google as an extremely credible source, and appears early in search results. The easy way to make the most of this opportunity is to make sure you set up a well-optimized LinkedIn Company Page for your small business.
In short, by integrating SEM and social media into your overall digital marketing strategy, you can leverage the power of their combined forces. Build the two together, and you will maximize the impact of your online presence. If you merely focus on one of the two, you will most likely be short-changing yourself of some valuable opportunities. When it comes to SEM and social media, Aristotle’s wisdom rings true: “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
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