ImageIn the world of online marketing, there are two main things that every website owner is desperately trying to do. The first is to increase their ranking on search engines through SEO. The second is to create a social media presence and get customers and potential customers talking about them.

However in actual fact, these two things should be combined together instead of exclusively as in reality, social media can help to increase search engine presence. In this article we define exactly what SEO and social media marketing are and then look at how they can work together to produce a combined strategy.

What is SEO?
For those that don’t know what SEO is, the term stands for search engine optimisation. This is a practice whereby you alter the way your website looks, works and reads in order to be indexed and ranked by the search engines. On a regular basis, the major search engines such as Google and Yahoo send out pieces of software known as search spiders which look at tags and text within websites to determine exactly what a website is about.

The search engines then use this information to provide searchers with relevant search results. Search engine optimisation is the process by which you add content to a website in order to help increase its search visibility. Buzz words you will regularly hear within the industry and by website owners are keywords and tags.

What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is, in a nut shell, gaining traffic or brand presence by utilising the social networks on the internet. The most commonly used social media websites are Facebook, Twitter and Google+ others include Pinterest and LinkedIn. These can be used to provide customers and potential customers with news and special offers or to obtain visitor interactions through competitions and other methods.

How Can Social Media Leverage SEO?
The most important question then is how can a social media marketing plan help your general SEO strategy? The answer is simple – by generating inbound links. One of the Holy Grail elements of SEO is to gain in-bound links for your website. This is where a third party website provides visitors with a link to your website. Search engines deem this type of activity as favourable as in-bound links are seen as a form of endorsing a website in most cases. By adding a link to another website, on your webpage basically says ‘you might find this website interesting too’. 

As social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are large players in the online arena, search engines love the links generated by them, especially as links can be shared with friends and go viral in some instances. By getting your website address out into the social media stratosphere you are basically advertising to your customer base, but without having to spend money on advertising.

Social media activities are also a great way to gain new, fresh web content for your website - another element that search engines love, especially if it includes all your keywords.

So in order to try and get that all-important top position on search engine rankings, a combined social media and SEO strategy is paramount.

image: seo/shutterstock