At first glance, the discussion of whether social signals impact SEO seems like an anarchic conversation, top-heavy with opinions and absent of data. Many of these conversations started before seismic shifts within the SEO industry. Yes, Matt Cutts announced back in 2014 that Google does not factor in the number of likes or followers in their web ranking algorithm. However, in that same video, he leads with this statement:

Black and white, right? Not really. Why was the announcement made in early 2015 that Tweets would begin appearing in the SERP (Bloomberg), if Cutts already said they could appear there a year earlier? Do we need to go back and research whether or not tweets were visible in the SERP in 2014? If you like meetings and endless debate instead of implementation, then you are welcome to do just that. If you like to move forward and get things done, let’s get off of the merry-go-round and look at what is happening right now in the SEO/Social relationship.

SEO and Social are dancing together like never before, and marketers would be negligent to treat these as two separate entities. Unfortunately, many marketing teams are still divided into finite segments, but it’s imperative they start working together as part of the same team to form a solid, strategic digital footprint.

Fact: The SERP is shrinking in some verticals. At first, the community attributed this to the new “In the News” update (Dr. Peter J. Meyers on Moz). Upon further investigation, it’s clear that marketers can no longer rely on 10 organic listings appearing on Page 1. Another fact: Social posts are now appearing on Page 1 results. While the latter statement is true in its own way, there are various disclaimers and exceptions which leads to the inevitable “truth with a side of opinion” in the SEO and social signals debate.

Are you feeling the anarchy? The “does social impact SEO?” conversation could go on and on. It could go on for so long that soon everyone needs a RedBull or strong coffee. Let’s bypass the back-and-forth and move forward with a strategy that covers both bases: Let’s target both social chatter and search volume for the best results possible with our keyword research and trending topics.

By targeting both of these channels, internet marketers can be sure that they are not ignoring the proven relationship between the two. Even if the number of likes and followers don’t directly impact SEO factors, the fact that these social posts can appear on Page 1 give them relevance in the world of SEO. Furthermore, aren’t we all in this business to serve clients? If you’re an SEO agency, do your clients regularly announce, “We don’t care about social”? Didn’t think so. Do they ever say “Just throw something up on our social channels, we don’t expect to see any results from those channels anyway”? Again, not likely.

As Page 1 real estate gets more and more competitive, clients are looking for ways to edge out the competition. As a marketer, it’s time to intersect these two areas, and move forward with a strategy.

Keywords and Trending Topics: 3 Simple Steps

  • Enter your keyword or topic into a tool such as Buzzsumo to see what words, phrases, and topics are gaining the most shares and buzz in your field. While the free version will be able to satisfy most social media managers, the SEO community will want to dive a little deeper. Lucky for you, Ali Freezman compiled a rockstar post on the SEER Interactive blog. While the blog post targets the topic of PR and SEO, a good SEO can identify the linking opportunities from a mile away.
  • Take these topics and phrases over to Semrush and identify which keywords have the search volume that is worth pursuing, and ditch the rest (for now). Don’t go by volume alone — take these topics and phrases over to your Analytics account, and dive into your Landing Page data. Do any of these topics or keywords align with Landing Pages that convert? Bingo! Now you know which pages to link to when you’re posting links in your social posts.

Want to dive in a little deeper? Take the competitor sites and industry verticals that are listed in Buzzsumo, and use the Domain vs. Domain feature in Semrush.

This feature will give you insight into keywords that competitors and industry leaders are targeting, and help you to expand your territory.

  • Ready to go all out? Add relevant hashtags to your social posts that incorporate these keywords. See what’s trending and identify related hashtags with the Google Explore


Hashtags can help you combine the best of both worlds: Attract audiences for popular topics in the social realm without abandoning your traditional keyword focus. Hashtags also have relevance to SEO and the SERP; even if they aren’t fully embraced by SEO teams, it doesn’t mean they lack value (Hashtag Search).

Get Authority

The SEO community knows that Google loves authority, but it’s not the kind of thing that happens over night. To gain authority you need send the right signals, utilize data on trending topics as well as keywords. Create content to garner social media shares across a variety of platforms — from Facebook and Twitter to Digg and LinkedIn — then connect your content directly to the Google+ page via an authoritative link, allowing Google to recognize your brand’s authority with every post, including backlinked guest posts for other industry verticals.

The key here is to broaden your approach and garner not only traffic, but attention from industry experts and leaders who have extensive fans and followers who would be interested in your brand. The more often your voice is found at the center of the conversation, the more authority your brand will gain not only from Google, but also from your target audience. Wave good-bye to the old days of chasing down guest posts for the sake of the links alone. Now is the time to pursue the guest post because your brand voice holds value for the audience, and that audience may share your content on their social channels, which could end up on Page 1.

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Markelle HardenMarkelle Harden serves as Director of Content at Get A Copywriter, and offers content management services for marketing agencies. Follow her @getacopywriter.
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