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10 Ways Social Media Dramatically Improves SEO

10 Ways Social Media Dramatically Improves SEO

Your website is only valuable if potential customers can find it. One of the best ways to draw customers to your e-commerce business is through organic traffic. This is when you’ve optimized your site so search engines consider you a trusted source of valuable information.

When your site is fully optimized, customers don’t have to know about your brand. They simply have to search for the product they want to buy or problem they want to solve.

When someone visits your site because they clicked on a link found in a list of search results, that’s called organic traffic. You can optimize your site so search engines will give you a higher ranking.

There are many different search engine optimization techniques you can use. Some of the most effective methods are creating high quality content, building reputable backlinks, and developing connections with influencers in your industry.

One underutilized, but extremely effective, SEO technique involves using social media. Here are 10 easy ways social media can boost your organic traffic.

1. Create a Consistent Tone

Social media communication is frequently informal. At the same time, you’ll want to stay professional. Develop a “voice” for your social media posts. This is the style and type of language used.

Your voice will depend on both your product and target audience. If your product is fun and your audience young, your voice can be witty and loose. If your product is serious (a financial or medical service, for instance) you’ll probably want to adopt a more formal tone.

Once you’ve discovered your voice, use it consistently across all messaging. This creates a connection with your potential customers; they’ll start to think of your brand as a personality. A consistent voice also ties all of your social media platforms back to your brand.

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2. Identify the Best Social Network

Most marketers focus exclusively on Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the best strategy. Sure, Facebook and Twitter are large and popular. But they might not be the most popular choice among your target audience.

For instance, about 42% of all female internet users use Pinterest. If your target audience is female and your product is visual, Pinterest can connect you with a lot of potential customers.

Another example is LinkedIn. This platform is primarily used by business professionals. If you offer a B2B product or service, you’ll want an active LinkedIn presence.

Always be on the lookout for social networks where you’ll be able to find a potential audience interested in what your brand has to offer.

3. Avoid the Hard Sell

The average person follows more friends and family than brands on social media. This means their social media feeds have more posts from people instead of advertisements. Social media users tend to get annoyed if a brand advertises too heavily.

People on social media want interesting information. Most of your social media activity should be shares related to your industry, not ads for your products or services. A good rule of thumb is to post about seven industry articles for every three product mentions.

4. Post Strategically

When you post is often as important as how you post. You’ll want to post at times when your audience is most receptive to your message.

This will depend on your audience and what social platform you’re using. Trying to reach business professionals on LinkedIn? They’re most likely to check LinkedIn between 9 am and 5 pm during the workday.

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What if you’re trying to reach Twitter users? This group is young and mobile. They’re likely to check their Twitter feed between about 11 am and 1 pm, which is during a typical lunch break. After 5 pm is also a good time to tweet.

5. Connect with Social Media Influencers

Social media influencers are people who have a lot of followers and a good amount of influence in a particular niche or industry. They can be a great way for your brand to be introduced to a large, new base of potential customers.

You’ll want to develop relationships with influencers in your industry. To do this, you’ll have to connect with them through social media. You’ll also have to provide something of value. This can be content you create which they’ll publish on their site, a free product to review, or something similar.

6. Be Interactive

Social media isn’t a one-way form of communication. You’ll want to engage with your followers regularly. This means responding to both compliments and complaints.

Social media users don’t want to wait too long for a response. One effective tool here is Mention. This monitors a huge variety of social media platforms and notifies you whenever your brand is, well, mentioned.

Not every comment about your brand is going to be positive. That’s okay. You want to deal with complaints quickly, professionally, and publicly. Even if you can’t please that specific customer, other potential customers will appreciate a professional response.

7. Create Online Communities

You not only want to engage with potential customers on your page, you also want to create online spaces. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all let you create your own group for your followers to post in. This allows you more control over your brand and message.

To grow your group, you’ll want to offer new subscribers some unique and useful content. This could be a guide, e-book, podcast, or something similar your audience will respond to. Once someone subscribes to your group, you can begin introducing them into the Conversion Funnel.

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8. Join Existing Online Communities

Find and join social media groups. These don’t have to be groups necessarily related to your industry directly. Instead, they should have an audience which is potentially interested in your products.

Your audience doesn’t think about your brand all the time. They have other interests, too. Once you identify these interests, join any related Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media groups.

Don’t join groups and simply start promoting your products. People will understandably be annoyed. Instead, you want to just make yourself known. Show an interest in the subject of the group. Be friendly. This will help build trust and increase your reputation among your target market.

9. Buy Facebook Ads (with Precision)

If you have a sizable potential audience on Facebook, you should consider Facebook ads. They’re a great way to reach a targeted group of interested people.

Facebook ads can be tailored to just about any budget. You’ll probably want to start small and then increase your ad buys over time based on which types of ads have shown to be successful.

Ten dollars a day is a good starting point. Keep your ads between ten and fifteen cents a click. For most campaigns, you’ll want to limit your buys to 20 cents a click.

Every few weeks, you’ll want to evaluate your return on investment. This strategy lets you avoid spending money on ads which aren’t connecting and focusing on the types of ads which are.

10. Use the Power of Social Proof

People don’t necessarily trust brands. What they do trust is other people. This is the power of Social Proof.

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This is where positive engagement can really pay off. If you successfully solve a problem or otherwise connect with a customer online, everyone connected to that person on social media can also watch the exchange. This positive brand awareness can ripple through social media and reach countless new potential customers.

Testimonials are another way to harness the power of social proof. When real people sing the praises of your product or service in a real-world situation, other people will take notice. Turn compliments posted to your social media pages into testimonials for your website.

Bonus Tip! The Power of Indirect Benefits

You’re not going to directly sell many products through social media. But that’s perfectly okay. Social media is designed to help with conversions, not directly create sales.

By developing a robust, active social media presence, you’re helping create two benefits:

First, you’re helping to connect with potential customers by creating brand awareness, increasing brand trustworthiness, and developing a brand “personality.”

Next, you’re also helping to increase your ranking in the search results. Major search engines, including Google, favor pages which have a lot of shares. In fact, shares are considered links. If you can get a lot of people sharing, liking, and otherwise engaging with your content through social media, you’re helping improve your SERP.

Devoting time to your brand’s social media accounts is an important part of every successful website.

Have any tips? Share them here!

Featured photo credit: Pic Jumbo via picjumbo.com

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Published on December 13, 2018

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

If you’ve ever thought about starting and running your own business, you’re not alone. Being your own boss, having flexibility with your schedule and keeping more of the financial rewards that come with business ownership are all good reasons to own your own company.

But as you might expect, it’s not all vacations and fat bank accounts. According to the SBA, 2/3 of businesses survive at least 2 years and approximately 50% survive 5 years.[1] So why is the failure rate so high? At least for the businesses that fail early on, lack of, or poor planning can be a major factor.

So how to start a company?

Starting a business from scratch doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, but it does take planning and work. Here are the first and most important 9 steps to take when your are starting a company from scratch.

1. Do an Honest Evaluation of Yourself

Do you work better in a structured or unstructured environment? Does a daily routine reduce your anxiety? What kinds of things are you good at? Does public speaking or making presentations make you nervous? Are you good at accounting and numbers? Can you handle the rejections you’re bound to get when selling or cold calling?

These are all important questions to ask yourself, in fact it’s a good idea to get other peoples opinion about their perception of you in each of these situations.

Whatever the answers you come up with for your evaluation, remember that’s all it is, an evaluation of where you are now. Think of it as a way to identify both your areas of strength and weaknesses.

You maybe good at public speaking which can help when raising money, but bad at accounting which just means that you’ll need to find some kind of help with that area of the business.

2. Evaluate Your Idea

If your business idea involves a new product or service (or even an enhancement to an existing product or service), it needs to be evaluated. This is technically called market research.

There are firms that specialize in doing market research for new products, but if you are on a tight budget, you can do this yourself.

First, if you can build a prototype for people to use, touch and look at that’s the best option. If a prototype is not possible or it’s a service business, then offer a highly descriptive presentation of the business plan complete with it’s unique benefits and how it’s different from the competition.

Then listen! Remember that this is not about others liking your product, this is not your baby that they are talking about. You want honest market research that gives you the best chance for a successful business. Take notes, when someone tells you that they didn’t like a feature or some aspect of your idea tell them ‘Thank you”.

After several rounds of market research with different groups of people, you should see patterns emerging about things that they both liked and didn’t like. Use this information to tweak your product or service and do another round of market research.

Keep in mind that you’ll never come up with a universally loved product, your job is to produce a product or service that appeals to the broadest range of your target market.

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3. Make a Business Plan

I know, I know this isn’t the “fun” part of starting your own business, but it is an very important step in creating a successful business!

Basically, you can think of a business plan as an outline or blueprint of your business. A good business plan should have the following elements:

  • Executive Summary – This should lay out the businesses product or service and the problem that it solves for the consumer.
  • Market Evaluation – This should talk about the market you are serving. Is it an expanding market, and how does your product better fulfill the consumers in that market.
  • Market Strategies – How are you going to penetrate the market and sell your product.
  • Operational Plan – How will the company run from day to day? Who are the key employees and what are their specific rolls. Do your key players have specific goals set for them in advance?

A final word on making a business plan: while lying is never acceptable especially when you are using the business plan to raise money, it is acceptable to “put your best foot forward”.

Playing up the positives while minimizing the negatives is almost expected in a business plan.

Besides, banks as well as professional investors will both do a more in-depth analysis before investing any money into your idea.

4. Decide on a Business Structure

You have many options here, and discussing them with your accountant or financial adviser is really the only way to know what’s right for you. But just to give you a quick rundown of the types of business entities and their pros and cons we will briefly go through them:

Sole Proprietorship

This is a common way for small businesses to get started.

The pros being:

Relatively low costs to set up (usually a business license and sales tax license).Owners normally do not have to set up a special bank account, they are allowed to use their personal one. Any income earned can be offset by other losses (check with your state!). You as the sole proprietor have complete control over all decision making. 

Finally, sole proprietorship’s are relative easy to dissolve.

The cons of using a sole proprietorship include:

You as the sole proprietor can be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the company. Some benefits, such as health insurance premiums, are not directly deductible from business income.

If you need to raise money, you are not allowed to sell an equity stake in the company. In that same vein, hiring key people maybe more difficult because you cannot offer them an equity stake in the company.

Partnership

A partnership is formed when two or more people decide to start a business. Although there is no legal requirement for any documentation to form a partnership, it is my advice that you never enter into a partnership without having a partnership agreement. (Remember, spending $1500 now can save you $150,000 in legal fees later!).

The pros of a partnership include:

Being relatively easy and inexpensive to start. Hiring key employees can be easier as you are allowed to give equity ownership to as many partners as you want.

For tax purposes, partnerships are relative simple as any income is treated as “pass through” meaning that each partner pays tax on their individual portion of the partnerships income (As of this writing, always check with your tax adviser).

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As far as the cons go:

It can be difficult for some general partnerships to raise capitol. Because it is a partnership, the actions of one of the partners can obligate the entire organisation. All profits must be shared according to the partnership agreement regardless of the amount of work done by any single partner.

Some employee benefits may not be able to be deducted on income tax returns.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

This is a very popular business entity for small to medium sized businesses. The reason for this is the cost of set up is not prohibitive and there is a separation between the owners and the company.

The pros of an LLC include:

Limited liability for the partners, unlike sole proprietorship’s and partnerships where the owners are held responsible for all of the companies debts and liabilities, an LLC provides some protection against certain debts and liabilities that are solely the companies.

Simple taxation, just like the sole proprietorship and partnerships, income is considered “pass through” and is only taxed once on an individual level.

There is no limit on the number of shareholders in an LLC. An LLC requires fewer fillings and administrative requirements than a corporation.

Corporation

A corporation is much more complex and expensive to set up. And a corporation is legally considered an independent entity that is separate from its owners.

The pros of a corporation include:

Complete separation between the owners and the company. Because the corporation is considered its own legal entity, owners can not be held personally responsible for any debts or liabilities of the company.

A corporation can raise capital much easier just by selling more shares in the company.

Cons of corporations include:

Much higher administrative costs than any other business entity. Corporations generally have a higher tax rate. Dividends are not tax deductible for corporations. Income paid in dividends is taxed twice, once by the corporation and again by the shareholder.

Again, this is just a short summary of the pros and cons, always check with your tax adviser about what will work best in your situation.

5. Address Finances

Again, not one of the “Sexier” parts of starting your business from scratch, but very important nonetheless.

So, you’ve done your business plan and an estimate of your start up funding should be included. It should include the amount of funding you’ll need to get you through your first full year of operations.

Now, how do you get that money?

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Self Funding

If possible, self funding is the easiest. You won’t have to go to banks and investors with hat in hand, or give up ownership or control of your company. But as we know, this is not a reality for most people. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of options available.

Friends and Family

They can be a good source of funding your business if they can see and understand your vision.

Remember that business plan? Pass them out to everyone you know. Then follow up, be prepared to tell them the total amount of money you expect to raise, the minimum investment you are looking for and what you will give in return for the investment.

For example, you give a friend your business plan and follow up with him/her a few days later. You can explain that you have secured funding for $80,000 of the $100,000 you need. You are selling a 2% share in the company for every $2,000 investment. How many shares would he like?

And when he/she tells you no, thank him/her and ask if he/she can think of anyone off the top of his head who might be interested? Tell him/her you really appreciate his/her time and if he/she does come across someone who might be interested to let you know.

Banks

These guys are happy to lend you money when you don’t need it, but all of the sudden they get stingy when you actually need a loan! This is where preparation comes in.

It’s a good idea to go over your business plan with an expert and maybe even have it rewritten by an expert before you approach either a bank or professional investor. Both will want to go over your business plan with a fine tooth comb, verifying all the numbers and data you provide.

You should also brush up on everything in the plan so that you can answer any questions they have with authority.

Crowdfunding

Finally, there is crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Crowdfunding helps to build interest, community spirit, and a customer base. It’s also an efficient way to raise funds. You can take a look at these tips to find out more:

6 Crowdfunding Tips To Get Your Project 100 Percent Funded

6. Register with the Government

As stated earlier, different types of business entities have different filling and administrative requirements. At the very least, you’ll probably need a business license as well as a state sales tax license.

Unless you are forming a corporation, there are many good resources on the web that will do everything for you at a minimal cost.

7. Assemble Your Team

Remember when we evaluated your strengths and weaknesses? Here is where we fill in the gaps!

Do you hate sales and cold calling? Great! There are people who love selling and wouldn’t want to do anything else.

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Bored to death with accounting? There are a ton of small accounting firms out there that will take care of that for you.

What about marketing? You can hire someone in-house or out-source that too.

Your job is to keep on top of all the different aspects of the business to make sure they are all running smoothly and getting the results you need. If not, it’s your job to figure out the problem and implement a solution.

Check out this guide and learn how to delegate effectively:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

8. Buy Insurance

No matter what kind of business you start, you need insurance! Yes, I know, no one likes to buy insurance, but it can literally be the difference between having a minor inconvenience and declaring bankruptcy.

We live in a very litigious time, even a minor slip and fall at your place of business could bankrupt you without insurance. If you need help finding a good agent, check with your local trade organizations or fellow business owners.

9. Start Branding Yourself

Has anyone ever ask you for a Kleenex or a QTip? We all know what they are because of branding, Kleenex is just a brand of tissue and QTip is just a brand of cotton swab. It doesn’t have to be as widely known as Kleenex or QTip, but you can make your brand a common name within your niche.

I once owned a manufacturing company that developed a product that was so popular that my competitors started co-opting my brand name for their products.

If you aren’t sure how to kickstart branding yourself, check out these ways:

5 Ways to Build your Personal Brand & Make More Money

The Bottom Line

Starting a business from scratch can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have.

But do you know what’s even more rewarding? Having a business that succeeds, is profitable and provides a good source of income for you, your employees and their family’s.

More Resources About Entrepreneurship

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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