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Social media and SEO are often viewed as mutually exclusive marketing practices.

Sure, your tweets may show up in certain Google searches, but we know that social media links don't figure in SEO link-building (or we'd all rank for everything). Plus, unless someone is searching specifically for your Twitter profile or Facebook page, those social SERP results typically don't convert leads into customers. We also know that SEO efforts don't have the same effect on social algorithms as they do on search engines.

The main difference between SEO and social is that SEO often finds consumers when they're actively looking for something, whereas social posts are incidental, appearing while people are just performing normal social browsing tasks:

  • If I'm actively looking for an Italian restaurant near me, I'll Google nearby places, click on their Google My Business profiles, read their reviews, and make a choice based on their menus.
  • If I'm just casually browsing Facebook, I may see a post from a nearby restaurant, but since I'm not actively looking for it, I could well just pass it by and promptly forget about it—even if I'm actively following that restaurant's page.

There are inherent issues in treating social like SEO and SEO like social. So what's the point in SEO marketers working with social media and community managers and vice versa?

Though it seems they're on two ends of the marketing spectrum, there is quite a bit of overlap that can benefit both sides.

Note: If you're interested in learning the latest in marketing and attribution best-practices, check out the latest best-practice webinars (and some you may have missed).

Here are five ways that SEO marketers and social media/community managers can work together to improve their respective practices.

1. Use research on one platform for the other

Though people may have different intentions when searching versus engaging with social, you can still use the information about your users on one platform to create effective content and calls to action on another.

For example, you can use organic search queries from Search Console to determine what problems people are looking to solve when they find your product or service. That information can then be tweaked to create ads for social media.

If you own a local bakery and find that many people who find your site on Google are searching for "birthday cupcakes," that would point to a great opportunity for a Facebook ad with images of your creative birthday cupcakes for kids or a promoted post that links to your most recent popular cupcake recipe.

Working in the other direction, you can crowdsource user-generated content from social media to create content for your website. This approach includes looking through social posts for common questions and then writing pieces of content that answer those questions—and having those posts show up in featured snippets on search results pages.

For example, an appliance store may find that many people are posting questions and comments on the store's social media accounts or pages about how to install a dishwasher. Using that information, the store can create a how-to blog post that it can link to in those social posts to answer users' questions, and that blog post can then also be found in organic search as well.

2. Share content across platforms

When you create content for your Web properties, think about how you can repurpose that content across your platforms. If you create a video for YouTube, find or edit the best 15- 30-second snippet for social media (and don't forget the call to action to drive people to where they can see the entire video). If you record a Facebook live event, download it, add it to your YouTube channel, and optimize it there (YouTube is the second largest search engine.)

Customize the content for each platform. That may mean filming, animating, or editing-in different calls to action based on where the user is coming from. For example, a salon could have a full braid tutorial on the website, but quick cuts of each step arranged in a one-minute video for Facebook. The Facebook video could also have captions added on as users often watch videos with no sounds.

Consider how you engage with social media, images, infographics, and videos, and have your own content efforts reflect that.

3. Find influencers on social and use them for content

Use social media to meet others in your field or industry. Research whether there are Twitter chats, LinkedIn or Facebook groups, or other online organizations where you can meet others in your line of work. Build rapport and relationships with others, ask their advice, and answer their questions.

When you feel close enough to those other experts in your area, reach out for quotes, opinions about newsworthy topics, and potential partnerships. When you publish the content that quotes them or mentions what great work they've done, send them a link and ask them share or link to your piece that mentions them. Important: if they do the same, make sure you share their content and link to it, too.

4. Increasing brand awareness can mean more direct traffic

It can be hard to measure social media reach. We know people may see our posts and ads, but does that really translate to new customers?

If you can't find a direct correlation between social and your bottom line, you might be looking in the wrong places. When people see your brand in social media ads and boosted posts, they may not click directly; they may instead google your brand name or go directly to what they assume is your URL (if it's an easy assumption).

The resulting uptick in direct traffic is hard to tie to social media regardless of your attribution model, but you can assume that by putting effort into your social media presence, you're making sure more potential users are becoming aware of your brand name and what you do.

5. Social media can help boost local SEO efforts

And, finally, how social media platforms have become citations for local businesses. Much like Google My Business, Facebook and other social platforms can act as review platforms, map markers, and indications of NAP consistency for Google.

Social platforms, including Facebook, also allow users to ask for recommendations, and they give respondents the ability to tag the businesses they recommend. Many SMBs and local businesses think social media is only for the big companies, but social is more important than ever for small local businesses, franchises, and even sole proprietorships.

* * *

Though users on search platforms and users on social media differ in their fundamental intentions, we can examine their behaviors for each channel and take advantage of that data to optimize the other. Marketing is an ecosystem, and an effective, comprehensive strategy considers all channels—online and offline.

To learn more about the best ways to hone your marketing funnel, check out the CallRail blog.

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Five Ways to Use Social for SEO and Vice Versa

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image of Carolyn Lyden

Carolyn is based in Atlanta, where she put a love of spreadsheets, an MBA, and years of marketing experience together when she joined CallRail's marketing team as the SEO manager in March 2017.

CallRail provides lead tracking and call analytics tools for more than 50,000 businesses across the US and Canada. Want to know where your leads are coming from and how qualified they are? Sign up for a completely free 14-day trial of CallRail's award-winning software. No credit card needed.