A great deal of successful communication hangs mainly on getting the right message in front of the right people at the right time. Although social media has indelibly changed how businesses communicate with their customers, often their attempts to connect on social media fall short. Posts are seen once, and then slide into social media limbo. Unsurprisingly, social media sites are turning their attention to site search functionality to make all kinds of information from the past discoverable.

Increased search abilities present better opportunities for communicators who already incorporate search in their social media strategy – a few risks as well, but those are manageable. Today I will take a look at some techniques you can use to make sure you shine in social media results. Search engine optimization (SEO) can absolutely be a social media tool!

Your Social Media Profile

Start with your profile. Spend some time filling it out, and making the content as rich as possible. The more you are able to include, the greater the amount of information available to match a user’s search. Brands should also use synonyms of their product; for example, Pepsi might want to include soft drink or soda in their profile.

The number one rule: do not forget to link back to your homepage! Always have a link on your profile taking visitors to your official website. The main use of the social media account is not to promote the social media platform, but to get visitors back to your official homepage.

Grow Your Followers: Likes and Shares Count

Pages with a lot of high-quality followers consistently rank better in searches. High-quality followers are fans that follow across various social media channels, with a large percentage interacting with you in some way – such as sharing, pinning, retweeting, and liking.

Growing your followers is a slow process, but effective as long as you are consistent. Present your brand uniquely, update your posts daily, and maintain a consistent voice. Engage with your followers directly, encouraging current followers to return and help build your authority for potential new followers.

Encourage Those External Inbound Links

Social media is great for encouraging more external sites to link to your content. The more diverse external links you have, the more authority you will gain in Google’s eyes. In this case, social media is basically a broadcast channel. Your content, assuming it is original and useful, is going to serve as bait, and your social channels are the fishing poles, dangling the bait in front of the right eyes.

Use hashtags for your initial rounds of syndication, and do not hesitate to bring your pre-existing content into current discussions and threads. Doing so will improve your reputation as an authoritative leader, but more importantly it maximizes your potential external link sources.

Optimize Your Brand Management

As I spoke about in the introduction, this relies on pre-existing content. Improved site search will potentially create problems for companies which may have had a previous social media crisis, as old posts emerge from archives that were previously off-limits. At minimum, continue posting new content that resonates with your fan base, as measured in shares, likes, and positive comments.

You should continually monitor search results for your company name, brand, key executives, and other important information. Search algorithms are more likely to favor newer content, but the exact rules will shift over time. It is better to be safe than sorry!

Finding the Fakes and Checking Your Profiles

Social media can help you in two important ways: finding the fake representatives of your brand, and staying on top of all your social media profiles. Use the search function to find and eradicate fake pages for your company. You can also keep an eye on well-meaning fan pages that might pop up. In the case of the latter, check what rules they are violating, and consider reaching out to them informally before sending a formal cease and desist letter.

While searching for your company in Google, take note – often social media profiles will be linked higher than your web page. Go through all of your profiles, and update pages as necessary. Keep in mind that while one channel might not be your main platform, someone could come to your company through that page. As such, it pays to have all profiles up-to-date and filled with engaging content.

For the most part, these elements all come down to one basic principle: the better experience you give your users, the better you will rank in search results. Understanding the root causes for social media’s effects on SEO can help you better direct and manage your campaigns. The more you optimize your brand for search results, the wider you open the channel for new potential customers to find your brand.