Most businesses tend to think of their social media marketing efforts in somewhat of a vacuum. They focus on the number of followers they attract, brand awareness, and the sales they can attribute directly to social media campaigns. However, there is another peripheral, yet powerful, benefit of developing and maintaining a strong social media presence that sometimes goes unnoticed: Improved search engine optimization. Here are four ways that your social media presence helps your brand rank better in search engines, and how you can capitalize on them.

High-Quality Inbound Links

Social networking sites are some of the most popular on the Internet, and one of the key factors that search engines use to determine rankings is the prominence of sites that are linking to your business. In the eyes of search engines, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and other sites with tremendous volumes of traffic are among the most credible sources. So if you have numerous links coming from them to your website, it will help drive up your rankings.

In order to capitalize on this, you should make sure you include links to your website from the static information on your social networking profiles, such as your page description or about section. You should also make sure that your posts contain links back to your website whenever possible. Just make sure to strike a balance with posts that do not contain a link, otherwise you risk appearing overly self-promotional.

Increased Volume of Inbound Links

Not only does social media help you increase the quality of the inbound links to your website, it also will increase their volume when posts containing your company’s URL spread from your followers to their followers, and so on. In addition to considering the quality of the websites that are linking to your page, search engines also consider the total number of links. So the more you can get social media posts with your company’s web address in them to spread, the better your search rankings will be.

Google+ Extended Search Profiles

One social network has the power to influence search results on Google more than any other, and that’s Google’s own network “Google+.” Sometimes it can help to think of Google+ as a social layer of your company’s presence on Google, rather than an independent social network. It enables Google to show an “extended search profile” for your business in the sidebar whenever your site comes up in the search results, and this will make a significant difference in organic traffic from Google.

The extended search profile increases the amount of space on the screen dedicated to your company dramatically, which by itself will drive up clicks. It also allows you to display content that is more engaging than a plain blue link to your website and a description, which again will get more people visiting your page from Google. Your extended search profile will show things like your profile picture and other images you post to Google+, your latest status updates, customer reviews and ratings, and pictures of some the people who have your business added to their circles. If a viewer sees you have a large following, including some of their own friends, it provides social proof that they should add your company to their circles as well.

To learn more about how Google+ can help your business succeed, see our post 4 Ways Google+ Can Help You Grow Your Business.

Get New Content to Appear Faster

When you first post a new page to your site, like a new blog post, it doesn’t appear in search engines right away. Search engines are constantly “crawling” the internet looking for new pages to add to their databases, and how often a site is crawled depends on a number of factors. Two of the most important are how frequently the site is updated and how much traffic it gets. So a site like Twitter or the Huffington Post that gets significant traffic and posts a substantial amount of new content each day will get crawled far more regularly than your site.

In order to make sure your blog posts and other new content show up in search results as fast as possible, post a link to your new content on your social media profiles as soon as you click publish. Search engines will crawl your social media site before they crawl your site, recognize there is new page that they don’t have ranking data for, and will add that page to their indexes much sooner than if you waited for them to crawl your site.

Now that you see the tremendous SEO benefits of social media, make sure you coordinate your social networking campaigns with your SEO strategy so that the two can reinforce each other and produce even greater results. With both areas working hand in hand, your brand will be primed for outstanding organic growth!