If you were to run a Google search for the title of this blog post, you would find the front page full of posts about how social media is essential to web success. Vary the search terms and you’ll find a whole range of articles declaring every individual social platform to be crucial to the survival of any website online today. If you want to run a business without packs of rabid dogs ripping your inventory to shreds, you need a Twitter account. If you want to grow your profits without turning to the illicit drug trade, you need a Google+ profile. If you want to continue to be able to post in English, you need an active Facebook account.
Luckily for you, both the consequences above and the declarations of the critical requirement of active social media accounts are greatly exaggerated. It takes a lot of work, but you can cut out most or all of your social media efforts and focus on growing your site without them.
Why Eliminate Social Media?
After all, social media does have demonstrable benefits, doesn’t it? Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn; they wouldn’t be so lauded by the SEO community if they didn’t provide some kind of value. Why get rid of them?
• When they don’t work, they’re a huge time sink. It takes a lot of time to manage one social media account, let alone several. Doing it properly takes even more time, when you consider the analytics involved. If you’re not doing it properly, you’re seeing a minimal return on investment.
• They can be expensive. Yes, registering and using the sites is free. Running ad campaigns, paying for social managing software, hiring a social media manager and paying for writers to create content isn’t.
• The competition is fierce. Years of SEO professionals declaring social media to be essential has driven virtually everyone to sign up for an account for their business. It takes an incredible amount of effort just to be seen.
• Reach is declining. This is a huge issue on Facebook currently; it’s harder and harder to reach even a fraction of your audience. What’s the use of gathering 100,000 people to watch your profile if only 1,000 of them ever see anything you post? Get those 100,000 people to watch your website instead.
So, with all of these reasons to avoid social media, how do you focus your extra time and energy into building your site without them?
Method 1: Stealing Traffic
Your competitors have audiences. Other blogs in your industry have audiences. Chances are only a small percentage of your audience frequents those blogs. Yet those blogs are related to yours; chances are good that a decent number of their readers would be interested in what you have to say. All you need to do is attract them, legitimately. This is a surprisingly simple process.
1. Write high quality content.
2. Set up Google Alerts for published posts relating to that content.
3. Read those posts and write insightful commentary. This means more than just “nice article!”
4. Include a link to your content in the comment. Yes, it’s a comments link, which is nofollowed, but that doesn’t matter.
5. Foster the incoming traffic with valuable content related to their interests; use the links you post in other blog comments as jumping off points for more content on the same subjects.
Done properly, you’ll have a steady stream of incoming traffic from other blogs, building your own brand. If your comments are particularly insightful, you may even earn the gratitude of the blog owner and an edit of the main post to include your comment and link.
Method 2: Follow the Leader
Another way of letting your competitors do the work for you is to watch the major blogs in your niche. Watch when they publish posts by your competitors. This gives you some valuable information you can use to your advantage.
• It tells you that this blog publishes guest posts. You can then reach out to them and pitch your own posts, to see if they bite.
• It tells you what topics the blog will publish posts about. You can riff off the post your competitor made to make one on a similar subject, or the same subject with a different stance.
• It tells you what quality the blog requires. If your competitors are posting guest posts and you know you can do better, do so; you’ll have a visible comparison of side by side quality.
Why is this beneficial? It’s the same as any other form of guest posting. Sure, guest posting has been going downhill in recent months, but it’s still valuable if you’re using it to share legitimately valuable content. The point of watching your competition is to have some of the legwork done for you. You don’t need to go out hunting for blogs willing to publish guest posts; your competition leads you right to them.
Method 3: Offsite @Mentions
No, you’re not going to Twitter for this one, but you’re doing the same sort of thing. Mention and link to other bloggers and their posts in your content. When you do, those bloggers are going to see a new, organic incoming link and will very likely investigate. This makes them aware of your site and your content. They will then be more likely to link back to your site or mention you in one of their posts.
If nothing else, part of having a robust link profile is linking out to valuable sites. You can’t succeed in SEO without a good link profile, so this method is pulling double duty.
Method 4: Interviews
Interviews have two faces, like a coin. On one site, you have the interviews in which you are the one being interviewed. This gets your name out on other blogs as an authority on your topic; after all, if you’re not an authority, why are you being interviewed? The interviewer is very likely to link to your site as well, sending some of their traffic your way.
On the other side of the coin are the interviews where you’re asking the questions. You have the opportunity to provide quality content where you didn’t need to do the work to create it. The interviewee is likely to share their interview, sending traffic your way. You also become a bit of an authority by extension; after all, who are you to interview an authority if not someone in authority yourself?
Of course, all of these methods are advanced techniques. You need all of the standard SEO foundations to succeed; a fast, responsive site, a well-designed user experience, a constant flow of quality content and all the rest. Leverage them well and you can grow to astonishing heights without setting foot on social media.